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State Department Briefing, May 31

31 May 2005

European Union, France, Russia, Israel/Palenstinians, Cyprus, Pakistan, Iraq, Sudan, Venezuela, North Korea, China, Libya/Bulgaria

State Department spokesman Richard Boucher briefed the press May 31.

Following is the transcript of the State Department briefing:

(begin transcript)

Daily Press Briefing Index
Tuesday, May 31, 2005

1:25 p.m. EDT
Briefer:  Richard Boucher, Spokesman

-- US Support of European Project / Full Partnership with Europe
-- NATO /  European Union Constitution / Cooperation with Europe

-- New Prime Minister

-- Yukos Case / Participation in International Institutions / Solidify Rule of Law
-- Query on Judicial Process in Khodorkovsky trial / US Concerns / Democracy and Rule of Law / Isolation of Russia / Real Costs of Investment Environment / Positive Cooperation

-- Gaza Withdrawal / Role of General Ward

-- Different Environment / US Activity
-- Authorization of Travel by Americans

-- Media Reports on Deportation of Abu Faraj al-Libi to US

-- Proliferation Security Initiative Meeting / Agenda
-- Shipment of Ballistic Missiles / Missile Sales
-- John Bolton
-- Framework for Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI)  / Cases Cited under PSI

-- Special United Nations Representative Ashraf Qazi  / Coordination of Donor Assistance
-- Query on Saddam Hussein’s Trial

-- Arrest of Dutch officials of Medecin Sans Frontieres
-- US Call to Stop Harassment and Intimidation
-- Deputy Secretary Zoellick’s Travel to Sudan

-- Query on an Extradition Request
-- US Policy on Venezuela

-- Remarks of Vice President Cheney

-- Reports on Detention of Journalists / Freedom of Press

-- Sentencing of Bulgarian Nurses in Libyan Court / US Position on Issue
-- Irregularities in Case / Humanitarian Effort


TUESDAY, MAY 31, 2005

1:25 p.m. EDT

MR. BOUCHER:  Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen.  I guess with all the news that we've made already, I'm surprised to find so many of you here.  But, anyway, it's nice to see you all.  I don't have any statements or announcements.   I'd be glad to take your questions. 

QUESTION:  Could you tell us what's at stake for the U.S. in this EU rollover on a constitution? 

MR. BOUCHER:  I think the question, I think, needs to be looked at a little more broadly, it needs to be looked at what's at stake for the U.S. with Europe.  And for many years, as the Secretary's pointed out, we've been very strong supporters of the European project, this whole idea of building a stronger and more cohesive Europe.  And indeed, that's been because we were looking for a partner in many parts of the world.  And the President and the Secretary, in their recent trips earlier this year, stressed the importance of a full partnership with Europe and with the European Union in addressing global challenges. 

If you look at the world now and the things that we're doing, so many of them involve the Europeans as well, the expansion of democracy generally and the force that the European Union has played to bring people into the kind of reform process that's necessary to join Europe and to join NATO. 

The action that we can take together in places like the Middle East just last week, you had the U.S. and Europe as active participants in a conference in Addis Ababa on Darfur, in terms of being there to be able to support the further deployment of African Union troops.  The Balkans certainly, this movement towards Europe is very, very important as we move forward in the Balkans, so that our policy and their policy together can produce an outcome that integrates these areas into a Euro-Atlantic framework, into a more stable and broader framework for the future. 

So we share this kind of agenda with Europe.  The President and the Secretary have made clear it's very important to us to pursue that agenda and we will continue to pursue that agenda with Europe.  We have a number of upcoming opportunities with Europe to keep working on that agenda, including their meeting tomorrow with the European Union troika will be in town. 

QUESTION:  Well, there are other mechanisms.  I mean, transatlantic unity of joint operations have many. 

MR. BOUCHER:  They do have many aspects to them, including obviously NATO.  For us, the first and foremost element including NATO's not only its security aspect, but its political dialogue.  But there are many things where the EU brings the collective rate of European economy to the table, they bring their assistance programs to the table.  They bring their deliberations of twenty-five to the table.  And so they're a valued and important partner as well.  And the President, I think, recognized that in his trip to Europe, both in his statements and his separate meetings with the European Union representatives. 

Yeah.  Nicholas.

QUESTION:  Do you believe, Richard, that Europe can be a worthwhile partner of the United States and united and integrated without the constitution? 

MR. BOUCHER:  How far, how fast Europe moves to gain its cohesiveness, to gain a sort of new capabilities, has always been a question we leave to the Europeans.  Again, the Secretary and the President, I think, both during their trips to Europe and subsequently have made that clear. 

What we do have now is a strong partner in Europe.  And I'd try to point out some of the examples of what we're already capable of doing together with the Europeans.  So how much farther, how fast they want to move down that road is really a question they'll have to answer.  But we do have a partner and we want to continue to pursue these issues with that partner.

QUESTION:  Is it fair to say that, no matter how fast, you do support the ultimate goal that the constitution actually embodies?

MR. BOUCHER:  We support the ultimate goal of the Europeans deciding how they want to move together. 

QUESTION:  You don't feel that the French decision to go against the constitution will lead to a weaker and less cohesive Europe that might be a less useful partner of the United States?

