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For Immediate Release
March 31, 2003
U.S. Department of State Daily Press Briefing
Daily Press Briefing
Richard Boucher, Spokesman
March 31, 2003
1 Secretary Powell's Travel to Ankara and Brussels 4/2-4/4
1-2,4,7,14 Purpose and Timing of Secretary Powell's Travel to Ankara
1-2,5,6 Special Envoy for Iraqi Opposition Khalilzad in Turkey
2-3 Purpose for Secretary Powell's Travel to Brussels
3-4 Prospects for Secretary to Address Public Groups / Media in Ankara
4-6,7 Agenda / Discussion of Issues During Secretary's Travel to Ankara
7-9 Statements on Alignment with Iraq / US View
10-12 US View of Iranian Involvement in Iraq
13,15,16-17 US Imposition of Missile Proliferation Sanction on North Korean Entity
13 US Public Diplomacy Efforts and Outreach to Arab Media and Public
13-14 Discussion of the Powell Doctrine
16 Treatment of Iraqi POWs
14 Delegation of US Civil Affairs Office with Governor of Herat
15-16,17 US Imposition of Nonproliferation Penalties on Pakistani Entity
17-18 Secretary Powell's Meeting with Israeli Foreign Minister
18 Parliamentary By-Elections
MR. BOUCHER: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. If I can, I would like to start by telling you that the Secretary of State will travel to Ankara and Brussels this week, departing from Washington on Tuesday, that is tomorrow, and returning on Thursday, April 3rd.
In Ankara, Secretary Powell will meet with Turkish leaders to strengthen our relationship with this close NATO ally. He will discuss our continuing cooperation in the war against Iraq as well as post-conflict issues regarding Iraq; also, expect to take up the war on terrorism, Cyprus and a variety of mutual concerns.
In Brussels, the Secretary intends to consult with members of the European Union and with NATO and conduct a number of bilateral meetings. Discussions in Brussels will focus on the war in Iraq and also on the broad range of post-conflict issues that we want to discuss with our European allies at this time.
The Press Office is notifying news organizations that can be offered a seat under the rotation system.
So I would be glad to take your questions about that or anything else.
QUESTION: Did his agenda include a new letter of -- a new request from the Turkey?
MR. BOUCHER: We will have to see when we get there where we stand. As you know, we have been doing a lot of coordination with the Turkish Government. Our Special Envoy for the Iraqi opposition, Zal Khalilzad, is out in Turkey right now. He has been having meetings with the Turkish Government, coordinating on issues involving Northern Iraq. So there's a lot of work going on on those issues.
I don't know of any additional requests at this moment, but we will just see when he gets out there.
QUESTION: And also, according to Turkish press, Mr. Khalilzad couldn't solve some problems with the Turkish Government. Did the Secretary --
MR. BOUCHER: I wouldn't relate it specifically to those discussions or specifically to some other issue. It is a chance at a critical moment, obviously, for both us and Turkey, to talk about what is going on in Iraq, talk about the affect on Turkey, talk about many of the things we are doing together with Turkey in the war on terrorism, and et cetera, but also to talk to Turkey as we want to talk to others about the post-war scenarios, about how to reestablish an Iraq that has a representative government whose territorial integrity is maintained and how we can work together to do that.
QUESTION: Richard, on the stop in Brussels, will the Secretary be proposing in any way a more concrete plan for NATO to play a role in peacekeeping on the reconstruction of Iraq?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know of anything. Let me just not try to get into any specifics at this point about what he might discuss during this trip. I told you the general topics. Obviously, we will get out there and be discussing a whole variety of things with our friends and allies, both in NATO and with European Union allies, as well.
QUESTION: Does the State Department have any position on NATO peacekeeping in post-Saddam Iraq?
MR. BOUCHER: Yes.
QUESTION: Can you share it?
QUESTION: When did he --
MR. BOUCHER: No, I -- on the issue of sort of stabilization and peacekeeping in post-Saddam Iraq, obviously there is a job that needs to be done. That job of stabilization, that job of maintaining security for the Iraqi people, clearly American forces will be there to help with that, but there may be ways of involving others, as well. But that is at an early stage right now, I'd have to say.
QUESTION: Richard, two things. When did he decide to make this trip? Was it -- is it safe to say that, you know, toward the end of last week he did not -- he wasn't considering going? Or is that not correct?
