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State Department Briefing, May 2

02 May 2005

Iran, U.S. Delegation to Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference/Strengthening the Non-Proliferation Regime/Application to Countries That Have Violated Their Commitments Under the Treaty/U.S. Support for Universal Adherence of Additional Protocols/U.S. Reduction in the Number of Operationally Deployed Strategic Nuclear Weapons/U.S. Continuation of Moratorium on Nuclear Testing, U.S. Support for Broad Reform at the United Nations, John Bolton's Nomination to be U.S. Representative to the United Nations, U.S. View of Human Rights Conditions in Other Countries, North Korea, Japan, Italy, China/Taiwan, Syria, Egypt

State Department Spokesman Richard Boucher briefed the press May 2.

Following is the transcript of the State Department briefing:

(begin transcript)

U.S. Department of State
Daily Press Briefing Index
Monday, May 2, 2005
2:35 p.m. EDT

Briefer:  Richard Boucher, Spokesman

-- Iran's Commitment to Fully Suspend Uranium Enrichment Activities
-- U.S. Support for Efforts by the European Union 3

-- U.S. Delegation to Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference/Strengthening the Non-Proliferation Regime/Application to Countries That Have Violated Their Commitments Under the Treaty/U.S. Support for Universal Adherence of Additional Protocols/U.S. Reduction in the Number of Operationally Deployed Strategic Nuclear Weapons/U.S. Continuation of Moratorium on Nuclear Testing
-- U.S. Support for Broad Reform at the United Nations
-- John Bolton's Nomination to be U.S. Representative to the United Nations
-- U.S. View of Human Rights Conditions in Other Countries

-- Importance of North Korea Returning to Six-Party Talks/Responsibilities of the Other Parties

-- Readout of Secretary Rice's Meeting with Foreign Minister Machimura
-- U.S.-Japan Strategic Dialogue
-- U.S. Support for Japan's Membership in the U.N. Security Council

-- Reports on the Joint Investigation into Shooting Incident in Iraq
-- U.S.-Italy Bilateral Relationship

-- U.S. Support for Dialogue to Resolve Cross-Strait Differences Peacefully

-- Presence in Lebanon/Verification of Withdrawal by United Nations

-- Attacks in Cairo/No American Victims
-- Importance of Political Openings & Establishment of Security


MONDAY, MAY 2, 2005

2:35 p.m. EDT

MR. BOUCHER:  Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen.  It's a pleasure to be here.  No more statements for you right now.  You've just heard from the Secretary.  I think we've gotten you the joint U.S.-France statement on Lebanon.  So with those preliminaries, I'd be glad to take your questions.

QUESTION:  On Iran, Richard.  We had some pretty tough statements over the weekend about the Iranians saying that they're not happy with the talks with the Europeans and might resume the uranium enrichment.  We have Mr. Fischer saying at the UN that if they do start it could cost the talks.  Could you give us an idea where you think we are in these talks and are they in danger and do we have to go to the UN?

MR. BOUCHER:  Well, I think, first of all, those are all questions for the Europeans to answer.  They're their talks.  They're conducting them.  It was to them that the Iranians made pledges in connection with the start of the talks and these will be decisions for them to decide.

We continue to support efforts by France, Germany and the United Kingdom.  They're trying to win Iran's agreement to complete cession and dismantling of all enrichment-related and reprocessing facilities.  Iran made that commitment to a full suspension of facilities in connection with the EU-3 and that agreement makes it clear that Iran will suspend all tests and production at any uranium conversion installation.

So the promises are quite clear that Iran made.  If Iran wants to go back on these promises, then that will be a different thing.  But we continue to support the European effort, we continue to support the suspension that they got Iran to agree to and we urge Iran to maintain its promises and to negotiate in good faith.

QUESTION:  Can I just follow up on that?  Would it be appropriate, if the Iranians do make moves towards resuming uranium enrichment, that the United States, which has not supported very actively the talks, make known its opinion there by saying that we think this has gone far enough and it should go to the Security Council?

MR. BOUCHER:  Once again, that'll be a question we'll come to at the time.  We're supporting the efforts by the Europeans.  Promises have been made to the Europeans in the context of the European talks.  We'll continue to work with them depending what happens.


