21 January 2005
State Department Noon Briefing, January 21
Ukraine, Deputy Secretary's Travel to Brussels for Sri Lanka Reconstruction Conference, Deputy Secretary Armitage's StatusSecretary Powell's Travel Record, U.S. Commitment to Democracy and Human Rights/Inaugural Address, U.S. Relationship with China and Saudi Arabia/World Standards on Human Rights, Greater Middle East Initiative Progress/Middle East Partnership, Confirmation of Secretary Designate Rice/Possible Travel, Secretary Powell's Work as Secretary of StateSecretary Designate Rice's Testimony/Preparation, Asia/Department, United Kingdom, Israel/Palestinians, Sudan, Cyprus, Terrorism
State Department Spokesman Richard Boucher briefed the press January 21.
Following is the transcript of the State Department briefing:
U.S. Department of State
Daily Press Briefing Index
Friday, January 21, 2005
12:30 p.m. EST
Briefer: Richard Boucher, Spokesman
-- Secretary Powell's Travel to Ukraine for the Presidential Inauguration
-- U.S. Support for Democratic Rights
-- Secretary's Meetings While on Travel
-- Outcome of Ukrainian Election Reflects the Will of the People
-- Russian Recognition of Results in Ukraine/U.S. Discussions with Russia
-- Deputy Secretary's Travel to Brussels for Sri Lanka Reconstruction Conference
-- Deputy Secretary Armitage's Status
-- Secretary Powell's Travel Record
-- U.S. Commitment to Democracy and Human Rights/Inaugural Address
-- U.S. Relationship with China and Saudi Arabia/World Standards on Human Rights
-- Greater Middle East Initiative Progress/Middle East Partnership
-- Confirmation of Secretary Designate Rice/Possible Travel
-- Secretary Powell's Work as Secretary of State
-- Secretary Designate Rice's Testimony/Preparation
-- American Citizen Casualty Figures from Tsunami Update
-- Progress in Civilian Aid Effort/Decrease in Need for U.S. Military
-- Aid Worker Arrangements
-- Potential Visit by Foreign Secretary Straw
-- Straw's Comments on Lifting the EU Arms Embargo on China
-- U.S. Relationship with the U.K.
-- U.S. Encouraged by Steps by Abbas/Control of Security
-- U.S. in Close Touch with Israelis and Palestinians
-- U.S. Appalled by the Atrocities in Darfur/Genocide
-- U.S. Support for Accountability for Perpetrators/Range of Options
-- Possible New Resolution
-- Property Transactions in North Cyprus
-- Status of Ambassador Miller
-- Terror Threat in Boston/Contact with China
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
FRIDAY, JANUARY 21, 2005
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
12:30 p.m. EST
MR. BOUCHER: All right, everybody. Let's see if we remember how to do this. It's been a while.
There are a couple things I'd like to talk about at the top, if I can. The first is to draw your attention to the announcement of the Secretary's travel that we released yesterday; that is, Secretary Powell's travel to Ukraine that we released yesterday. He will be leaving Saturday morning very early, coming back Sunday night kind of late, to go to Ukraine, to Kiev, to represent President Bush and the American people at the inauguration on Sunday, January 23rd, of Ukrainian President-elect Victor Yushchenko.
And we congratulated Victor Yushchenko on his historic victory. We wish him all success in his new term of office. And the Secretary will be pleased to be there to celebrate with the Ukrainian
people the result of their standing up firmly for their democratic rights.
The second piece --
QUESTION: May I ask about that?
MR. BOUCHER: Sure.
QUESTION: Is he taking a particular message from the President as they celebrate?
MR. BOUCHER: I think he is taking the general message from the President that we will stand with those who stand for democracy. So what the President said yesterday, Ukraine is probably a fine example where people themselves took in hand their own situation, demanded their democratic rights, insisted on a free, fair election; that those of us from the outside, that's what we insisted on as well, that we look for a free and fair election, not trying to choose a candidate, leave that to the Ukrainian people. But the support for people who have stood up and demanded and gained their democratic rights, I think is very clear, and we will be carrying through on that in the future.
