05 August 2004
State Department Noon Briefing, August 5
Department/U.S. statement on terrorism, related statements on terrorism from other countries, Powell/U.S. foreign policy, Germany, Canada, Sudan, India, Israel/Palestinians, Greece, Turkey, Iraq, Georgia, Thailand
State Department Spokesman Richard Boucher briefed the press August 5.
Following is the transcript of the State Department briefing:
U.S. Department of State
Daily Press Briefing Index
Thursday, August 5, 2004
12:07 p.m. EDT
BRIEFER: Richard Boucher, Spokesman
-- U.S. Statement on Terrorism
-- Related Statements on Terrorism From Other Countries
-- Secretary Powell's Comments on U.S. Foreign Policy
-- Query on Upcoming Hamburg Trials and Alleged al-Qaida Connection
-- Extension of North American Aerospace Defense Command Agreement
-- Information for NORAD
-- Humanitarian Aid from Other Countries
-- Defense Appropriations for Darfur
-- Potential Donors in International Community
-- U.S. Assessment of Humanitarian Aid to Region
-- Interviews and Collection of Data on Darfur
-- Statements Made by Sudanese Government
-- Peace Talks with Rebels
-- Query on Refugees in Camps
-- Closure of U.S. Embassy in New Delhi
-- Query on Settlements and Travel Advisory
-- Elliott Abrams Meetings/Discussions in Region
-- Security for Olympics/NATO
-- Query on Turkish Military Activity
-- Protection of UN Mission/UN Security Council Resolution 1546
-- Iraqi Government Discussions with Saudi Arabia
-- Joint Control Commission Framework with Russia
-- Status of Findings on Raid of Mosque
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
THURSDAY, AUGUST 5, 2004
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
12:07 p.m. EDT
MR. BOUCHER: Okay, first thing I have to do, ladies and gentlemen, pleasure to be here. In keeping with our annual tradition, tomorrow being the first of several Fridays in August, we won't be briefing on Fridays in August, so tomorrow will be the first Friday that we don't brief on in August.
But the press office will be here available to help answer your inquiries and questions. As you know, the Secretary will be traveling to Greenland tomorrow, and we'll try to make sure you get all the pertinent information for that.
I don't have any other announcements or statements. I'd be glad to take your questions.
QUESTION: Well, remember yesterday, you issued a statement on terrorism and how the U.S. would stand tall, and you expected other countries would issue similar statements. Do you have an updated count as to the follow-through by your coalition partners?
MR. BOUCHER: I've got a count, but not necessarily a full count.
MR. BOUCHER: We've done a quick sort of internet check of Foreign Ministry websites and have found statements on the websites of 11 other countries besides the United States: United Kingdom, Slovakia, Singapore, New Zealand, Latvia, Kazakhstan, Estonia, Denmark, Bulgaria, Australia and Albania so far. We expect to see others issue statements. Timing is such that I think when we issued our statement, it was already nighttime in Asia and late in Europe.
So it wasn't supposed to be precisely everybody at the same second. We'll see the others, I think, come out in coming days, so -- those who are going to issue statements. But at least the preliminary check shows a good healthy dozen other statements, either exactly the same or related statements on terrorism.
QUESTION: Did any of these countries make statements like in briefings or come out and have a person do it, or did they just post it without warning on their website?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't really know how -- each country does these things slightly differently. Whether they send it out to their list serve or posted it or made it in a briefing, I don't know.
QUESTION: But you haven't necessarily seen clips of people coming out and giving a statement --
MR. BOUCHER: Do you think our television networks are really going to run clips of 12 countries saying the same thing?
QUESTION: But you have your -- you have your other sources.
MR. BOUCHER: I -- no, I have not had a chance to see that, as much as I would enjoy it.
QUESTION: I'm just wondering what kind of play it's getting, like if you're also seeing it pop up in press reports, or if it's just posted on their website and nobody knows it.
