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U.S. Department of State

Great Seal

U.S. Department of State

Press Briefing

Friday, January 19, 2001
Briefer: Richard Boucher, Spokesman

REFUGEES

 

1

US Contribution to UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees

COLOMBIA

 

1,10

Counter-Narcotics Cooperation with Colombia

3-4

Voluntary Report to Congress on Human Rights Issues

FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF YUGOSLAVIA

 

1-2

Executive Order Lifting Sanctions Against Serbia

RUSSIA

 

2-3

INS Detention of Pavel Borodin

CUBA

 

4

Cuba blaming US for Death of Two Stowaways

PHILIPPINES

 

4-5

Reported Request for US Visa by President Estrada

GERMANY

 

5-6

Depleted Uranium Issue

MIDDLE EAST PEACE PROCESS

 

6-8,9

Memorandum of Understanding Regarding US Assistance to Israel

8-9

Status of Peace Negotiations

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO

 

11

Update on Situation

AFGHANISTAN

 

11-12

UN Sanctions/Taliban Reaction

IRAQ

 

12-13

Iraq's Offer to Assist Destitute Americans

DEPARTMENT

 

13-14

Transition and New Administration

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE

DAILY PRESS BRIEFING

DPB # 8

FRIDAY, JANUARY 19, 2001 1:05 P.M.

(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)

MR. BOUCHER: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. It's a pleasure to be here today. I have two statements which I think we will just give you the pieces of paper after the briefing, but if you are interested in the topics I can go through them.

The first is an $80 million contribution to the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees. As I think you all know, we have been a major contributor to this agency over time. We typically contribute 20 to 25 percent of the budget. We did an $8.8 million contribution in December for emergency needs, and now this is a more ongoing contribution of $80 million. We will have that for you.

The second is we will have a statement about the counter-narcotics cooperation with Colombia. There was recently a conclusion of an investigation with the arrest of more than 50 individuals in something called Operation White Horse, and we talked a little bit about the extent of cooperation that led to that and how we are working with Colombia on counter-narcotics.

So we'll have those for you in writing, and I would be happy to take your questions on these or another other subjects.

QUESTION: Richard, are you prepared to talk about the lifting of sanctions against Yugoslavia, and with particular reference to the 81 Yugoslavs who will not be exempted or affected by this? And what restrictions continue to apply to them?

MR. BOUCHER: Let me explain as much of that as I can. I think the actual Executive Order, including the annex that lists 81 individuals, is available from the White House and on the Internet from Treasury, the Office of Foreign Assets Control. The President signed this Executive Order. It lifts trade and financial sanctions on Serbia, except those that target Milosevic, his cronies and the war criminals. The action is the final step in fulfilling the October 12th announcement of lifting sanctions on Yugoslavia.

In the October 12th announcement, the President immediately lifted the air ban, the oil embargo against Serbia, and he instructed relevant agencies to take necessary steps to lift the remaining trade and economic sanctions, except with regard to Milosevic and his cronies.

As an interim step, the new Executive Order carrying out the President's instruction as it was being prepared on October 26th, the statement of licensing policy allowed many financial transactions to go ahead.

The actual issuance of the final Executive Order that has been done now required some very careful review to make sure that persons who were deemed to be connected with the Milosevic regime and on whom sanctions would be maintained, that list was prepared. That is the annex of 81 individuals who met the criteria.

On these individuals, the continuing sanctions prevent them from carrying out any trade or financial transactions with the United States. Banks are not allowed to process paperwork that might have one of these names associated with a transaction. Certainly if they desire to travel to the United States, the fact that they were on this list would be a matter of consideration in the visa review, and it's fairly safe to say they won't get any visas.

So the sort of sanctions that were previously on Yugoslav Government officials as a whole and broader on Yugoslavia have been lifted for everybody, but they remain on these 81 individuals.