QUESTION: In all that process, there were some tensions with Russia. Will the Secretary meet with a Russian --
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know of any particular meetings that are scheduled at this point, but I would note two things. One, the Russians, I think, have recognized the result and the result of the Ukrainian political and judicial process now that it is finished, as we have now that it is finished. So I think that is a positive development. And second, I saw press reports that President-elect Yushchenko will be going to Moscow as one of his stops on the trip he makes right after his inauguration. So I think both of these things go to show that a democratic Ukraine, a Ukraine where the president enjoys the support of his people through an election process and where the country is governed through a democratic process, is a good thing, not just for people like us, but for everybody in the region, and that there is no East-West tug of war over Ukraine. It is just a matter of allowing the Ukrainian people to have their rights and to enjoy their rights. That is what has happened. That is what happened through a careful process in Ukraine. We recognize that, support it, and apparently the Russians do too.
QUESTION: Do you know if the Secretary is going to discuss the issue of the withdrawal of the Ukrainian troops from Iraq?
MR. BOUCHER: Again, we don't have a final schedule, so I don't know how much time he will have for bilateral meetings with Ukrainian leaders and the new Ukrainian leaders, but that may be a subject that comes up if we do have a chance to have some discussion.
QUESTION: Is he going to extend, on behalf of the President, an invitation to Mr. Yuschenko to visit the United States?
MR. BOUCHER: Again, it's a little early for me to do that. I can't predict that at this point.
QUESTION: With the outcome of this election in the Ukraine -- of course, it was people on the streets and supporters and a whole flap with the Russians -- is there any plan to talk from the State Department and White House with President Putin to allay and to dampen down this, I guess you can say, very conservative, almost authoritarian, type of input that may have skewed the election in the Ukraine? You've seen Kuchma and others --
MR. BOUCHER: Well, I mean, a couple of things to say about that. The first is, as skewed as the first round was, I think there is general recognition that there may have been some flaws in the second round but that the second round was a good reflection of the will and desire of the Ukrainian people. That outcome has been now certified by the Election Commission after the appropriate consideration and decisions of the Ukraine Supreme Court. So that political-judicial process in Ukraine, with the Rada and Supreme Court making whatever decisions they had to, has come to fruition, has resulted in an outcome that everybody can believe, can trust reflects the will, what the Ukrainian people want.
As far as the Russians go, I think I have tried to address that and said that Russian recognition that that process was a fair one and recognition of its results, like ours, is a recognition that a democratic outcome in Ukraine is good for everybody, and that is what we have wanted and that is apparently what the Russians have wanted and accepted as well.
Third, on our talking to the Russians, certainly we talk to the Russians all the time about developments in the region, about democratic progress being made in the region and issues like Ukraine. So we will continue to talk to them at various levels as we meet with them at different levels over the next month or two.
Can we go on, or not?
QUESTION: Well, a further question. Do you think that the Russians, from the beginning of this whole process, tried to impede the electoral process in the Ukraine?
MR. BOUCHER: I am not going to try to characterize the Russian role any more than I already have -- what they are doing now.
All right. Second -- second is to announce travel by Deputy Secretary Richard Armitage. He will travel to Brussels on January 26th for consultations with fellow donor co-chairs of the Tokyo Conference on Reconstruction and Development of Sri Lanka. These are consultations on the current status of the peace process in Sri Lanka. Other participants will represent the governments of Norway, Japan and the European Union. The donor co-chairs will review their assistance efforts, discuss humanitarian and basic reconstruction assistance to those areas of Sri Lanka affected by the war, and express support for the resumption of peace talks between the Government of Sri Lanka and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. Those talks have been suspended since April of 2003.
They will also discuss how their assistance efforts may be refined in light of the tsunami that devastated coastal regions of Sri Lanka and took more than 38,000 lives in Sri Lanka.
QUESTION: A question about Secretary Armitage's status. Does he plan to stay on until his successor comes along, or what?
MR. BOUCHER: At this point I think he still is Deputy Secretary until February 3rd -- that was the date that was designated for him. I don't know exactly what the congressional schedule is for his replacement, so I don't know if we will have confirmation of his successor by that time or not. But February 3rd is the date that he was going to be leaving anyway.
And I guess I would note that this -- because of his involvement in the Sri Lanka process and this donors process that began in June 2002, and the support of potential donors for the peace process, it was understood that he would be going to this meeting, even had the confirmation process completed, been completed for Dr. Rice yesterday.
QUESTION: So is he working from this building? Is the Secretary coming back here at some point before Ukraine or --
MR. BOUCHER: Can we do that later? I've got a couple of more things to talk about.
QUESTION: Oh, okay.
