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U.S. Department of State Daily Press Briefing, 01-05-21

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

From: The Department of State Foreign Affairs Network (DOSFAN) at <http://www.state.gov>


DAILY PRESS BRIEFING

Richard Boucher, Spokesman

Washington, DC

May 21, 2001

INDEX:

GREECE

1-2 Readout of Secretary Powellís Meeting with Greek Foreign Minister Papandreou

ISRAEL Ė PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY

2-3 Violence in the Middle East/Secretary Powellís Remarks on Situation

2-3 Secretary Powellís Calls to Foreign Leaders

3-5 Possible Middle East Trips/William Burnsí role as Special Assistant

5 Upcoming Discussions on the Middle East

7 Reported Anniversary of Jerusalem Reunification

7-8 Israeli Settlements

CHINA

3-4 President Chen Transit

AFRICA

4-5 Secretary Powellís Trip/AIDS Issue

INDIA/PAKISTAN

5-6 Deputy Secretary Armitageís Visit to India and Remarks on Pakistan

10 US Sanctions Against India

RUSSIA

6-7 Potential Arms Sales to Iran

8 Russiaís Proposal of Working Groups

EGYPT

7 Sentencing of Saad Eddin Ibrahim

AUSTRIA

9 Austrian Foreign Ministerís Meeting with Secretary Powell/Waldheim Issue

CHINA/TIBET

9 Under Secretary Paula Dobriansky as Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues

9 Dalai Lama in Washington

GERMANY

9 Leaked German Cable


TRANSCRIPT_:

MR. BOUCHER: Okay, ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon. Iím here to brief you on everything except for the Middle East. So if anybody is here under false premises, then --

QUESTION: We have about 20 or 30 questions left.

MR. BOUCHER: All right. You can ask them all and Iíll say the Secretary dealt with that this morning. So I really donít intend to get into the Middle East at all.

QUESTION: Speaking of Greece, why did the Secretary call for -- no. The Secretary and the Greek Foreign Minister came out and made brief statements. I wondered if you could elaborate at all on the meeting here, at least. I know that heís going elsewhere, the Minister is, to Mr. Cheney and Dr. Rice.

But did anything get resolved? Any particular issue get underscored? What do we write about this meeting?

(Laughter.)

QUESTION: And why are they here?

MR. BOUCHER: You write that Greece is one of our NATO allies, one of our important allies in the Balkans, that we cooperate and work with Greece in a whole variety of areas. And, indeed, they spent a lot of their time talking about the Balkans, supporting the process of unity, government and reconciliation in Macedonia, looking at Belgradeís integration into the West and into the European sphere.

They discussed the state of affairs in Kosovo as me move towards elections. And they also talked quite a bit about the longer term prospects and what we had to do over the longer term to support and help build multi-ethnic democracies in the region, which is what is going to give us the long term stability that we all look for, and the chance to withdraw troops, as a matter of fact.

They also talked a bit about our relations with Russia, the meetings weíve had with Ivanov and discussions of missile defense. They talked a bit about the Middle East, as the Greek Foreign Minister said. They discussed the upcoming Olympics in Greece and the need to keep cooperating on security issues regarding the Olympics. They discussed Cyprus, relations with Turkey, where obviously weíre very interested, have been interested in the efforts of Greece and Turkey to improve their relationship.

QUESTION: Two of those things. Are they in agreement on Macedonia? And has Greece agreed to take stronger measures against terrorism in an effort to snare the Olympics?

MR. BOUCHER: On Macedonia I would say there is very much an agreement on the support for the government and the direction they are going, in terms of a unity government, in terms of -- as we talked about over the longer term -- but in terms of actually in Macedonia building a broad-based government of unity, a broad-based multiethnic state.

On the issue of terrorism and the Olympics, clearly we think there is more that can be done in terms of the cooperation between Greece and its international partners. And Foreign Minister Papandreou was also of the view that this cooperation and what they do together is very important. There is a lot of cooperation going on.

In the end weíre also going to be looking -- all looking for results in terms of the fight against terrorism.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: Well, let me try one Middle East question. The Secretary never said whether he felt that Arafat could, in fact, stop the violence, that he had control over the current level of violence.

MR. BOUCHER: I donít know that thatís a question he dealt with this morning. But itís certainly a question that heís answered before. Weíve always said we look to all the parties to do everything they can with that regard.

QUESTION: Can I try one, too? Did he make any calls today?

MR. BOUCHER: All right, Iíll take that question.

QUESTION: Okay.

