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State Department Briefing, May 3

03 May 2005

Rice/Solana meeting, Bolton/nomination, Department/Boucher's five year anniversary as spokesman, Iran, Palestinian Authority, Russia, Italy, Cyprus, Iraq

State Department Spokesman Richard Boucher briefed the press May 3.

Following is the transcript of the State Department briefing:

(begin transcript)

U.S. Department of State
Daily Press Briefing Index
Tuesday, May 3, 2005
12:38 p.m. EDT

Briefer: Richard Boucher, Spokesman

-- Secretary Rice's Meeting with Javier Solana Secretary General of the European Union/Reconstruction and Rebuilding of Iraq/Moscow Quartet Meeting/Middle East Peace/Sudan
-- John Bolton's Nomination to be U.S. Representative to the United Nations/Working with Senate Foreign Relations Committee/Meetings on the Hill
-- Ambassador Richard Boucher's 5 Year Anniversary as Spokesman

-- Ambassador Rademaker Speech at the UN/Use of the Non-Proliferation Treaty to Cover Iran's Covert Nuclear Weapons Activity/Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference/Cessation of Enrichment Activity

-- Ability to Control Paramilitary Groups/General Ward's Activities/Role of Palestinian Security Forces

-- Secretary Rice's Meeting with Family of Murdered Journalist Paul Klebnikov/Continue to Pursue Case with Russian Officials

-- Secretary Rice's Phone Call With Foreign Minister Fini/Continue to Work Together on Variety of Issues
-- Reports on the Joint Investigation into Shooting Incident in Iraq

-- Turkish Cypriot Election Results

-- Increasing Violence/Swearing In of New Iraq Government/U.S. Expectations and Support for the New Iraqi Government


TUESDAY, MAY 3, 2005

12:38 p.m. EDT

MR. BOUCHER: All right. Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. It's a pleasure to be here. And I don't have any statements or announcements. Be glad to take your questions.

Mr. Schweid.

QUESTION: Could we possibly have a bit of a preview of the Secretary's meeting with Mr. Solana?

MR. BOUCHER: As always, when she gets together with Mr. Solana, there's a great many subjects to talk about. I think some of the first things come to mind are questions of the Middle East, things like Iraq and the joint U.S.-European effort that was, I guess I'd say, consolidated during the President's trip to support the reconstruction and rebuilding of Iraq, talk about how we go forward with that.

Certainly in the Middle East and peace between Israelis and Palestinians and how we're supporting that is an important issue. As you know, both the United States and the EU, as members of the Quartet, will be supporting Mr. Wolfensen as he goes out to help with the process of Gaza disengagement. And I'm sure they'll look together also at the upcoming Quartet meeting in Moscow for May 9th.

And then there are a great many other topics of cooperation, in Sudan to help the people who are suffering there, -- probably get an update on where some of the Europeans stand with Iran and things going on with Iran, as well as relations with other neighbors on various issues involving the European Union itself. So there's, as usual, a lot of things to talk about and I'm sure the Secretary and Mr. Solana will talk to you about them when they come out and see you after their meeting.

QUESTION: Okay. Thank you.

MR. BOUCHER: Okay. Peter.


MR. BOUCHER: I should have run while I had a chance. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: On the speech yesterday at the United Nations by Mr. Rademaker, -- Ambassador Rademaker, he said some things that some people have interpreted as going even beyond what the Europeans are pressing for in terms of dismantling the infrastructure for reprocessing, et cetera. Also the idea that Iran should not have any access to any nuclear technology. At least, that's what was reported. Is there any disconnect between the U.S. position on these issues and the Europeans or what you were saying -- what you've been saying from the podium?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't think there's disconnect between what we've been saying down here and, in fact, what Mr. Rademaker and others in the administration have said before. If you look at the fundamental issues in the President's National Defense University speech where he made clear that people can't be allowed to use the rights of the NPT to cover up covert programs, as Iran did for 18 years -- cover up covert programs of uranium enrichment and plutonium separation and all kinds of things. And so I think one of our goals at this review conference is to point out to people we need to tighten these structures, we need to make clear that enrichment doesn't mean you can do anything you want under cover of enrichment for so long and that, as Mr. Rademaker pointed out, as we've pointed out before that when you have a country like Iran that's been using its programs in that manner, we need to see the cessation of all such activities if the international community is ever going to be satisfied that covert nuclear weapons activity is not going on.