MR. BOUCHER:  I suppose there's a whole lot of speculation about where Europe goes next, what they will do next.  We're obviously interested in all that discussion.  For our part, though, the reality is we have a lot of cooperation with Europe in some areas that are very important to us.  We want to see Europe maintain and sustain that cooperation and they've been able to do that cooperation with a level of cohesion that they have now.  So we expect that to continue.  We want that to continue. 

Yeah.  Said.

QUESTION:  Are you concerned -- in the Bush administration -- that the new French Prime Minister in the past has clashed publicly with the United States, especially over Iraq?

MR. BOUCHER:  I'm not going to comment on the new French Prime Minister.  We all know that when he was Foreign Minister, we had a variety of actions with him and we know him from those days.  But it's up to the French Government to decide who they want in their government.  They're doing so now. 

QUESTION:  So you're not going to welcome him or say you look forward to working with him?  It's sort of not --

MR. BOUCHER:  They don't have a full government yet.

QUESTION:  But they have a Prime Minister.

MR. BOUCHER:  They have a Prime Minister.  We look forward to working with the Prime Minister and his government when it's named.

Yeah.  Sir.

QUESTION:  What is the -- change of subject?

MR. BOUCHER:  Change of subject?  Let's go.

QUESTION:  What is the U.S. Government reaction regarding the Khodorkovsky's case? 

MR. BOUCHER:  I think we've said many times that this case has raised some very serious questions about the rule of law in Russia.  And our concerns have been expressed along the way about the independence of courts, about the right of due process, about sanctity of contracts and property rights, lack of predictable tax regimes.  Actions such as this, in the broader Yukos case, do raise questions about Russia's commitment to the responsibilities that all free market and democratic countries embrace.  Once again, the continuation of this case and the verdict continue to erode Russia's reputation and public confidence in the Russian legal and judicial institutions.

QUESTION:  Does it mean that the U.S. Government would support the Lantos and Cox resolution on expelling, or temporarily at least, expelling Russia from G-8?

MR. BOUCHER:  No, we have made clear that Russia's participation in international institutions is a positive thing, that isolating Russia would not do any good.  It's a country that's going through a very complex transition and we want to continue to urge Russia to make that transition in a way that brings it closer to democracy and closer to a stronger free market economy.  But isolating Russia is not going to get us there. 

QUESTION:   So Russia pays no price for all the questions that you have raised about rule of law, transparency, contract rights, personal rights, property rights?  Not even a rhetorical price?

MR. BOUCHER:  Russia has already paid a price.  Russia will continue to pay the price as long as there are questions about the rule of law in Russia.  You've seen the drop-off in investment.  You've seen the questions raised in business circles.  You've seen even questions raised among Russians themselves about the climate in Russia for investment and business.  So I think there is a definite price to be paid for the lack of rule of law and we will continue to push Russia in all our meetings and conversations to solidify the rule of law and to move in the other direction.  That's what the President did when he met with them, that's what the Secretary did when she met them, and that's what we'll continue to do.

QUESTION:  And having just one last one, it seems that we've been asking about this for, you know, well over a year now.  I guess it's probably about a year and a half. 

MR. BOUCHER:  That's how long the case has been going on.

QUESTION:  Yeah, exactly.  And you guys have always taken the position that you didn't want to go beyond the "raised questions" language because the case wasn't over yet.  And I'm well aware that there's the possibility or a probability of an appeal.  But based on what you know of the primary court case, its verdict and sentencing, do you believe that Mr. Khodorkovsky received a fair trial? 

MR. BOUCHER:  I'm not able to make a judgment about that at this point.  We do -- we have criticized aspects of this trial along the way and certainly have been very clear on those things that there were questions about due process, there were questions about how the assets of Yukos were handled, there were questions about why he was being prosecuted.  So I think you need to see that we've consistently talked about those things, as I did today, but I can't make a sweeping judgment on the Russian legal system right now. 

QUESTION:  I didn't ask you for a sweeping legal judgment.  I asked you for a judgment based on this case, based on the fact that unlike for the past year and a half you now have a verdict and a sentence.  And it's a simple and straightforward question.  I can't imagine you aren't asking it yourself.  Was this a fair trial for the guy?

MR. BOUCHER:  There is going to be an appeal.  We'll see how appeals courts handle it -- at least we expect.  We've seen statements that there will be an appeal and it's hard to comment on a judicial process until it's concluded. 

QUESTION:  Richard, on this case, will the U.S. continue to bring this specific case up or now that -- I mean, besides the appeal, now that it's over, do you just --

MR. BOUCHER:  No, absolutely --

QUESTION:  -- go back to your vaguer pressure on the rule of law?

MR. BOUCHER:  But our pressure on Russia has never been vague.  It's always been specific.  It's always been general in terms of the rule of law.  It's always been very specific when it was a question of specific journalists or Gasprom or specific television stations or the Khodorkovsky case, the Yukos assets.  We've always been quite clear where these things were problems that raised concerns.  We've always been quite clear in saying that these will affect the business environment and the view of outsiders on the rule of law.  And that's correct.  That's what's happened to Russia over the last several years as they've pursued this case and as they've pursued these other steps, moves, and prosecutions that raise issues about rule of law and about freedom in Russia.

So I don't think sort of accusations of, you know, no consequences and general rhetoric are accurate, frankly.  We've seen actual, real consequences on the ground and we've seen the United States be very clear and very consistent going back several years.  I'd invite you to look back at Secretary Powell's Izvestia article.  And that was quite specific, too.

