U.S. Department of State
Briefer: Richard Boucher, Spokesman
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
DPB # 4
WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 10, 2001 12: 45 P.M.
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. BOUCHER: All right, ladies and gentlemen. It's nice to see you all here in our new briefing room. Let's go to work. I don't have any announcements or statements. I'll be glad to take your questions.
QUESTION: Yes. Mr. Ross -- could you fill us in on the latest? I understand he has --
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not Mr. Ross.
QUESTION: -- postponed his visit indefinitely. Could you tell us what he's waiting for or what you're waiting for? And also, what exactly is your aim now? Can you say on the record that you've basically scaled back your aims to get this presidential statement on where the negotiations stand?
MR. BOUCHER: No, I can't say that because it's not true. Let me run through it with you. The trip by Ambassador Ross to the Middle East is not canceled. His visit is on hold. The President wants to see if there is progress on reducing the violence in the region. The Palestinians and the Israelis are currently engaged in security discussions. There have been actually some encouraging contacts in that regard. We want to see how those talks progress.
The President still hopes to narrow the gaps and reach an agreement between the parties in the short time that's available, and when Dennis Ross goes to the region that is what he will attempt to do.
QUESTION: So you're working -- can you explain, because clearly there is some work going on on a document explaining where you stand? Are you doing the two in parallel, or how are you approaching it?
MR. BOUCHER: The work that's going on is on the parameters that the President put out. We have talked about the reservations and narrowing the reservations on those parameters, so the point is to go there and narrow the differences.
The Secretary told you quite clearly yesterday we're not looking for something big; we're working to do two things, I would say. One is to establish the environment for negotiations, and that is why especially I think you've heard from us in the last week a lot about the security environment and the need to take the steps that would establish the proper environment for negotiations; and then second of all, establish the basis for agreement in the parameters. And that is the effort underway. It remains focused on those two goals.
QUESTION: Are you talking about kind of a final framework agreement?
MR. BOUCHER: Once you get into framework agreements, you get into thin FAPS and thick FAPS and all those other sort of stock words that have been used in the past. We're looking to establish a basis for agreement between the parties on the parameters of the peace.
QUESTION: So, I mean, basically it's a lot more than just a presidential that the Administration is still hoping it will be able to accomplish?
MR. BOUCHER: We are looking to reach agreement between the parties in the short time available, and that is what we will continue to try to do with the trip by Ambassador Ross. But we have made quite clear, through the President's discussions with Chairman Arafat last week about security steps and improving the environment, and through the discussions that we have had here, that establishing the environment for peace is as important as establishing the basis for a peace agreement.
QUESTION: Richard, so does that mean that something like a statement of principles would be something that you would accept if that is what you could come away with, as opposed to an agreement that would lay out the total parameters of an agreement?
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not trying to speculate on 18 different possibilities. I am here to tell you what we are actually doing, which is trying to reach agreement.
QUESTION: Richard, are you concerned at all that because of the little time -- only 10 days -- that is left in the Administration, and the fact that this trip is being -- that it has been put on hold and is unlikely -- I mean, there is no way he could arrive until there is only eight days left in the Administration basically now, if he left at the earliest possible time -- are you concerned at all that people are going to think that you are kind of basically just throwing in the towel here?
MR. BOUCHER: I guess we are always concerned about what people might think, but frankly we don't act --
QUESTION: I'm talking about people that -- not like us, but people, leaders --
MR. BOUCHER: Well, not like you. People with open minds that listen to what we say?
QUESTION: Well, that would be us. (Laughter.) I'm talking about people that perhaps have closed minds or more closed minds than we do who are out there in the region, or are interested parties and interlocutors that you have dealt with.
MR. BOUCHER: Okay, I understand the point: What is the effect of this on the parties? I think the important thing -- and we are obviously in touch with the parties so we talk to them directly about what we think can be done, what should be done -- I think there's a couple of things to remember now.
Yes, the time is getting short. The time for decision is certainly now. But also the time to implement the steps to establish a better security environment is now. We have known for the last few months as the violence has continued, and continued to carry a tragic toll with it, that you can't make peace in an atmosphere of violence. It is much more difficult. And a lot of our efforts over the last few months have been indeed focused on creating the environment for peace. That remains a key focus.
So in terms of the message we're sending to the parties is you have to take the steps to create the environment for peace and you have to decide on the parameters for peace. And that is the focus that we have now.