MR. BOUCHER: Well, that's not quite correct, either. We've been -- for a couple weeks now, he's been considering making a trip and it was yesterday that he decided to make this trip at this time. These were stops that were anticipated anyway.
QUESTION: And, you know, it wasn't all that long ago that the Secretary was upstairs, told some of us that Belgium may not particularly be a great destination for people in his position, particularly those who have been named in lawsuits. Is the Secretary pretty confident that he's not going to get served with any kind of legal papers when he arrives?
MR. BOUCHER: I am sure the lawyers are going to give us their final judgment on that, but I am not sure that things have progressed to quite that point in the Belgian parliament yet where that would be an immediate concern.
QUESTION: Richard, I'm sorry. What do you mean? It was my understanding the Belgian parliament was moving to alter the law --
MR. BOUCHER: To alter the law.
QUESTION: -- that they couldn't be sued. But right now, as far as I understand, there is a suit pending.
MR. BOUCHER: I guess it's on the books, yes. I'll check with the lawyers. I'm sure we'll make sure that's not a concern before he goes there.
QUESTION: Is this a fence-mending trip? Is there a need, as far as he can --
MR. BOUCHER: No.
QUESTION: Well, things are going very well with all the allies?
MR. BOUCHER: Things are going quite well with all our allies. No, we have a lot of issues with some of our allies. We have close partnerships and cooperation with others. Remember, NATO and the European Union are very broad organizations that have a variety of democratic governments involved, and each with their own views and each with their own public issues. We will be seeing NATO allies like Britain and Spain and Italy and Portugal and Poland, as well as NATO allies like France and Germany and members of the European Union. So, you know, we have allies with different views. We will be talking about those.
I think the issue at this moment, though, for us and the Europeans on the diplomatic track is to look at what is going on in Iraq, not in terms of the past but in terms of what we can do to make -- to give Iraqis a better future, and how we can all get involved in the relief and reconstruction efforts.
QUESTION: Richard, in Turkey, where the population is said to be about 90 percent against the war, does the Secretary have any plans to talk to the Turkish people outside of government meetings, any kinds of interviews with TV or addresses to the public groups?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't have a final schedule, but I would expect finding ways to talks to the -- to people in Turkey and in Europe is an important part of what we would like to do as we travel through their country.
QUESTION: Richard, a couple of -- a week or two ago, the Secretary was responding to criticisms that he wasn't traveling enough, and the Secretary said, you know, it's not necessary, in this day and age I rely on telecommunications, all the technology that's available to me and able to do my job, and I only travel when I feel as if it's definitely necessary.
Why -- what makes this particular trip at this particular time necessary for the -- to take the Secretary away from the President and advising him in that role?
MR. BOUCHER: As I think I tried to explain, we are at a moment in the conflict when the military part continues to go according to plan and when it is time for those of us who have been working on the diplomacy and on the humanitarian effort, also to start talking in somewhat more detail with some of our friends and allies about the post-conflict engagement and about the post-conflict scene. That remains an item on our agenda, along with many other things, like Middle East peace, which remain under active discussion with our friends and allies, and the Secretary thought this was an opportune moment to go out and work on these issues directly with some of our important friends.
QUESTION: Richard, a few other questions. One, will his trip to Ankara have as part of it any kind of an assessment of whether Turkey -- of what aid Turkey may need as a result of damage to its economy it may have suffered because of the war? How much of the $1 billion that was included in the supplemental it might actually get? And, secondly, in Brussels, is there any reason to believe that he'll meet collectively with the European Union foreign ministers?
MR. BOUCHER: The answer to the first question, I'm sure the subject of our proposed assistance for Turkey, should Turkey suffer economic consequences, that will probably be discussed. But he's not there to make an economic assessment quite at this moment. We don't have the money in hand yet and, in any case, it's generally not what the Secretary of State does on his trips. But I'm sure the subject will be discussed of the economic impact and how our money can be used to help.
On the second question of collective versus bilateral meetings with European Union friends, maybe -- still putting the schedule together.
Okay. Let's go to the back.
QUESTION: Since you mentioned that he will be staying in Ankara, the Secretary of State is going to discussions over the Cyprus issue, does he have any new idea or a new approach to this problem or just --
MR. BOUCHER: I think it is obviously a subject of continuing commitment and concern on behalf of the United States. The Secretary General's envoy, I think, has been asked to produce an assessment for the Secretary General of what happened and what happens next. So that is really where the immediate ideas and action are. So I don't know that we're going out -- we're not going out with any new proposal of any particular kind, but we certainly do want to talk to Turkey about the continuing need to try to solve this problem.