QUESTION:  But do you plan to get answers to these questions and go forward publicly with the answers to the questions that you've raised?  Do you plan to come to a conclusion that, yes or no, he did get a fair trial, it was or was not politically motivated? 

MR. BOUCHER:  We will continue to comment as this proceeds.  We'll continue to use this as an example, both in private and in public, of the problems that are faced in Russia and we'll continue to watch very closely how the appeals court deals with the situation. 

QUESTION:  But, I mean, Richard, can I follow up? 


QUESTION:  On the issue of consequences, I mean, the Secretary and President have said as part of, you know, the democracy and the promotion of democracy and the rule of law, human rights is going to be a cornerstone of the Administration's foreign policy and that countries that do not follow that path there is going to be consequences to the relationship, that the relationship will not be the same.  So, I mean --

MR. BOUCHER:  Is it not clear to you after the recent meetings the President's had with President Putin, after the interaction that we've had with Russia over the last six, nine, twelve months, that this relationship is not the same as it would be if Russia had not been -- if Russia had been pursuing a very consistent path towards democracy and the rule of law?  Is it not clear to you that this is now something that gets raised in our relationship, that the President of the United States deals with the President of Russia on, and that it's not the same as if Russia had been very consistently moving forward on democracy and the rule of law? 

QUESTION:  You raised concerns on the Khodorkovsky case throughout it.  Is it now fair to say that Russia never heeded your concerns? 

MR. BOUCHER:  Again, I'm not in a position to make judgments on this particular case until we've seen it go through the appeals process. 

QUESTION:  Can you, Richard, other than the fact that you've continued to raise this in meetings, which therefore implies that the relationship was different from what otherwise would have been because otherwise, you wouldn't have raised it.  Can you point to a single example, something that the U.S. Government would have done with the Russians that it has not done because of this?  Are there programs that have not been initiated or continued or funding that has been cut or, I mean, is there something hard other than the fact that you keep having to talk to them about it?

MR. BOUCHER:  Opportunity costs are sometimes harder to find in terms of what might have been proposed if the relationship had been farther along in the democracy and rule of law area.  I find it difficult to define what might have been or could have been or would have been or what somebody might have thought of.  But there are real costs in terms of the way we deal with Russia, that you've seen manifest themselves in the kind of meetings we've had and the issues that we've spent our time on.  And there are very real costs in terms of the investment environment, which I cited a few minutes before. 

So I can cite both of them in every sentence, but it's important to remember there are real costs in terms of investors, in terms of domestic capital, in terms of how Russians themselves see the opportunity to start business, in terms of how foreigners see the opportunity to start business and create jobs in Russia, in terms of how we deal with Russia on a government-to-government level, the kinds of issues we discussed; and yes, in probably the kinds of issues we don't discuss or the kind of initiatives we don't undertake in a more general sense, too.

QUESTION:  But still, it's put in a disapproving but a passive role.  In other words, look at the falloff.  This is going to discourage -- it's going to have a chilling effect, that's it's going to do from this, but you keep them (inaudible) to G-8.  Has the U.S. Government ended -- has the U.S. Government done anything actively to discourage American firms, American investors from doing business in Russia?

MR. BOUCHER:  No, because that would not be smart.  That would not be good for us or for Russia.

QUESTION:  Richard, can I just ask a last question?  I mean, I certainly understand the market-imposed effects of this and the flight of capitalism are things I understand -- well, those are things that the market has essentially done in reaction to events in Russia.  And I certainly understand the idea of opportunity costs.  What I was trying to get at is more the question of whether, aside from the market-imposed things, consequences and the opportunity costs, i.e.,   the things that haven't happened, is it not fair to say to that other than the fact that you have to talk to them about this, it really hasn't altered your relationship?  In other words --

MR. BOUCHER:  I don't think it's fair because that is -- okay, how can I say it?  It's silly that nothing else would've happened.  It's assuming a different reality.  And we're dealing with the reality we have.  In a different reality, there might be other things there.  I can't tell you that there are and you can't tell me that there wouldn't be.  So it's just not fair to say. 

And the second is the premise of some these questions I have to object to that -- we've tried to make very clear we don't think isolating Russia is a good idea.  We don't think cutting off business with Russia is a good idea.  We don't think cutting off programs to pursue law enforcement and anti-terrorist activities is a good idea.  We don't think that cutting off programs to destroy nuclear materials is a good idea.  We don't think that in any way changing the kind of very positive cooperation we have with Russia is a good idea.  And nonetheless, we have raised these issues and made it very clear that we will continue programs that are positive and that are good for both our countries. 

But there are also -- there are costs associated with not being able to do things with Russia that we might have done if we had a positive relationship across the board, including in the democracy area.  Granted, that's harder to define, but on the economic side, you see a definite fallout.  And that should be a matter of sufficient concern to Russia and perhaps it is a matter of sufficient concern to Russia that they'll start doing something about it.

You've seen the speech a month or so ago by President Putin on the state of Russia and we have to take him at his word and see if he's going to do things that move forward along the lines that he talked about in that speech.

QUESTION:  But those costs are self-inflicted, correct?  They are not the result of U.S. punitive actions?  I'm not saying the U.S. should tolerate --

MR. BOUCHER:  I don't think --

QUESTION:  You're saying by behaving this way, they're hurting themselves.