QUESTION: When you say that time is getting short, are you confident that the Bush Administration will work as hard as you guys are on this? Have you had conversations with them on this?
MR. BOUCHER: Well, I mean clearly the Middle East peace process has been a top priority of successive administrations, be they Republican or Democrat. Clearly peace in the Middle East has been a top priority for the United States because it fundamentally is in our interest. But just as clearly, the parties themselves have to make the key decisions and have to do what it takes. So I'm certain that it will be a priority for the new Administration, but it also needs to be a subject that the people in the region decide upon.
We have made clear that the specific ideas, or the package that the President presented, does not last beyond his term. Should the new Administration decide to pick it up, that's fine; should they decide to start with a clean slate, that's a different way of doing things. But clearly these ideas are presented by the President and expire with his term; therefore, it's time for the parties to decide on them, as well as to take the steps necessary to have a chance at reaching agreement.
QUESTION: I think you touched on this, but could you explain in greater detail why you're concentrating now on reducing violence when experience has shown that violence does not prevent successful negotiations taking place? And when a comprehensive agreement would in fact end the violence automatically in itself, why are you stressing this?
MR. BOUCHER: I suppose the problem is "automatically;" that the experience of recent months has indeed showed that it's not impossible to discuss the peace process, but it's certainly much more difficult. And in terms of getting confidence from the people on both sides of an agreement, of a peace process, it's certainly necessary for both sides to see that the advantages of peace are going to be real. And so I think we have indeed in the last week-- but also in the weeks before that, and frankly the months before that -- emphasized again and again the need to take steps to reduce the violence and to see the leaders in fact take the steps that we've discussed with them.
QUESTION: Has the Secretary talked to anyone in the region in the last 24 hours?
MR. BOUCHER: I forgot to check. I'm going to have to check on that. I'm sorry.
QUESTION: Richard, you said that the package doesn't last beyond his term; these ideas expire with his term. But Barak himself has spoken about a presidential statement, and other people have spoke about this setting a benchmark for the next Administration. Do you mean to say that such a benchmark would be purely voluntary from -- I mean, it would be something that the next Administration could take or leave at will, but the ideas would still be around?
Could you explain the apparent discrepancy between these two?
MR. BOUCHER: You keep coming back to an approach that I think is not the way I've really described it. Reaching agreement between the parties in the short time available, if that can be done, you would have something the parties themselves have agreed to and said, yes, this is the parameters of peace; this is the basis of a serious final negotiation. That remains the goal: get the parties to agree to what is the parameters of a negotiation.
QUESTION: Okay. But when you talk about this agreement, you're not precluding an agreement which contains points of disagreement, so to speak, where you say this is where we stand, this is where we disagree? There is a difference between that kind of agreement, that kind of document, similar to the one in the Syrian case about which there was so much argument in the past, and a formal agreement which is implementable starting from the moment of signature.
MR. BOUCHER: Well, I mean that's where the word "parameters" came from. We, I think, did this about a week ago and talked about it. The President has talked about it as well, and others, that the agreement on the parameters of a negotiation still means there has to be a negotiation. And I think my eloquent quotes on the subject were picked up in The Washington Post the other day, so I won't bother repeating the parameters-references-reservations-suggestions sentence.
But the point is that, no, this is not the end of the deal; this is agreement on how to frame the negotiation. There are still matters to negotiate, if they agree on the parameters.
QUESTION: Are you suggesting, then, that if you are successful in getting them to agree to parameters, that those are somehow non-binding past the 20th?
MR. BOUCHER: No.
QUESTION: Okay. So if they can agree --
MR. BOUCHER: If they don't agree upon them, they expire with the President.
QUESTION: Okay. If they do, then they are binding?
MR. BOUCHER: If they do agree upon them, then that's a different thing. It's something the parties have agreed to as the basis for a negotiation.
QUESTION: And you expect them to stick with that?
MR. BOUCHER: To stick with that, yes. But that is the goal, is to get -- that is why the goal is to get them to reach agreement because, once they have agreed on these things, these things are things that they have agreed upon.
QUESTION: Well, that one is getting in the papers.
MR. BOUCHER: That one is going in the papers, too?