QUESTION: Are the Europeans continuing to have these people on a list, or are we the only people now that have one of these lists?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't know, is the answer to that. I would have to check. I'm sure we can check with -- both check with the Europeans. But I will have to check. Certainly the Europeans, when it comes to specific war criminals, they're quite aware, as we are, of who is under indictment and who belongs in The Hague and who doesn't.

QUESTION: New subject?

MR. BOUCHER: Please.

QUESTION: The Russians, Richard, continue to insist that the arrest of Mr. Borodin was some kind of a diplomatic incident, a violation of diplomatic courtesy. And as far as I can tell, this building does not believe that that is the case. And I'm wondering if you can just elaborate on this, especially because of all these weird conspiracy theories that keep coming out of Moscow about who might have been behind this potential trap for him.

MR. BOUCHER: I think we are quite aware of the phrases being used, some of the theories that are floating around and things like that. We have had a number of meetings with the Russians over the course of the last few days.

Right from the beginning, they had consular officials at the airport, and I think I mentioned they had consular access at the airport. Our Ambassador in Moscow met with the Foreign Minister and was asked to come over, called in by the Foreign Minister, who expressed their serious concerns, how upset they were at the arrest.

But in that conversation, in subsequent -- or in similar conversations that we have had here where Ambassador Sestanovich talked to the Russian Ambassador in Washington on Wednesday evening, we have made clear all along this is not some diplomatic signal, this is not some diplomatic incident between the two governments, this is not some trap. This is a matter of us carrying out our international legal obligations. And as far as we are concerned, that is all it is.

So that is the point that we have made. We have made that quite clear, I think, in all these conversations. We will continue to afford the Russian Government consular access, as is appropriate, and we will continue to work with them. But in our view, this is a matter of law enforcement, and that's it.

QUESTION: Yesterday you referred to the report on human rights in Colombia. Could you tell us whether that is ready yet, and how we can get access to it?

MR. BOUCHER: When it is finally signed, it will be transmitted from the White House. So that when that happens, I'm sure they will make it available in public. My understanding as of this moment is that it may not have been signed yet. The decision, as I talked about yesterday, to submit a voluntary report has been made, but the actual transmittal of the report itself has not happened yet.

QUESTION: Richard, yesterday -- and I'm not sure if any of -- I know I certainly wasn't very aware of what exactly you were talking about when you -- having looked into it a little bit further yesterday afternoon, it seems that there is quite a bit of opposition to this decision.

First, the determination that you do not have to certify or grant a waiver to the Colombians for the second tranche of aid to be released. The argument is is that just because this money and the second tranche is an emergency supplemental and not part of the so-called regular money that was already approved, the argument against your determination is that all this money, once it gets to Colombia, is put into the same pot, and it is basically the same money being used for the same kinds of things as the other money, and therefore it should not be treated -- it shouldn't have different conditions, or rather no conditions on it.

Two Senators, Wellstone and Harkin, have written to the President, or wrote to him last week, telling him that they thought not only should the certification be required, but also that the waiver should be denied, and that in fact the earlier waivers granted be revoked.

What do you say to those arguments?

MR. BOUCHER: I think all I can say is that the White House -- I assume the White House lawyers -- no, that they have made the determination. They have determined that this certification is not a requirement. I suppose one can argue, you say some people argue it is where the money is going; others might argue it is where the money comes from in terms of the conditions that are attached to specific legislation that the money comes from.

So I am not the lawyer to try to sort this out. But the legal staff at the White House has decided that it is not required. But nonetheless, we feel it is important to maintain contact, keep talking to Congress, and therefore we want to report to Congress on where things stand vis-à-vis human rights. And we will be sending that report forward.

QUESTION: Do you have anything on Cuba? Apparently these kids -- I don't know if they are kids or teenagers -- left Cuba for the United States, and now Castro is accusing the US system for encouraging this, that they welcome Cuban exiles with open arms.

