U.S. Department of State
Briefer: Richard Boucher, Spokesman
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
DPB # 3
FRIDAY, JANUARY 5, 2001 1:05 P.M.
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. BOUCHER: Ladies and gentlemen, thank you. Thank you for waiting. Good afternoon. Nice to see you all. I have two things to talk about up top. One is a Rewards for the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, a rewards program for people indicted there; and second of all is on the report that General Shalikashvili has prepared on his efforts on the Test Ban Treaty and a statement from the Secretary on that that we'll make available.
On the Rewards Program for the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, we're launching this program in support of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and its efforts to bring indicted fugitives to justice. The US Government is offering a reward of up to $5 million for information that leads to the transfer or conviction by the Tribunal of any individual that is indicted by the Tribunal for his or her actions regarding the Rwandan genocide of 1994.
The program has been authorized by Public Law 106-277 of October 2, 2000, and it was sponsored by Senator Russell Feingold. It is comparable to the existing Rewards Program for the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. Obviously we encourage individuals to report, give us information that can lead to the transfer and conviction of indicted fugitives, and we will have available information on how to write, how to e-mail, how to get in touch with us on these rewards programs -- same as others.
To date, 44 out of the 53 publicly indicted individuals are in fact in the custody of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. So we applaud those successful efforts and we are launching this program in order to support the Tribunal further.
QUESTION: Why was this not in place in the past, since it was in the case of the ICTY?
MR. BOUCHER: I think because it responds to legislation that was passed in October, October 2nd, 2000. Authorized by legislation in October.
QUESTION: Are there specific people named?
MR. BOUCHER: Yes. We'll get for you a list of the individuals who have been indicted who are still at large.
QUESTION: You said that leads to the transfer or --
MR. BOUCHER: Yes. Transfer or conviction by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda of any individual indicted by the Tribunal for his or her actions regarding the Rwandan genocide of 1994.
QUESTION: In other words, you don't need to have any -- these people that might receive this reward don't really need to have any proof; they just need to know where the person, the indictee, is? And if their information leads to that person being sent to Arusha, then they get some cash?
MR. BOUCHER: Yes, yes. The people who have been --
QUESTION: They don't actually have to give you any evidence?
MR. BOUCHER: No. The individuals have been indicted, so it's a question of location rather than --
QUESTION: Is it not known where these people are?
MR. BOUCHER: Not precisely. Some of them are believed to be in Africa, and others in various other parts of the world.
QUESTION: Has anyone ever gotten the grand prize, $5 million? Or has it always been -- I know that people have taken advantage of this --
MR. BOUCHER: Do you know their situations? I don't know. I would have to see. I would have to check.
QUESTION: People have gotten more than a million. At any rate, there are only six of these, I take it?
MR. BOUCHER: I'm sorry?
QUESTION: There are only six of these?
MR. BOUCHER: Well, my math would make it nine, but I was told long ago never do math at the podium. But 53 indicted, 44 in custody. So whatever is left will be -- expect to see a list of that many --
QUESTION: Would this apply to any future indictees?
MR. BOUCHER: Yes, it would be available for future indictees that need to be found.
Okay. On the report that has been prepared by General Shalikashvili, I think copies have been made available by us and by his office. I just want to add a few words from the Secretary on this subject because it has been one that has been very important for her.
First of all, and we have a statement on paper in the Secretary's name that notes that General Shalikashvili has performed another great service for our nation. He presented to the Secretary yesterday his report on consultations with the Senate and independent experts on the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. She appreciates very much the excellent and comprehensive work that General Shalikashvili has done.
She says further, and these are quotes, "I believe the General's thorough assessment will provide the basis for thoughtful consideration of these issues by the new Administration and the new Congress. I urge them to look at these questions on their merits. They will have to decide what the right course is for America, but my view remains that eventual ratification of this Treaty as one part of an overall nonproliferation strategy will help guard America against nuclear danger and make all Americans safer."
QUESTION: Was a copy given to the Bush Administration as well as The New York Times? The incoming Administration, I mean?