MR. BOUCHER: I think you all know he talked to Prime Minister Sharon on Friday. On Saturday he talked to Lord Robertson and the new Egyptian foreign minister, Foreign Minister Maher. Sunday he talked to Foreign Minister Lindh of Sweden, to Robin Cook, Foreign Minister of the United Kingdom -- Foreign Secretary, High Representative Solana, of the European Union and of Kofi Annan. Today he has talked to Prime Minister Sharon already. And well, weíll see if there are any more calls.

QUESTION: Did he call Sharon today? Or did Sharon call him?

MR. BOUCHER: He called Sharon today.

QUESTION: All those other calls yesterday, theyíre not all about the Middle East?

MR. BOUCHER: Partially about the Middle East, partially about other things. But largely I think Middle East is an important issue with all these people in terms of the European Union, both the presidency and the Union itself. In terms of the United Nations, the Middle East and the Mitchell Report I think are very important aspects for all of us.

QUESTION: Just as a follow-up. Richard, I understand from the way you put the answer that he has not talked to Chairman Arafat. But is there an effort to try -- are you trying to establish a phone call with Chairman Arafat?

MR. BOUCHER: I think you should understand from the way I put the answer that there may be other calls and weíll tell you about them if they occur; that that, indeed, is a possibility.

QUESTION: What has the United States communicated to the Israeli Government about its use of F-16s on Friday?

MR. BOUCHER: I think Iím going to leave that to the Secretaryís discussion of it this morning. I have nothing to add.

QUESTION: I would like to talk about China policy. Is that okay now?

MR. BOUCHER: Yes.

QUESTION: Okay. I would like to know, do you foresee any negative impact on the US-China relations from the stay of Taiwanese Leader Chen?

MR. BOUCHER: It is a transit that was arranged for the safety, comfort and convenience of the traveler. We have done this before. President Chen has done this before.

So no, we don't see why there should be any impact on the relationship with the People's Republic of China.

QUESTION: Can we go back to the Middle East for a second?

MR. BOUCHER: No. Let's -- I mean, we can go back to the Middle East whenever you want, but let's do some other questions, okay?

QUESTION: There is one report that the US Government now authorized also. US officials can have contact with President Chen when he stays in New York City and in Houston. So can you --

MR. BOUCHER: I don't think there's any plans for any particular meetings with US officials, no.

Other questions?

QUESTION: Middle East then? Could you give us any more details about Mr. Burns' mission? Do you see this for a start as a long-term mission, or is this just a temporary arrangement?

MR. BOUCHER: I am going to answer all the Middle East questions with the Secretary dealt with that this morning. He explained as much as we can at this point.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.) I mean, he didn't have time.

MR. BOUCHER: Well, people asked him about it, and he explained the Burns mission. And I think he has explained it as much as we can today.

QUESTION: Is Dennis Ross back, and he's calling himself William Burns?

MR. BOUCHER: No.

QUESTION: No, I mean, are you halfway back to a Ross thing?

MR. BOUCHER: Again, the Secretary explained Ambassador Burns' mission this morning, explained what he was going to do. It is in the statement. I don't really have anything to clarify or amplify.

QUESTION: If I could ask a question about the Secretary's upcoming trip to Africa? What are his main objectives, and does he plan to come away with anything concrete on AIDS or on the situation in the Congo, other situations in Africa?

MR. BOUCHER: I think the trip is about dealing with Africa's problems, recognizing that there are some very difficult problems there -- AIDS, regional conflict being two of the biggest ones.

Each of the places we are going offers a chance to discuss regional issues, to look at how people are attacking the AIDS problem and the other issues there, and really to offer support for the open, democratic way that many of these countries are doing -- the open democratic path that they are taking to try and solve these problems.

In terms of specifics, I think we go out with quite a bit. US support for efforts against AIDS is still the highest in the world. It has recently been increased again by the contribution to the Global Trust Fund. We will be talking to people about the regional conflicts and how we can solve them. And many of these countries are players in the peace efforts out there.

So without predicting anything particular, I think we can make progress in terms of all these issues with our coordination with these African governments.

QUESTION: Sorry, this is Middle East, but it has happened since the Secretary spoke this morning.

The Palestinians are saying that now is the time for a summit. Do you think that is appropriate? They say they have accepted this Report, and now they should get together and talk about it in a peace summit. Is that premature?

MR. BOUCHER: I'm not -- I haven't seen the Report. I really don't have any comment at this stage.

QUESTION: I hate to bring you back to the Middle East again, but would you tell us --

MR. BOUCHER: You can't bring me there, sorry. But you can ask as many questions as you want. I'm staying in Washington.

QUESTION: This is an ongoing. The three wise men from the East Ė Burns, Schliecher and Indyk -- are going to meet at any time together.