QUESTION:  But we ain't hurting them because there could be a mistake. 

MR. BOUCHER:  I have said, the Secretary has said consistently, that it does us no good to isolate Russia.  It does us no good to cut off our nose to spite our face.  It does us no good to stop anti-terrorism cooperation.  It does us no good to stop economic and commercial interaction forcefully from a government point of view.  But Russia has to know that there are consequences to these actions in terms of the kind of relationship we have and in terms of the investment climate.  That's what we're pointing out to them. 

QUESTION:  What are you doing to arrest the erosion of the rule of law?  Have you got any programs that don't go directly to the government but to NGO organizations that can help --

MR. BOUCHER:  We do and we certainly have them and will continue them.  I don't have with me the papers on what we've got but I'll try to get you some examples of the kind of rule of law programs we have in Russia. 

QUESTION:  Can we change the topic? 

MR. BOUCHER:  Okay. 

QUESTION:  On the Middle East.  The President said on Thursday that he was dispatching the Secretary of State to coordinate, I suppose, the withdrawal plan from Gaza.  Could you give us some specific, what will she be doing and so on?  I mean, what are -- because generally we know what's going on with -- why is it Secretary of State?

MR. BOUCHER:  Well, I think the Secretary and the President both made clear the priority right now is to make the Gaza withdrawal work, to make it smooth, to make it positive, both for the Israelis in terms of getting Israelis a safer climate as well as giving the Palestinians a real opportunity to move forward and to make -- to show that they can establish the institutions of a state.

We have been very supportive of this.  General Ward is back in the region now.  He is working on the security aspect.  Mr. Wolfensohn is working on the economic aspect and is working on a action plan to move forward in these areas.  And we look forward, I think, to the Secretary's travel in order to help coordinate these efforts, to try to keep the momentum up.  As she has stressed, it's important for both sides to stay focused on the maximum that they can do, what is the maximum effort that they can make.  And when she goes out, I think she will look at these various plans and projects that are underway and talk to the parties about the maximum effort that they can make to carry out their commitments and to carry out the withdrawal in a way that's positive for both sides.

QUESTION:  A follow-up?


QUESTION:  Are you aware of any complaints by the Israelis that General Ward may be a bit too understanding of the Palestinian position to be critical of it?

MR. BOUCHER:  I hadn't seen that.  I'm sure there are people that might say that, but that's not what we think.


QUESTION:  After the meeting with Prime Minister Abbas -- President Abbas, sorry -- I'm sorry, President Abbas -- there were some, I think, background comments --

MR. BOUCHER:  I did that on Friday, too, didn't I?  Yeah.  (Laughter.) 

QUESTION:  -- that said that the role of General Ward may be changing somewhat, that there may be more facilitation now of talks between the two sides.  Is that some -- could you explain any of these nuances? 

MR. BOUCHER:  The basic role of General Ward is to support efforts of reform in the Palestinian security system and help them get a better handle on the areas that they control and to be able to stop the violence, which is the bottom line in terms of results.  He is there to coordinate the efforts of the international community to make that critical task a successful one.

He's back in the region now.  We, at this point will, -- I guess what I would say at this point, he's going to be active in pursuing those goals but I don't yet have any quite -- any new statements about changes in activities.  He's been meeting extensively with Palestinians all along.  He's been meeting with Israelis as well.  And that's something he'll continue to do in order to promote these goals. 

QUESTION:  But as far as you know, there's no change in his role after the meetings with President Abbas?

MR. BOUCHER:  As I said, the basic goal remains the same and I'm not going to get ahead of him in terms of how he pursues that goal at this point. 

QUESTION:  But the role is expanded, right?

QUESTION:  His role is changing, isn't it?

MR. BOUCHER:  I would say his basic role remains the same.

QUESTION:  Well, of course, his basic role is to promote peace.  Right?  His basic --

MR. BOUCHER:  Well, to promote security --

QUESTION:  -- role is to make nice.

QUESTION:  But how he goes --

MR. BOUCHER:  No, it's not to make nice.  It's --

QUESTION:  It's still how he goes -- the things he does.  He's been given a larger brief now, hasn't he?

MR. BOUCHER:  He's been given a major task, a broad task, and how he goes about that I'll just leave it where it was.

Okay, in the back.

QUESTION:  On Cyprus, Mr. Boucher.  Any comment on the illegal grand tour to the occupied territory of Cyprus by the three U.S. congressmen during the Memorial Day weekend? 


QUESTION:  How do you explain the presence, too, of your Ambassador to Nicosia, Nicholas -- Michael Klosson?  It's happening for the first time; for example, when you were Ambassador, the U.S. Ambassador to Cyprus, you never did that.  Why now?

MR. BOUCHER:  That was a long, long time ago. 

QUESTION:  Yes, what the difference is?

MR. BOUCHER:  What's different is what we've talked about for the last year.  I'll leave it at that.  There's been a different environment.  There's been a different activity on part of the United States to try to make sure that Turkish Cypriots did not feel as isolated as they have been in the past and we carried that out in a number of ways which you're familiar with. 

QUESTION:  But since this action violated the Chicago Convention of 1944, which dealing with international civil aviation to which both the Republic of Cyprus and the United States of America are signatories, I'm wondering why did you allow this trip to happen. 

MR. BOUCHER:  Because it doesn't.