QUESTION: It's still a little confusing because if you say that this is the parties' process, and the ideas are out there and they can agree to it if they wish, then the ideas are out there for -- it's their process for them to agree. So how can the ideas expire with the President if they are not the -- if it's not an agreement signed by the United States?
MR. BOUCHER: Let me piece this out. The President has put forward certain ideas and suggestions, okay. The new President can pick those up. The new Administration can pick those up and say that's what we want to use too, or not. The President has put forward certain ideas and suggestions. If the parties agree to accept those as the basis for their negotiation of a peace agreement, then they become the basis for negotiation; they are no longer just parameters or ideas the President has put forward. So the situation changes.
I guess what you are asking about is: Is there a third possibility? The President put forward ideas; the new Administration doesn't decide to make them the centerpiece of their effort, but one of the parties decides to take those ideas as the basis for -- promote them as the basis for a negotiation. I suppose that is a permutation that is possible. But in terms of United States sponsorship and what President Clinton has done, the time to decide on that is, we believe, now.
QUESTION: Has a meeting with Foreign Minister Ben-Ami been scheduled yet in Paris?
MR. BOUCHER: The final time is not scheduled yet, but there is an understanding that the Secretary will be able to see him in Paris on Friday. They will meet. He is in Europe, in the region, and so they will meet in Paris on Friday. It seemed to be an opportune time for them to meet and discuss the current situation in the region.
QUESTION: Okay. And what about Nabil Shaath, who will also be in Madrid when -- or almost exactly the same time as she is?
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not actually aware of his travel plans, but we don't have anything at this point to announce on any meetings with Palestinians.
QUESTION: While you're on that point, quickly, what about a meeting with Ivanov?
MR. BOUCHER: There will be a separate discussion with Ivanov between the Secretary and he in Paris. Because of some of the schedule changes it looks like it will be Thursday, but we're not certain of that yet.
QUESTION: In Iraq, do we know whether or not Saddam Hussein is alive or dead? I mean, there have been reports that he might have died and that a film was shown that reportedly showed him several years younger than he actually is? I'm just wondering whether you --
MR. BOUCHER: Is this last week's rumors that he was dead, or is this a new set of rumors that he was dead? I mean, last week there was a whole series of rumors that he was dead that we never had any sort of --
QUESTION: I know you would never discuss rumors --
MR. BOUCHER: Well, we hear rumors just like you guys do. I think we were quite clear last week --
QUESTION: We hear reports, not rumors.
MR. BOUCHER: -- we had nothing to substantiate those rumors or reports.
QUESTION: Nothing to substantiate them?
MR. BOUCHER: Yes.
QUESTION: Do you have any evidence that he's still alive?
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not exactly sure when the last time was that he made a personal appearance, but I can probably check and see if we've seen him on TV lately in person -- I mean, in his present -- I'm not doing too well on the English today. It's the intimidation of the briefing room. If we've seen him live on TV recently or something like that.
QUESTION: New subject? In Peru, one of the presidential candidates, Alán Garcia, has been calling for a US-sponsored "Plan Peru" along the lines of Plan Colombia. Does the Department think that a Peru-specific program of this nature would be necessary, and would it be willing to recommend to the next Administration that this be looked into?
MR. BOUCHER: I hadn't seen the suggestion. I'm not really in a position to comment either on particular discussions in the Peruvian election, which I don't want to get in the middle of, nor on the sort of budget proposals of a future administration.
What I will say is that currently in our efforts in South America, in Plan Colombia there is a substantial component of several hundred million dollars of what we call Plan Colombia that in fact is for neighboring countries. And we work very closely with Peru. Part of that money goes to Peru, and we work very closely with Peru to make sure that the effort is regional and that we don't push the drug production out of one place and have it spill over into the neighbors.
So certainly we've paid a great deal of attention to neighbors in the region as we proceeded with Colombia, and I would expect that would be part of the future as well.
QUESTION: Have you guys heard these reports about Usama bin Laden partying it up at a relative's wedding, his son's wedding? Do you we have any confirmation that these would be genuine? Do you know about it?
MR. BOUCHER: We've seen the reports. I don't think we have anything ourselves on his particular whereabouts. Let me just double check that one.
QUESTION: Looking healthy, as the report said.
QUESTION: Well, can we assume you're not going to offer any congratulations?
MR. BOUCHER: No. I mean, actually, there have also been some reports recently that he was leaving Afghanistan for some other country, and we've seen those from time to time as well. We obviously don't have a way of commenting or confirming on any particular matters on those reports, nor his exact whereabouts.