MR. BOUCHER: I think copies are being made very widely available, and I'm assuming that the incoming Administration will have copies of it and will have access to General Shalikashvili should they wish it, I am sure.
QUESTION: From their general posture on such matters as nuclear weapons control, does the Secretary -- who isn't here to answer, of course, but you're familiar with her views -- does she have any real confidence that the new folks will care about banning nuclear weapons tests as much as the departing folks have?
MR. BOUCHER: Well, I don't think my views or the Secretary's views or the future Administration's views matter so much as getting future Administration's views on this, and I'm sure that will happen in due course. What we are saying today is the Secretary's view right now remains that she believes that this is a good thing and should be ratified eventually.
QUESTION: It just gets so hard at whether this is a futile, last-gasp attempt to take a stand on something that is apt to be brushed aside by the incoming Administration. I'm not questioning your integrity in doing it, but I don't know. What's the practical purpose of this?
MR. BOUCHER: The practical purpose of this is to highlight the fact that General Shalikashvili has done excellent work; he has prepared a good report; he is a man of great integrity, reputation and ability; and we are encouraging everyone -- in the public, in the Congress, in future administrations and past whatever -- to look at this report seriously and consider these questions very carefully.
Because the Secretary all along has believed this is a very important question for the United States. She has believed that this is a Test Ban Treaty that should be ratified and consistent with her interest, intense interest and support for this all along, and the efforts that General Shalikashvili has made. She is making clear again today that this is something that she believes should be considered very seriously.
QUESTION: One last thought, one last question. When he was first appointed, his duty, as explained to us, was to go to talk to people on the Hill, the Senate of course, and tell them his views. He's in support of the Treaty.
Has he continued in the last several months to -- let's call it lobbying -- you know, attempt to persuade Members of the Senate to ratify the Treaty when and if it should ever be presented by a Bush Administration?
MR. BOUCHER: I think he has continued his works, yes, during the last several months. And that means talking to a whole variety of people. And you can see that in his report, as well as I'm sure other interviews and information he'll make available.
QUESTION: You know, I haven't read his report, and maybe it's in that, but has he taken -- sounded the opinion of the new Senate, and does he conclude that the new Senate, leaving aside the views of the next Administration, is any more likely to ratify the CTBT?
MR. BOUCHER: I really don't know. I mean, I'm not here to speak on behalf of the new Administration; I'm not here to speak on behalf of the Senate; and I'm frankly not here to speak on behalf of General Shalikashvili. The point that I'm trying to make is that we do believe it's a serious report that you should read, and I should read and everybody should read, and consider on its merits.
QUESTION: Did you say that you guys were handing these copies out? I haven't seen one.
MR. BOUCHER: We can give you copies. It's available, I think, fairly generally now from Shalikashvili, and we have copies we can pass on.
QUESTION: In the quote you gave us from the Secretary, there was a subordinate clause that said, "My view remains that eventual ratification as one part of an overall approach." Can you spell out what she has in mind in terms of the other steps?
MR. BOUCHER: I think I would describe this as part of the strategy that she has followed, and part of her original and continuous support for the issue of nonproliferation and therefore for consideration of this Treaty; that I think the point has been made by this Administration many times in the past that having a treaty that bans testing doesn't in and of itself stop proliferation of nuclear weapons. There are a great many other efforts that need to be made.
One of the hallmarks of this Administration has been the progress that they have made in terms of curbing the proliferation of nuclear weapons, of missiles and other things, be it in keeping Iraq from developing weapons of mass destruction, or seeing China adhere more and more to the international agreements that govern proliferation issues, or in fact the policy that is has pursued with regard to North Korea.
So I think there have been many elements to that nonproliferation strategy that this Administration has followed, and considerable success in stopping the spread of these dangerous weapons.
QUESTION: On the criminal tribunals a bit. Today, officials in The Hague came out and said that no way they agree that Slobodan Milosevic should be tried first in Yugoslavia. They insist that The Hague is the only site for that. Meanwhile, the Foreign Minister is here saying that they believe he should be tried there in Yugoslavia.