MR. BOUCHER: Again, I think it's getting some play locally in all these places, and I would hope that as people see that there is -- there are these statements and this policy is being put forward around the world by a variety of different governments, large and small, who are involved in Iraq, that people would see and it would get more play as a policy that's widely shared among the international community.
QUESTION: New subject?
MR. BOUCHER: Work our way back.
QUESTION: I don't know if you're going to have anything on this, but there are some trials starting to take place in Germany about the Hamburg cell of al-Qaida, and some of the -- I think both the Germans, and I know the defense has been hoping for some testimony from witnesses held by the U.S. such as -- I guess the question is, are you going to allow some of these witnesses to take place, like Binalshibh --
MR. BOUCHER: I -- you're right, it's not something I would have something on. I really think that's a law enforcement matter, a question of law enforcement cooperation. So you'd have to ask our Department of Justice or other law enforcement agencies.
MR. BOUCHER: Sure. We'll get back to Iraq.
QUESTION: Yesterday on Brit Hume's program on FOX cable news, the Secretary was asked some political questions, and he -- on the one hand he said, I'm not going to engage in politics, I'm the Secretary of State, but he made a strong defense of the President's foreign policy. It's probably a thin line, but do you think we're about to have a new tradition here where the Secretary will respond in defense of the President, in a way to help the President, or is he just telling it as it is? How do you look at it?
MR. BOUCHER: Barry, you and I have both been through transitions and election campaigns before and you know it's always a fine line for the Secretary of State, who does not get involved in politics, and none of the ones that I have known have done that and Secretary Powell's keeping with that tradition has been very clear. I thought I saw an AP story that explained it quite well, that said that he's not going to respond to political charges and he declined to respond specifically to political slogans. But when asked, "How is your foreign policy," he's going to say, "Very well, thank you," and explain why.
So I think that is where -- I think you are familiar with that story. I think that is where the line has been drawn in the past, at least for the people that I've worked for and the times I've been out here, that the Secretary is happy to explain the foreign policy of the United States and how it's going in the usual open and objective terms that he does. But he's not going to get into the political debate when it's political slogans or charges or countercharges that he's asked to comment on. Let's go back to some of the people who have been waiting.
QUESTION: We're expecting an announcement today in Ottawa about Canada's involvement in the Ballistic Missile Defense System. What reassurances can you give the Canadian Government that this system would come under the aegis of NORAD?
MR. BOUCHER: Let me make sure I understand this. The U.S. and Canada have agreed to extend the North American Aerospace Defense Command's aerospace warning function to support missile defense. For a decade, as you know, we've been partners in defense of North America. We look forward to continuing this longstanding defense cooperation through the North American Aerospace Defense Command.
The agreement allows NORAD information on incoming missiles to be used by the U.S. Missile Defense Program. It doesn't require Canadian forces to participate in the actual missile defense programs or actions. Canada will determine at a later date whether they're -- decide to participate in our missile defense effort. So it's a program of NORAD information and we -- the amendment formally assigns to the North American Aerospace Defense Command the responsibility for providing the threat information under the missile defense mission. That's what the agreement does, put it under NORAD.
QUESTION: But any new system would also fall under that?
MR. BOUCHER: Any new system? Well, cooperation with Canada on other systems or other aspects of the program would be a separate issue.
QUESTION: On Sudan, you're always pushing the government there to be giving access to humanitarian aid. That's once the aid has arrived. But at the moment, many countries are not coming out with much aid. The United States has obviously led the way with much more than other nations. Are you disappointed that there is still such a shortfall in what the United Nations wants and what other nations have been able to provide? And will the U.S. consider making up that shortfall?
MR. BOUCHER: Well, the United States, first of all, has been, by far and away, the major donor in this situation and we continue to be a major -- the major donor. I think our total so far is $144.5 million dollars. We've done a congressional notification on another $20 million that we want to allocate there. We already have $299 million planned for fiscal year 2005, so the United States will certainly be continuing to support the international relief efforts and efforts of others to bring peace to the situation there.
I would note that the President this morning, I guess it was, signed the defense appropriations bill, wherein Congress provided another $95 million for assistance and support in Darfur, so that money will be forthcoming as well.