QUESTION: Could I just?


QUESTION: Just to be more precise there, the specific call for dismantling of the infrastructure for reprocessing, that's not new for the United States, but is that part of the talks that the Europeans are having?

MR. BOUCHER: You'd have to ask the Europeans exactly what positions they're taking. I don't think they're -- I'm not sure they've been explicit in public that way. But the Europeans have made very clear that it's important for the world to be satisfied that Iran is not going to pursue covert nuclear programs and that that means that the suspension of all enrichment activity needs to be turned into a permanent cessation.

QUESTION: May I follow up?


QUESTION: Do you have any reaction then to both a spokesmen for Iran saying that they definitely want to restart some enrichment activities and the Foreign Minister saying that Iran is determined to pursue all legal areas of nuclear technology, including enrichment?

MR. BOUCHER: Well, I would say, first of all, I think some of the Europeans have responded to that. They are most directly involved in the negotiating effort and I would leave it to them, really, to do that. We have supported the effort by the U.S. -- by the UK, France and Germany to get the Iranians to stop this kind of activity, to stop the activity that they've used for so many years to cover up a nuclear weapons effort. And we continue to think that the burden is on Iran. The burden is on Iran to satisfy the world that it's not going to develop nuclear weapons. There's no reason for them to have an enrichment reprocessing program.

We know how it's been used in the past and the only way to really satisfy and reassure the world that they're not going to be a nuclear threat is to eliminate those programs. We've made that clear before. That's what I think everybody expects from them. We weren't the only ones to talk about Iran's programs yesterday. The Secretary General has put forward ideas on how to stop enrichment being used as a cover for other activities. We're not the only ones supporting the Additional Protocol. A lot of people have talked about universal adherence to the Additional Protocol as a necessary condition for nuclear cooperation.

So, and, we're not the only ones to talk about Iran and North Korea. I think as you watch the conference play out, there were some real serious issues raised by these cases. And people from all over the world want to look at them and decide -- and look at how we can improve the controls on proliferation and make the world safer. But Iran should be looking at this -- not a question of asserting rights here and there, Iran should be looking at this as how to reassure the international community that they're not going to become a nuclear danger.

QUESTION: Richard, yesterday there were, I believe, street protests in New York City in front of the UN. A month-long conference just on this topic of disarmament has just begun. Who will be our representatives there and also what any scientists that are scheduled to address the --

MR. BOUCHER: I don't know what scientists might be there. Steve Rademaker, our Assistant Secretary for Nonproliferation, is up there as head of the U.S. delegation. He gave a big speech yesterday and we can get copies of that for you anytime you want.


QUESTION: The Israelis insisting that Hamas disarm before Palestinian parliamentary elections this summer. Hamas is odds-on favorite to win those elections. Is there a U.S. view on that?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't think there's anything particularly new to say about Hamas. We've seen them as a terrorist group. We've said that they need to get out of the terrorism business. And -- but we've also, I think, emphasized the responsibility of the Palestinian Authority. It needs to be able to exercise responsibility and assert control so that it's not vying for power with other militant and armed groups, and we are working with them to try to help them establish that kind of authority.

QUESTION: Just a follow-up on that?


QUESTION: There were news reports that the Palestinians had arrested three members of Hamas in Gaza and then they let them go. Is there any reaction to that?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't have specifics of that situation. I'd just say what I said before applies: The Palestinians need to be able to assert their authority and not -- should not have to contend with other armed groups for power and authority in these areas. These groups need to be -- need to end their involvement with terrorism and the Palestinians need to be able to control them.

QUESTION: Earlier, on that point, in answer to Barry's question, you made an allusion to, "And we're helping them on that." I assume, but perhaps I'm wrong, that you're referring to General Ward.