MR. BOUCHER: This is the two stowaways that -- well, first of all, this is a tragedy. These two young men lost their lives attempting to get to the United Kingdom. How it could somehow be the fault of the United States, frankly, is not clear to us. Rather than blaming the United States, we think the Government of Cuba needs to examine its own policies, needs to figure out why two teenage military cadets would feel compelled to resort to such a desperate measure to leave the island.

One explanation is that today's demonstration in Havana against US immigration policies was intended to divert the attention of ordinary Cubans from the problems that they face in Cuba itself. The most serious problem is political repression, and today's demonstration fits a pattern of tough and disturbing measures which highlight the true nature of the Cuban regime.

Recently we've had a number of events like this. We've had the arrest of two prominent Czechs, including a member of parliament, for meeting with dissidents. There is an ongoing campaign against foreign journalists, and the threat to close foreign press bureaus in Cuba. There have been detentions and arrests of over 200 dissidents in the past two months.

So I think if the Cuban Government wants to find the reason that people would resort to such desperate steps to leave the island, they should perhaps look at their own policies and their own repression.

QUESTION: When is the next round of US-Cuba migration talks, do you know? Is that scheduled yet?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't think I have a date for that. I can't remember if it's every three or six months -- six months. And they were recently so it would be sometime in the first half of this year.

QUESTION: Has there been any request for a visa for Philippine President Estrada? There is speculation he would like to come to San Francisco, I believe.

MR. BOUCHER: I know there is all kinds of speculation. I will tell you that there has been no contact with us. There have been no requests of us. We have had no indication from him of any desire on his part to come to the United States. We don't have any US aircraft waiting somewhere to whisk him away.

In the interests of full disclosure, I will say that there are some US aircraft at Clark Air Force Base. They are there for a military exercise that starts next Monday. This is a normal, pre-planned, many months in advance, exercise. It has no connection with the current political situation in the Philippines.

So in terms of your question, are we doing anything to help Estrada out, move him or otherwise have him come to the United States? No, we've got nothing underway, no indication of any desire on his part to come here.

On the general situation, I would say we are following the political situation in the Philippines very closely. It's a matter of some interest to us, but in the end the future of the Philippine president, President Estrada, is a domestic issue for the Philippine people to decide according to their own peaceful means and constitutional system.

We certainly stress once again the need to maintain peace and order. There are democratic processes, a constitutional framework and a rule of law in the Philippines that need to be respected.

QUESTION: So would he be welcome here if he wanted to come?

MR. BOUCHER: That is so speculative I don't think I can get into it.

QUESTION: With your emphasis on constitutional matters, how do you view the Vice President's claim today that she is the commander-in-chief?

MR. BOUCHER: Once again, I think they are going to have to sort out the various claims according to their own laws and constitution. It's not for us to interpret those for them.

QUESTION: In past political crises in the Philippines, the United States has come out with opinions about what they think, notably --

MR. BOUCHER: Well, in cases where --

QUESTION: So I'm wondering if -- is this another kind of manifestation of people power which the United States applauded so vigorously back ten, 15 years ago?

MR. BOUCHER: Well, first of all, we're not doing comparisons with previous times. Certainly the United States has been involved in opposing the overthrow of democratic order in the Philippines when that was the case ten years ago or so. But I think the most important thing is that it's all based on the same principle that the Philippine people have a democratic system, they have a constitution, they have rule of law now, and that those things need to be respected.

QUESTION: There seems to be a bit of a radioactive dustup in US relations with Germany. I think Defense Minister Scharping called the Chargé on the carpet the other day, claiming that the US was not forthright with the German Government about the depleted uranium, and has been crowing about it in the Bundestag ever since.

Do you have any reaction to it, or perspective?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't have any reaction specifically to that statement. What I would say is we have been quite open, quite clear, on the issue. The Secretary has always maintained that our position needs to be open, transparent, responsible on the subject. We have had numerous discussions within NATO. We have had experts in NATO discuss the issue, and some of those experts, I think, have even visited Germany to discuss the issue with the German leadership as well.