What we do know is that he has been indicted in connection with the bombings in East Africa; the Taliban has been the subject of UN resolutions because they have been harboring him; he needs to be turned over to justice. And wherever he happens to be or whatever activity he happens to be engaged in, that remains the obligation under the UN resolutions. We'll continue to press for that.
QUESTION: How do you explain to the continuing critics in the entire Europe that your weapons you used in Kosovo caused already serious concern to the hundreds of European soldiers?
MR. BOUCHER: I think you've seen the Secretary discuss this over the last few days; you've seen the Pentagon discuss it in quite detailed fashion. NATO is certainly meeting on the subject. NATO has had meetings almost every day at the Council. They had another meeting today in Brussels. The North Atlantic Council perm reps had a meeting with some experts that we sent over there. So they are certainly discussing it. NATO as an organization takes it seriously, is looking into it, continue to work on it and continue to cooperate with various scientific studies that are going on.
But we would note that the science in this situation -- and there have been a great number of studies because these weapons have been part of the standard inventory for many years -- the science in these situations does not show adverse health effects. And we have seen in recent days, I think, World Heath Organization experts and others say that there was no real noticeable health effect from them.
So I think we will continue to cooperate with all the various studies that are being done and looked at. NATO is going to meet now with troop-contributing countries in the coming days to see what information they have, and NATO has set up a group to continue to work on the issue. But at this point that the evidence is that there is no evidence that there is an adverse health effect.
QUESTION: Well, would you explain the US document, as it was reported yesterday in The New York Times extensively, did you inform the NATO members countries that those weapons fired only by American planes contained uranium, and not only just "dangerous material"?
MR. BOUCHER: You can ask that one at the Pentagon because that is more specifically a guns-and-bullets type of question, and they will answer that better than we can. But as I said, depleted uranium weapons and armor have been a standard part of our inventory for many years, as well as at least one other allied government -- and, in military terms, who cooperate in NATO, I'm sure they are all quite aware of that fact.
There is standard guidance that is issued to troops going in to former war zones, places where ordnance might be, and shells and things like that, on how to act, how to operate. And that guidance was indeed issued for people going into Kosovo. But in more detailed terms, yes, I'm sure all the militaries of various allies know about each other's weapons. I mean, we make a point of being able to operate together.
QUESTION: But The Washington Post reported today that only US and Great Britain rejected the proposal by the rest of the NATO members that this specific uranium-type weapon not to be used anymore in the European theatre. I'm wondering why this was rejected. Is it so useful?
MR. BOUCHER: That's, again, a military question the military has to answer in terms of the utility of these weapons. They obviously play a special role. And as I said, we -- the ones who have used these, the ones who have had this, whether it's the armor or the bullets in our inventory -- have not found any adverse health effects. We have studied many times. We are as concerned about our troops and our allies' troops and the civilian populations as anybody. And on that basis NATO will continue to look at this, but the studies just don't show it.
QUESTION: Richard, it's --
QUESTION: Why, then, you do not release the document? Is there any specific reason not to?
MR. BOUCHER: I would invite you to go to the Defense Department website and look at the links to, I think, 20 or 30 different scientific studies of this matter that you can read as long as you like.
QUESTION: Well, Richard, if you're so confident of the fact that there is -- that the scientific studies show no adverse health effects, don't you agree that it does seem a little bit odd that the Joint Chiefs of Staff would issue instructions to US -- to troops entering armored vehicles that have -- abandoned armored vehicles to wear gas masks and cover all of their -- cover exposed skin?
MR. BOUCHER: Once again, check with the Pentagon. I think there have been standard instructions about people going into former war zones --
QUESTION: Yes, but these are going into -- but going specifically into --
MR. BOUCHER: -- where various kinds of ordnance have been used. I'm not going to try to do that from here.
QUESTION: But going specifically into vehicles against which these kinds of weapons have been used. Why would these instructions be given if there was no adverse health risks?
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not going to try to explain from here the exact nature of the guidance the Pentagon issues to their soldiers as they go into places where conflict has occurred, where various kinds of weapons have been used. That is clearly a matter that the people who do this have to explain. I just want to make clear that we do issue that kind of guidance, and that is the context that that was indeed done in the case of Kosovo.