QUESTION:  Do you have any real confidence, though, that Iran will abide by promises?  They periodically do break out from the talks and they're threatening to do so again.

MR. BOUCHER:  Iran has threatened all kinds of things.  What's important for Iran to realize that the path out of their difficulties is to agree with the Europeans.  They've been offered certain benefits that won't happen unless they reach agreement.  They've been offered a path forward in terms of their relationships with the international community.  And it's up to them to satisfy the international community that Iran is no longer seeking to build nuclear weapons.  So I think that's where we think the onus is right now and that's where we support the Europeans.  And should Iran do something different, I'm sure we'll talk to the Europeans about what's next.


QUESTION:  As the Nonproliferation Treaty conference is opening in the UN, the emphasis is on North Korea and Iran and noncompliance, but to what extent is the U.S. assured that the United Nations will concentrate on actually enforcing -- you know, enforcing the problems that we're having with these two countries?  Well, enforcing the treaties.

MR. BOUCHER:  There's a number of things involved here besides those that you talk about, so I'm going to have to take a bigger perspective on the conference and maybe put some context to what you ask.  First of all, our delegation at the conference, headed by Steve Rademaker, our Assistant Secretary, is going to give his statement on behalf of the United States very shortly.  But I think there are a number of things to remember.  First of all, President Bush has already put forward proposals on how to strengthen the nonproliferation regime, both within the context of the treaty itself, but also things on the outside, things that the suppliers might do, things that the international community can do in terms of the Proliferation Security Initiative.

We've pointed actually in this -- at this review conference to progress that's been made in

various ways over the recent period in terms of Libya agreeing that it was better off without nuclear weapons, in terms of the international effort to get rid of the A.Q. Khan network, the private network that was black-marketing nuclear materials.  And if you look back to, you know, the last conference and before, if you look back over the history of recent years of nonproliferation, you see there are other states besides Libya -- South Africa, Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan -- that have all agreed to get rid of their nuclear weapons and they're all better off for it.

So then we have first of all, a positive example; second of all, we have countries that have gotten together outside of the Nonproliferation Treaty in order to strengthen the nonproliferation regime.  In addition, we've supported some of the proposals that have been made by us and others to strengthen nonproliferation regime inside the treaty and that's, for example, by promoting universal adherence to the Additional Protocol, which I think is something that many people, including your own Secretary General, talked about this morning.  And there are other things that can be done in terms of global partnerships to eliminate and secure sensitive materials.  So both within and outside the treaty, there's a lot that can be done to ensure the enforcement.

Now, how does that apply to Iran and North Korea?  Well, first of all, these are countries that have violated their commitments under the treaty.  These are both states that have, in the case of North Korea, even not just violated its commitments, but then said it withdrew from the treaty.  In the case of Iran, they conducted a clandestine program for decades, even while it was in the treaty.  So I think there's a -- it raises questions about how the treaty should apply to them.  But in any case, we think it's important for them to come back into adherence and to either abide by the treaty or be subject to all the other kinds of measures that states can use to make sure they don't develop nuclear weapons.

QUESTION:  Can I ask you something that follows what Secretary said --

QUESTION:  Can I just follow-up on this?

QUESTION:  On this.  Yeah, on this, on missile prolifer --

QUESTION:  Well, it's not just --

MR. BOUCHER:  All right, just go ahead.  I don't care.

QUESTION:  -- so I can have your answer.  You named four or five countries that have gotten rid of nuclear programs and said they were better off for it.  Of course, you didn't mention India and Pakistan, which have developed it.  Are they not better off?

MR. BOUCHER:  I don't think so, but I'm sure they would debate that.  But the point is that for most -- for countries to have the kind of full relationships they want to have with people in the world, with other countries, it's important for people to become members in good standings in the Nonproliferation Treaty.  We have advocated universal adherence.  We had advocated even the universal application of the Additional Protocols.

QUESTION:  The Arms Control Association, in a report last week by a former negotiator and a distinguished professor, said that the U.S.'s willingness to engage in research to look for new kinds of nuclear weapons works against the nonproliferation, it encourages other countries -- or discourages other countries from abandoning their own ambitions.  Look at the U.S., the U.S. is still a nuclear weapons laboratory.  Why not us?  Does that -- is that -- do you have something on that?  Do you find that logic illogical?