QUESTION:  Can you confirm whether the U.S. has heard from Pakistan -- from President Musharraf that al-Libi is going to be deported or extradited, transferred anyway, to the United States?

MR. CASEY:  We've seen his comments on --

MR. BOUCHER:  We saw the comments, but the answer is no.  Right?

MR. CASEY:  Right.


QUESTION:  The answer is --

MR. BOUCHER:  The answer is no at this point.  And I don't think he said to the United States.  I'm not exactly sure. 

QUESTION:  Yes, he did.

MR. BOUCHER:  He did?


MR. BOUCHER:  Okay.  In any case, no, I don't have anything at this point. 

QUESTION:  But we haven't -- you don't know that the U.S. has heard or you don't know --

MR. BOUCHER:  I don't think there's a formal process underway at this point. 

QUESTION:  Are we pursuing it?  I mean, is the U.S. actively pursuing these reports?

MR. BOUCHER:  We're -- I'm sure we're in touch with -- certainly, we're in touch with the Pakistani Government about al-Libi and as far as where ultimately he ends up for trial or custody remains a question I don't have an answer for at this point. 

QUESTION:  Would you welcome --

MR. BOUCHER:  Okay.  I'm not going to start speculating on it.  We'll get in touch.  I'm sure we'll talk to the Pakistani Government about these things first.


QUESTION:  Can I just ask you a question about this new website you've set up identifying misinformation?  Just -- can you explain exactly what it'll do, but also what does it say about the state of --

MR. BOUCHER:  Good for me.  I'll check on it and get back to you. 


MR. BOUCHER:  Okay.  This lady down here.  Sorry.

QUESTION:  Change the subject.


QUESTION:  Is the Proliferation Security Initiative right now focused more on the areas such as Iran and North Korea?

MR. BOUCHER:  It really covers a very broad area.  Certainly there are a number of nations that are well known as either sellers or purchasers of weapons of mass destruction, but it is worldwide.  And if you look at, you know, some 15 exercises that we've had, 60 countries participation -- participating, this really does cover the whole world and any indications of problems with sales of weapons of mass destruction and exports would be looked at by this group and they have developed mechanisms and tools to be able to operate through law enforcement or legal mechanisms or sometimes on the high seas -- air, sea and land, in fact -- to be able to pursue these goals. 

QUESTION:  Can I follow up on PSI?


QUESTION:  The Danish Ambassador said that shipments of missiles have decreased during the period since PSI has -- since its creation.  I realize it's his statement and not that by an American official, but do you share that view? 

MR. BOUCHER:  Yeah, we do share that view.

QUESTION:  How do you measure that?  Are you certain that you know all shipments of ballistic missiles and therefore you can say that they have, in fact, gone down?  Are you just --

MR. BOUCHER:  It's a judgment that we would agree with.  I think many times missile sales are known through a variety of channels and certainly we can measure the volume in a gross way and it's -- we think it's a true statement.  But no, I don't have -- I'm not sure I can account for every missile sold in the world and make sure that, you know, that we know the exact number in any given year.

QUESTION:  So you think you have enough of a handle on it to be able to make that statement? 

MR. BOUCHER:  It's a good way to put it.  I wish I had said that myself.  We think we have enough handle -- of a handle on it to be able to make that statement. 

QUESTION:  You owe me for that.  And why wasn't Mr. Bolton there?  He was --

QUESTION:  Or mentioned.

QUESTION:  Yeah, well, he wasn't mentioned either.  That's certainly true.  But he was the primary official, U.S. official, involved, as I understood it, in negotiating and pursuing this.  Any reason why he wasn't at the event?

MR. BOUCHER:  Because his successor was. 

QUESTION:  Because why?

MR. BOUCHER:  Because his successor was.

QUESTION:  His successor has been nominated and confirmed? 

MR. BOUCHER:  Has been voted on by the Senate.  I'm not sure if he's signed his papers yet, but certainly on terms of it -- well, he's a successor but he hasn't taken over yet.  But --

QUESTION:  Well, if he hasn't signed the papers, he's not his successor?  He's not his successor until he has the title of Under Secretary of State or --

MR. BOUCHER:  Anyway, that's the way it was done today.



QUESTION:  And why was there no reference to his hard work on this?

MR. BOUCHER:  I don't know, frankly. 

QUESTION:  Can I ask you something else about this? 

MR. BOUCHER:  Yeah. 

QUESTION:  You may or may not know that the success of PSI is being questioned by some former diplomats and other governments -- so I went to that, listening carefully, how Secretary Rice credited PSI, and on Libya she said it provided the framework for that -- stopping the shipment to Libya -- and she spoke of 11 successful efforts. 

Are you guys hedging -- are you claiming that PSI literally stopped 11 shipments of dangerous technology including the shipment to Libya?  Because I think people in this State Department, at least one, who worked very hard on proliferation, strongly disagrees that it was successful, to that extent.

MR. BOUCHER:  Well, all right, let's listen carefully to what the Secretary did say.  We say in the case of BBC China's Proliferation Security Initiative provided the framework because this -- the BBC China case -- was one also, it says here, with the A.Q. Kahn network, as well as Libya's decision to eliminate its weapons of mass destruction and long range missile programs.  There were other efforts being pursued in case of Libya and A.Q. Kahn that contributed to successfully stopping this -- to finding out and stopping this shipment. 