QUESTION: The only reason I ask is because I was told you were prepared to answer that question.
MR. BOUCHER: Well, then there is another person who is wrong.
QUESTION: Can you tell us what the position of the United States is on the sale of missiles today for use on the F-16s? Are there some types of missiles which you would not approve for sale?
MR. BOUCHER: Well, as you know, we generally don't talk about what we would not approve, but I am happy to talk to you about what we have -- the sales that we welcome.
First of all, the context, which I guess you skipped over, is that Government of Chile has decided on Lockheed Martin's F-16 as its next generation fighting aircraft. We are very pleased that they have done that. It was chosen on the basis of its technical merits in a very competitive selection process.
The package will include the AMRAAM missile, but in keeping with our worldwide policy on the introduction of new technologies and capabilities in any given region, the actual physical delivery of the missiles would be deferred until there was a comparable system introduced into the region by some other country, so that these would be potentially available to the Chileans, but wouldn't actually be delivered unless there was an introduction of a similar weapon by another country.
QUESTION: I don't understand why you could answer that question, which is obviously about guns and bullets, and not answer the previous questions.
MR. BOUCHER: Matt, this is a foreign policy question of a military sale. If you ask me how many fins and wires does an AMRAAM missile have on it, I won't be able to tell you and I won't try to explain to you. If you want to ask me what kind of damage an AMRAAM missile can do, I'm not going to try to explain it to you. If you want to ask me how far they'll fly or how to pick one up or how to approach one in a war zone after it's been fired, I'm not going to be able to answer that question.
QUESTION: No, what I want to ask you is what the foreign policy implications are for possible adverse health effects from American -- from American depleted uranium ammunition.
MR. BOUCHER: I think we talked about that at great length. This is something we're working on with our allies together at NATO; we're cooperating with the studies. We are quite aware of the studies. NATO is taking a responsible view of this because we and NATO are as concerned about the health and welfare of our soldiers and of civilian populations as anybody is.
And the foreign policy effect is that we're concentrating on cooperating with our allies to deal responsibly with an issue, but we have to point out again and again that the scientific experts, be they our own people or be they people like the World Health Organization experts, don't see an adverse health effect and in fact don't see -- in some of the statements I've seen, don't see any particular increase in cancer or leukemia rates.
QUESTION: Can I go back to the criminal impact? Could you explain the basis for the refusal to deliver them until -- is that a legal requirement of some kind or is that -- how firm is that?
MR. BOUCHER: It's a policy that we have, that we have had in previous years, that's basically a policy choice that says we do not like to introduce new capabilities or technologies into any particular region. We are aware that governments sometimes want to be able to deal with what they perceive as future needs, and therefore are willing to say that this missile can be considered part of the package. But until there were actual -- an actual situation where another country were to introduce such missiles into the region, we think it's prudent to hold off in actually delivering a missile that might constitute a new technology.
QUESTION: Well, say you came up with a contract to sell AMRAAMs to Brazil. Would that then satisfy the --
MR. BOUCHER: Introduced into the region by another country; i.e., not the United States. If somebody else sells something similar to a country in the region, we would go ahead with the sale. We're not going to, you know, sell it to one country and so, okay, that means the other country gets it, and now that the other country gets it, you get it, too. No, it's not a shell game. It's if somebody else sells such missiles into the region, then we would deliver ours to the Chileans.
QUESTION: The policy, then, seems like it's to insure twice as much possible damage that these things could do, yes?
MR. BOUCHER: I would describe the policy as being a responsible, prudent, well-considered, thoughtful policy, and I invite you to put that in the headline.
QUESTION: That it would actually double the number of AMRAAM-type missiles that are in a specific region?
MR. BOUCHER: That avoids wherever possible the introduction of new technologies into the region, but yet cooperates with responsible civilian governments on their defense needs.
QUESTION: So nonproliferation of AMRAAMs is not part of the nonproliferation?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't want to turn this into an argument, but I don't see how you can describe not selling something, not delivering something, as an escalation of proliferation. If it doesn't go there, it doesn't go there.
QUESTION: Are you selling the F-16s because Peru bought some Russian high-performance fighter jets? Is this the tit-for-tat thing?