Where do we stand on that, and how do you think these two sides can be reconciled?
MR. BOUCHER: If officials in The Hague have said this, I haven't seen that. I don't know exactly what they said. Sometimes the answer to a statement like that is: What was the question? I think our view has been first and foremost that it's important that the new Yugoslav Government talk to, deal directly with, the International Criminal Tribunal.
As you heard yesterday from the Yugoslav Foreign Minister, they do intend to do that. They are doing that, and they can -- do accept that one of their obligations of the Dayton Accords is to cooperate with the Tribunal. And first and foremost, that is where the discussion -- those are the parties who need to discuss all these issues and work out the cooperation and how it can proceed. So that's first and foremost our view.
Second of all, our view has been held -- has been clear that Mr. Milosevic and others committed international crimes and that there needs to be international justice. He obviously has done many things inside Serbia, but he has also obviously done many things outside of Serbia.
And so that fundamentally remains a view, and that's why yesterday you heard from the Secretary that Milosevic and others that are indicted by the Tribunal must be held accountable by The Hague Tribunal for their actions. And where such a trial would take place is really a matter for discussion between officials of the Tribunal and Yugoslav officials.
QUESTION: But we used to say in The Hague, too -- the United States.
MR. BOUCHER: I think, you know, the important point is that there be international justice, and that's really the point that we were stressing, however we phrased it.
QUESTION: Do you believe, then, that if some kind of agreement could be reached between the Yugoslavs and between the Tribunal, that international justice could still be served if there was an international component to a trial that took place within the territory of the FRY?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't want to define it too precisely in a particular phrasing --
QUESTION: I mean, but Secretary Albright yesterday was --
MR. BOUCHER: -- but the point that she has made and I am making again is that the account of the international accountability should take place by The Hague Tribunal. Now, exactly where that happens, we're happy to have the Yugoslav Government and The Hague Tribunal work it out. But we do consider that one of the obligations under the Dayton Accords is cooperation with the Tribunal, and that seems to be proceeding.
QUESTION: But international justice for these crimes that were committed is not solely dependent on having the trial in The Hague. That's what I'm hearing from you. It doesn't matter where this thing is; you would be prepared -- like what they just did in Cambodia, which you came out on the record in support of, which is an international component to trials that were going to take place in Cambodia for the Khmer Rouge.
Can you see something like that, or something like what the Foreign Minister suggested this morning, based on the Rwandan Tribunal, which you also just talked about, can you envision something like that as being appropriate to render international justice to bringing Milosevic to bear for what he has done?
MR. BOUCHER: What I think I just said, and what I will continue to say as you cite all these different models, is: I'm not going to stand here and specify a particular model.
QUESTION: No, no. I'm not asking you to. I'm just saying that you are not averse to that.
MR. BOUCHER: But I'm not going to stand here and specify or endorse or accept one particular model or another. I'm going to say that the model -- the location, in fact, and the model -- the when, where and how -- can be worked out, should be worked out, by Yugoslav officials and the Court. What we want to see is that the principle is maintained, that his international crimes, or international justice; and, second of all, that it be by The Hague Tribunal that this trial take place. So where it takes place, how it takes place, which model they use, that's something we think should be worked out by the Government and the Tribunal.
QUESTION: If I can just belabor this one more thing. As Terri said, the mantra used to be Milosevic needs to be out of Belgrade, out of Yugoslavia, and in The Hague. Now you're not necessarily saying he needs to be in The Hague, but he needs to be in the -- no, no, it used to be in The Hague. "He belongs in The Hague." And now you're saying that he doesn't necessarily have to be in The Hague, as long as The Hague Tribunal -- non-specific territory that The Hague Tribunal sits on -- is involved.
MR. BOUCHER: Yes, "in The Hague" means in The Hague Tribunal, wherever it happens to be. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: Is that correct? I mean, I don't know. Is that right?
QUESTION: Do math, instead.
MR. BOUCHER: It's still a two-letter word.
QUESTION: Our policy hasn't changed.