QUESTION: Is the Deputy Secretary going anywhere else?
MR. BOUCHER: No, just going to Brussels.
QUESTION: So --
MR. BOUCHER: Too bad.
QUESTION: Yeah, no, no, it's close to the Davos summit. Do you know who is representing the U.S. Government at Davos?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know who's going to Davos.
QUESTION: Oh, okay.
MR. BOUCHER: The third thing is just to mention -- I think I have talked to a number of you individually. I want to do this in public and on the record. There have been a lot of little stories about Secretary Powell's travel record, and somehow repetition that he didn't travel or traveled less than other recent Secretaries of State. We have checked the records and I want to put on the record now that of the last four Secretaries of State, Secretary Powell was second in terms of the number of trips he made, he was second in terms of the number of countries that he visited.
Different secretaries do this differently and we don't really think the measure of a Secretary of State is how many days he spends on the road or how many trips he makes or how many countries he visits. But I do want to get rid of this idea that there is -- that the numbers are less for him than for others. And different secretaries, as I say, will have different patterns of travel. They conduct their diplomacy based on their style and their time and their relationships and how they want to maintain that, and in the end, the measure of any secretary is their effectiveness on behalf of the United States.
QUESTION: Can I ask, on this, just a quick question?
MR. BOUCHER: Okay.
QUESTION: Just to clarify, do you include in those the miles and the number of countries traveled with the President?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't, frankly, know.
MR. BOUCHER: I didn't do the numbers myself. We just added it up the same way for every Secretary of State.
QUESTION: Right, yeah.
MR. BOUCHER: So whatever -- whether that -- I think that was in, but if it was in for Powell, it was in for all of the others.
QUESTION: Just comparable for all four. If it's included, it's for all of them.
MR. BOUCHER: It's comparable, and it was based on all the trips listed on our website.
QUESTION: Did you do it by region? You know, did the Secretary travel to this region more than the other region, compared to other Secretaries of State?
MR. BOUCHER: All the information like that is on our website. You can do that kind of analysis if you want to. I know that he went, in four years, he went to Latin America, I think, more times than Secretaries of State had gone in the previous eight years. So there are little tidbits like that, we noted, every now and then. But I think, no, generally we have not tried to do a pie chart with regions and start doing detailed analysis basically because of this view that the number of trips one makes is not a determination of how effective your diplomacy is. As I said, different secretaries do it different ways and the true measure of any Secretary of State is their effectiveness in behalf of America.
QUESTION: No, the reason I ask this is because, you know, during the tenure of Secretary Warren Christopher, he made a lot of trips to Syria, for instance. I mean, everybody was talking about that.
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah, that's what he was working on. Yeah, that's one of the things he was working on, and that was his way to work it. So and no criticism of anybody else implied. We don't think it is a valid measure of a Secretary of State. But if people are going to write about it, at least they ought to get the facts right. That's the only point I want to make today.
QUESTION: I take it the numbers you gave us are applicable now and not as of his return from Ukraine.
MR. BOUCHER: Yes, but I don't think the one trip to the Ukraine will change the relative ranking and numbers that much. It will be one more country and one more trip.
Can I say one more thing, just because we haven't been for a while -- the tsunami update. The number of Americans that were presumed dead in the tsunami, we have been able to locate one of them alive. So we are very happy to report that -- well, that the number of presumed dead has gone down by one. We are sad to note that it still stands at 16 Americans who are presumed dead in the tsunami.
There are 18 Americans who are confirmed dead in the tsunami, and there are, of the 30,000 calls that we received during the course of this event, there are now 153 inquiries about American individuals that we have not yet been able to track down. So we've done a lot of work. The consular people in Washington and in the field have done a lot of work to locate Americans who are missing or where their families just didn't know where they were, to find them, get them in touch with their families. We're down to 153 people that we still haven't quite located yet.
QUESTION: Richard, it's been a couple of weeks since the actual incident, and at what point do some of these inquiries, if you're not able to whittle them down and you're not able to locate these people, even though they weren't actually at the scene of some of the greatest impact, at what point do you kind of add them to the presumed dead list, or presumed --
MR. BOUCHER: The presumed dead is really a higher standard, and even there, we've noted, I think, this was the second case where we were lucky enough to find the person after we had said they were presumed dead. That's really where you know somebody was there, where you can locate them at a place where the tsunami hit, around the time the tsunami hit, and where they haven't been heard from since.
