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U.S. Department of State Daily Press Briefing #91, 00-09-21

U.S. State Department: Daily Press Briefings Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Department of State Foreign Affairs Network (DOSFAN) at <>


U.S. Department of State

Press Briefing



1	Dedication of Harry S Truman Building, Friday, September 22 /
	 Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright to Travel to Iceland and
	 France from September 30 to October 2 on U.S.-European Relations /
	 Statement on the Secretary's New Science and Technology Adviser
	 Norman P. Neureiter / Statement on Iranian Appeals Court Decision
	 on the Trial of Iranian Jews  
1-4	Iranian Appeals Court Decision On Trial of Iranian Jews
4	Arrest of U.S. Citizen Edmond Pope
4-7	Migration Talks Between the United States and Cuba Taking Place in
	 New York City / Downed Cuban Plane 
7	Elections
7-8	U.S. Efforts to Advance Peace Process
8	Pending Legislation in the Senate to Make the Visa Waiver Program
8-9	American Hostage / U.S. Policy that Ransoms Should Not be Paid and
	 Is Counterproductive 
9-10	Aung San Suu Kyi Attempt to Board Train for Mandalay /
	 U.S. Deplores Attempts by Burmese Government to Restrict Aung San
	 Suu Kyi's Freedom of Movement 
10	Indian Announcement to Withdraw Troops from UN Peacekeeping Mission
10-11	U.S. Pursues Current Cases of Child Abduction Cases / U.S.-German
	 Working Group Reviewing Issues of Child Abduction Cases 
11	Upcoming Elections
11-13	Russia and French Humanitarian Flights / Expansion of Oil


DPB #91

THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 21, 2000, 1:15 P.M.


MR. BOUCHER: Ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon. Let me start off the last briefing in a building that has no name. Tomorrow we will no longer be named this. I don't know what that does to all your anonymous sources, whether they will all be Harry S Truman, or what, but we will have a name tomorrow for our building.

Let me start with a couple brief announcements. First, we will be putting up a notice about the Secretary's travel to Iceland and France from September 30th to October 2nd. So we encourage people to look at that and to come with us for some important developments and important work on US- European relations.

The second thing I wanted to mention is we put out a statement yesterday about the Secretary's new Science Advisor. Norman P. Neureiter, is the Science and Technology Advisor to the Secretary of State. He is going to work with Senior Department officials here to ensure that science, technology and health issues are properly integrated into our foreign policy, and he will work closely with the science and technology communities in both public and private sectors to get advice and to strengthen our cooperation with them.

As you know, the integration of science and many of these issues into our foreign policy has been a key issue for the Secretary. This is something she has wanted, and now she has a Science Advisor here, as well as the work she has done over the years strengthening our capabilities in this area. This adds further to them.

And third of all, I would like to make a statement about the Iranian Appeals Court decision on the trial of the Jews. The United States is disappointed that today's Appeals Court decision in Iran does not overturn all of the convictions that were imposed on the 10 Iranian Jews on July 1st. We are also disappointed that the Iranian Government has not released any of the 10 defendants from prison.

The United States has previously condemned and continues to condemn the process by which 13 members of the Iranian-Jewish community were tried and 10 sentenced without benefit of internationally recognized due process. The decision of the appeals court today reinforces our longstanding concerns about the manner in which the Iranian courts conducted this case, and we, like the rest of the international community, continue to be concerned by Iran's judicial practices in this and in other cases.

And with that statement, I would be glad to take your questions.

QUESTION: Are you concerned in a larger sense about the plight of Jews and other minorities in Iran? Or are you concerned with mostly all the procedure in this particular case?

MR. BOUCHER: I think I would have to leave you with the recently released report on religious freedom for an appraisal of the general situation of Jews and other religious minorities in Iran. Certainly, the issues in this particular case relating to due process and the lack of due process for these people are very important to us as well.

QUESTION: Is there any linkage between - or is there still a linkage between lifting more sanctions against Iran and the status of these Jews?