QUESTION: Did you announce if he's going to discuss the Kurdish situation? Because the Turks are very concerned, particularly in these days as you are moving direct to Kirkuk and Mosul areas.
MR. BOUCHER: Well, I was sort of asked that by your neighbor before about the issues that Zal Khalilzad is discussing while he is in Ankara right now. And certainly, the Kurdish areas and various parts of that issue are being discussed in some intensive detail between the United States and Turkey.
At what stage, where these issues are when we get to Turkey, I can't quite say now, but I'm sure the Secretary will want to discuss in general terms the situation in Northern Iraq and how the United States and Turkey can cooperate to make sure that refugee flows or terrorism or other matters that would be of concern to Turkey, as well as the United States, to make sure those things don't arise.
QUESTION: About the control of the Kirkuk and Mosul area?
MR. BOUCHER: I can't say specifically that one or the other city might or might not be discussed.
Okay. Ma'am. In the back.
QUESTION: Yes. Secretary of State recently said that, you know, they are waiting an offer from the Turkish side for greater cooperation and we will find out what they offer so and then we will make our offer. Did he get any sign from the Turkish Government for a greater cooperation? And why the visit now, because you said at this critical moment. Why did you use this?
MR. BOUCHER: Because there's a war going on next door to Turkey.
MR. BOUCHER: And Turkey has concerns about the situation there. We have had a lot of discussion with Turkey about our cooperation. At this moment we have -- share Turkey's concerns about the potential economic impact and I think we all want to look forward in terms of our discussions with Turkey, as with the rest of our European allies, about the post-war situation and what we can all do to bring stability, to bring representative government, to maintain Iraq's territorial integrity, and make it so that Turkey's neighbor is a plus for the region -- an open economic partner that they can trade with and have relations with. So we are in the middle of the war. It's a good time -- it's a moment where we should be looking forward, looking not only at the current situation, but also the post-war situation.
QUESTION: As a follow-up, you know, you said you take care of Turkey's concern. One of the concern is the -- you are targeting terrorist groups in Northern Iraq, naming only one of them, al-Ansar, and you're saying that they have connections to al-Qaida. There are other terrorist groups over there. One of them is a separatist group aimed at Turkey and you're not mentioning any of the other groups.
MR. BOUCHER: Again, we are discussing these issues in some considerable detail with the Turkish Government. I made clear that Mr. Khalilzad, when he came out of the Foreign Ministry today, said they have discussed potential refugee flows and the problem of terror, the threat to Turkey, as well as the issue of Kirkuk or the possibility of instability there, discussed ways of discouraging instability. So that situation that Turkey faces with regard to potential for terrorists from that part of Iraq is certainly much on our minds and something we are working with Turkey to cooperate on.
QUESTION: Does the U.S. still maintain its hope to have a northern front from Turkey?
MR. BOUCHER: That's a military question that I can't answer over here.
QUESTION: Where do you stand with Turkey in terms of the coordinated movement on the troops. I mean have you settled the issue? Are you still hoping that Turkey won't move its troops? Have you gotten assurances from them? Where does it stand?
MR. BOUCHER: I think you have seen the statements that Turkish leaders have made, including General Ozkok last week. You have heard from us that we don't think there should be Turkish incursion into Northern Iraq or any uncoordinated movement of forces. And you have also heard from our Special Envoy out there, who in his statements today said that, "We both agree that Turkish forces going into Northern Iraq is not an end in itself for Turkey. But Turkey has legitimate concerns and interests and we will do everything we can in cooperation with Turkey and the local people in Northern Iraq to head off those problems."
The approach that we have taken, and I've explained to you before, is that the United States believes that through our own efforts and through our cooperation with Turkey and with the groups in Northern Iraq, we can avoid the kind of instability, the kind of refugee flows, the kind of terrorism, the kind of dangers, that Turkey is legitimately concerned about.
QUESTION: Could you explain a little more fully what factors make it an opportune time to go now, when it obviously, apparently, wasn't an opportune time when you were still in negotiations with the Turks before the war started?
MR. BOUCHER: There is always any number of things going on in the Secretary's life. There may be negotiations with the Turks and UN resolutions and roadmap discussions and a variety of other things that maybe you all don't pay that much attention to on the day to day, but things like fighting AIDS and fighting famine and helping prepare for a war in Iraq.