So on the second half of your question, certainly, the United States is going to keep doing what's necessary to help the people in Darfur and to help those who are helping the people in Darfur.
On the first part of your question, the United Nations, I think, maintains statistics on the amounts that other donors have given and I think it does show the U.S., European Union, and I think the United Kingdom far out in front, we have been making clear in all our contacts with other governments how important the situation is and the need for people to get involved in different ways, either by talking to the government or by supporting relief efforts or by supporting the African Union. And various governments are getting involved in those ways.
Certainly, whenever it comes to donors, people -- members of the international donor community, the Secretary has been always consistently, I think, for the last several -- the last month, really, maybe even more -- raising with potential donors the need to be forthcoming and help people in Darfur.
And so that is something we have done and will continue to do. I don't know if we've seen any sort of new commitments since that time, but it's been a very consistent theme of his efforts and overall U.S. efforts.
QUESTION: Jan Pronk gave a very optimistic assessment of the Sudanese Government's performance with regard to humanitarian aid. He basically said that all aid is getting through now. Would the U.S. share that perception?
MR. BOUCHER: Well, we have been -- our assessment on the humanitarian side has obviously been much more positive than it has been on the --
QUESTION: Sort of a C grade, if I remember.
MR. BOUCHER: Well, I don't know that we've tried to give grades. We've tried to say what's working and what's not. People have gotten in their flights and food have gotten in there, some of the routes have gotten in there. At the same time, you know, we had seen continuing problems, for example, with medical personnel. I don't know that those are solved yet.
And so there's a constant effort to make sure that everything, absolutely everything is being done and absolutely all the commitments are being met.
QUESTION: Do you know if (inaudible)?
MR. BOUCHER: So we have -- I'm trying to look for how the Secretary summarized it in his op-ed piece this morning, but we have generally said that there has been a lot of easing and opening up on the humanitarian side, that we have been able to get more people, more supplies, and more help in on the humanitarian side. But the security is crucial for the people who live there, and that the violence has continued and the government has failed to take the decisive action needed to stop the violence.
And that is where people who face violence, either by continuing attacks of Jingaweit militias on villages or violence against people outside of the refugee camps, that makes it impossible for them to go home, impossible to get supplies to all the people who need them, many of whom are not in camps, and that that is a humanitarian disaster -- part of the humanitarian disaster as well that really needs a constant effort to push the government to carry out its responsibilities there.
QUESTION: So is he giving more credit than they're due?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know if I could, you know, I'm not really in a position to judge. We have had a lot of coordination with the United Nations. If you talk solely about the humanitarian side, there are more things that have happened that are positive and that have helped improve the situation. But if you talked about the overall situation, you would have to say the situation is still catastrophic because of the security problems that mean that while we may be better now at taking care of people who can get to camps, the people who are not in camps, people who might want to go back to their villages still face an impossible and disastrous situation.
QUESTION: Just one more on that? One more on that -- oh, go ahead.
MR. BOUCHER: Start with George.
QUESTION: You spoke a couple of weeks ago about interviews that U.S. officials were conducting of refugees from Darfur in Chad.
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah.
QUESTION: Do you have any update on that?
MR. BOUCHER: That process has continued. We still have people in the field. They've done about 200 interviews so far, and they expect to have over 1,000 completed by the end of the month. The information is being organized in a very systematic way and is being reported back on a regular basis. And we are, as we've said, looking to finish collecting data toward the end of August and being able to report findings after that.
QUESTION: Could you comment on -- yesterday, there were massive demonstrations in Khartoum accusing the United States and European government that what is happening is really a prelude to military intervention. One, would the U.S. or other government, or should they, issue statement that they harbor no intentions to go into a military step? And second, what is your comment on the government also today, as it did yesterday, it said that it is willing to share power with the rebels in Darfur, in fact, share resources?