Most of these -- many of these welfare and whereabouts inquiries are sort of general inquiries, you know, I haven't heard from my son or haven't heard from my brother and sister or something like that, and they may have been in the area or they may not have. Those people you would not list as presumed dead unless you had real reason to believe that they were there and were, unfortunately, killed in the tragedy.
All right, glad to take your questions about this or other items. George.
QUESTION: Could you comment on reports that Jack Straw is coming here to see the Secretary?
MR. BOUCHER: No, I can't confirm anything at this point. It would be for the British Government to announce any travels for Secretary Straw.
QUESTION: On this, Mr. Straw made some comments the other day about the arms embargo in China, said they'll have to manage relations with the U.S. to make sure that nothing happens long term and affects the relationship. Do you have anything to say about the -- especially the U.K.-U.S. relationship as a result of any lifting of the embargo?
MR. BOUCHER: This is a matter that has been discussed with the European Union, various members of the European Union, including the presidency when the Secretary was in the Netherlands, and I believe it's come up on -- let me double-check on that. I'm sure it's come up with the Luxembourgers. I can't remember if it came up in the Secretary's call with the Foreign Minister of Luxembourg not too long ago. And I'm sure it will be a subject of further discussion with the Europeans as they consider this.
I think we've made our point very clearly. We have held to that position, that it's not time to lift the arms embargo on China, and we continue to hold that position. So we'll continue to discuss it with them and hope they would consider our views as they try to determine the best course of action for the European Union.
QUESTION: But specifically about Britain, you know, the closest ally of the United States, with the potential of, you know, being able to sell arms to China, isn't that a real impediment to your relationship with them?
MR. BOUCHER: I think our relationship with the British has far transcended any particular issue, given the number of areas, the myriad of areas, where we cooperate. Certainly, this is an issue where we probably don't see eye to eye, but we will see how the European Union decides to act, if and when they do. We have continued to make clear that we believe it's not time to lift the embargo on arms sales to China because of the human rights conditions in China.
QUESTION: Richard, the President's Inaugural Address has generated a lot of reaction, this assertion about liberty being important around the world and being linked to our own security. The question is how -- people are wondering, how does this impact on our relations with a lot of countries that are not exactly ideal democracies -- Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, others who have been also helpful in the war against terrorism.
MR. BOUCHER: I think the first thing to note is that the President's Inaugural Address was not only a statement of his future vision, but also a statement of what he has been doing, having defeated tyranny and brought democratic prospects to Afghanistan and Iraq; having initiated a number of programs to promote reform and change in the Middle East, from the Middle East Partnership Initiative that Secretary Powell announced a few years ago, to the Forum for the Future meetings that were held in Morocco and the whole Sea Island, Georgia, promotion of reform and change in the Middle East.
It has been a policy that we have carried out. In fact, one shouldn't overlook things like the recent announcement of withholding $10 million of aid from Uzbekistan because of human rights problems there. And it is a policy that we intend to carry forward in a variety of ways. I think the President made clear it was not a -- not something proceeded by force of arms, but rather it's something proceeded to encourage and support movements or change, to encourage and support movements towards democracy throughout the world, wherever we can. And that is, indeed, what we have done and will continue to do.
QUESTION: Have you not, though, raised expectation about some new level of pressure that you'd bring to bear in a public way with countries like --
MR. BOUCHER: I think he has, and I think you will see him carry out a new level of, shall we say, support for democratic forces in various countries. That doesn't mean we abandon our friends. But many of our friends realize it's time for them to change anyway, and they are, indeed, looking at making change within their own societies, and as well as we hear more civic leaders and other voices in those societies calling for reform and change. We intend to stand on the side of change and try to help people move it along.
QUESTION: Some of the countries that, let's say, I mean, they're not necessarily outlaw regimes, but certainly, just to follow up on my colleague's question, democratic -- there are problems with democracy there, such as China. And the President said that America's relations will be dictated by their level of commitment to freedom and democracy. How are you going to implement this policy with countries that you do a lot of business with, like China, like Saudi Arabia, like Egypt?
MR. BOUCHER: First of all, I don't think you're exactly quoting the President accurately, and I would look up the exact words that he used. Second of all, human rights has always been an important part of our relationship with China and we've always been supportive of human rights efforts in China. We've always been critical of problems in China with human rights, and we will continue to make that part of our relationship.