So the extensive discussions that we've had with our allies I'm sure will continue. NATO has pledged its cooperation with anyone -- various people investigating this. There are certainly international experts on the subject who are talking about it as well. And so this is going to be handled, we hope, in an open, responsible and transparent manner. That's our intention and that's, I think, what we're trying to do.

QUESTION: Part of his original charge, though, was that the US didn't give Germany the same information that it gave the other allies. Is that true?

MR. BOUCHER: You mean in terms of sort of military-to-military cooperation? I don't think that's something that I could comment on. I'm sure in terms of military-to-military cooperation and information that would be something the Pentagon would deal with.

QUESTION: Do you feel that maybe Scharping is sort of scapegoating the US for his own political troubles?

MR. BOUCHER: I'm not going to try to take on a political question like that.

QUESTION: He also charged, or said, that the Embassy handed over new information yesterday to the Germans, I believe, and amongst that was the revelation or acknowledgement that some depleted uranium rounds were fired in Germany during training exercises during the 80s. Is that actually --

MR. BOUCHER: Again, specifics like that you're going to have to check with the Pentagon on.

QUESTION: Could you discuss the changes in military and economic aid to Israel, two announcements coming out today?

MR. BOUCHER: Okay, let me fill you in. This morning, our Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs Ned Walker and Israel's Ambassador to the United States David Ivry signed a Memorandum of Understanding regarding the US assistance to Israel. Discussions with Israel regarding our assistance programs have been going on for more than a year, and it was our desire to bring together and capture these understandings before this Administration leaves office.

The Memorandum states the views of the Clinton Administration that the economic support funds that we provide to Israel should be decreased by about $120 million per year so that the economic support fund aspect, the economic support to Israel, would be phased out entirely by Fiscal Year 2008.

Under the same understanding, the levels of foreign military financing would be increased by $60 million per year, so that it would reach $2.4 billion per year by the year 2008.

These levels are consistent with proposals that have been made previously by the Government of Israel. They are supported by the Administration and Congress, and have been supported in the annual appropriations process since Fiscal Year 1999.

The understandings will strengthen the security relationship between the United States and Israel. It reflects the unshakeable commitment of the United States to Israel's security while recognizing the strong economic progress that Israel has achieved over the past two decades.

That was done this morning. Now, there is another issue, which is the issue of the sale of F-22 aircraft. I think the President spoke about this in his letters to Israel, to the Israeli people that were published out there and which the White House, I'm sure, will release, or maybe probably has released already.

This is not an issue -- the F-22 is not an issue specifically covered by the Memorandum of Understanding that was signed this morning. But it is a commitment, it is a recommendation from the President consistent with the US commitment to maintaining Israel's qualitative edge in the military area. The President is recommending that once the F-22 aircraft become available for sale, that Israel should be among the first foreign customers.

So those are two aspects of our security relationship with Israel that we are dealing with today.

QUESTION: Why did these wait till the last day to be signed? Is there any reason for that?

MR. BOUCHER: I think on the first, the Memorandum of Understanding and the intention with regard to aid, it is really a matter of bringing together some discussions that have been taking place for a long time. And since it is a commitment of the Administration, a statement of intention that kind of brings these things together, it puts on record the discussions that we have been having with the Government of Israel, and shows that there is agreement at least on some of these points.

QUESTION: Was this done in concert with the incoming Administration?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't know how they were informed. I assume they were. But as we have always said, there is an Administration in place until mid-day tomorrow; and for its part, that Administration, this Administration, wanted to put on record the understandings that they had reached with Israel with regard to this future financing.

QUESTION: But it is fair to say that this is non-binding, and if the Bush Administration wants to change it, it can?

MR. BOUCHER: Yes, certainly. Whoever presents the budgets in future years, whoever deals and discusses with the Government of Israel in future years could proceed along this path, or could decide to do it differently. But since these are understandings that we have had that we have reached with the Government of Israel, and that are public at this point, since these are consistent with discussions that we have had with Israel and that these kinds of financing proposals have been supported by the Administration and Congress in the appropriations for the last several years, this is sort of recording a direction where we have been going. If somebody wants to change it, that's fine.