MR. BOUCHER: No. The Chileans have spent a number of years looking at their defensive needs and at their aircraft needs. They have done detailed technical comparisons. The basic technology in Chile's current inventory is Mirage and F-5 fighters. The technology dates from 1960s. These aircraft are no longer in production, so the decision to buy F-16s came as a result of the evaluation of competing aircraft in line with a defensive need to replace those.
Our understanding is that if the F-16 had not been selected in this competition, some other advanced aircraft would have been selected.
QUESTION: What can you say in response to Chilean officials who say that if they don't get the missiles they'll have to reconsider the whole deal and they'll go and buy somebody else's planes?
MR. BOUCHER: Well, I described the situation as regards to missile. I don't have any official reaction from the Government of Chile. I guess if there was one, we would comment on it then.
QUESTION: But would you budge if they kind of played hard --
MR. BOUCHER: Once again, I've described our policy, I've described the status. I'm not going to speculate on next steps.
QUESTION: Is Chile were to buy similar missiles from somebody else, could they then buy yours? I'm sorry, I have to ask. It's really annoying you.
MR. BOUCHER: I don't think that's a scenario that we would contemplate. A lot of times missiles and airplanes go together, so the scenario of buying a missile for an airplane you don't have so you can get a missile for an airplane you do have is a little complicated.
QUESTION: Richard, does this policy of not providing armaments that have not been introduced into the region before, but you promise such AMRAAMs to Chile in connection with the sale of F-16s, does this policy apply to the Middle East and South Asia, and is this a part of the policy of the Munitions Control Board?
MR. BOUCHER: Requests for the sale of defensive weapons go under policy review that is indeed a case-by-case review. All around the world, when we have a particular sale in mind, or a request for a sale, we will look at it based on the defensive needs of the recipient country. That means, frankly, we sell some things to some countries that we don't sell to other countries. That is quite clear with regard to NATO; it is quite clear with regard to Israel.
In some countries we have technical cooperation programs that we might not have with other countries. So it is very much a case-by-case situation based on what we consider to be the legitimate defensive needs and of course the laws that govern this. In this particular situation, with regard to this region, we have taken a decision that we should not try to introduce new technologies in this region.
But again, there was a presidential decision in 1997 that said that our arms transfer policy to Latin America would be the same as the rest of the world, and that is that arms transfers would be reviewed on a case-by-case basis. And that is what we have done.
QUESTION: Can I ask a follow-up on that? Sorry, but could I ask about the onward use of such weaponry? Is there any occasion when the United States, after providing weapons, has had to withdraw them or penalize the country with regard to their use made against civilians or against friendly countries, that sort of thing?
MR. BOUCHER: That's kind of an exhaustive question that is -- I can't do the entire history of ever anything like that ever in the world. I just don't have that.
QUESTION: Is there any other use for the F-16s, or is it essential to, I guess, their effectiveness that they have these US missiles?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't particularly know what other armament the F-16 might carry. That's, again, one of those technical questions that I have to leave to the experts.
QUESTION: Because, in effect then, what you are saying is you will sell them these planes, but they can't use the planes then until they get the missiles, and they can't get the missiles until another country in Latin America presumably gets them from another country.
MR. BOUCHER: I think you are making a couple of technical assumptions there that I am not prepared to make because I am just not competent to make them. And I think you can either find from the Pentagon or ask the Pentagon about the various uses of F-16s, even if they don't have missiles.
QUESTION: Richard, the region you're talking about where this policy exists is Latin America, or is it the cone?
MR. BOUCHER: The region where the President's policy of trading arms sales, like to the rest of the world, a case-by-case basis, is Latin America as a whole. In terms of this sale and the AMRAAM missile, the region is the southern cone, in terms of the introduction of other missiles like this.
QUESTION: Okay. Do you know -- do you have it there -- where else this policy is applied? What other regions?
MR. BOUCHER: Do you mean with regard to this particular missile? Where else they have taken this --
QUESTION: Well, I thought the policy was, you don't -- I didn't think the policy was exclusive to AMRAAMs; I thought it was exclusive to all kinds of new technology in certain regions, this being -- the southern cone being one of them?
MR. BOUCHER: This --
QUESTION: But if there is a policy that specifically relates to them --
MR. BOUCHER: The policy relates particularly to missiles, to these -- to AMRAAMs in terms of not introducing new technologies. Are there other areas where we have taken that stance with regard to a particular sale? I don't really know. But yes, generally, I think, as we approach these sales -- again, on a case-by-case basis -- there is a desire not to necessarily introduce new technologies unless we felt that the defensive needs required it.