MR. BOUCHER: We have, I think, made clear in terms of policy that we have followed a consistent policy announced by the Secretary in March. We have offered an unconditional dialogue with Iran to address the issues that are of concern to us, and our policy in that regard remains unchanged. We continue to have grave concerns about their support for terrorism, their support for weapons of mass destruction, position on the Middle East peace process, and Iran's poor human rights record, of which this is part.

We think maintaining pressure in this regard on reform is an important part of our activity. We have offered the dialogue, but we don't see the offer of dialogue as negating the need to make clear what our views are on things - developments like this.

The March initiative that we had was only really limited, and specifically targeted measures designed to reach out to the Iranian people and demonstrate our goodwill towards them. So that remains in place as well. But the limited efforts to reach out don't negate the need for dialogue, and don't negate the need to speak out when we have subjects of concern like this trial.

QUESTION: Richard, have you, in effect, protested through the - is it the Swiss Embassy that takes care of our relations at this point on the ground? Has any protest been made, and have you sought the release of these 13 - or is it down to 10 now?

MR. BOUCHER: I think it is down to 10 now. The appeal yesterday apparently, I guess, reduced some of the charges, but they are all still charged with something and subject to jail sentences. We have made very clear all along what our views are. The news broke this morning. I don't know if we have passed a message or done anything today through channels, but we are making quite clear what our views are here in terms of our views of the situation. I'm sure the Iranians will notice.

QUESTION: But have you sought the release of these men and their departure from Iran?

MR. BOUCHER: We have said all along in very strong terms that what was needed was a fair, judicial process - an open and fair judicial process and open and fair trial - and we have condemned the way this due process was conducted. That has been our view.

QUESTION: What if the charges in the first instance are totally false? You figure a fair trial would reveal that?

MR. BOUCHER: Would reveal that, and they would be acquitted. Yes. That's why the fundamental issue is due process. If there is due process, then justice will be served.

QUESTION: Well, one other question then with regard to Americans around the world - American prisoners. There are two classes: criminals, druggies - - that sort of thing -- and security or political prisoners. Can you give me a list, country by country, or take the question of the number of American prisoners being held as criminals and being held as security, or "political" prisoners, who may not all have been given due process either? Could you do a little research for me on --

MR. BOUCHER: I think it is impossible to do what you're saying, frankly, from the information. I will check and see if we have any handy-dandy list. But, as you know, around the world, Americans have been convicted at various times of various offenses. It is not always possible to differentiate what is a criminal offense and what may be put in jail for political reasons on criminal charges. I think to try to make that kind of list country by country, around the world, prisoner by prisoner, is not something that is possible to do.

QUESTION: If you can't do that, can you give me a list for Israel and Palestine?

MR. BOUCHER: Once again, you are asking us to make a differentiation that I am not sure we can make. I will see if we have lists, any statistics on US prisoners in those areas.

QUESTION: The various statistics, not the names.

QUESTION: One person, Mr. Pope, and the Russians seem to be positioning themselves to go ahead - go ahead. Yes.

QUESTION: Can I just get this straight? Your objection to this is purely on the procedure, or do you take a position on either their innocence or guilt? And, secondly, do you take issue with the Iranian laws which prevent Iranian Jews from passing information to Israelis?

MR. BOUCHER: The concern that we have consistently expressed is the total lack of due process, the lack of transparency, the way in which these trials have been conducted. We felt that that was a violation of the rights of these people, and we have certainly condemned that, and felt that they deserved an open and fair trial. And that remains our view.

How that would play out in the judicial process is something that one can't say exactly, because they haven't been afforded that opportunity. So certainly we have been quite clear in saying these people deserve -- if they are going to be charged with anything, they certainly deserve an open and fair trial.

QUESTION: So to get on to the next question, this does differ from the case of Mr. Pope, where you are, in effect, saying he is innocent? Is that correct?

MR. BOUCHER: In the case of Mr. Pope, we have seen no evidence to indicate that he has violated any Russian laws. We have been in touch with him and have been able to talk to him. We have had at least some access and some information on this. I think the fact that this trial was held in such a closed manner, there is so little information, it is hard for anyone to make any judgment on this.