MR. BOUCHER: All right, let's keep going.
QUESTION: Is that right? No, I don't want you to have that -- I don't want that to be left as a joke, with everyone laughing on it. I mean, wherever The Hague Tribunal happens to be, that's okay with you?
MR. BOUCHER: We think that where The Hague Tribunal tries him should be a matter that is left to The Hague Tribunal and the Government to decide.
QUESTION: Can you tell us what happened at the US Embassy in Rome today? And also, following that, now that we have a daily incidence at US Embassies, is there concern that perhaps security is going to need to be even more stepped up beyond what had originally been envisioned following the bombings in Africa? Or are these closures, or incidents, more a result of more vigilance and paying more attention to threats?
How do you characterize it all, given that we're having so many closures?
MR. BOUCHER: I would characterize it, I think, as yes to every question. We put out a Worldwide Caution, I think that is still valid, that says that posts in various places may temporarily close to the public or suspend their service in response to security concerns. And indeed, we have asked our posts to be vigilant and to be careful. And indeed, we have also pressed for more security funding and for the money to take the proper steps to really protect our people so that they can be safe and they can do their jobs, both of which are important. And you have seen in the Secretary's statements on the need for resources, she has pointed out many times the fact that you can't have people in unsafe places trying to do the work, and you can't have safe places without people inside, the money inside, to run the programs that are necessary to do the work.
So, yes, security funding and security steps for our embassies generally are very much a part of the future, but increased vigilance is also very much a part of what we are doing and intend to do.
In Rome today, they closed the Embassy to the public at 10:30 this morning, local time. This was in order to review security procedures. I am afraid that's about as far as I can say about our specific concerns about the security situation there. But we do have concerns, and they closed this morning in order to review their procedures.
They will be closed Saturday and Sunday for the normal weekend, and then through the weekend they will assess whether the Embassy will reopen to the public on Monday. The Consulates in Florence, Naples and Milan will be open for business on Monday and were open today.
QUESTION: So the employees had already come to the office, and were then -- those employees that were sent home were sent home once they were already there?
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not sure whether we sent people home or whether they just closed to the public. There is obviously risk from public activities, having open doors for visas and libraries and things like that, that can be prevented by closing those doors and stopping public activities. And that is what has been done in this case, not necessarily sending people home. The work continues, but with the doors closed.
QUESTION: There must be something that prompted this. I mean, it couldn't come --
QUESTION: You could have reviewed it Saturday or Sunday.
QUESTION: When you'd be closed anyhow.
QUESTION: You're reviewing security procedures in one way or another, but what prompted you to actually close the Embassy? I mean, something obviously --
MR. BOUCHER: Stereo. What prompted us to close the Embassy was as much as I can say about it was what I said. We have security concerns. We had security concerns there about the situation today; that they felt it was necessary to close to the public this morning, Rome time. But that is as much as I can go into about what we knew and why we did it.
QUESTION: Do we know what was in the mysterious package in Ottawa a couple of days ago?
MR. BOUCHER: Yes.
QUESTION: Something non-threatening?
MR. BOUCHER: Video games.
QUESTION: You said the Consulates of Florence, Milan and Venice?
MR. BOUCHER: Florence, Naples and Milan.
QUESTION: One other thing about the Rome Embassy. Does that also house the Embassy to the Vatican, or is that a separate thing?
MR. BOUCHER: The Embassy to the Vatican is a separate thing, and I would have to see whether they closed public activities or not. I don't have any indication of that. Let me double check it. Let me check on it.
QUESTION: Well, is it just closed to the public? You're not closed for the regular personnel?
MR. BOUCHER: Yes, that's right. "Closed to the public" is the phrase we're using here. That is one that many embassies have done where you can still have your people inside working; it's just having the doors open to public activities represent a certain level of security that security concerns that, in this case, Rome felt they had to review and stop for the moment and then review over the weekend.
QUESTION: I was told employees were sent home. That could be wrong, but that's what I'm told.