MR. BOUCHER: There have been a lot of different statements by the government. There have been these demonstrations. I think, certainly, we have made very clear, and look at the Secretary's statement over the last several weeks, our goal is not to invade Darfur. Our goal is not to have foreign troops enter into this situation. Our goal is for the government to do what any government should do, and that's provide real security and safety for its people.
The fact that the government has failed to do that and failed to act decisively against the militias is what has made this such a horrible situation.
So we will keep working with others. The international community is together on this at the UN, is together on this through the efforts of the African Union, and is together on this through the efforts of the United Nations and the international donor community to try to help the people of Darfur and try to get the government to live up to its most basic responsibilities.
We have seen a variety of statements by the government either rejecting the resolution or accepting the resolution or not accepting the resolution but saying they're going to carry out the steps. There are even reports of government statements today that they not only will add more people, put more security forces into Darfur to calm the situation, but will start actively disarming the militias very soon. We want the government to meet its own commitments. We want the government to meet its commitments to the Secretary, to the Secretary General, to the public, to its own people, its own statements, to really take effective action in Darfur to end the depredations of the militias and let these people live in peace.
Part of this is to enter into a peace talks with the rebels, and we have working diplomatically to support efforts made by the African Union to get both parties, both the rebels and the government to the table in a serious way under the auspices of the African Union. In Addis Ababa, that's something we keep working on and we hope they will be able to announce the date and venue for talks soon.
Okay. Where were we? We're back here, yeah.
QUESTION: On Sudan still? Did you -- there were stories out this week about all these refugees who disappeared from the camp that Kofi Annan was going to visit. And they apparently were all herded into another camp but not registered there, and so they don't have the cards necessary to get rations at this other camp and they're living in conditions even worse than the refugees registered in other camps and haven't been allowed to go back to the camp they were -- they were removed, evacuated from.
MR. BOUCHER: I don't have any information on that. I'm afraid I just didn't --
QUESTION: Do you know if we're following -- if the U.S. is looking -- do you know if the U.S. is looking into that at all?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know. I'm sure that the UN and other -- and the humanitarian agencies out there have tried very hard to track these people and to make sure they're being taken care of. In a situation like you described, I would think that there are people on the ground trying to resolve it and trying to help these people, but I just don't have any information on that here.
QUESTION: Change topic?
MR. BOUCHER: Change topic?
QUESTION: No, can we stay on Sudan, just one --
MR. BOUCHER: No? Saul.
QUESTION: Back to the collecting data issue, and it kind of links into what Teri was saying, if you're only collecting data in Chad, isn't -- that's just one side of the story, and probably quite an old part of the story, because they're the people who managed to get out first. What are you doing about getting investigators into Darfur to resolve issue like Teri's just mentioned, and find out if it is genocide in Darfur?
MR. BOUCHER: I didn't say we were only collecting data in Chad. I said we were collecting data in Chad. We have a variety of sources. The Secretary spoke about this when he was out in Darfur and Khartoum. We have spoken about this subsequently. We get a variety of information on what's going on in Darfur and what has gone on in Darfur. Part of this effort needs to be a systematic collection of information from refugees, because that provides the kind of information you need to evaluate questions of genocide and responsibility.
But we have a variety of ways -- technical, people we talk to, other ways of understanding what's going on. So when I come out here and tell you that, you know, we continue to get reports of attacks by the militias, by the Jingaweit, and we continue to get reports of attacks of civilians outside of camps, that's based on information that we do get from -- in Darfur and it's fairly up to date.
QUESTION: Richard, the interviews that are being conducted specifically to try and work out whether it's genocide or not, are they being conducted also in Darfur?
MR. BOUCHER: I'd have to leave it that we have a variety of information, some based on specific kind of interviews that we do in Chad, but other information that's relevant to these questions obviously gets -- well, gets considered as well.
QUESTION: And that would have the same weight in making this determination as the interviews that are done personally by American official?
MR. BOUCHER: We get a variety of information. Each piece of information gets evaluated.
QUESTION: Change topic?
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah.