QUESTION: Do you think that there will be any conditions under which there would be a fair trial for these folks in Iran? I mean, could you envision anything that would resemble a fair trial? Do you have criteria for what that would look like?

MR. BOUCHER: Again, that there is a judicial system there that we assume could conduct a fair trial if they wanted to. But this was done completely without due process, completely without any openness, and completely without any sort of international standards. So we are very concerned about the judicial practices in these cases in Iran about this and other cases as well.

QUESTION: Could you address the Pope situation today, please?

MR. BOUCHER: I'm not sure there is any news on the Pope situation.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

MR. BOUCHER: The latest we had was that September 19th the court denied the appeal for him to be released on medical grounds. I think we talked about that yesterday.

QUESTION: All right, well, if you don't have that, how about the Cuban - we'll take one of this and one of that -

MR. BOUCHER: I've noticed.

QUESTION: This probably will astonish you, but there is nothing that you said in New York on the Cuban-US talks so New York is called and said, hopefully, I'm sure the State Department would be happy to provide some information. I think they are wrong, but I'm going to ask you anyhow.

MR. BOUCHER: I'm not sure I have much to add to what they haven't said about this.

QUESTION: Why don't you take back some of what they haven't said?

MR. BOUCHER: Okay. The migration talks between the United States and Cuba are taking place today in New York City. They have been held, as you know, intermittently since 1980, and they have been roughly every six months since our 1994 Migration Accord. You will remember the Secretary's statement about a month ago now on the need for the Cuban Government to facilitate family reunification; said that it was important to us that we commence these talks, which should have taken place in June. And so now they are finally doing that.

We will discuss in those talks a wide range of subjects concerning the agreement to provide a safe and orderly method for Cubans to immigrate to the United States. We will raise a number of our concerns, including impediments the Cuban Government has created to emigration of its citizens, and including the problems that we noted in our August 28th diplomatic note to the Cuban Government.

QUESTION: Can you say specifically whether they have begun? You said they are meeting today, but can you say whether they actually sat down together in New York?

QUESTION: Did they shake hands?

MR. BOUCHER: Can we say, yes, did they - I usually rely on the press to tell me that people have actually walked into rooms and shaken hands. I don't have remote control TV cameras on my folks. But, yes, they have.

QUESTION: They have?

MR. BOUCHER: Yes, they have met. They have started to meet.

QUESTION: Good. Can you tell us whether - it may be a little premature, but did the plane incident and the fact that you've taken these people in, have you seen any repercussions from that on the course of the talks?

MR. BOUCHER: It's way premature to start drawing conclusions like that. I mean, first of all, the plane that went down was not a subject of discussion for these talks. It's not something we were going to raise. We saw no reason for it to be discussed up there.

The Coast Guard, as you know, with the question of the airplane, has decided that after they assessed the medical condition of the survivors, that these people should receive medical attention at a hospital. They told us of their decision. It's a basically humanitarian decision that they make in cases of medical necessity. So these people have been taken to a hospital, and they can explain to you further anything that happens next. But it's not something on our agenda with the Cubans in the talks. I don't know what's on their mind, but it's not on our agenda.

QUESTION: Well, the escape route, going across the waters, is an ordeal. Isn't it logical that anybody who would try to get in this way could instantly to be judged to have a medical problem and would have the ticket to the US? No?

MR. BOUCHER: Barry, the --

QUESTION: I mean, in a practical sense, if you try to take to the seas to get away from Cuba, I think you're not going to have a good time and, in fact, you might not do too well physically and emotionally. So you become something who ought to be medivaced, no?

MR. BOUCHER: Barry, it's certainly --

QUESTION: That's the word "emigrate," isn't it, in effect?

MR. BOUCHER: My turn.

QUESTION: Sorry. Go ahead.