QUESTION: But have you gotten any -- do you have any reason to believe that the new Administration might seek to change this, or do you just not know?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't think we have anything one way or the other. Certainly this is kind of thing we would keep them informed of, but I'm not here yet to express any commitment on their part.

QUESTION: Well, I'm not asking if you -- what they are saying. I'm just asking if they have said anything.

MR. BOUCHER: I haven't seen anything in public, that's for sure.

QUESTION: Well, how about in private?

MR. BOUCHER: Well, I'm not here to say what they might have said in private. I don't know if they have or haven't.

QUESTION: Richard, on the wider Middle East question, Arab-Israeli question --

QUESTION: Is Dennis Ross going to the region? (Laughter.)

MR. BOUCHER: I think it is physically impossible for him to get there at this point.

QUESTION: Has there been any attempt at all to put down in writing anything which expresses the state of the negotiations at the end of this Administration? Or are you just leaving it up to history to work out what was offered and what --

MR. BOUCHER: I am sure history will work it out, and you guys might try to work it out even sooner than history.

But what is the state of play? The President, I think in his speech about two weeks ago, summarized the ideas and proposals and parameters that he had put forward. So that is a clear matter of record where he thought not only the process had been brought, but where he thought it had to go in terms of the kinds of arrangements that had to be made to reach agreement.

But as the Secretary has often said, history doesn't move in four-year cycles, and the fact that our Administration changes tomorrow at noon doesn't mean that the parties themselves have somehow changed or cycled or whatever. So, I mean, what is going -- in fact it's not for us to bring termination to this process. They in fact have continued to meet. They are continuing to try to narrow their differences. We think these continuing political contacts are indeed important, as are the efforts that both sides need to make to stop the violence.

We have said before we remain in close contact with the parties, we will keep working with them, and we will do all we can to support the parties' efforts. But in the end, the parties themselves have to take the steps required to reach an agreement for peace. So we will stay in close touch with them as they move forward and see how this goes, and then I'm sure our new Administration will decide how it wants to be involved. But there is an ongoing involvement of the United States that will continue.

QUESTION: I'd like to go back to the MOU with Israel for a moment, please. Is there any part of that which is not public that has to do with security and information sharing?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't have anything like that for you. I don't know.

QUESTION: You don't know whether there is, or it doesn't exist?

MR. BOUCHER: I have not heard of any such thing, is all I can say.

QUESTION: That's not very clear.

MR. BOUCHER: Well, I don't know if the question is speculative or based on some kind of information, frankly, and it is not something -- it is something I will look into just to check. But if you are going to ask me, is there anything in here that deals with whaling, I would have to say the same thing: I don't know. I am not aware of any aspect that does.

QUESTION: But these aspects were parts of agreements that were -- that seemed to be formulated as this process was going along that was discussed by our two governments. So it is a legitimate question of whether that --

MR. BOUCHER: No. It is a legitimate question. We have had ongoing discussions with the Government of Israel, I think for some time, about security cooperation, about how we can help in various ways. You know we submitted a supplemental last fall in order to provide some enhanced money for that kind of cooperation. But is something included or not included? I can tell you what is included. If you want to ask me about something else, I will have to check on it.

QUESTION: But you will check on it?

MR. BOUCHER: I will check on it.

QUESTION: I wasn't even going to ask this, but speaking of whaling, do you have anything to say about the Norwegians?

MR. BOUCHER: Who spoke about whaling?

QUESTION: Well, it sounded like you were trying to get -- you had something.

MR. BOUCHER: No, I wasn't dangling a whale in front of you.

QUESTION: I'm just curious, because this Norwegian decision has the --

MR. BOUCHER: We put out a statement yesterday on the Norwegian whaling effort.

QUESTION: Well, that's amazing. Did anyone get it?