QUESTION: Any specific reason for the partial closure of the U.S. Embassy in Delhi?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't think I can go much beyond what people have already said. The U.S. Embassy in New Delhi closed public services, including visa services and the American Information Resource Center on Thursday, August 5th, as a precautionary measure. This is in response to threat information that was received from law enforcement sources. The Embassy's security posture is being reviewed to see whether it would be prudent and when it might be prudent to resume public services. At this point, there is no decision on reopening public services, but we hope to resume the services soon. That's, I'm afraid, as far as I can go in terms of the reasons.
QUESTION: Is it linked to any of the information that the U.S. had received about al-Qaida?
MR. BOUCHER: I'm sorry, I can't go more than saying we had some information we got from law enforcement sources and felt it was a good precaution to close the consulates -- close the public services there in New Delhi before -- until we could review the situation.
QUESTION: And further characterization of law enforcement sources? Is this the Indian Government or something else?
MR. BOUCHER: No, I'm sorry.
MR. BOUCHER: Okay. (Inaudible.)
QUESTION: A new subject.
MR. BOUCHER: New subject, and then we'll go to the back.
QUESTION: On the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, could you tell us if your strong statements the other day, or the Department's strong statements regarding the housing units, the increase of settlements and so on, if that has resonated, was there a response from the Israelis? And could you also tell us what the status of the Travel Advisory is at the present time?
MR. BOUCHER: As far as their response to our statements, I am really not in a position to evaluate other people's responses to what we say, whether it's resonated or not. You can go ask them, you can go cover the events on the ground. Our view, I think, on settlements and issues related to them has been very consistent and we've stated it again in public recently.
As far as Travel Advisories, I don't have anything new at this point.
QUESTION: Sorry --
MR. BOUCHER: Have we done a reissuance recently or?
A PARTICIPANT: Last week.
MR. BOUCHER: Last week, right?
A PARTICIPANT: Or earlier this week.
MR. BOUCHER: It was the renewal with the -- it was the renewal of, basically, the same information with the incorporation of the information about the kidnapping that occurred.
QUESTION: But just to follow up very quickly on that, didn't they tell you that they would freeze or would hold back for now the expansion of the settlements or anything like this, as a result of Assistant Secretary Burns' meeting or your direct contact --
MR. BOUCHER: I don't want to characterize Israeli Government statements, other than to say that we know what the Israeli Government's commitments are. They made commitments. Israel made commitments about settlements, and particularly about outposts at Aqaba. They have made commitments in terms of their endorsement of the roadmap, and that's what we expect the Israeli Government to do.
Okay. Let's see. We'll head way back, first.
QUESTION: Mr. Boucher, on Kosovo --
MR. BOUCHER: Stay on the Middle East, okay.
QUESTION: On the Rafah border crossing, I understand that some embassy officials have been there to see what the conditions are like. What have they reported back? Is the situation getting worse?
MR. BOUCHER: Well, there are some press reports this morning that the crossing is being reopened. So I can't confirm that for you yet. I would just say we have been concerned about the situation there. There is humanitarian difficulties for the people who have been left outside and we've been concerned about that situation and have discussed it with officials there.
QUESTION: Did the embassy (inaudible) when? Did they --
MR. BOUCHER: I don't have any reports from embassy officials at the scene, but it's something that we've been paying close attention to.
In the back.
QUESTION: Do you have any information concerning Mr. Elliott Abrams' meetings in Israel?
MR. BOUCHER: Mr. Elliott Abrams is a Senior Director from our National Security Council. He's been in the region. He's met today with Prime Minister -- Palestinian Prime Minister Abu Alaa, Israeli Chief of Staff Dov Weissglass, Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom. Our Consul General has been in Jerusalem, has been with him on the Palestinian meetings and our ambassador on the meetings with the Israelis. I also understand he is expected to see Prime Minister Sharon this evening in Israel.
We've been -- he's been discussing some of the issues that we've discussed here, as well as bilateral relations and issues of how to move forward, what the Palestinians need to do in terms of moving forward on the security front, establishing rule of law and reestablishing their credibility in the process in terms of being able to show that they can take over the administration of Gaza and take advantage of that opportunity so that it does contribute to the process, with the Israelis also continuing to discuss Gaza disengagement as well as the roadmap commitments.