MR. BOUCHER: I'm referring to General Ward. He is out in the region. He's been working with the Palestinians as well as with the Israelis on how to consolidate and rebuild the Palestinian security services so that they can demonstrate effective control and exercise -- and bring safety for the Palestinian people. So he's out there working on that. You've seen a number of moves by President Abbas to reform the security services, and certainly we're looking to support him as he goes through that process.

QUESTION: Do you know if he's met with Israelis and Palestinians together, as opposed to just separately?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't know but it's not -- that's not the key thing. I mean, they've been meeting together. They have met together. We've said we're not intending to go out there and create another process or displace that process. We've said the best thing was for them to work a lot of security problems together. General Ward's focus, as you know, is to help the Palestinians establish a more capable and responsible security service that can exercise control on behalf of a Palestinian Government.


QUESTION: Different subject?


QUESTION: On the Bolton nomination, according to John Wolf, former Assistant Secretary of State for Nonproliferation, who worked directly under Secretary Bolton, he told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and I quote, "Some of the officers within my bureau complained that they felt undue pressure to conform to the views of the Under Secretary versus the views that they could support." Any reaction to that assertion?

MR. BOUCHER: Well, first of all, I don't know that you're actually quoting John Wolf. I think you're quoting somebody quoting John Wolf. I'm not aware that he's had public testimony on the subject, but be that as it may, I think that the important point is that people are answering all the questions the Committee might have. We, in behalf of Mr. Bolton, at the State Department have provided information, provided people, given them access to documents. Mr. Bolton has been up there testifying and answering questions.

And so, we will be completely forthcoming with the Committee, but there's no change in our opinion that he's the right nominee for the right job at this time. And I'm not going to get into trying to discuss each of these particulars as they come up in the, sort of, discussions by others. I think our first responsibility is to answer all the questions the Committee might have about the nominee and we're certainly doing that thoroughly.

QUESTION: How come you won't get into the particulars?

MR. BOUCHER: It's just a matter of our first obligation being to the Senate and we'll deal with them in terms of what they need to look at the nominee. There's these press reports every day. Somebody says something that may have happened or didn't happen or could have happened and to the extent we can, we will. We'll help you understand those situations, but I don't think this is the right place to argue those things. I think we owe our first and complete explanation to the Senate and that's where we're trying to give it.

QUESTION: Perhaps I can ask it a different way. Did Secretary Bolton bring undue pressure to bear on Mr. Wolf's employees?

MR. BOUCHER: Not that I'm aware of.


QUESTION: Sort of Wolf-related, this is the fifth anniversary of your latest incarnation as spokesman.


MR. BOUCHER: Some people say so. I haven't checked myself -- according to rumor.

QUESTION: I took the trouble to look up your transcript from five years ago today and

you said that if the United States can successfully address nuclear and missile issues with North Korea, we can "move into a different kind of relationship with North Korea." Is that still the view here?

MR. BOUCHER: That's always been the offer on the table.

QUESTION: So you have nothing new to say over the past five years, then?


QUESTION: You have nothing new to say on the subject?

MR. BOUCHER: I'm afraid that I've said a lot of different things over the past five years but the fundamentals remain the same, that we've got to deal with nuclear and other issues with North Korea if we're ever going to get anywhere.

QUESTION: And somebody --

MR. BOUCHER: And personally, the change on their part has been less than we had hoped for.

QUESTION: And somebody asked about a date for a return visit to Kumchang-ni and you said that we don't have a date yet. Did you ever get back to us with a date?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't think we ever got back to Kumchang-ni, if I remember.

QUESTION: Tomorrow he'll be able to tell us. (Laughter.)

MR. BOUCHER: That was the hole in the mountainside. But that's what happened five years ago today? Let me tell you, 15 years ago today -- no, probably not today but sometime like this when I did my first-ever briefing at the State Department, I think we were talking about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction capabilities. Some things go round and round. Some things change.

What's different today? Something new? Frederick -- Christophe, sorry.

QUESTION: A different issue. Do you have anything on the case of Paul Klebnikov, this American journalist who was killed in Russia last year? I understand that his family met or is due to meet with Secretary Rice today.