MR. BOUCHER: It's certainly a perilous way to leave, and that's why we have had these immigration agreements. We have tried to facilitate and make work the family reunification practices, especially that go under the orderly and safe patterns of migration that we have tried to set up through these talks. And that is why it was of great concern to the Secretary the Cubans weren't holding these talks and they weren't allowing the family reunifications to take place. So, number one, yes, it is dangerous to leave Cuba by sea in boats or however, in airplanes, and we want this to happen, people to able to migrate in a safe and orderly fashion. That is why we insist on these talks. That's why we have these talks.

As far as the actual circumstances of any individual who leaves on a boat or a raft or an airplane, the Coast Guard decides based on the actual conditions. There is no ipso facto, if you're in a boat on the sea, you're suffering and therefore deserve to come to the States. When they pick people up - people get picked up, they look at them. They interview many of them on the high seas to determine if they have a need to come to the States under asylum procedures, but basically this is handled by the Coast Guard based on the individual situation.

QUESTION: Do you happen to know if anybody made a determination whether the plane was hijacked or stolen, because there is a legal distinction there that could be significant?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't have information on that at this point. I think Justice Department will have to determine that.

QUESTION: On Azerbaijan's upcoming elections again --

QUESTION: Can we stay on Cuba? Can you tell us who the delegation leaders are? Is it Mr. Alarcon on the Cuban side? And who is the leader on the US side?

MR. BOUCHER: I should know that, but I don't. Let me double-check. Brownfield on our side. Bill Brownfield, our Deputy Assistant Secretary. Mr. Alarcon on the Cuban side.

QUESTION: Will the Cubans that were brought in to Key West be given asylum?

MR. BOUCHER: That is a question that will be determined by the Immigration Service in the Justice Department under the law. And now that they're in the States, they'll handle it.

QUESTION: One other question. If they were brought to Key West for medical attention and seven of them were released hours after they arrived to the hospital, how severe were their medical needs?

MR. BOUCHER: Again, that is something the Coast Guard and the hospital can answer for you. I'm not a doctor, and I don't look like one.

QUESTION: Was that the only reason that they were brought to US soil, for medical --

MR. BOUCHER: This is a humanitarian determination. It's a decision the Coast Guard made. The informed us of it. They felt these people needed to be seen by doctors. They needed to have medical attention. They make these calls in different cases when they pick people up on the high seas. It's a fairly standardized procedure for them to determine. They did it. They brought then in to Key West, Florida, to have a look at them. And so they're getting the medical attention the Coast Guard thought they needed. That's as much as we know.

QUESTION: Have the Cubans made an official request to return these survivors?

MR. BOUCHER: I haven't heard of anything. I'd have to check.

QUESTION: The central election commission made a decision this week in Azerbaijan to bar main political parties from - two main political parties, Musavat and Democratic Party, from participation in the elections. Do you have any comment on that issue?

MR. BOUCHER: That's something I'll have to get something for you later on. I'll look into it and get you something.

QUESTION: Richard, there are rumors in Israel that the United States has a new Jerusalem bridging proposal. In spite of the historic precedent, I would like to ask you if this is true.

MR. BOUCHER: The historic precedent is we don't comment one way or the other if we do or we don't, which I appreciate your awareness of that. I think the only thing we can say at this point is in general terms; that we are in close and regular contact with the parties. The Secretary has stayed closely involved in our efforts to advance Middle East peace. As you know, she had a number of meetings in New York with Israelis, Palestinians, interested Arab leaders and others. She has had conversations in the last few days with the Israeli Foreign Minister Shlomo Ben-Ami. We continue to work on the process. Ambassador Ross and his team continue to be in touch with people. We're working with both sides to facilitate their efforts to achieve a peace agreement, and we remain prepared to do what we can to get there.

That's about as much as I can say at this point. We don't get into specifics of what we're doing. No travel announcements, no bridging proposals to announce or anything like that.

QUESTION: And now to something entirely different. The visa waiver program, a program which is, I believe, instituted in 29 countries around the world which allows people to come here without first obtaining a visa. It is in danger of not being passed in this Congress. What effect would that have on this building?