MR. BOUCHER: Again, "closed to the public" is the phrase that wouldn't necessarily mean that, although there may be some employees involved in the public activities that didn't have more things to do at that stage.
QUESTION: I want to get this straight. You just said that we have security concerns about the situation there today. Does that mean that it was something different today than there was yesterday?
MR. BOUCHER: Yes, they were closed today and open yesterday. That's about as far as I can go. They --
QUESTION: That's very flippant of you, but --
MR. BOUCHER: Well, I know it's very flippant, Matt, but I'm not in a position to explain --
QUESTION: Something today obviously that changed the situation from yesterday, no?
MR. BOUCHER: I'm saying that there were security concerns today that led to them closing the Embassy. Now, we did not have those security concerns yesterday because we stayed open to the public. So what's different is we have certain security concerns today, but I can't in any way define those in terms of actions or information.
QUESTION: Are you able to relate those concerns to anything in particular, such as Mideast?
MR. BOUCHER: No.
QUESTION: Change of subject? Do you have anything to say about the return of the Turkish Ambassador to Baghdad? I hadn't warned you about this because I was busy, so maybe you don't have anything.
MR. BOUCHER: No, I wasn't personally aware of it. I'll have to see if we do.
QUESTION: Do you have any kind of regular stuff about --
QUESTION: They're sending him to Baghdad next week.
QUESTION: He just said he wasn't aware of it.
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not aware of it because it hasn't happened yet. But whatever the reason, whether we have something to say on the question, I'll check.
QUESTION: Could I ask something else about Iraq? How excited or pleased are you that Ramsey Clark is going to go to Baghdad, considering he is the former chief -- a former chief law enforcement officer --
MR. BOUCHER: That is something, again, I wasn't aware of. I'll see if there is any comment we want to make.
QUESTION: Can I ask you a Middle East question?
MR. BOUCHER: Sure.
QUESTION: Would you be surprised if I asked a Middle East question?
MR. BOUCHER: I would be very surprised, but go ahead anyway. Surprise me.
QUESTION: The Israelis are saying repeatedly that, you know, they have no problem with the President's formula, that they only had one condition, and that's that Arafat accept it. They said that originally. Apart from the fact the detailed response will be delivered this evening, the Secretary yesterday said that the two sides had reservations, suggesting while obviously they weren't the same reservations, that both sides had problems with the formula.
Are these two statements necessarily in conflict? Or is it just people who speak English would find them in conflict?
MR. BOUCHER: I am really not in a position to compare and contrast. What I can tell you is the way we see things and the way we have conducted things. And we have, as you know, had discussions with the Israelis to reconcile their reservations, to brief them on the discussions we've had with Chairman Arafat and the reservations we've heard from the Palestinian side, and to discuss the situation and how we proceed further.
So those are the elements of discussion with the Israeli side. Gilad Sher, Barak's Chief of Staff, is here in Washington. They had meetings yesterday evening for several hours. They are meeting again today with Dennis Ross and his team. And once those discussions have taken place and we've had another chance to speak with the Palestinians, we'll have a better sense of where we are and where we're headed.
QUESTION: Well, the Secretary spoke -- I don't know -- long before these two days of meetings, and in fact they're still going on. Could it be that whatever these reservations she referred to were resolved during the meetings, that they were -- I don't mean necessarily problem-solved, but that things were kind of smoothed over and now there is no inconsistency possibly when the Israelis say they have no conditions, only that Arafat accept?
MR. BOUCHER: I think I just said that we were discussing with them Chairman Arafat's meeting and the Palestinian reservations, how we proceed from here, and questions and reservations that the Israelis have had as well.
QUESTION: So you're using the present tense?
MR. BOUCHER: I'm using the present tense, saying that it remains a subject of discussion. I'm not going to try to reconcile all the statements. It may be one man's reservation is another person's question is another person's point they want to make. So I don't want to get bogged down in the rhetoric on this, but there is Israeli issues and questions that we need to discuss with them as well.
QUESTION: Before we depart for the weekend, or at least have our last briefing before the weekend, can you say now whether a Palestinian official will make a similar trip here?