So in that case, we didn't want to say it was solely a matter of Proliferation Security Initiative because proliferation security was -- if I remember -- at an early stage back then.  And therefore, Proliferation Security provided the framework in which these other efforts were successful. 

In subsequent cases, as the Secretary said, 11 cases over nine months -- well, we do know we stopped things.  Some of those cases we were able to find out about them in advance, go to the country involved and have the country stop them even before the sale -- was sold, the items were shipped.  In other cases, it was more an interdiction along the way, where things were unloaded from ships and stopped them from getting -- and there were 11 successful efforts of that kind.

QUESTION:  But there were 11 successful PSI?

MR. BOUCHER:  Yeah, the word "efforts" is being use because it covers a number of different circumstances. 

QUESTION:  Oh, I see.

MR. BOUCHER:  Stopping something before it's shipped or stopping something, off-loading it from a ship are slightly different things.  We called them efforts, but there are 11 specific cases where we stopped something that was going to be -- that was going to be exported as weapon of mass destruction or contributing to that or do we use equipment contributes to that, where PSI was the framework, was the mechanism for stopping it.

QUESTION:  Could you describe those 11?

MR. BOUCHER:  She cited a couple.  I don't think I can in too much more detail.  I'll give you all the ones I've got, some of which duplicate what she said up there. 

There was one where we worked successfully with other countries to interdict transshipment of material and equipment bound for ballistic missile programs in countries of proliferation concern -- actually, this is several cases in countries of proliferation concern, including to Iran. 

One of those cases, extensive and coordinated law enforcement, customs and diplomatic cooperation among three partners was employed to stop the onward movement of material intended for another country's missile program.  Partners sometimes working in concert with other likeminded nations have also prevented Iran from procuring goods to support its missile and weapons of mass destruction programs, including for its nuclear program.

Bilateral cooperation prevented the ballistic missile program in another country in another region and the (inaudible) from receiving missile propellant production equipment.  In addition, we worked to impede the progress of North Korean weapons of mass destruction and missile programs, for example, bilateral cooperation with several governments prevented North Korea from receiving materials used in making chemical weapons and cooperation with another country blocked the transfer to North Korea of a material useful in its nuclear programs.

QUESTION:  Why can't you provide more detail about this?  I mean, in another country, in another region didn't get another thing -- it would be more persuasive if you could give hard details, or even, you know, this country, that item.  Why can't you provide that? 

MR. BOUCHER:  A lot of this is based on intelligence. 

QUESTION:  I understand that.  And, you know, that's exactly why I'm asking the question.  I mean, if it's based on intelligence that was deemed to be actionable, action was then taken on it.  It's not clear to me why you can't say now where we've succeeded in doing X, Y or Z, are you afraid of disclosing sources and methods or --

MR. BOUCHER:  That's a matter for the intelligence agencies who are concerned with sources and methods and we are very careful not to go beyond what they tell us they feel they can put out in the public domain without perhaps jeopardizing the kinds of sources and methods that they have. 

QUESTION:  So that was the primary concern:  sources and methods?

MR. BOUCHER:  Yeah, yeah.  Classifications.

QUESTION:  But so far as what you said, two involve -- two of the 11 involve North Korea and two involved Iran?  Did I hear you correctly?

MR. BOUCHER:  Well, I have cited two cases involving North Korea.  I've cited several cases involving countries of proliferation concern, including Iran.  I've cited cases involving materials for Iran's missile and weapons of mass destruction programs.  And I've cited a case in another country in another region on missile propellant. 

QUESTION:  Richard, is it possible for you to go back and see if you can tell us, of the 11, x were for North Korea, x were for Iran, x were for --

MR. BOUCHER:  It's possible for me to go back and see, but I doubt if I will find it possible to get you that information.  We looked at this.  Our experts looked at this in advance of the event today for the Secretary's speech, for the statements that I've -- for what I would be able to follow up with here, and this is about as much as the intelligence people felt comfortable putting out.

QUESTION:  Can we even say two were for North Korea and at least two were for Iran?  Because this --

MR. BOUCHER:  And one was for another country.  Yeah, you can say that. 

QUESTION:  Two for Iran?

MR. BOUCHER:  At least two. 

QUESTION:  With respect to Iran, from what you've just mentioned, apparently, the Iranians have tested a new missile with a range of 1,200 miles and clearly all the aspects of this that you've just cited are clearly not working.  What are your next steps?  Are you going to go to the United Nations or work again more stringently with the EU-3?

MR. BOUCHER:  I'd have to look at that missile test.  Certainly we know Iran has been developing missiles for quite some times.  We know that we have made efforts along with other governments to try to impede the development, to try to make it harder for them to do that and slow down missile development.  But they do have and have had a missile program for quite some time and we've seen these kind of things progress over the years. 

QUESTION:  Richard, can I go back?  One thing, forgive me, the two for North Korea, at least two for Iran and at least one in a third country, correct, not North Korea or Iran?

QUESTION:  Yeah, you said another country.

MR. BOUCHER:  Yeah.  Nicholas.

QUESTION:  Still on the PSI, correct me if I'm wrong, but I thought that missile shipments per se are not exactly part of the -- they're not covered by the PSI.  I may be wrong.  But even if this is so, how do you explain the increase of shipments of missiles over the past two years and what are you doing or what is the initiative doing to make sure that that doesn't continue in the future? 