MR. BOUCHER: The enactment of the visa waiver program - this is one of our highest priorities, a very high legislative priority for the Department of State. We are pleased that the House of Representatives passed the waiver program in its version of the bill in April, and we hope that the Senate will act similarly before the end of the session.

This program has been very important to us. It's been invaluable in promoting US travel and tourism, enhancing relations with participating countries, and allowing the Department of State to spend its scare resources more seriously and in a more targeted fashion so that we can put the resources into places where we do have problems with immigration or trafficking or drugs or other things.

The Immigration and Naturalization Service statistics reflect that 55 percent of all business and pleasure travelers to the United States - that's some 17 million people per year - enter the country under the visa waiver program. According to the most recent travel industry data, foreign visitors in the US generated $95.6 billion in direct expenditures last year. That sustains more than 1.1 million jobs for working Americans, indirectly supports a lot more.

And so, 55 percent of those people who come and spend the $95.6 billion come under this program. So it is very important for us to keep up. It would have serious repercussions for our relationships, serious repercussions for the ability of the State Department to do business with its limited resources, and serious repercussions, we think, for the United States in terms of travel and tourism as well. And so we want to see this enacted, and we will continue to work with the Congress to see the program renewed.

QUESTION: How long do you have to get this through, though? I mean, they are leaving, aren't they, tonight?

MR. BOUCHER: That is a question of congressional scheduling as well. So we will just have to see what happens. I think they are looking to go out soon, so we would hope that the Senate would enact this legislation soon.

QUESTION: Do you have any update on the American hostage in the Philippines? Apparently, he has contacted a radio station and it is not clear whether what he has said was made under duress. What is your interpretation of that?

MR. BOUCHER: We can't verify at this point that the voice on the tape is actually Mr. Schilling's. We certainly regard all statements made by hostages while they are in captivity to have been made under duress.

QUESTION: And on the larger question, do you have anything to say about this ransom that the Libyans paid? I mean, these hostage-takers are now multi-millionaires because of Libya.

MR. BOUCHER: I don't have a specific confirmation of an individual transaction, but I think we have made quite clear our view that ransom should not be paid, and that it is counter-productive to pay ransom. In fact, when the Secretary met with the Philippine Foreign Minister last week and in his discussions with others when we met with the Asians last week, this issue was discussed. And several people observed that the ransom money was just going to fuel other kidnappings and other - and to buy guns. And that is a concern that we have had and that others have shared as well.

QUESTION: On a different topic, do you have any information on the Iraqis who crossed the Mexican border in an apparent attempt to seek asylum?

MR. BOUCHER: No, I don't.

QUESTION: And would it be unusual for a group of, they say, approximately 45 Iraqis, including families, that large a number, including 19 children, is that unusual for them to -

MR. BOUCHER: Again, I don't know. I think the Border Patrol and the Immigration Service have to figure that out. Certainly, it was notable enough to get into a lot of press reports, but it is not something that we handle down there.

QUESTION: What do you have to say about Aung San Suu Kyi's latest attempt to assert her right to freedom of movement by taking the train to Mandalay?

MR. BOUCHER: First of all, we think she does have a right to freedom of movement, and our understanding is that she has gone to the Rangoon train station attempting to board a train for Mandalay. The Burmese security forces have prevented her from boarding, and they also have barred foreign diplomats and international media from entering the train station.

We deplore the repeated and heavy-handed attempts by the Burmese Government to restrict Aung San Suu Kyi's freedom of movement. As we have said many times before, freedom of movement is a basic human right recognized in numerous international conventions and instruments. We urge the Burmese authorities to uphold their obligations on these covenants and instruments and to stop this violation of her human rights. Furthermore, we have always said they should engage in a dialogue with the democratically-elected opposition.

QUESTION: Are you disappointed that other countries in the region aren't speaking out on her behalf?

MR. BOUCHER: I think there have been quite a few countries who have spoken out. I haven't done a count of which are in the region and which aren't. Certainly the subject of Aung San Suu Kyi and the way she was being treated, the denial of her rights again, was something that was discussed with many people in the region during the Secretary's meetings in New York, and we found a considerable amount of concern and sympathy about the situation there.