MR. BOUCHER:  I find it very illogical because look at the U.S.  Look at the U.S. and Russia, who under the Treaty of Moscow are cutting their operationally deployed strategic nuclear warheads to about 1,700 to 2,200.  That's one-third of the levels we had in 2002 and it's less than a quarter of the level we had at the end of the Cold War.  So while we do maintain a deterrent, for us to go down to one-quarter the level we had during the Cold War, I think is an example to others that these weapons are not necessary, it's not necessary to maintain the same kind of arsenals as one once had in the past, that we are indeed meeting our commitments under the Nonproliferation Treaty to reduce nuclear weapons and that other countries should meet their commitments under the treaty as well.

QUESTION:  Funny you should mention that because the main point of their report was that, two things:  you're getting down far too slowly, you're supposed to get there by 2012; and the second, and it's not a new point, is that you don't need even what's left, 500 would be fine with another 500 in reserve.  So what do you need all these nuclear weapons --

MR. BOUCHER:  I know the arms control gurus can debate this.  I know the arms control gurus can debate these numbers all day long.  But the fact is the U.S. is meeting its obligations under the treaty.  Going down to one-quarter of where we were in the Cold War is pretty impressive and it does certainly show we're all headed in the right direction, and if we're going to meet our obligations in that way we think others should meet their obligations, too.

QUESTION:  Can I stick with arms control treaties for a second?

MR. BOUCHER:  Yeah.  Arms control treaties for 500.  (Laughter.)

QUESTION:  On CT -- on the CTBT, has --

MR. BOUCHER:  That's arms control treaties for 1,000, I'm afraid.  (Laughter.)

QUESTION:  Yeah, well, we'll see if we stump you.

MR. BOUCHER:  Okay, go for it.

QUESTION:  Is it the Bush Administration's position that it will continue to abide by CTBT despite the Senate's failure to ratify?  I believe it was Secretary Albright's position --

MR. BOUCHER:  I think you know that it was the position of a former administration and this one not to seek ratification, at least not under present circumstances.  In addition, we have maintained -- the United States has maintained since 1992 a moratorium on nuclear testing and we would intend to continue that moratorium.  I think the President said that recently.

QUESTION:  And this reflects my ignorance rather than anything else, but a statement that you intend to continue a moratorium, does that equate to sticking to the CTBT or not, in all its manifestations?

MR. BOUCHER:  I mean, all of its manifestations include lots of other things.  Treaties don't just say, you know, we won't test.  They have a ton and a half of other provisions that cause problems in this case.  But the basic fundamental issue of not testing nuclear weapons, yeah, we have not tested since 1992 and have no plans to do so.

QUESTION:  I was told, and perhaps I was misinformed, that Secretary Albright in '99 said that the U.S. Government would -- intended to continue to abide by CTBT despite the fact that it hadn't been ratified.  Is that correct or not?

MR. BOUCHER:  I'd have to look it up.  I may have been present but my memory doesn't go back that far.

QUESTION:  Okay.  Well, if there's a question to be taken then, if you could, the question would basically be --

MR. BOUCHER:  No, I'd suggest the question can be answered by google better than it could be answered by us, so if anybody wants to look up what Albright said in '99, go right ahead.  We have a search engine on the website.

QUESTION:  In other words, it is not -- the question fundamentally is:  Is it the U.S. Government's position that it will abide by -- is it the Bush Administration's position, regardless what Albright did in '99, that it will abide by CTBT despite the fact it is not ratified?

MR. BOUCHER:  I really don't think you can say that about either the previous administration or this administration, but the Bush Administration position is that we have not tested since 1992 and we have no plans to do so.

QUESTION:  The Japanese Foreign Minister came down after seeing the Secretary and said that we, meaning the U.S. and Japan, hoped that China could do more about getting North Korea back to the table.  It sounded an implicit criticism there of Chinese efforts to date.  Is that -- does the U.S. think that China has not done its very best, or where are we going with this?  The stalemate persists and you look to China to help.  I don't understand where -- if there's anything going on that might be productive.