MR. BOUCHER: We will be in touch with the Palestinians soon and talking to them but, no, I don't have anything on a specific trip.
QUESTION: On that same point, though, when you just said after the meetings with Dennis and Sher are done, you're going to talk to the Palestinians again to judge what next steps are going to be. Is that what you're talking about? Is that what you were just talking about now? Is that the kind of thing that's going to happen by phone, or is that the kind of thing that originally we've been being told that in the next couple days a Palestinian equivalent of Sher would be coming here?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know exactly how it's going to take place. I don't have any specific -- anything to report on Palestinians coming to Washington. We will be in touch with the Palestinians soon. How exactly that takes place, I don't know at this point. But that is obviously an important part of the process that we have talk to the Israelis, we talk to the Palestinians, and then we'll look and see where we are headed.
QUESTION: The talking-to-the-Palestinian part, then, doesn't necessarily mean that they have to send someone here?
MR. BOUCHER: It doesn't necessarily have to be --
QUESTION: Richard, the Secretary was quite tough on violence yesterday. She seemed to want to make a point of it. Have you seen anything in the last 24 hours that responds to her appeal?
MR. BOUCHER: I think it's very important to us that we see an end to the cycle of violence and a decrease in the violence. We have seen a certain level of calm in the last few days. Things haven't been as bad as before. That's good, but I think we're very much not trying to get ahead of ourselves. And it remains very, very important to us to see that the violence subside, that the parties do everything they can to end the bloodshed. The ongoing violence has been terrible for the people on both sides.
As you know, the President has talked to both Chairman Arafat and Prime Minister Barak several times this week to discuss the steps that are necessary to bring the violence to an end. Chairman Arafat made some specific commitments to the President earlier this week about intensifying his efforts to fight terrorism, arresting those responsible for violence, resuming cooperation with security forces to stop the violence where we can.
So, yes, we have seen less violence in the past couple of days, and that is most welcome, especially in terms of the lives saved and the benefit to the people there. But it's also very clear we want to see that continue, and we want to see the parties take the steps that they have said they would take, and continue to take steps to make sure we don't get back into that cycle.
QUESTION: Along those lines you were just talking about, do you know, has the Secretary been on the phone, yesterday or today, on this issue? And also, do you know if she is going to be at -- She is going to go to the White House after the meeting with Dennis. Is she going to be involved in that, do you know?
MR. BOUCHER: Yes, she is very much -- I mean, she has been working very closely with Ambassador Ross, talking to him several times a day, talking to her White House counterparts as well, and she will be at the meeting this afternoon with the President. It will be the President, the Secretary -- I'm sure Mr. Berger will be there as well, and others -- talking to Mr. Sher. But, no, she hasn't had any foreign phone calls in the last 24 hours or so.
QUESTION: Just to be clear, are you saying that it is too early to say whether the lessening violence that we have seen in the last couple of days are a direct result of Arafat's commitments? Is there obviously a connection?
And secondly, how do the comments out of the Arab League meeting yesterday factor in, in our opinion?
MR. BOUCHER: I think, first and foremost, it's too early to say whether the cycle of violence has been broken and whether people can really look forward to more calm and tranquility in their lives. So we want to emphasize that while certainly in the last few days less violence is welcome, this is a continuing issue. People need to continue to take steps, and we are still very much focused on the need to end the violence, create a climate where peace talks can actually prosper.
And as far as the Arab League Summit, I don't have any particular reaction to the statements. We have obviously seen the statements and been in touch. I would just note that, consistent with what they said I think in some of their public statements, and in the Secretary's own discussions with many of the Arab leaders, she has found a lot of support, encouragement, for us to continue doing what we are doing, continue trying to use whatever opportunity there is and do everything we can.
QUESTION: With the emphasis that the Secretary put yesterday and the White House put on ending the violence, does the State Department still see it as a goal to have a summit before President Clinton leaves office? Or is the primary goal to end the -- to just see a lessening of the violence?