Where there is reform and democratic change, we will support it. I mean, look at the amount of time and effort and interest we have shown to the Saudis holding municipal elections, where the Secretary has been personally involved, talking to people about it and encouraging it and hearing about it. The United States will continue to support efforts at reform and change.
QUESTION: You've been supportive of those efforts, but -- and I might not have the exact language, but he definitely said something to the effect of that America's relations with countries would be affected, in part, by their commitment to democracy. And, I mean, while you've been supportive of human rights in China, can you honestly say that it's affected your relationship in a negative way, their human rights record?
MR. BOUCHER: I can honestly say that it has been certainly a difficulty for the U.S.-China relationship going back many years. It is something the U.S. has raised firmly and repeatedly in previous administrations and in this one as well. We have been able to develop relations to a great extent in many other areas, but it remains a problem that we have to deal with. And as China has taken on world standards in so many other areas, we want to see them adopt the world's standards of human rights as well, and that's something we continue to pursue.
I think it's -- if you look around the world and you see where are our best relationships, you'll always find that our relationships are better with nations that are democratic and respect human rights than they are with nations that don't.
QUESTION: Well, but the President certainly seemed to lay down a new marker yesterday. I mean, do you think that, in the future, that human rights is going to become a bigger factor in relations with these countries?
MR. BOUCHER: I will stand by what the President said. I think the President and other members of the Administration will, over the next few weeks, start talking in more detail about how those principles will be implemented. I'm not prepared to do that in terms of every single relationship we have around the world today, but I think I can point out that the President's done a lot in this area. Secretary Powell did a lot in this area. The President will continue to make this a hallmark of his policy. And Secretary Rice will, I'm sure, once she has the advice and consent of the Senate, devote a lot of attention to this as well.
QUESTION: How does the liberty and freedom rhetoric pan out when juxtaposed against the current status of the Greater Middle East initiative, for instance, really on the back burner? I mean, you know --
MR. BOUCHER: It's not on the back burner.
QUESTION: It's not as, let's say, as prominently --
MR. BOUCHER: It was announced in June. We had a meeting in New York in September. We had the meeting in Morocco in December. We've had several volunteers to host various meetings this year. There have been countries holding judicial seminars and seminars on civil society. There have been projects underway with funding from the Middle East Partnership Initiative. So I would really tell you that the Greater Middle East initiative, the G-8 efforts, the NATO efforts to reach out to these countries and the European efforts to reach out to these countries are going ahead.
QUESTION: So would you say that regimes such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia are feeling the same amount of pressure as they did several months ago on that --
MR. BOUCHER: I've got to say, you guys reduce this to pressure and cutoffs and that sort of thing, and there's at least as great an element of support -- support for elections in Saudi Arabia, support for judicial reform throughout the region, support for civil society groups, support for journalist training so that journalists can carry out their profession better. And there's a great deal of that going on.
QUESTION: The President obviously talked about democracy spreading around the world, but also the Secretary of State-designate last week talked about new skills that she thinks the Foreign Service will have to acquire to be able to be more active -- proactive in terms of democracy and freedom and all that. As far as I can tell, the Foreign Service has been doing a lot of that already for many, many years. What new skills or what more can the Foreign Service do, do you think, to help the President achieve his goal?
MR. BOUCHER: We will do everything we can to help the President achieve his goal. That's where I have to stop for the moment. Once the new Secretary is confirmed, I'm sure she'll be telling us more about those things.
QUESTION: Richard, do you see it as intimidation from Muslim groups, especially in Indonesia, with the cutoff of the military distribution of food and materials? Aid workers there are worried --
MR. BOUCHER: No.
QUESTION: -- with that pullout.
MR. BOUCHER: No. There's no pullout; there's no cutoff. There is a process that was anticipated from the beginning that, as we can open ports, open roads, open distribution systems, get other helicopters in there, as the Indonesians, the nongovernmental organizations and the civilian aid agencies like the U.S. Agency for International Development are able to take over that distribution of goods and taking care of people and move into the reconstruction effort, that the need for the military effort will go down. And that's what we're looking at now, along with the Indonesians, very well coordinated with everybody.
There will be military people certainly in Indonesia for a while to come, but as the civilian side of the effort is able to take over those things and military people will wind down and move out, it will be a smooth handover. The guidance and the watchword for everyone is to make sure that everybody that needs the assistance, that is getting the assistance, continues to get the assistance through the new arrangements.