QUESTION: Richard, when you say that he was discussing bilateral relations, you mean with both the Israelis and the Palestinians or specifically with the Israelis?
MR. BOUCHER: I think with the Israelis. It's more their bilateral issues with Israel, just sort of this general topic, but with both sides -- mostly peace process.
QUESTION: But in terms of -- I mean, just that you brought it up -- I mean, how would you describe bilateral relations with the Palestinians right now?
MR. BOUCHER: Our cooperation with the Palestinians is based on what the Palestinians do in terms of being able to take responsibility in this process. We've made very clear that the extent of our cooperation with the Palestinians has a lot to do with how well they can show action on security issues, action to end the violence. We have good contacts and discussions with many people on the Palestinian authority. We work with them on a variety of issues, including all the donors issues and the issues of how to move the process along in cooperation with third parties.
But in the end, how much we actually achieve with them and how much we're able to achieve with them depends on their ability to get organized to deal with the security problems.
Okay, we're going to change topics now? Was it you in the back? Yes.
QUESTION: Yes. On Kosovo, Mr. Boucher, the UN disclosed a plan for lignite mine in Kosovo, a step to be seen as a move towards independence. Do you agree with the plan and since Belgrade is very upset on that?
MR. BOUCHER: A plan for what?
QUESTION: For lignite mine. Lignite.
MR. BOUCHER: For lignite mining?
MR. BOUCHER: I think I'll have to take the question and look into it. It's not something I know off the top of my head. I'm sorry.
QUESTION: On Cyprus.
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah.
QUESTION: Sudanese suspect was shot yesterday while attempting to cross the free area of Cyprus through the military base of Dhekelia and from the point where there is no UN control of battle zone between the British base and the Turkish Cypriot side. Do you have anything on that?
MR. BOUCHER: No, I don't. You'd have to check with authorities there.
QUESTION: And the Olympics. The U.S. Admiral Gregory Johnson, according to Washington Post, stated for the NATO's role on the Olympics, "We do not want to be comfortable. There could be something deeply involved but we just have not seen or anticipated." Do you have anything from your Ambassador to Greece, Tom Miller, who has another picture what's going over there? Or if you agree with Admiral Johnson's statement?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know exactly what the statement was, nor what context it was made in. I think I'd just point out, once again, that we're all working with the Greek authorities to provide security for the Olympics to make it as safe as possible.
We're confident the Greeks are doing everything they can, and that those of us, including NATO, are supporting them. We'll also do what we can to make sure that the Olympics are as safe as possible.
QUESTION: And on Turkey, may I? According to a bunch of reports, your top aide in Ankara, the Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff, General Hilmi Ozkok, number one, he has fired yesterday 12 officers, including military personnel, in the name of Islam. Second, he has dispatched yesterday a number of warplanes into the Aegean, violating the Greek airspace and that infringe the Athens FIR against the moratorium, the Olympic (inaudible) the two countries and without any approval of their (inaudible) government, I'm wondering if you have anything on those incidents, and if you could comment about the General's behaviors which abuse democracy and (inaudible) acting like he's a dictator.
MR. BOUCHER: No, I don't have any comment about those matters. You'd have to address yourself to the Government of Turkey for comments on Turkish military activity. I would, however, reject your characterizations of people in Ankara.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) taking action against democracy (inaudible), so I'm wondering if (inaudible) support democracy --
MR. BOUCHER: I would suggest that you direct yourself to the democratic government of Turkey.
QUESTION: Excuse me?
MR. BOUCHER: I would suggest you direct yourself to the democratic government in Turkey for comment on these matters.
QUESTION: There is at least one story out today suggesting that there is not much enthusiasm for the idea among many countries for -- to send troops to Iraq to help protect the UN mission. Do you have anything on that?