MR. BOUCHER:  I don't know how to -- you can ask the Japanese Foreign Minister what he intended to convey with his remarks.  As far as the U.S. view and the discussion we had this morning with Japan, we certainly do want North Korea to return to the table in the six-party talks.  The failure to return lies on North Korea's shoulders, not on anybody else's.  They need to come back and they need to come back serious about having those talks.

I think the Secretary made that clear.  I think many parties are undertaking a variety of efforts to encourage that possibility.  Certainly, the Chinese have made a lot of efforts recently and we recognize and appreciate that.  But the fact is North Korea hasn't come back.  And so do they need to do more?  Do the parties need to do more to make clear to the North Koreans that is the only path available to them to resolve their issues and problems?  Certainly.  As long as they don't return there, more needs to be done.  And there are a variety of things we can do to try to encourage them to come back to talks and things the Chinese can do.

QUESTION:   Of interest recently the missile -- is missile activity by North Korea.  And the Secretary took note of that and said that, you know, missiles ought to be on the table, too, in the six-party talks.  Is it as simple as that?  You can just raise anything?  Or is there some procedure?  We're talking about already sidetracked talks.  But is there a system of expanding the agenda or is it not all that formal?  I was just curious where you go with that idea.  Do you share --

MR. BOUCHER:  I don't think she said the missiles had to be done in the six-party context.  I'd have to go back and look at the exact text.

QUESTION:  I think she said --

MR. BOUCHER:  I don't have it.

QUESTION:  I don't know about "have to be."

MR. BOUCHER:  But, I mean, you all know what the agenda has been between the United States and North Korea.


MR. BOUCHER:  It goes back to the early days of this administration, indeed, before that.  But the President put out a statement in May of 2001 that indicated that we had a broad agenda with North Korea.  When we went out in October of that year, we tried to -- make sure I have my years right.  I'm not sure.  We went out in October of whatever year it was -- 2002, I think might have been by that time -- to put forward what we call a bold agenda.  Again, we were willing to deal with all the issues there.  So we do have to solve the nuclear issue but we have to solve some other issues as well.  And there are a number of issues on the agenda.  We'd like to get down to work on -- on working on them.

But the six-party talks is a place to solve the nuclear issue and we're not going to get anywhere unless North Korea is willing to come back and do that.  And North Korea is not going to get anywhere unless they're willing to come back and do that.

QUESTION:  A follow-up on that one.  It wasn't clear to me from what Secretary Rice said whether she meant to imply that missiles should be raised in the six-party context.  So if you can get clarity on that that, might help.  But it wasn't --

MR. BOUCHER:  I'd have to ask her.  I remember we said both parties can raise what they want in those talks, but it's -- I think she was saying it's an issue that had to be dealt with.  I'll have to get her exact transcript.


QUESTION:  Can you tell us what all that Secretary Rice and the Japanese Prime Minister talk about during the meeting?

MR. BOUCHER:  They went through quite a number of issues.  I think the first thing to note is that we are engaged -- and I think we mentioned this in Japan -- in a -- we have a strategic dialogue with Japan.  And we have a dialogue that really was begun by the two ministers today,  by the Secretary of State and Japanese Foreign Minister, at a strategic level.  It will be conducted by them from time to time on various strategic issues but it will also be continued throughout the year at a slightly lower level with the Under Secretary for Political Affairs.  It will operate on two levels.

It will also have a trilateral component with the Australians, but I can't define that for you further at this moment even though I think the Japanese Foreign Minister is seeing Australian Foreign Minister Downer today and Dr. Rice is seeing him tomorrow.  So we're going to conduct a strategic dialogue with the Japanese and I think you have to look at today's meeting as the first -- the first one of those.

So they discussed a number of subjects regarding East Asia, East Asian security, coordination of aid around the world, how we approach G-8 Summit, for example, as well as some, you know, more particular issues related to the U.S.-Japan, like realignment and I'd also say sort of relations in the Northeast Asian area.

Does that cover it?  Is that enough?

QUESTION:  Sorry.  Any particular date for the strategic dialogue?