MR. BOUCHER:  Why do you say there's an increase in missile shipments over the last two years?

QUESTION:  I thought that was what the Danish Ambassador said at --

MR. BOUCHER:  No, the Danish Ambassador said there was a decrease in missile shipments --

QUESTION:  Oh, a decrease.

MR. BOUCHER:  -- over the last two years.  And we explain that, in part, by PSI.

QUESTION:  I apologize.

MR. BOUCHER:  Okay, Said.

QUESTION:  A quick question on Iraq.  You know the SRSG, the Special Representative of Secretary General of the United Nations to Iraq, Ambassador Ashraf Qazi, is constantly there and meeting with officials and so on.  How do you -- do you coordinate with him at all?  Are you aware of what he does?  I know this is a UN matter.

MR. BOUCHER:  The answer is yes.  I mean, on the -- when he's there, like he is now, we coordinate on the ground because we're all working to the same goals.  We're all working to try to help the Iraqis move forward.  We're both, in our own way, coordinating and working with Iraqis.  The Iraqis remain the focus of their attention and our attention in terms of how we call can support them to move forward on the elections process, constitution process and the whole transition that's underway this year. 

QUESTION:  Is this something done directly with the State Department or through the Embassy in Baghdad?

MR. BOUCHER:  It's done in terms of the field, it's done with the Embassy; in terms of the UN here, it's done with the State Department back here and our Mission to the UN; and it's also done on an international scale and we look forward to a conference that the United States and the EU can host at Iraqi request, together with the Iraqis, to even more assist them in terms of coordinating donor assistance, the kind of aid that they're getting this year.

QUESTION:  On Iraq.  Can you --

MR. BOUCHER:  Let's -- actually, I should go to Christophe.  You've been waiting.

QUESTION:  Do you have anything on this Dutch employee working for the NGO  Doctors Without Borders who was arrested in Sudan today?  I understand that's the second time a person working for this association is arrested.

QUESTION:  And also Annan's translator was arrested.

MR. BOUCHER:  And also what?

QUESTION:  The Sudanese who translated for Kofi Annan during his visit has also now been arrested. 

MR. BOUCHER:  Here's what we know.  We know of the arrests of two officials of the Dutch branch of Medecins Sans Frontieres and we are fully opposed to this arrest and condemn it.  We are telling that to the Government of Sudan as well.

We understand those two officials were subsequently released but may face charges for the organization's report on the extent of rape and sexual violence against women in Darfur. 

We have seen reports of a third Medecins Sans Frontieres worker being arrested but we cannot verify this.  I don't know if that's the same as the translator or not.  That's something else we'll have to look into then.

We have called upon the Sudanese Government to immediately stop its heavy-handed campaign of harassment and intimidation against Medecins Sans Frontieres personnel and other humanitarian aid groups who are providing essential services to the people of Darfur.  As we've said before, dedicated humanitarian workers are providing vital medical care and counseling to the thousands of women who continue to be attacked and raped in Darfur. 

There are several international nongovernmental organizations who have documented human rights violations committed against innocent civilians in areas under the control of the Sudanese Government.  Reports a -- are a tragic account of what innocent civilians are facing on a daily basis.  And we find these reports credible and sustained in terms of the kind of information and views that they're providing. 

I'll stop at that.  Yeah.  Teri.

QUESTION:  Is Deputy Secretary Zoellick going to --

MR. BOUCHER:  Deputy Secretary Zoellick will be in Sudan later this week.  He will discuss Darfur and, of course, all the matters related to Darfur and we'll just see where this is when he gets there.  Certainly, the presence of humanitarian workers is very, very important to us and if there are problems with that presence, I'm sure the Deputy Secretary will raise them.

QUESTION:  Thank you.


QUESTION:  Any update on this terrorism issue between Venezuela and the U.S., considering that some members of the National Assembly of Venezuela are coming to Washington to make an extradition request before the OAS?

MR. BOUCHER:  You don't make extradition requests before the OAS.  I hadn't heard that.  But extradition requests are legal documents prepared in legal challenges -- in the legal channels -- that have to stand up to the scrutiny of courts.  And they need to be solid, they need to be well founded on evidence and on law and judicial procedure, and that's what we would look for in this case.

QUESTION:  Are you considering any change in your policy toward Venezuela?

MR. BOUCHER:  We have had a policy of Venezuela of being open to any progress that they want to make, being open to having a decent relationship with Venezuela, but at this point, I'm afraid that hasn't been possible.

Yeah.  Sir.

QUESTION:  Although, Mr. Boucher, you're saying the U.S. is waiting for in the six-way talk and that North Korea must bring that to the table soon.  But Vice President, Mr. Cheney, gave a very harsh word to Mr. Kim Jong-Il and the North Korean regime once again.  And his remarks came out while your statement is awaiting North Korean response after visiting New York -- the North Korean diplomats in New York and telling them the U.S. has no intention of military action against North Korea. 

So some people are saying the U.S. message is a little bit confusing.  They are giving -- there are confusing messages to North Korea.  Still, your government is already preparing for making shift of policy toward North Korea?

MR. BOUCHER:  Our government is very consistent in our policy and the Vice President has been very consistent in our policy, too, and when he's asked a question, he's going to give an answer.