QUESTION: New subject?
MR. BOUCHER: Please.
QUESTION: Can you tell us any more about the circumstances of Mrs. Plavsic's departure from Bosnia yesterday? Have there been any conversations, indirect or direct, between her and US officials on -- (inaudible) -- or have you had any contact with the ICTY people on how they plan to deal with her?
MR. BOUCHER: I think there is not a lot I can say on either of these. We have certainly consistently encouraged cooperation with the Tribunal by anyone who had an indictment or a reason to be there. We certainly welcome her courageous decision to cooperate fully with the Tribunal and to recognize the legitimacy of the Tribunal. We hope that her action would serve just as an example for others.
The Tribunal itself, I think, has issued a release where they described the voluntary surrender, the charges, the indictment of the 7th of April, and they say that initial appearance with the Chamber is expected to be on Thursday, the 11th of January. And we certainly support their work extensively, and we support the courageous decision that Mrs. Plavsic has made to appear.
QUESTION: Would you support a decision by The Hague to offer her some kind of immunity or some kind of plea bargain, if you will, if she were to hand over valuable information about Milosevic or some of the others that are being indicted?
MR. BOUCHER: Those kind of decisions are for prosecutors to make, and I think we leave it to them to handle the judicial process there.
QUESTION: But would you support --
MR. BOUCHER: We don't speculate from here on things that they may or may not do.
QUESTION: Can you clarify whether she was or was not indicted? I have seen reports that it was a secret indictment.
MR. BOUCHER: She was indicted, and the indictment was kept under seal. She was indicted on April 7th. It was issued under seal on April 7th of the year 2000. She was indicted for genocide, crimes against humanity, violations of the laws and customs of war, and grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1991 and '92. The indictment was issued under seal on 7 April 2000, and it alleges that she committed these crimes along with Momcilo Krajisnik, who is currently also in the Tribunal's custody.
These are accusations that stem from her being in a position of responsibility as a member of the Bosnian-Serb leadership during the conflict in Bosnia-Herzegovina, 1991 and '92. She was in a position of authority, along with Karadzic and Krajisnik over the Bosnian-Serb forces that committed crimes alleged in the indictment.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) -- summary of the statement put out by the Tribunal, right?
MR. BOUCHER: It's half and half. Half from them and half from us. But it explains that matter, everything, thoroughly.
QUESTION: Do you have anything on this American who has been kidnapped or has gone missing in Chechnya?
QUESTION: Actually, if I could just ask one more question about Mrs. Plavsic. If it's a secret indictment, and she in effect turned herself in, how did she know she was indicted?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't think that is a situation I can clarify for you.
QUESTION: Why not? No, Richard, why not?
MR. BOUCHER: It's a reasonable question, but it involves -- I mean, it's ultimately a question that she would have to answer about how she knew and how it occurred.
QUESTION: Excuse me?
MR. BOUCHER: Her or her lawyers.
QUESTION: Could you say with secret indictments in general, though, how does the person find out? I mean, I thought the whole purpose of a secret indictment is so that the person indicted could be apprehended.
MR. BOUCHER: So we can apprehend the individual and so that they won't go hide once they know they are indicted.
MR. BOUCHER: In some cases, those situations change.
QUESTION: What does that mean, that they change?
MR. BOUCHER: No, I'm not trying to explain on her behalf how she learned of her indictment and the procedures by which she surrendered voluntarily in The Hague.
QUESTION: Can I ask one more on Ms. Plavsic? Just to try and understand thinking of the reward that you put out for the arrest of Milosevic, Karadzic and others, I believe. If somebody who had been secretly indicted were to come up with information leading to their arrest and/or conviction, would that reward apply?
MR. BOUCHER: Didn't we answer the question at the time?
QUESTION: Yes. I remember her asking myself.
MR. BOUCHER: That if you give information on where you are, can you get the reward for turning yourself in?
QUESTION: No, not for yourself. Well, that as well, but for somebody else. If you -- if somebody who's been indicted --
MR. BOUCHER: The answer to that is no, I think.
QUESTION: But for example, in this case, were she to provide information leading to the conviction of Karadzic --
MR. BOUCHER: Oh, you mean, can an indicted person get a reward for turning in somebody else?