MR. BOUCHER: We are continuing to discuss with other governments the UN Security Council Resolution 1546 and its -- that provided for the creation of multinational force to protect the UN. That has been something that the Iraqi leadership has pursued and, as you know, Prime Minister Allawi has written letters to other governments. That's something the Secretary General has pursued, and so we're in touch with governments as well.
This remains a topic of discussion with various governments who may decide to provide forces specifically for this function. At the same time, I think we are all interested in supporting the United Nations and making sure that as they expand their presence and help the government move towards elections, that the Iraqi security forces and the rest of the people who are there provide what security they can.
QUESTION: A follow-up on this question, Richard.
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah.
QUESTION: The President -- the Iraqi President al-Yawar issued a statement that is totally contradictory to Allawi's. He's saying that we don't need forces, we don't -- definitely don't need Arabic or Islamic forces. What we need to do is retrain our own forces or bring back the army and so on. Do you have any comment on that?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know what statement you're referring to. I think the Iraqi Government, including Prime Minister Allawi, had made -- have -- excuse me, I think the Iraqi Government, including Prime Minister Allawi, have made clear all along that their priority is to have Iraqis handle the security of the nation. Indeed, that's the goal that we all share and that priority is being given to training, priority is being given to building up Iraqi forces. That's been the priority for the coalition. NATO is now getting involved and I think NATO has made some decisions now on how it can get involved in training for Iraqi forces.
And so it doesn't surprise me that anybody involved in this process should say the top priority has to be training Iraqi forces so that they can, indeed, take responsibility for the security of their nation.
QUESTION: As for those countries who told you they needed this UN resolution and then you got it, have you gone back to them and said, "Now you have the resolution," and have they -- are they still mulling it over or what's the status of your requests?
MR. BOUCHER: I think you would have to check with individual governments as to how they want to characterize it. The United Nations has approached nations. Some countries, as I said, the Iraqi Government, has acknowledged that it's approached countries under this UN resolution. There are nations who have considered it. There are nations who are considering it, but we'll have to see when countries decide to make a real commitment. I'm not aware of any final commitments at this point.
QUESTION: And the U.S. is comfortable with having to take that responsibility over as head of the coalition?
MR. BOUCHER: Our view is that support for the United Nations, including security for the United Nations, is important and that we would certainly welcome people responding to the Iraqi offer to help with that.
QUESTION: What if they don't? That's my question.
MR. BOUCHER: We're very committed to security for the Iraqis, helping the Iraqis provide security for their people and for UN efforts, but I can't stand here and commit U.S. forces to a particular task.
QUESTION: What about militia's proposals that the Islamic forces that will come in Iraq should be under an Islamic banner?
MR. BOUCHER: There are a variety of ideas out there. I think you saw the Saudi ideas that were discussed and we'll see how those develop. Those have been discussed with the Iraqi Government at this point. We'll see how things develop.
QUESTION: And that will be part of the UN banner?
MR. BOUCHER: I can't describe somebody else's idea. The Iraqis have been discussing this question with the Saudis, as we know. We heard about it when the Secretary was in Saudi Arabia. Whether the Malaysian is part of the Saudi idea or some other idea, I really think these things need to be worked first and foremost with the Iraqis to see how they develop.
QUESTION: Change topics. Cuba. I don't know if you have dealt with this before, but do you have -- is there -- do you have anything on a possible exception being made to allow American students to attend the Latin American School of Medicine in Cuba?
MR. BOUCHER: I think we've talked about that before. There was a Federal Register notice a week or so ago?
A PARTICIPANT: Actually, longer than that.
MR. BOUCHER: Longer than that. We'll find you the references on that.
QUESTION: Sorry. I just wanted to follow up on this missile defense again. Canada's Prime Minister, Paul Martin, has said if there is going to be an American missile going off somewhere over Canadian airspace, I think Canada should be at the table making decisions. In the U.S.'s opinion, how important or essential is it or necessary is it to have Canadian agreement for the development and implementation of this new missile defense system?