MR. BOUCHER: Yeah, the Secretary -- Secretary Rice met this morning with the family of Paul Klebnikov, with his widow and his brother. Paul Klebnikov was the editor, Forbes Magazine editor, who was murdered on July 9th, 2004 in Moscow. Since then we have really worked with the Russians on this case. We have raised it at every opportunity. Secretary Powell met with the family. Secretary Rice met with the family. Secretary Rice raised the case with Foreign Minister Lavrov when she was there last month.

With the family today she reaffirmed our interest in the case and our intention to continue to pursue it with Russian officials so that those responsible for the murder can be brought to justice. We do understand the Russians have charged two people in connection with the murder and that the investigation is still ongoing. We'll continue to urge the Government of Russia to pursue the investigation vigorously to a conclusion.

QUESTION: Just a quick follow-up on that. Are you going to raise this issue again during the presidential trip to Russia?

MR. BOUCHER: This has been raised at different levels, different people. Our Consular Affairs people have raised it. Our Ambassador raises it. Our Embassy raises it and stays in regular touch with the Russians on the matter. I wouldn't be surprised if it came up during the Presidential trip, but I just don't have any specifics on the plans to do so, but it's a fairly regular -- he is a regular subject of discussion with the Russians, including at high levels.

QUESTION: Could you tell me what some things that were said between Secretary Rice and Foreign Minister Fini? They spoke today?

MR. BOUCHER: They did.

QUESTION: Oh, no, did --

MR. BOUCHER: No, they did. They did.

QUESTION: You have something on that?

MR. BOUCHER: The Secretary spoke to Foreign Minister Fini of Italy this morning. They discussed, first of all, the tragic accident that led to the death of Mr. Calipari. She expressed, once again, our sadness at his death and our admiration for him. But they also discussed the commitment that the United States and Italy had to continue to work together, to going forward, and working together on a variety of issues, including what we're both doing for the people of Iraq.

QUESTION: And yesterday, you said that when it came out that it would be read very carefully, the Italian report, do you have any comments on the Italian report?

MR. BOUCHER: Only to say that we're reading it very carefully.

QUESTION: Still --

MR. BOUCHER: Well, you can't digest it all in one fell swoop. We're studying the report. The reports do differ in some ways, but they're not diametrically opposed. I think they do have a few differences on facts and they do give some different weights to different aspects of factors that contributed to the accident. I think the reports do come together and say that this is not in any way an intentional act against the Italians or the Italian Secret Service or the Italian hostage and that there are no grounds for assigning a particular individual responsibility to the American soldiers that were involved in the incident.

If anybody's really interested in this -- has two reports to look at that they can read and that they can draw their own conclusions from. But I come back again to the joint statement that we issued with the Italian government, to say that we maintain very strong bilateral relationships and will continue working together, including in terms of our -- the commitment that we both have to the people of Iraq and that's really the substance of what she and Secretary -- Foreign Minister Fini talked about this morning.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: This morning, initially, Richard, there were many people questioning the credibility of this report, including in the press and in the papers. Do you have any reason to question the credibility and does your -- has your embassy in Rome reported back any reaction in Italy?

MR. BOUCHER: You mean questioning the credibility of our report, the --


MR. BOUCHER: -- Italian report?

QUESTION: The Italian report.

MR. BOUCHER: No, I don't want to question anything in those terms. I think, as I said, there are a number of things -- many things involved in this joint investigation that we and the Italian investigators did agree upon that we found out together. There were some different conclusions, different interpretations of some of the facts, but of course, we stand by the U.S. report. But I don't -- other than to say there are some differences, I don't think I want to comment on the Italian one.

Let's finish in the back there.

QUESTION: Mr. Boucher, how do you explain the fact that the U.S. Government, the other day, congratulated the Turkish civic community leader, Mehmet Ali Talat, for his election in the Turkish-occupied territory of Cyprus, who is not a head of state, not prime minister, not president of the republic, not even, let's say, a king?

MR. BOUCHER: Not even what?


MR. BOUCHER: A king. Kings don't rule us like that.