MR. BOUCHER: That's another variation that I haven't explored. I will try and see.
QUESTION: Can we go back to the Chechnya question?
MR. BOUCHER: Okay, Chechnya. Asked about the situation of the American who is missing. Here is what we know. There is an American humanitarian assistance worker who has been working for Médecins Sans Frontières, the Holland branch of that organization, who has been abducted in Chechnya.
There was another American working with Action Against Hunger, and then others in a group that were with them who managed to escape. The American who escaped was taken to a Russian military base and was questioned about the incident, but he has now been released.
Our Embassy in Moscow is in touch with the Russian authorities. We will certainly continue our efforts to establish the whereabouts and certainly the welfare of this American citizen and try to secure his release. But that is about all we know at this point.
QUESTION: Do you have a name?
MR. BOUCHER: Yes.
QUESTION: Can --
MR. BOUCHER: No, I can't give it to you. We don't have any privacy waivers at this point. But we do know who he is and who he worked for, things like that.
QUESTION: Do you know where the one that was released is now? The one that was released by the Russian --
MR. BOUCHER: Yes, after he left the Russian military base. No, I don't know his precise whereabouts. I assume he is in a safe place with his --
QUESTION: But safe. Not missing?
MR. BOUCHER: No, he is not missing. He is --
QUESTION: Do you know where the Russian base was?
MR. BOUCHER: No, I don't know exactly. Somewhere near where the incident occurred.
QUESTION: Are you assuming that the first one, the MSF one, has been abducted by Chechen separatists?
MR. BOUCHER: We do not know who is responsible or their motives at this stage.
QUESTION: So there has been no request for a ransom or --
MR. BOUCHER: Not that we are aware of.
QUESTION: Do you know -- do you have any details of the circumstances of the abduction, what exactly he was doing at the time?
MR. BOUCHER: I think they are sketchy. They were traveling, I think, in a three-car convoy or motorcade, and they were attacked by armed gunmen, and one of the cars was stopped and the other cars got through. And this American who was taken was in the last car that got stopped.
QUESTION: For the inauguration of Bush, President Bush, are there any foreign dignitaries expected, either heads of state or foreign ministers?
MR. BOUCHER: No. The standard practice -- and this has been followed in the past -- is that foreign delegations have not been invited to Washington for the occasion. Delegations have not been invited this time. It is the longstanding United States Government practice that foreign Ambassadors accredited to the United States represent their chiefs of state and governments at the inaugural events, and that is the guidance that has been issued again this time to diplomats here, as well as to all our posts overseas, to tell people who might inquire.
QUESTION: How long -- (inaudible)? You said long-established?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know exactly when, but I think that has been the practice for a number of years, many years.
QUESTION: Is it a security thing?
MR. BOUCHER: It's just a matter of protocol and handling, and different countries do this in different ways.
QUESTION: So where will these Ambassadors be seated during the actual inauguration? Do you have any idea?
MR. BOUCHER: No.
QUESTION: And after the inauguration, is there any sort of itinerary for the first sort of international visitors who might be coming to the United States to meet the new President? Do you have any information about any -- you know, Tony Blair, various other people -- intending to visit the United States?
MR. BOUCHER: That will come out of the new President when we have one -- the new White House when we have a new President.
QUESTION: Richard, do you have an update on the investigation into the threats in Italy, specifically against the US Embassy in Rome? There had been some talk that perhaps it was related to al-Qa'ida and --
MR. BOUCHER: You want me to talk about an update on the threats that we didn't talk about?
QUESTION: Well, I'm just wondering if you have made any progress in the investigation, or if there is still --
MR. BOUCHER: I don't have any more information on that to report to you. I think we reported to you on Monday that our Embassy was open again. We opened our Embassy because we have had excellent cooperation with the Italian authorities, both in looking into the possible security concerns, but also especially in terms of taking care of enhancing the security of our Embassies, our diplomatic facilities there.
So we have been able to, we think, resolve that particular situation sufficiently to be able to open our Embassies again and operate in the environment, but I'm not able to go into any more details as regards the threat.
QUESTION: I believe that somebody in the building was preparing something on reports of a large number of people abducted in Southern Sudan. Did that ever reach you or -- no? Okay.
MR. BOUCHER: I don't have anything on that. I will be glad to get it for you. Thank you.
(The briefing was concluded at 1: 40 P.M.)
[end of document]