MR. BOUCHER: Schliecher. Excuse me?

QUESTION: Are they actually going to physically meet at any time?

MR. BOUCHER: I think if you look at what the Secretary said this morning that you would conclude that, yes, they would.

QUESTION: I'm sorry, I couldn't hear you.

MR. BOUCHER: If you looked at what the Secretary said this morning, you would see that he said they would.

QUESTION: They would?

MR. BOUCHER: Yes. They will be operating together.

QUESTION: Another question. Last week, the Ambassador of Pakistan rushed to the State Department.

MR. BOUCHER: Rushed?

QUESTION: He rushed to the State Department for a clarification that Deputy Secretary in India called Pakistan a "rogue state." And now -- can you clarify? Because at the same time, Indian officials are saying that it is not a bad idea to call Pakistan a rogue state, because they are friends of the Taliban, they are friends of Usama bin Laden, and they are harboring terrorism, they have terrorists in their country.

So what do -- the Deputy Secretary's position, can you clarify?

MR. BOUCHER: He didn't say that. I don't know where the report came from.

QUESTION: Can I bring us back to Russia?

MR. BOUCHER: You can go anywhere you want.

QUESTION: Okay. I just wanted to know if the issue of Russian arms sales to Iran came up, and was there any progress on this, in the --

MR. BOUCHER: During the course of the Secretary's discussions and of the other discussions that we had with Russian experts, between Under Secretary Bolton and Deputy Foreign Minister Mamedov, the issue of proliferation as part of the overall strategy came up; the issue of sales to Iran came up.

I don't think I can cite any specifics, but certainly we have made the point again and again, and made it last week with the Russian delegations, that careful attention to non-proliferation is an essential part of the strategy for stability, and that we do have serious concerns about some of the sales to Iran.

QUESTION: Can I follow up on that? Is this --

MR. BOUCHER: Some of the potential sales to Iran. I don't think they have actually made them yet.

QUESTION: Is this building -- can you just update us on this building's deliberations regarding possible sanctions that would be triggered by an arms sales to Iran?

MR. BOUCHER: I would have to get an update on the situation. I am not aware that they have actually concluded any sales, and I don't think -- depending on the loss, they may not even kick in until the deliveries are done.

So we are a stage now where we think it is important to talk to the Russian Government, impress upon the Russian Government the concerns that we have and that we think they should share with regard to sales to Iran, including the kinds of sales that we think would be most difficult for us, both under law, but also as a matter of policy.

QUESTION: And finally has there been any contact with Members in Congress right now who are very -- who have expressed in the past concern about the - -

MR. BOUCHER: I think it is an ongoing discussion with various Members of Congress. I am not aware of anything particularly new, but I will try to check and see if we have anything on that.

QUESTION: Today is the anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem being celebrated by Jews around the world, 1967 being the day that the city was reunited.

Has the Administration in any way made any gesture or said anything to the Israeli Government, and does the Administration have a stand on Jerusalem to offer us at this point?

I could ask about moving the Embassy, but I know that was campaign talk. But what about the other stuff?

MR. BOUCHER: I will have check on it, Barry. I don't know.

QUESTION: Please, because it is a memorial of some sort, anniversary of some sort.

QUESTION: Egypt today reportedly sentenced Saad Eddin Ibrahim to seven years of hard labor. Any reaction?

MR. BOUCHER: Yes. As you all know, this is a situation we have been following all along. We have raised a number of times our concerns about the situation of Dr. Saad Eddin Ibrahim.

At this point, we are still gathering all the facts about the court's decision. Based on these initial reports, though, we are deeply troubled about the outcome, and as you know, we have been expressing all along our concerns about the process that resulted in this sentence.

We understand that there are procedures for appeal of the sentence, and we would refer you to Dr. Ibrahim's defense team to see if they are going to follow those.

QUESTION: Can you shed some light on what the Administration's understanding is of the Israeli Government's definition of natural growth of settlements?

MR. BOUCHER: No.

QUESTION: Why not?

MR. BOUCHER: I just don't have anything to add to the discussion the Secretary had this morning on the subject.

QUESTION: But it is a historic -- I mean, I am not asking for details.

MR. BOUCHER: We are not in the habit of interpreting other governments' statements. I think it is for other governments to interpret their statements.

QUESTION: Follow up -- can I just follow up on that question? If Secretary Powell endorsed the Mitchell Report, as he said in his letter and his statement today, and if that report criticizes the natural growth, is it fair to assume that the State Department is also critical of the natural growth?

MR. BOUCHER: Iíll leave it exactly where the Secretary left it this morning.