QUESTION:  You think the answer --

MR. BOUCHER:  There's no problem with speaking the truth just because we're waiting for North Korea to come back to the talks.  The United States has been very clear and consistent in our policy.  I don't think -- I don't see any contradiction.

QUESTION:  Sticking with North Korea?


QUESTION:  There is a report out of Beijing that the North Korean Government is sending millions of people who live in cities, including some members of its foreign ministry, out into the countryside to try to help farm.  And this is interpreted by some aid officials as an effort to stave off famine.  Have you seen this kind of mobilization and do you interpret it in the same way?

MR. BOUCHER:  Simple answer is I don't know and I'll have to check. 

QUESTION:  Okay.  When you do check, if you could also check whether you've made any decisions about additional donations that the U.S. donate to --

MR. BOUCHER:  Not at this point, no.  We have not yet decided on our response to the 2005 appeal. 


QUESTION:  Just to check, has North Korea come back to the New York channel?  Have they responded?

MR. BOUCHER:  Let me check. 

QUESTION:  Thanks.


QUESTION:  Has the U.S. been informed of Iraqi plans to hold the Saddam trial within the next two months?

MR. BOUCHER:  I don't know.  I think I just saw something flash across the news.  I don't know.  This is a matter for the Iraqis to address and I think it was cited as President Talabani who addressed it so it's something for them to address, not a question of whether we've been informed or not. 

Yeah.  Sir.

QUESTION:  China.  It is reported that the Chinese authorities detained a Singaporean journalist who was stationed in Hong Kong.  Do you have any comment on this?

MR. BOUCHER:  We are concerned about the reports about this case and we'll be seeking information from Chinese authorities about Mr. Ching's status.  Once again, it's important to remember that freedom of press is very fundamental to internationally recognized human rights.  We view any attempts to stifle the free flow of information with great concern.  Arrests of journalists in China have a chilling effect on press freedoms and elsewhere in the society.  So we will follow this situation closely and make inquiries about it.

QUESTION:  Did you talk to Chinese Government on this issue already?

MR. BOUCHER:  I don't think we've had occasion to do that yet.

Yeah.  Sorry, there's one or two more.

QUESTION:  Mr. Boucher, on Cyprus.  (Inaudible). You said that this trip does not violate the Chicago Convention of 1944 and I'm wondering why.  Could you explain? 

MR. BOUCHER:  No, it doesn't.  We have looked at the situation.  We authorized travel by Americans on regular passports.  We've had diplomats go through there.  There's nothing that violates conventions about it.

QUESTION:  And Richard, this trip violates the U.S. law.  As you know, the section 620 (c) of the Foreign Assistance Act --

MR. BOUCHER:  I'm sorry but we've looked at U.S. law, it doesn't violate U.S. law. 

QUESTION:  Let me finish my question.  But in section 620 (c) of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, as it was amended, says specifically that the U.S. foreign policy supports a free government of Cyprus and the removal of the Turkish troops.  How do you respond to this?

MR. BOUCHER:  I respond that it doesn't violate U.S. law.

QUESTION:  Richard, a quick one.  Libya.  A Libya court has delayed until November a ruling on the appeal by the five Bulgarian nurses and the Palestinian doctor who were sentenced to death for deliberately infecting -- allegedly having deliberately infected children with the HIV virus.  Do you have any comment on that?  And have you made any progress in your talks with the Libyans on this case?

MR. BOUCHER:  This remains a matter of great concern to us, one in which we've kept in touch with the Bulgarian Government, where we've made known our views to Libya and we had the opportunity to do so.  We continue to follow it very closely with others in Europe.  We're also concerned about the situation. 

I guess we would hope that the delay would allow the court to fully consider the shortcomings of the original proceeding and the possible impact of the currently pending criminal case against the individuals accused of -- extracting confessions from the medics under torture.  So we would hope that the time for the delay would be used positively to review these situations.

QUESTION:  A follow-up, Mr. Boucher?


QUESTION:  How do you -- can prove that this specific message did not do whatever they did to her children in the hospital in Libya?  How do you -- can prove that scientifically because you have taken the position -- I'm not saying that there should -- the death sentence, but I'm saying that somehow they should be proofs because it is proven by French scientists since June 10th in 2001.

MR. BOUCHER:  There have been many irregularities along the way in this process.  There were credible allegations of torture to obtain confessions and a variety of other failures at lower courts to give full consideration to scientific evidence that was inconsistent with the prosecution's theory.  So, I think there are many aspects to this which are questionable in terms of the legal procedure that was followed, the scientific evidence that was allowed and the kind of environment that this trial was taking place in. 

That is not to denigrate at all the real human suffering that children went through in Benghazi and I think those involved in this process have been made very clear that they feel for the children involved, they feel for the parents involved.  And that the EU and we are coordinating to look at what kind of humanitarian effort there might be to help the people involved.  We've facilitated the efforts of an American pediatric AIDS program that would support an EU program there.  So there is real feeling for the children who have suffered there and for their parents. 

QUESTION:  I'm not challenging the statements.  Excellent answer.  But what I'm challenging is about the infection itself, how you can prove that they didn't do that in June 10th, 2001?  It's a big issue.

MR. BOUCHER:  One does not deserve to be hauled in front of a court and sentenced to death just because you can't prove you didn't -- somebody didn't do something.  That's not a standard of justice that's applied anywhere in the world.

QUESTION:  Thank you.

(The briefing was concluded at 2:15 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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