So I think we're nearing the point with Sri Lanka and Thailand where the military effort is no longer needed and the civilian effort and agencies can take over. It may be a little bit longer in Indonesia before we get to that point.
QUESTION: Do you have any type of understanding with Jakarta with respect to aid workers, or they're now going to be vulnerable up in Aceh?
MR. BOUCHER: I think what you've seen is that aid workers have been able to operate where they need to and get to where they're going. Sometimes it's been in coordination with the Indonesian military, sometimes not. But the arrangements have been fairly flexible and they've been able to do everything they have to do to get the assistance to people who need it.
QUESTION: Richard --
MR. BOUCHER: Sorry. George.
QUESTION: Back on the original line of questioning before this one, this building has worked on democracy and human rights from two fronts over the past four years: promoting democracy on the one hand and defending individuals who have been subject to repression in China and other countries.
The President never mentioned human rights yesterday. And I just wonder whether the focus -- this may be too -- the question may be too premature, but I just wonder whether the focus will be on democracy to the exclusion of individual human rights cases from now on.
MR. BOUCHER: Definitely premature and uncalled-for assumptions, I think.
We have not only called attention to particular human rights cases, we have also called attention to the human rights situations in different countries. We continue and will continue to produce the Human Rights Reports that do that. We have also, more and more, supported efforts at reform and change wherever we could. So, as you say, there have been various aspects to this policy.
As I said, the President making clear the vision, the logic and the principles that underlie a U.S. foreign policy that is centered on liberty and centered on freedom. That is a policy not just of helping people achieve their aspirations, but help them make the world more stable and more safe for us and for other people who live around the world. So that is the basis of policy.
How these policies play out in specific places and specific ways, I think we will develop in, again, the coming months in more detail.
QUESTION: Richard, on the Palestinian-Israel conflict, there's been a decision to deploy 3,000 forces in Gaza. Apparently, the rockets stopped and so on.
Could you give us an idea of what kind of diplomacy is underway between the Department of State and the Palestinians?
MR. BOUCHER: Well, let me say first that we are encouraged by the steps that President Abbas has taken to gain control of the security situation in Gaza. We have always stressed how important it is for the Palestinians to organize themselves to end the violence, and we welcome steps that are being taken in that direction.
I would say we are also pleased with the coordination that is going on between Israeli and Palestinian officials. We recognize there are many challenges ahead. We've made clear to the Palestinians that we will assist them in rebuilding of their security forces. But we, again, continue to stress it is concrete action by the Palestinian leadership that sends -- that will send a clear message that terror will not be tolerated.
In terms of diplomacy, we are in close touch with the Israelis, we are in close touch with the Palestinians, largely through our Consul General -- well, partly through our Consul General in Jerusalem. Ambassador Burns has been in touch with President Abbas on the telephone last week, may talk to him again soon, and Ambassador Burns will be going out to the region next week with stops in -- I think in Egypt, as well as Israel and the occupied territories.
So we are continuing to work very hard to try to advance this process, to try to take the opportunities that have emerged and help the parties forward with the process to make it mean something.
QUESTION: Will this assistance to the Palestinians, will this be in the form of sort of technical assistance advice, or are we talking monetary assistance, when it comes to helping?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't have any specifics for you at this point. We have long said that we would help them with this. We work with other governments involved, Jordanians and Egyptians in particular. And so we will see if it is, you know, items, advice, training, whatever is appropriate, as we go forward.
David, another one?
QUESTION: Is there some sort of diplomatic rhubarb brewing between the U.S. and the European Union about the use of the International Criminal Court to punish possible Darfur war crimes, so to speak?
MR. BOUCHER: So to speak?
MR. BOUCHER: What's the matter with rhubarb? Some people like it. So, having defended rhubarb, let me go on to tell you about where we are on this question.
I think, first, as you know, we have been appalled by the atrocities that have occurred in Darfur. We have been highlighting them for the world. The Secretary of State did through his trip, along with the efforts that he and the Secretary General have been making.
We, ourselves, have collected an enormous amount of information during the course of the summer on the atrocities going on in Darfur that led to a report September 3rd, and then the Secretary, on September 9th, said it was genocide. So the United States has done a lot to call attention to the kinds of crimes and atrocities that have been committed in Darfur, and at every turn of the way, we have tried to say when we thought it was happening again and trying to get it to stop.