MR. BOUCHER:  Well, I'd say today was the first part of it at the Secretary of State and Foreign Minister's level.  It'll continue at other levels during the course of the year, as well as in the meetings that they have.

QUESTION:  He said that.

MR. BOUCHER:  He said that.  Good.  Well, then we agree.  We're off to a good start.

Anything else?

QUESTION:  Usually -- I'm sorry, go ahead.

QUESTION:  Japan going to propose by expanding the UN Security Council in June.  What's position in the United States on this?

MR. BOUCHER:  The U.S. position, I think, has been stated, repeated and oft repeated, so I'm not going to go into it again.  But Secretary Rice has addressed it recently.  We've expressed our desire to see broad reform in the United Nations.  We had, I think, a more precise statement of it last Thursday or so in the briefing -- or in New York?  In New York.  And that's, I think, where you have to look.  But we have, of course, supported Japanese membership in the Security Council, as you know.

QUESTION:  I'm interested in this, but in your absence, Kim Holmes did a presentation with some think tank and Annan wants the whole package of reforms dealt with by September.  Homes, I'm sure, reflecting U.S. policy, says, you know, that's a deadline.  It may take longer to deal with these things.  And so it comes up again today because the Japanese Minister comes down and says the business of giving Japan a permanent place in the Security Council is something that he and the Secretary agreed should be done sooner rather than later.  Is it possible that you will pluck that reform, if that's what it is, out of a package and act on it separately or try to get it adopted by September, at least, or does it wait for everything else?

MR. BOUCHER:  I don't want to try to pick it apart either at this point.  I think last week there were a number of statements, very authoritative statements by the United States on our positions on the UN issues, and I will stick with those.

Yeah.  Sir.

QUESTION:  We know that United States is strongly supporting Japan to join the permanent member of the Security Council.  The Japanese people know this situation very well.  But however, you know that recently that the Japanese Government is making a strong, intensive campaign which as a country like Germany, Brazil or India, like a so-called like a G-4, and that he mentioned that they are going to submit some resolution in June.  Basically, does the United States support this -- Japan's effort to make a campaign with other country like Germany, Brazil --

MR. BOUCHER:  We support Japan's membership.  How Japan conducts its diplomacy is a question for Japan to decide.


QUESTION:  New subject?


QUESTION:  I'd like to know if you have any reactions or comments on the apparent --

MR. BOUCHER:  Can I stop?  I left one topic off the list with Japan, with the Japanese Foreign Minister, of course.


MR. BOUCHER:  Beef.  Of course they discussed beef.  In some considerable detail, I'd say.  Sorry.  I don't want to omit it.  It's very important.  Okay, back to the --

QUESTION:  About the apparently erroneous publication -- yeah, publication on the internet of the entire report, American report on the incident with -- in which the Italian secret service agent was killed.  And the fact that in Italy, once it came out on the internet, it was widely published in Italy for the general public.  Do you have any reactions or comments to the Italian version, which was just -- which just came out before I came?  I don't know if you're even aware of it.  And has Secretary Rice spoken with any of her Italian counterparts about this?

MR. BOUCHER:  First of all, I don't think we've seen the Italian report yet.  We understood it was to come out today and --

QUESTION:  *And meetings with* the Ambassador Sembler?

MR. BOUCHER:  Good.  I'm sure we'll -- I'm sure --

QUESTION:  I thought that you might -- you would have it.

MR. BOUCHER:  I'm sure I'll pass that on to her.  The -- we'll look at the report very carefully when it comes out.  Ad I think it's important to remember that we and the Italians did conduct a joint investigation, that we reached agreement on many, many points of fact and the circumstances of the very tragic events in which Mr. Calipari lost his life.  We do regard him, as the Italians do, as a hero and one who acted very courageously in difficult circumstances.

But we were not able to reach conclusions, as I think we said in our joint statement on Friday.  And I refer you back to that statement, really, as far as the overall view of the situation.  I'm sure everybody will get and compare the two reports and look at where the conclusions differ.  I hope they also look at the many things that we found together that we're -- that we agreed upon.