QUESTION: No.

QUESTION: Well, here we have yet again another breakdown in this communication system. It's very nice to find out that we're getting statements a day late all the time. It has happened now with South Korean missiles, it happened yesterday with the Secretary's speech, and now it's happening with the whaling. Anyway.

QUESTION: Two questions. First of all, how much of an achievement is the Operation White Horse in terms of the quantity that -- the amounts of heroin that gets to United States from Colombia?

And the second one is, on Sunday, the FARC and the Colombian Government are finally going to get together and try to end gridlock for the peace talks. But after two years of doing nothing, are you still supporting a DMZ, not only for that, but for the ELN? And what is going to happen next?

MR. BOUCHER: Without trying to accept your characterizations of some of the past history of this, I think our basic attitude towards the Colombian Government's efforts to bring peace, to talk to rebel groups, is still the same; that we basically support their efforts to bring peace to the country, and we support their effort for development and against narcotics.

In terms of the Operation White Horse, it is pretty significant because it is moving against a major organization that was trafficking heroin between Colombia and the United States. Colombia is the source for most of the heroin, the overwhelming majority of the heroin that ends up in the East Coast in the United States. And this group, of which 50 individuals were arrested, had distribution in New York and Philadelphia, so it is a very significant step forward in terms of the counter-narcotics effort. That said, there are still others who traffic and others who will have to be pursued and dealt with.

I think you will see in the statement as well other information about the counter-narcotics strategy and some of the other things that we have accomplished with Colombia.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) -- just a month of starting to eradications area -- eradications -- is my understanding, right?

MR. BOUCHER: After?

QUESTION: A month ago, the area of eradication started on the Plan Colombia program, right?

MR. BOUCHER: Well, I mean, they have been aerial spraying for something like ten years. We have talked before about the Government of Colombia's program for aerial spraying and how they have -- what they are doing and what they are not doing. But this has been part of the program for a long time.

QUESTION: Now that the situation in the Congo appears to be clarified, do you have anything to say with respect to the new leadership there?

MR. BOUCHER: I think what we would say -- and I may have a statement on this later for you that goes through it sort of just completely -- is that the new leadership, like the old leadership, should implement the Lusaka Accords, the international obligations that will help bring peace to the area.

What has changed is the head of -- the chief of state. We have an interim president who has been named. Our Chargé was part of a group of diplomats who were at a meeting basically to meet him, and I think they just shook hands and said hello yesterday. So we haven't had a serious substantive discussion with him personally as well, but the rest of the government is the same, and we continue to work with the government there and continue to meet with the people and have discussions with them. And as we have said all along, our interest has been in seeing the Lusaka Accords carried out.

Certainly we don't think that violence is the way to effect the situation, and we do think that the government should implement the Lusaka Accords. Just all along, that is what we have been pushing for.

QUESTION: Can you comment on the Taliban's reaction to new sanctions being imposed today by the UN in which they called bin Laden a guest and say we don't have to expel people just because the US doesn't like them, and warning that there will be consequences?

MR. BOUCHER: Well, I think it is very simple to answer that. I hadn't seen the statement, but some inference that somehow that Usama bin Laden is just a person we don't like, I mean, that is ridiculous. It is frankly insulting. This is a man who is charged with blowing up American diplomats, Kenyans, many, many others; who is subject to arrest; who has been deemed a source of international terror. And it is not just the United States. These are UN sanctions. It is the international community that is frankly frustrated and outraged that they continue to harbor someone who has perpetuated international terror.

QUESTION: Two really quick things. One is, do you know what the Secretary's plans are for tomorrow? Is she going to come into the office at all, or will she just -- does she go to the Inauguration? Does she do anything official?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't know. I will have to check. I haven't checked. I have not heard of any plan to come into the office.

QUESTION: And the second thing is, if you could comment at all on the significance of today for your Deputy?