MR. BOUCHER: The goal is not to have a meeting; the goal is to end the violence and stop the loss of life and to achieve peace. We will continue to do whatever is appropriate to do that, as long as there is a prospect and as long as we are here to do it.
QUESTION: Well, along those lines, would the US be willing to accept something less than a formal, full agreement? There seem to be -- the Israeli Foreign Minister yesterday seemed to suggest that while we still want to get to that point, and we'd like to do that by the 20th, the chances of that are getting slimmer and slimmer. And so one alternative to that would be a general declaration of principles, which would come close but not really be quite a full peace agreement.
Is that something that could be a legitimate fallback position?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't think we are looking for fallback positions at this stage. What we are looking for is acceptance of the parameters, reconciling the reservations, and thereby building a solid basis for negotiation to achieve an agreement. There is a limited amount of time remaining for this Administration to work on, and that's clearly what we are working on.
QUESTION: But so you wouldn't accept -- you won't accept something less than a full --
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not going to speculate on anything else because there is a limited amount of time and there is not time to do too many things, and clearly the one thing we are intent in trying to work on is this, and that's what --
QUESTION: So at this moment, the US is still pushing for the whole kit and caboodle here?
MR. BOUCHER: We're pushing for acceptance of parameters, clarifying the reservations, and getting to having a solid basis for a serious negotiation.
QUESTION: On Russia, the first day that it was revealed that the Russians might be moving the tactical weapons into Kaliningrad, it was statements made from this podium --
MR. BOUCHER: It was reported, as opposed to revealed.
QUESTION: Right. But there was still -- if such a thing was occurring, it was said from this podium and from the Pentagon and from the White House, that people would be upset, that this would be violation of a unilateral pledge to keep the Baltics nuclear-free. Yesterday, the Secretary took a different tact and stressed to us to keep in mind that there is no international law preventing them from doing such a thing.
If the Russians are moving tactical nuclear weapons into a base between Poland and Lithuania, would the White House, the State Department and the Pentagon be upset about this? Or do they think it's something that they are at their leisure to do?
MR. BOUCHER: I'll take the other choice. I mean, first of all, I think we made quite clear on the first day that I was asked about it, standing here with you all sitting there, that there was not an international legal obligation or treaty with regard to these weapons. So your characterization of what we said is distinctly different than what we actually said. And if some anonymous official said that to you, I wouldn't talk to him again because they were obviously wrong.
Second of all, the progress that has been made in recent years to reduce reliance on nuclear weapons in Europe has been very welcome, has been an important part of the new atmosphere that has been created there. And our talks with the Russians, as the Secretary said, about the issue of nuclear weapons have been a very important part of achieving that progress. And so we think that that process is important, should continue, and that progress should continue in the same direction.
So I can't go into "if this is happening" because it gets me too close to actually talking about what we know is happening, what we don't know is happening. But I can't go into the things that imply intelligence information. But it is important that this progress that we have achieved in reducing reliance on nuclear weapons continue, and we have continued to have those discussions with the Russians as recently as the Permanent Joint Council Meeting in October, I think.
QUESTION: But regardless of all of that, since the Russians look to what is said publicly in terms of the signals it's sent from whether the White House thinks it's something they are free to do or not, does the State Department think that the Russians are free to move these weapons about as they may, or do they have concerns about movement?
MR. BOUCHER: I told you, again, movement gets me too close to defining what is going on in a way that implies intelligence information. I'm not going to do that.
Second of all, I don't think the choice is either the one or the other. The choice is to say what I have said, which is we think the progress that has been achieved in recent years in reducing reliance on nuclear weapons has been important; and we value the process, the discussions we have had with the Russians in keeping that process going, and would hope, would want it to continue.
QUESTION: I tried to do this yesterday with the Secretary too, but you're more pinned down, I think. Given this progress that you guys are talking about, instead of --
MR. BOUCHER: I'm more available.
QUESTION: Yes. Given the progress that you say has been achieved, are you then implying that if they had done it, it would be acceptable because we have made so much progress in other areas? Or wouldn't it be more striking if they had done that, given they've seemed to be cooperative in other areas?