I also think it's important to remember the continued excellent state of the bilateral relationship between the U.S. and Italy.  We work together as colleagues and partners around the world in defense of our security but also in defense of the security of others, and that's because it's rooted in our common values.  And that's why we both do it and that's why we do it together and that work will certainly continue.

QUESTION:  And any reaction to the fact that even the classified sections of the report were so widely published?

MR. BOUCHER:  I know it's a matter of great interest and I think the additional little -- how can you say? -- the additional little excitement of finding that the wrong version was released or that the information was somehow available probably led to even more people reading it.  But no, as far as that release process, I think you'd have to check with the Pentagon on how that happened or what the implications might be.  But no, we're certainly aware that there is great interest in this situation.  Mr. Calipari was, as I said, a hero in Italy and a hero to us, given what -- all that he had done, and I would expect there to be widespread interest in the circumstances of his death.

QUESTION:  On Mr. Bolton's nomination, the Democrats have been making an issue of Mr. Bolton's candor with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.  Has Mr. Bolton been completely candid in his spoken testimony and written replies to committee questions?

MR. BOUCHER:  I don't think there's any question but that he's answered multiple rounds of questions in great detail, both when he was up there but also with the support of the State Department.  We have been providing information, we've been providing documents, we've been providing other witnesses and knowledgeable people.  Whenever the committee has looked into something, we've tried to help them identify people who could help them understand the various situations.  So I don't think there's any question but that we've been very, very forthcoming and that he's been very, very forthcoming with the committee.

QUESTION:  For example, like Ambassador Hubbard said that he -- that Mr. Bolton misspoke in testimony regarding him.  Do you have anything to say about these accusations that Mr. Bolton has been less than truthful in some occasions?

MR. BOUCHER:  I would say that he's been very forthcoming and very truthful and I don't know about these particular differences.  I suppose sometimes people do interpret events and statements differently.  But as far as I know, John Bolton has answered all the questions the committee has had in complete honesty and that we, the Department, have tried to support him by providing a lot of information to make clear that he is a qualified candidate and the right man for the job.

QUESTION:  You mentioned the story on Uzbekistan and the decision by U.S. authorities to send some prisoners, perhaps Iraqi and other prisoners, to Uzbekistan.  This is a country which has been known, including in U.S. reports, to torture prisoners.  Do you have any comment?

MR. BOUCHER:  No.  I did see the story.  I don't have anything particular to say about it.  I'll look and see.  I think you know our general proposition -- our general policy here is, you know, first of all, we are quite honest and factual when it comes to reporting on the human rights situation of other governments.  We do have counterterrorism cooperation with people who don't have the same judicial system as we do and we work with other governments to try to make sure that anybody that is detained in other countries is treated humanely and is not subject to torture or other abuse.

QUESTION:  If I could follow up on George's comment/question, why would the U.S. Government want to turn over prisoners to a country that the spokesmen from that podium have raised questions about the deaths, reports of the deaths of prisoners in Uzbek prisons, from torture?  It seems to me it was less than two years ago that there were two reports of two people who died of torture in Uzbek --

MR. BOUCHER:  If you want a particular comment about the situation with Uzbekistan, I'll have to get something for you on that.

QUESTION:  It's not so much as that as the decision to render people there, given its past record.

MR. BOUCHER:  I don't know that I'm confirming any particular rendition to any particular country at this point.

QUESTION:  After Taiwan's opposition leader Lien Chan meet with the Hu Jintao, President Hu Jintao in China, yesterday our President Chen announced publicly that Taiwan is ready to talk with China any time.  So do you think this meeting is helpful, especially when another party leader is going to China this week?

MR. BOUCHER:  I don't want to try to comment and get into particular leaders and their particular meetings.  I would just say that, in general, certainly, we welcome exchanges, that it multiply the channels of exchanges and communications between leaders in Taipei and Beijing.  Our longstanding policy has been to support dialogue in the interest of achieving a peaceful resolution of cross-strait differences in a manner that's acceptable to people on both sides.

Of course, a long-term cross-strait solution will require dialogue between representatives of the duly elected leadership in Taiwan and the authorities on the mainland.  But we -- in the meantime, we welcome any sort of exchanges and dialogue.  We think it's useful.