QUESTION: Back to Russia again. So last week, the Secretary and Minister Ivanov agreed upon these two working groups. And who are in those --

MR. BOUCHER: No, they didnít.

QUESTION: Huh?

MR. BOUCHER: They didnít. I think if you look back at the transcript of what the Secretary said, he said that Foreign Minister Ivanov had proposed two working groups and that we would look at that and get back to them. At this point, we have not got back to the Russians on those.

QUESTION: I thought somebody (inaudible) said they were going to work right now? And there were working group meetings Friday night.

MR. BOUCHER: Those were not working group meetings. Those were -- we said the experts were continuing to discuss. The Russians proposed over the longer term two particular working groups. It was always understood that at these meetings in Washington -- remember, we said in Paris, if our people are confirmed by that time, the experts will get together as the ministers get together in Washington. Thatís what happened on Friday.

John Bolton and his counterpart went off and had a several hours discussion, including into the evening on Friday. But there is still a Russian proposal out there for two particular working groups to deal with these things. And that we havenít gotten back to them yet on that.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) the distinction --

MR. BOUCHER: Well, it may involve the same people. The question is how you divide it up, what assignments do you give them, do you want to do it in two or one or what goes in which group? There are questions like that that we have to look at. But experts have met and experts will meet again, one way or the other, probably in the future.

QUESTION: The Austrian Foreign Minister this morning said she was going to be asking the United States to remove Kurt Waldheim from the watch list in light of new US documents. Any reaction to that?

MR. BOUCHER: Well, weíll just have to see. Weíll have to see if she raises it and weíll see afterwards what our answer is. But let us have the meeting before we try to comment on what happened.

QUESTION: The Secretary had named Ms. Dobriansky as the Special Coordinator for Tibet. This post has been elevated from Assistant Secretary to Under Secretary. Now, that means there is something new coming about Tibet? Or we will see something --

MR. BOUCHER: Was it Thursday -- was it Thursday or Friday we announced it?

MR. REEKER: I think it was Thursday.

MR. BOUCHER: It was Thursday I think we announced the appointment. We dealt with the question. I think sheís an eminently qualified individual and it reflects the importance that we attach to human rights generally, as well as in Tibet.

QUESTION: The Dalai Lama -- he said that he welcomed the move and he hopes that the State Department now will move in a new direction as for Tibet. But are there problems or concerns?

MR. BOUCHER: Well, I donít have anything new to say on that at this point.

QUESTION: I got one.

MR. BOUCHER: One more?

QUESTION: Just a follow-up on a subject we broached last Thursday. Since then --

MR. BOUCHER: I thought we un-broached the subject, too. But go ahead.

QUESTION: I know. I know. But since then thereís been a lot of international coverage about this Chrobog memo and the Schroeder talks with the President and the Secretary. Can you tell us any more about that? A US diplomat is quoted as being furious at the leak and -- including the Secretary, I think. You donít look furious.

MR. BOUCHER: Iím somewhat amused by the whole situation. Once again you are asking me to comment on reports of a reaction to reports of a report. And I just find myself a little far from the facts to try to do that. We had some very good meetings while they were here. But as far as trying to discuss with you our reported reaction to reported leaks of a reported cable, I just donít think thatís solid enough for me to try to do anything with.

QUESTION: How about just one more (inaudible) Mitchell. Weíre talking about the State Department and the White House. Mr. Armitage in Delhi, he said that sanctions must go. Ms. Christina Rocca testifying on Capitol Hill also said sanctions should go. And at the same time, the Foreign Secretary of India was at the State Department meeting with Secretary Powell -- Mrs. Chokila Iyer, they also agreed that sanctions must go.

But the White House told me that sanctions are under review. Now the State Department is on one side and the White House is on the other side. So what is the real story?

MR. BOUCHER: The real story is that several of the things you said are not accurately quoted. We are working with the White House on the issue and when we get to the end of it, weíll tell you about it.

QUESTION: So you are both in unity; there is no --

MR. BOUCHER: Absolutely.

QUESTION: -- problem or miscommunication?

MR. BOUCHER: No problem at all.

QUESTION: Can I just follow up on that? I donít know -- you said some of the things were misquoted. Do you think that -- does the State Department in general think that sanctions should go?

MR. BOUCHER: Iíll refer you to what Deputy Secretary Armitage actually said when he was in India on that.

QUESTION: Iíll find it.

MR. BOUCHER: We can find it for you.

QUESTION: He didnít say that sanctions should go? I donít know.

MR. BOUCHER: Not exactly, no.

QUESTION: Okay.

MR. BOUCHER: Thank you. [End]

Released on May 21, 2001


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