QUESTION: When they claim in the name of God in the case that they are kings. He's not a --

MR. BOUCHER: We congratulated him because he won the election.

QUESTION: Excuse me?

MR. BOUCHER: We congratulated him because he won an election as leader of the Turkish Cypriot community.

QUESTION: But he's a community leader.


QUESTION: In other words, do you -- by proxy, do you congratulate any community leader -- let's say --

MR. BOUCHER: We congratulate the ones who we think deserve it.

QUESTION: -- (inaudible) in New York City.

MR. BOUCHER: We congratulate the ones who we think deserve it. Just stop at that.

QUESTION: Is that a form of recognition?


QUESTION: Richard, are you going to be the United States Ambassador to South Korea?

MR. BOUCHER: Not that I know of, no.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: Richard, can you bring us up to date on Nepal? Apparently, the King has ordered that in the last few days that the emergency is over but he's still fighting Maoists.

MR. BOUCHER: Yeah, I'll have to get you something on that. Glad to.


QUESTION: One more. If that came up yesterday I apologize in advance, but what happened to the Department trying to arrange a meeting between Mr. Bolton and Senator Voinovich? Where does that stand? I thought that --

MR. BOUCHER: Who said we were trying?

QUESTION: I think a week ago --

MR. BOUCHER: I think a week or so ago there were rumors that he'd been on the Hill seeing Senator Voinovich, but it turned out he was seeing somebody else. I'm sure Mr. Bolton is glad to answer any questions any senator has, but I'm not aware of such a meeting.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MR. BOUCHER: Some here. We've got one or two more. Yeah.

QUESTION: The new cabinet swearing-in today and there are reports in Iraq that the increase of violence is taking place because of the lack of participation by the Sunni in the government. Are you doing any efforts there to --

MR. BOUCHER: I don't -- I don't know that you can link increasing violence by terrorists and people who are just violently opposed to the entire process to the participation of anybody in particular in the government. At the same time, we have continued to encourage an inclusive government structure, one that involves people from all the different communities and backgrounds in Iraq.

Today's swearing-in of the government is indeed a major step forward. Iraq has continued to take vital steps to move forward in the political process. This is the first time in generations that Iraq has a democratically elected government in place and on the job. There's a lot that's been achieved. There's a lot more that has to be done. President -- Prime Minister Jafari -- excuse me -- has made a commitment to fill the vacant seats as soon as possible. These are important positions and we look forward to his appointing permanent ministers. We also expect the dialogue and the discussion to continue in Iraq. We look forward to a government that's as pluralistic and representative as possible of the people of Iraq.

Soon the Transitional National Assembly must turn its attention to the constitutional process and we remain committed to doing all we can to support the Iraqi people, Transitional National Assembly and the Transitional Government in efforts to ensure democracy, prosperity, security and the rule of law.

Sir. Last one, I guess. Maybe not.

QUESTION: On Cyprus?


QUESTION: March 1st, 2005, your deputy, Adam Ereli, stated, obviously under advice from the above in this building, that the recent transfer of 12 U.S.-origin M-4A tanks and other arms of the U.S. Munition List from Turkey to Cyprus is not in violation of the U.S. law because those tanks remain under the control of the Turkish military. But according to legal experts, the Turkish action violates the section 2373 of the U.S. Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, as amended, and this agreement under said law.

How do you respond on that?

MR. BOUCHER: I respond that I think Mr. Ereli characterized U.S. law appropriately and I don't want to get into a debate with legal experts. I don't know who they are. But this is something that our legal experts who administer the law know very, very well and he gave you the official legal position on this.

QUESTION: But, see, December 22nd, Mr. Boucher, 1987, 22 U.S.C. Subsection 2373, absolutely prohibits the transfer of U.S.-supplied arms to Cyprus by Turkish without regard to whether the arms remain in control of the Turkish military.

MR. BOUCHER: I'm not going to pretend to be a legal expert on this. We've had our best legal experts look it. We've given you their best answer. That's the authoritative legal answer.

QUESTION: But can you check for us?

MR. BOUCHER: That's the authoritative legal answer that Mr. Ereli gave you.

(This briefing was concluded at 1:00 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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