QUESTION:  Okay.  Last week after the meeting, Spokesman Ereli said that the situation, the process toward the cross-strait dialogue is not in U.S. control.  Do you have concern that the situation now seems to directed or dominate by Beijing?  Do you feel the need to play more active role by the states; for example, as our former President suggest maybe invite Japan, U.S., Taiwan, China all together, talk about the process toward cross-strait dialogue?

MR. BOUCHER:  The United States has encouraged the process of dialogue, has encouraged peaceful exchanges, has encouraged the two sides to get together and talk about all the issues between them, but that we have not and nor we do have any particular intention to try to manipulate or organize the process ourselves.  This is a matter for them to decide and for them to go forward with.

QUESTION:  Richard, on Syria and the statement that was issued by Foreign Minister Barnier and Secretary of State Rice, just questions on three particular aspects of that.

One is that they were talking about residual Syrian presence there.  Does the United States have a reason to believe there is a residual Syrian presence?

Do you want all three or just take them one of them?

MR. BOUCHER:  I think we'll take one at a time.


MR. BOUCHER:  Certainly, one knows how much and how many different parts of the Syrian Government were in Lebanon.  It was quite clear they had a very extensive presence of a variety of kinds.  The Resolution 1559 doesn't differentiate between different kinds of presence.  It says all Syrian military and intelligence personnel need to leave.  The UN is going to be the one to try to verify that and the UN team is now in Lebanon trying to do that.  So at this point, I'd say it's an open question.  It certainly has not been demonstrated that all those who are there have left.

QUESTION:  The second question is on -- it calls for the immediate implementation of the resolution for the international inquiry into the Hariri assassination.  Does this indicate any impatience that somebody is dragging their feet on this?

MR. BOUCHER:  I think I'd just leave it with the words in the statement.  It's time to do this, yeah.

QUESTION:  Third question is on -- there's a phrase, when calling for the elections, using a ballot system that's agreed by all parties.  Do I understand correctly that they are going to be actually using the sort of electoral system that remained from the previous government?  And is that a problem?

MR. BOUCHER:  I don't know and I'll have to check.  I think, first of all, you'll have to check with them and see what kind of voting method they plan on using.  But I'll check and see if we have anything on that.

QUESTION:  Okay, thank you.

QUESTION:  What is the update on the -- in the Security Council?  Are they going to issue a presidential statement on the Secretary General's report on 1559?  Or what is the latest?

MR. BOUCHER:  Don't know.

QUESTION:  (Inaudible)

MR. BOUCHER:  Don't know.  Might check in New York but if I have anything here, I'll pass it on.  Okay.

QUESTION:  There was two bombings in Cairo recently.  It was on Saturday.  In fact, it was one shooting and one bombing and it was found out that the perpetrators have links to the previous incident in which one American citizen was killed.  Do you have any comment in that particular in this and amid this political reform that's being made by the Egyptian Government?

MR. BOUCHER:  I think, first on the question of the bombings, the attacks this weekend in Cairo left seven injured and we certainly condemn these attacks in the strongest terms and we extend our condolences and our sympathies to the victims.  There were, in this one, no American citizens among the victims.

We do have regular discussions with Egypt on a whole variety of subjects.  Certainly security and any ongoing threats are matter that we do work very closely with them on.  I don't -- I wouldn't not in any way link this kind of attack, which we've seen before in Egypt which needs to be dealt with as a security matter -- I wouldn't link that with the political openings that have been announced in Egypt.  We have certainly supported the political openings in Egypt and the various decisions have been made and we think that is a way --

QUESTION:  People say that these incidents are perpetrated by the government itself in order to disrupt the reform and find an excuse to impose the emergency laws.

MR. BOUCHER:  You know, I don't know why people would say that but I'm not going to try to explain what they think or why they think it.  I'm trying to give you the U.S. position, which if you let me, we certainly think the government needs to work against* security.  Security needs to be established but we also think that political openings are a valuable and important way to move forward in society and that political openings give people opportunity to express their views through the political process and therefore to some extent, not completely but to some extent, takes some of the pressure off the security problems.

QUESTION:  Thank you.

(This briefing was concluded at 3:10 p.m.)

(end transcript)

(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)

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