We supported calls in UN resolutions; indeed, we helped draft calls in UN resolutions for accountability for those who are responsible for perpetuating these efforts, perpetuating the crimes and the attacks. We helped create a commission on behalf of the UN that's been investigating what has occurred in Darfur, looking for -- looking to determine whether there are crimes, whether there are atrocities, whether there are war crimes that have been committed, and I guess they are getting close to presenting their results.
When those results come out, we will look at a range of options for accountability in Darfur. We have done some discussion already with others involved in the Security Council, others who look for accountability for crimes that have occurred in Darfur.
I think our position on the International Criminal Court is well known, so I won't bother to go into it any further here. But we do believe that there needs to be accountability and that we will work with others to find the best possible solution to ensuring accountability.
QUESTION: Is the United States, instead of looking at a referral to the ICC, thinking about expanding the Rwanda War Crimes Tribunal?
MR. BOUCHER: We will look at a range of possibilities. That's certainly one of them. We have, I think, always said that it is appropriate for the Security Council to create and control these kinds of mechanisms that international justice can be found. And that would certainly have to be one of the ways that we would look at it.
QUESTION: If I remember correctly, your main problem with the International Criminal Court is that it didn't provide immunity for U.S. personnel. But do you have objections to the court in general?
MR. BOUCHER: We have, indeed, had objections to the court that are more general than that.
QUESTION: But can you say how they might apply to Darfur?
MR. BOUCHER: No, we will have to see what the commission, the UN commission, comes back and recommends in terms of accountability and what might be done. The point is, I think, we want to find an effective and appropriate means of accountability and we will consider various options for doing that.
QUESTION: Are you looking to push a new resolution at the Council on Darfur?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know when the current one might expire, but at this point we'll just have to see how this develops because we're first looking for the report of the commission that's been investigating possible war crimes in Darfur.
QUESTION: Richard, could you talk a little bit about --
MR. BOUCHER: No, let's go to Nicholas and we'll work our way back. We've got some patient people.
QUESTION: To be clear, you don't think that the ICC is a viable option for this?
MR. BOUCHER: We have had a number of objections to the International Criminal Court and therefore don't believe it is the best option for this. We think there are a range of options that need to be discussed and looked at.
QUESTION: I thought if we could talk about Dr. Rice's hearing a little bit, if that's okay with everybody.
MR. BOUCHER: I take the position she said everything that needs to be said in what, nine, ten hours of hearings.
QUESTION: Well, I have a technical question, first of all. More than that, I think, nine hours and then three hours. First of all, could you give us an idea how -- once she is confirmed by the whole Senate -- how the changing of the guards will take place? Is it immediately or the following day or --
MR. BOUCHER: I can't give you anything specific because I don't want to presume upon the advice and consent of the Senate. But I will say that past practice for most secretaries is that they are -- once they're confirmed by the Senate and the appropriate paperwork has gone back and forth between the Senate and the White House, then they're generally sworn in in some sort of low-key ceremony and low-key procedure and they become Secretary of State almost right away, within hours of the final vote by the Senate.
And so that is generally the way it has been done in the past. We will have to see next week when the Senate does take up this matter and when they decide to vote. Depending on the moment, I'm sure that the appropriate arrangements will be made for her to assume the office as soon as it is appropriate.
QUESTION: Richard --
QUESTION: A follow-up, just a quick follow-up, Richard.
MR. BOUCHER: Okay.
QUESTION: Now, Dr. Rice said there are six regimes in the world that are oppressive. Is that, in a way, expanding the "axis of evil"?
MR. BOUCHER: I would look at exactly what she said. As I said, I think she said everything there that needs to be said on the subject, on that one as well as others. And she, I think, was very clear on that.
QUESTION: Richard, Senator Reid, I believe, told reporters yesterday that he spoke to Dr. Rice and it was her -- that she understood that many in the Senate want to continue to debate her confirmation, but that her only request was that she be confirmed by the State of the Union because she has travel planned after that. Is there any travel, other than the travel that's been announced with the President that she was supposed to accompany?
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not in a position yet to talk about anything involving Dr. Rice's schedule. We will have to wait for the Senate to provide its advice and consent, and once she's Secretary of State, then we will make the appropriate announcements of what she decides to do at that time.