QUESTION: Any reaction on the second offer by Iraq to announce the $94 million -- nobody even cares -- talk about Saddam first, and then Phil -- $94 million this time to help destitute Americans?

MR. BOUCHER: We have seen these kinds of offers before.

QUESTION: This is the second one.

MR. BOUCHER: Are they reiterating it, or have they found some more destitute Americans they want to help out?

I mean, let's look at this situation as a whole. There is little difference today in that there is more information. The idea of Iraq taking money to donate to poor American citizens is ridiculous. It is nonsense. It shows that what they are doing is just playing political games in the world. And, frankly, that is underscored by the news that is out today about the United Nations.

Benon Sevan, the UN official charged with carrying through this program, the Executive Director of the UN Office for the Iraq Program, sent a letter to the UN Sanctions Committee expressing his concern that Iraq is unacceptably slow in taking the money that they do have and spending it on Iraqis. They are withholding food from Iraqi babies.

In the six-month phase of the program that ended on December 2000, the Iraqi Government submitted contracts for far less than it was authorized to spend in key sectors where we hear continuing complaints from the Iraqi regime about hardship. They are only using 33 percent, one-third of the funds available for water and sanitation projects. They are only using 13 percent of the funds available in the health sector, meaning they have requested only $83 million against $624 million that's available in the program to spend on health for the Iraqi people. They are only using 6 percent of the money available for education, only using 4 percent of the money to upkeep the oil production capability.

So they have really failed in their obligations to their own people, and the idea that they should go running around spending money on others when they're not willing to spend the money on their own people is a ridiculous proposal and it just shows what a sham most of their claims are.

QUESTION: Another question is where does the money come from?

MR. BOUCHER: It comes from -- which money? The Iraqi money comes from the Oil-for-Food program. It comes from oil that they pump and money that gets deposited in escrow. I mean, where would their money --

QUESTION: So they're offering back Oil-for-Food money?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't know. I'm talking about the money that is or is not being spent. You're asking is where would they get this money that they would be donating to the poor Americans?

QUESTION: Yes.

MR. BOUCHER: I don't know. That is another question. Probably the same place they get their money to build palaces and buy -- what is it -- 1,200 cases of whiskey a month.

QUESTION: Richard, is there anything you can say about next week? It seems that, you know, a lot of Under Secretaries and Assistant Secretaries (inaudible). So who is in charge of the bureaus that are acting?

MR. BOUCHER: It varies from bureau to bureau. Many of the people who -- the career officials certainly in the bureaus have been asked to stay on and run the bureaus for the new Administration for differing or perhaps indefinite periods of time.

Certainly every office or bureau where a political appointee has left there is an acting person who is appointed, usually the senior career person in the bureau. So, really, while we will miss many of our colleagues that have been here working with us, we look forward to working with the new Administration. I think there is an ongoing commitment to maintaining the interests of the United States, and we'll keep doing it.

Many people have asked me about the actual mechanism this weekend. My understanding is that as of noon when Secretary Albright becomes former Secretary Albright, then the Acting Secretary will be Under Secretary Al Larson, our Under Secretary for Economic Affairs, and he would be Acting Secretary until the time when Colin Powell is sworn in with the advice and consent of the Senate.

QUESTION: Do you know what the swearing-in plans are?

MR. BOUCHER: No, I have no idea. That would be a White House -- a new White House thing. The Senate has to vote and then he has to be sworn in by the President, or whoever is appropriate -- I forget, or somebody designated. But he has to be voted on by the full Senate and then he has to be sworn in and he has to sign some papers. But when exactly that will take place, I don't know, but in the interim we'll have an Acting Secretary of State.

QUESTION: Whereupon, he will disavow everything you've said today.

MR. BOUCHER: He may. Or I may come down and disavow it myself on Monday. (Laughter.) But my job is not to tell you what I think; it's to tell you what the Secretary thinks.

And to answer the previous question, Happy Birthday to Phil from all of us.

(The briefing was concluded at 1:45 P.M.)

[end of document]

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