QUESTION: What does the Administration make out of the latest peacekeeping operations, given the fact that India is withdrawing all its troops out of the place?

MR. BOUCHER: The United Nations, I guess, has - or I guess India announced yesterday that it does plan to phase its withdrawal from the UN peacekeeping mission in Sierra Leone to allow the UN time to identify replacement troops. This UN announcement reflects an Indian decision already known to us, to the United Nations, and the United States. We have been discussing this with them over the past few days, at least, or the past week or so.

The UN is already approaching other potential troop contributors, and we are working hard with the United Nations troop contributors, and the Security Council, to ensure that the UN mission in Sierra Leone has the assets it needs to fulfill its job.

As you know, the mandate was renewed yesterday in the United Nations to go until December 31st. Troop strength at this point remains the same, and we will continue to work with the United Nations and other governments to make sure that the UN force in Sierra Leone has the troops it needs to fulfill its mandate and carry out its job.

QUESTION: There was an article in the Post today about the German - I believe he is a Deputy Justice official who is here on the question of child abduction cases. And the article indicates that there are steps which the German Government is willing to take to deal with future child abduction cases, but they don't seem that willing to address current cases. Are you all pleased or satisfied with what they are willing to do at this point?

MR. BOUCHER: First of all, we do address current cases repeatedly at various levels with other governments. Some of the current cases that we are aware of have been raised as high as the President and the Secretary during their trips there. So we do continue to pursue current cases, even as we work on solving some of the problems in a more fundamental manner, problems with the implementation of the Hague Convention.

There is US-German working group that has been reviewing this issue that has met twice in the last three months. This was the working group that was set up after the Secretary raised the specific cases and the general problem with Foreign Minister Fischer, and the President raised it with Chancellor Schroeder during their June visit to Berlin.

The Assistant Secretary of Consular Affairs Mary Ryan and other officials have traveled to Berlin in late June. German officials came here in late July. Next week, a group of US officials will again be traveling to Berlin for further conversations. These discussions are very important to us as we work together with Germany to improve the overall operation of the Hague Convention on child abduction, and we will continue to pursue that issue.

QUESTION: So are you satisfied so far with what the Germans are offering to do in these cases, or do you want more?

MR. BOUCHER: We think more progress needs to be made, and we hope the upcoming talks can continue to move this forward.

QUESTION: Is there anything you can say on the record about General Guei and the Ivory Coast? Have you said something in public on this before?


QUESTION: You have, or not?

MR. BOUCHER: Yes, we have.

QUESTION: You have? Have you updated it since --

MR. BOUCHER: Do you want to update it? I guess - let me go back and say what this is. We have said something about General Guei; we have said before that we don't think it is appropriate for him to run in the election. I'm not aware that we have actually said something about the shootings the other day, so let me. I guess there is not a whole lot we have to say, but there is an investigation under way, and we refer you to the Ivorean Government on that as regard to shootings around his residence.

But on his candidacy, we have said before we regret that he has taken a step to be a candidate. We think he should have refrained from that. We believe the electoral process in general should be inclusive, but the fairness and legitimacy of a process is compromised by a decision of General Guei, who came to power in a military coups to try to run as a candidate even while he is overseeing the elections.

QUESTION: I have a question on Iraq. Do you feel that the French humanitarian flight to Iraq today, and last week the Russian flight, is a challenge to the sanctions regime in place?

MR. BOUCHER: The Russian flight was approved by the Sanctions Committee. We do feel that all flights need to be looked at by the Sanctions Committee, need to be approved. We are not opposed to humanitarian flights when they are appropriate and necessary. The Russian flight, we were told, was carrying some $260,000 worth of medicine.

I'm not sure if the French flight was notified to the Sanctions Committee. The Secretary, when she discussed it with Foreign Minister Vedrine last week, made clear that we felt that it should be notified, and I frankly just don't know whether it has or not.

QUESTION: Do you feel at all duped by the Russians? That plane contained, I think, 10 oil officials from Russia, apparently unbeknownst to you and the Sanctions Committee?