QUESTION: Mr. Boucher, on Cyprus. It was noticed recently that a lot of illegal --
MR. BOUCHER: Hang on a sec. You've got, unfortunately, people that want to stick to the same subject and get me to answer the same question the same way again.
QUESTION: Different question, same subject.
MR. BOUCHER: Same answer. Go. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: On the practicality of -- the Secretary was obviously expecting that Dr. Rice took over on, say, Thursday. He left the building on Wednesday. Just on a practical level, how is he doing business? Is he working from home? Is he back here? How is he -- has he done lots of phone calls, normal Secretary of State stuff?
MR. BOUCHER: The Secretary is doing normal Secretary of State stuff. He did talk to NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer yesterday. I think I told you on Wednesday when he made a few phone calls he might make some more, and that may continue. Largely farewell calls, at this point.
The Secretary has not -- is not spending the entire day. The day-to-day sort of operational matters are being handled by Under Secretary Grossman. Secretary Powell remains Secretary of State and we operate under his guidance and instruction, so we're in touch with him as needs be throughout the day. He's been in the office today. I don't know how much he'll be in on different days, but you might think of it as the kind of way we operate when both Secretary Armitage and Secretary Powell are on travel or something like that. We're continuing operations under their guidance and instruction, but that Marc Grossman has taken over a lot of the specifics of holding meetings and making sure paper gets done.
QUESTION: Thank you.
QUESTION: In terms of Dr. Rice's testimony and the preparation and the questions that were answered in writing before the hearing the other day, how much was the State Department personnel involved in that? Was this the agency, the main agency, that was in charge of the preparation?
MR. BOUCHER: The preparation for any nominee, whether it is the Secretary of State or anyone below, is a combination of them -- the nominee themselves and their personal staff and the contribution or support that they can give as an institution. I remember just about every Secretary of State, we've done, you know, books of Q&A and books of questions/answers, and helped draft some of the questions for the record that the nominee can then review and decide if that's what they want. Ultimately, it's the nominee who is responsible and makes sure the testimony and the questions and answers are the way that he or she wants them.
So the simple answer is yes, we did put a lot of effort into supporting her confirmation hearings, but -- as we do with all nominees, but she and her staff, in terms of the testimony, in terms of getting the answers the way they wanted them, put an enormous amount of effort into it as well.
Okay, where were we? We were going back to Cyprus.
QUESTION: On Cyprus. Mr. Boucher, it was noticed recently that a lot of illegal property transactions are going on in the occupied area of the Republic of Cyprus with a bunch of foreign buyers, particularly British. I'm wondering, what is the U.S. position to this illegal issue, since your government supports the policy to end the isolation of the Turkish Cypriots from the Turkish invasion and occupation force?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know that I have a policy statement on property transactions in the north. I'll have to look and see if I can get you something.
QUESTION: And one more question.
MR. BOUCHER: Yes.
QUESTION: Do you know what is the diplomatic status of the former Ambassador to Greece, Tom Miller?
MR. BOUCHER: I'll have to check. Meaning his -- not so much his diplomatic status, but his employment status.
QUESTION: But do you know if he resigned from diplomatic corps or he is still is --
MR. BOUCHER: Yes, I mean, he's no longer ambassador to Greece.
QUESTION: Yes, I know.
MR. BOUCHER: Charlie Reis is now Ambassador to Greece.
QUESTION: But right now, what is his --
MR. BOUCHER: So is he at the retirement seminar or still on the books or has he retired? I'll have to check and see.
QUESTION: Can you check on that? Because we're interested.
MR. BOUCHER: I will.
QUESTION: This is on a terror threat in Boston, allegedly involving a few Chinese nationals who could have been smuggled in from Mexico. Has the State Department been in touch with the Chinese Government on this or are other agencies handling it?
MR. BOUCHER: As you know, the lead on these matters is taken by the law enforcement agencies and so we have certainly been in touch with them and will respond in any way they want. Frequently we look for information in various databases that we might have or information we might have, and I think we've been doing that for them in these cases. But it's up to the law enforcement agencies to decide how they want us to take it forward.
QUESTION: But, I mean, would they take the lead in contacting the Chinese Government for information or do you do that?
MR. BOUCHER: No, but they might ask us to do that or they might ask us for information if we felt that was the most appropriate way to get it. I don't think at this point we've been in touch with the Chinese on it, but I'm not ruling it out.
MR. BOUCHER: Thank you.
(The briefing was concluded at 1:15 p.m. EST)
(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)
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