I mean, why are you stating the progress that is made as a substitution for any concern that they may have done this? It would seem to be moving backwards on all the progress you're touting?
MR. BOUCHER: I can't start expressing concerns about things they may or may not have done without talking about what they may or may not have done, and that's something I can't do. That's the basic conundrum we're dealing with here.
What I am pointing out is that one of the great positive aspects of the post-Cold War era has been our cooperation and discussion with the Russians over the withdrawal of tactical nuclear weapons from Central and Eastern Europe, and from various parts of the former Soviet Union. That has been a good thing. We want that good thing to continue, okay? It's within that context that we would address any issues that may or may not arise because of specific actions.
QUESTION: So therefore it would be out of character for Russia to do that?
MR. BOUCHER: Again, you're getting me into "if they did this." I can't talk about if they did this because that implies whether they did or not. I'm sorry.
QUESTION: But can you talk about the report of arms cooperation between Russia and Iran, which I believe I saw last week when I was away? Did you ever address that newspaper report about that cooperation?
MR. BOUCHER: Did we? Last week, when I was away too? Phil did, I'm sure. I'm sure the Spokesman at the time, Mr. Reeker, must have addressed it quite clearly.
QUESTION: Not as strong as his address to The Washington Post on international adoption.
QUESTION: What did the Secretary say yesterday that necessitated the closure of her speech to the public?
MR. BOUCHER: Okay. I mean, first of all, have we gotten the transcript to the occasion?
MR. BOUCHER: By popular demand, we were preparing a transcript of the -- okay, it's still in preparation. It's not so much what she said; it was that the event, she felt, should be focused on the employees and talking to the people in training and the employees there. She did that.
Because you had asked for a transcript, or for knowledge of what she said, we have arranged to make a transcript of it, which we will get to you. And it was quite interesting. I'm sure you'll find some of the discussion sort of very much in-house kind of things we talk about with our own employees. But they actually also did ask her about a couple of foreign policy issues, which she addressed as well.
QUESTION: Now that they have closed the Boucher swearing-in ceremony to the media, do you have any public comments about what you plan to do during your upcoming tenure as Assistant Secretary?
MR. BOUCHER: No, but one of the ironies of the occasion is, as you know, all appointees have to submit a letter of resignation, and it turns out that Acting Assistant Secretaries don't because we don't have status. So as soon as I am sworn in, I get to submit my letter of resignation.
QUESTION: I have a question. Are you aware that the Russians have mysteriously yesterday decided to announce that they believe the US is violating the START I Treaty? The Russian Foreign Minister just put out a press release on this, ad I would be happy to get you a copy.
MR. BOUCHER: We would be glad to see a copy. I hope -- I think other people in this building might have seen it already, but we'll make sure they tell us what they have to say on the subject.
QUESTION: I just got it myself translated.
QUESTION: New subject? China, Taiwan. The piece in The Post this morning. Were you surprised, gratified, by the remarks of the Chinese Foreign Minister?
MR. BOUCHER: We have very consistently encouraged both sides to reestablish the dialogue across the Straits. I think that is the key to resolving the differences between China and Taiwan. It is not our place to endorse or identify the specific mechanism for doing so, but we certainly encourage both sides to be creative and flexible in their approaches to the resumption of dialogue. We believe that President Jiang's and Vice Premier Qian's recent comments are constructive and that they encourage -- and we would encourage the two sides to make every effort to bridge their differences.
Resumption of the dialogue in whatever form possible remains the key and necessary step to foster and sustain lasting peace, stability, prosperity in the Strait. So the answer to your question is, yes, we believe those comments and the comments of President Jiang are constructive.
QUESTION: So do you think that the concept that is being floated as some sort of commonwealth or cooperation would fit in with your words of being creative and flexible in dialogue?
MR. BOUCHER: Well, my answer also has to fit in my words of it not being our place to endorse or identify any specific mechanism for doing this. So we encourage them to be creative and flexible.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MR. BOUCHER: Thank you.
(The briefing was concluded at 1:50 P.M.)
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