MR. BOUCHER: I think they had notified the Sanctions Committee that there were going to be administrative officials on board, and I think they said one gas - or one gas industry executive on board. At the same time, this was supposed to be a humanitarian flight. There is a process by which flights are inspected on arrival and on departure, and those inspection reports are reported to the UN Sanctions Committee. So we will look to that to see exactly what the situation was with regard to this flight and whether the flight conformed to the notice that they had given to the United Nations.

QUESTION: On that point, does your interpretation of the Security Council resolution mean that the Sanctions Committee can veto the personnel who fly on flights to Iraq - assuming that the cargo is legitimate.

MR. BOUCHER: I'm not exactly sure how to assert that. I would say that we are informed. The Sanctions Committee has to be informed by the country flying the flight of what they are flying and who is on board, and one would want to see a report afterwards that said that the configuration of the flight actually conformed to what they had notified us of.

QUESTION: Including the personnel?

MR. BOUCHER: As much of a description as was provided in the beginning, one would like to see that that was carried out in the end. So we will look at that when it comes. If there are contradictions, we will figure out how, and what is the appropriate way to raise those.

QUESTION: I think it would be hard to argue on the basis of the resolutions that there are any restrictions on the personnel who have can fly on any flight.

MR. BOUCHER: I'm not arguing that. I'm just arguing that if they inform the Sanctions Committee of something, what they actually do should be in conformity with what they told the Sanctions Committee they were going to do.

QUESTION: Iraq has opened two new small refineries in the context of the President's program to try and get more oil flowing into the world. Does the United States support an expansion of oil in - both in terms of refineries and in terms of exports?

MR. BOUCHER: We haven't been pushing oil from Iraq into the world market. We don't, frankly, see that that has a significant effect on prices or the availability of oil. Iraq has been, this year, pumping about as much oil as they can. Certainly they have been pumping more than they did before the war, before 1989.

So I'm not aware of this particular refinery issue, but I wouldn't link that with any - we're not trying to use Iraq one way or the other. What we are trying to do is to make sure that money is available for the Oil-for- Food program. And given the fact that Iraq is now allowed to pump as much as they can, there is plenty of money available in the Oil-for-Food program, and that money is available to take care of the Iraqi people if Saddam Hussein allows it to.

QUESTION: But a subset of that is that there is four times as much oil coming out of Iraq as OPEC has increased in the past year in terms of production. Obviously, the Iraqi oil exports are very key to the price of oil. It will probably go up another five or ten dollars if the Iraqi oil wasn't there. Are you encouraging or discouraging further acquisition of oil technology by Iraq?

MR. BOUCHER: Let's go back to one of the assumptions in your question. I think yesterday we dealt with the issue of what if the Iraqis decided to stop pumping, and I think we think their surge capacity and reserve capacity to take steps to compensate for that should they try to do that.

But on the issue of encouraging or discouraging the export of equipment, certainly the dual-use equipment that is looked at by the Sanctions Committee has to be looked at carefully because there is no inspection regime in Iraq to determine that the equipment that is dual-use is not being put to military purposes. That said, we have taken a lot of steps this year to expedite the review, and to make sure that when things can be approved, they do get approved. And we have actually been able to speed up and work with others to make sure that dual-use equipment, including that which is necessary for the oil industry, is sent as necessary.

QUESTION: Have you discussed using that surplus capacity in talks with Saudi Arabia, specifically in the meeting with the Crown Prince last week?

MR. BOUCHER: I'm not sure if Iraqi cutoffs and surge capacity were discussed in that particular meeting. Certainly in the President's meetings with the Saudis and the Secretary's meetings with the Crown Prince and others, when she met with them the subject of oil does come up, the general situation with the oil prices. And obviously Secretary Richardson has also been in touch with his counterpart. So the whole issue of oil prices, the market, and the need for additional supply has been discussed with them and continues to be discussed with the Saudis and others.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MR. BOUCHER: Thank you.

(The briefing was concluded at 1:52 P.M.)

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