MR. BOUCHER: Again, I'd go back to what I have said before, that the amendment that we're dealing with here assigned certain responsibilities of tactical warning and assessment, part of the missile defense mission to North American Aerospace Defense Command. Other issues, participation with Canada, needs to be worked out, as Canada decides whether to participate or not.
So all I can tell you at this point is that we've worked very well with Canada on all of these issues in the past and we'd expect to work these things out in the future, as various programs proceed ahead.
QUESTION: Okay, thank you.
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah.
QUESTION: Very quickly. There is an attorney in town, a local Palestinian-American attorney, who has taken the Saudi Academy to task. They are still teaching in there, apparently, their curriculum that the only religion is Islam and that Christianity and Judaism are (inaudible). Do you know anything about this story? Or do you follow --
MR. BOUCHER: I'm afraid I don't know.
QUESTION: Do you have a way of following what they are teaching here?
MR. BOUCHER: No.
QUESTION: Richard, have there been any diplomatic discussions with the Russians about the South Ossetia and the Abkhazia conflicts with the President of Georgia in town?
MR. BOUCHER: Well, we've stayed in touch with the Russians and the Georgians about the difficulties that have arisen around South Ossetia. Abkhazia, certainly, you'll remember the Secretary was in contact with Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov about it and others. So these are all issues that we have tried to be helpful, to the extent we can.
We have encouraged both the Russians and the Georgians to work together, and they, indeed, they have something called the Joint -- let me look it up -- they have the Joint Control Commission Framework to work this in. The OSCE is involved. The United Nations is involved, and we've encouraged both sides to talk to each other and to use the mechanisms available to avoid unintentional incidents and to find ways of resolving tensions through discussion and dialogue.
That will continue to be the focus of our efforts in the meeting the Secretary has today with Prime Minister Saakashvili -- sorry -- President Saakashvili, today, in addition to discussing other developments, energy issues, global war on terrorism, things like that.
QUESTION: Mr. Jenkins? Mr. Jenkins met with a U.S. military lawyer and they will meeting again on Friday, Japan time. Are you involved with the arrangement of their meetings at all?
MR. BOUCHER: I'm sorry. Who?
QUESTION: Mr. Jenkins.
MR. BOUCHER: Mr. Jenkins.
QUESTION: Met with a U.S. military lawyer.
MR. BOUCHER: I know we expected such a meeting. I don't know that it -- how much we're involved in the detail. I'd have to check with our Embassy in Tokyo and find out how much they've been involved.
QUESTION: Can you tell us what's your communications with the Japanese Government on this, please?
MR. BOUCHER: Largely, through our Embassy in Tokyo, they've been staying in close touch with the Japanese Embassy. But I'd have to check and see if there is more.
QUESTION: Can I just ask one more? And the press reports also mentioned about two options: a plea bargain and a court martial. Can you talk anything about --
MR. BOUCHER: I wouldn't be able to get into that, no, no.
QUESTION: Mr. Boucher, on Skopje, the California legislature yesterday passed a resolution by which (inaudible) FYROM, (inaudible) Macedonia, and also, the most important, the so-called the Macedonian language and ethnicity, something against -- by Greece, Bulgaria, Albania, the general community -- and join with the general --international community. Maybe you know the position of the U.S. Government on those issues, and which one (inaudible) the foreign policy, the state or the federal government?
MR. BOUCHER: I'd have to get you something to see if we have anything to say on that. I'll have to see if we have anything to say on that.
QUESTION: Richard, any reaction to the Thai commission, independent commission which came out with a report basically saying that excessive force was used in the raid in a mosque in April that led to the killing of about (inaudible) Islamic militants?
MR. BOUCHER: No, not really. We certainly noted the report, we are aware of the situation -- and we, I think, at the time, praised them for conducting an investigation, looking into the matter. And we think it's important that they did, but I have no particular comment on the findings.
QUESTION: Because many human rights groups have asked the Thai Government to make the report public, the full report public due to concerns on rights abuses.
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah, I don't know if we've taken a position on that or not, frankly.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MR. BOUCHER: Okay, thanks.
(The briefing was concluded at 12:45 p.m.)
(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)
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