QUESTION: So he's (inaudible)?
MR. BOUCHER: So -- no, it is just a chance at this moment, I think, to get away, a chance to get out to important allies. I would point out that over, I think, four or five weeks running, including a trip to China, he met with many of our friends and allies in New York, because that is where they were and that is where he met them. So it is not like he hasn't seen these people face to face. He has been, you know, in face to face with European leaders in particular already half a dozen times this year, and so this is a chance to go see them out there where they are.
QUESTION: A tiny bit south, Syria --
MR. BOUCHER: We have just one question over here.
QUESTION: Is the issue of Turkey serving as a base for American military operations passed?
MR. BOUCHER: Third time I've been asked the question.
QUESTION: Sorry, I didn't --
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not in a position to really answer, whether northern front or the future requests of Turkey with regard to military operations. Those just aren't questions I can answer at this moment. They are really questions for the military whether we still want that. And on the trip, if we raise it, we will tell you.
QUESTION: Syria. What do you make of the Syrian Foreign Ministry's statement this morning saying that they basically decided to align themselves with Iraq in this conflict, one, as just a country in the region and a country with a lot of its interests in what happens in Iraq, but also as a member of the UN Security Council?
MR. BOUCHER: I did not see that particular statement so I don't think I have any comment on that particular statement. But I would remind you of what the Secretary said last night: "Syria faces a critical choice. Syria can continue direct support for terrorist groups and the dying regime of Saddam Hussein, or it can embark on a different and more hopeful course. Either way, Syria bears the responsibility for its choices and for the consequences."
Issues of Iraq and things like transshipment of military-related items and dual-use items through Syria into Iraq have been on the agenda for many, many months. Secretary Powell has raised these a number of times himself. Our embassy has been very active on this subject, including in recent weeks and days. And so we intend to continue to raise these issues because they're very important to us.
QUESTION: Right. Well, I guess, then, do you consider right now what -- Syria to be a hostile?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't have any different characterization than the one the Secretary gave last night.
QUESTION: Okay. And the Secretary used the word "consequences" in his speech. Note that the UN resolution that you're operating -- you say you're operating under the authority of 1441, also talks about consequences. In that case, it was --
MR. BOUCHER: It talks about serious consequences.
QUESTION: Exactly. So is this -- is it a deliberate choice of words or is it just a coincidence that --
MR. BOUCHER: It's a regular word in the English language.
QUESTION: Yeah, but he could have said repercussions, too.
MR. BOUCHER: And then you'd be asking me what's the difference between repercussions and consequences. I can't --
QUESTION: Well, I think the Syrians are wondering.
MR. BOUCHER: It is a normal English word that has normal English meaning, and that is that you can't align yourself with a regime, a dictatorship that is contesting the whole world and fighting the United States, without there being consequences for the world's attitude toward you.
QUESTION: Richard, for over a year now, this Administration has been threatening -- or, not threatening, but this Administration has voiced its disapproval of Syria's cooperative behavior with Iraq. Do you have a timeframe for when you could see the Syrians making the strategic choice that the Secretary so wants them to make?
MR. BOUCHER: Well, I think on many of the things that we've seen, we wanted them stopped right away. So I'd just leave it for that.
QUESTION: Well, I don't want to parse it too much because it doesn't sound like you want to get into -- any more detailed on this, but there was this threat of consequences last night, obviously. Secretary Rumsfeld said similar things on Friday. When do the consequences, unspecified as they are, kick in for serious decision?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't think there's any way I can answer that at this point. There is no fixed timetable. There is obviously daily consequences for how people view you in the world if you decide to take certain positions. That is true of any government. That is particularly true of a government that might be, as I said, sort of aligning itself with a brutal dictator whose days are numbered.
QUESTION: Richard, Syria still. Is there any concern that in making such blunt public statements about both Iran and Syria, you know, Administration officials making such blunt statements, that it might backfire, given the culture in that part of the world and the fact that you are confronting them so publicly?
MR. BOUCHER: I think it is important to us to make clear what our views are, and we have made them clear in private, we have made them clear in public. Nobody in the Syrian Government will be surprised at the strength of our views on this issue by the way they hear them in public because they have already heard them that way in private.
QUESTION: And have you gotten any response at all from Syria in terms, you know, addressing your concerns?
MR. BOUCHER: I wouldn't be able to characterize the response at this point.
QUESTION: What about Iran? Did you just --
MR. BOUCHER: Let's -- Teri.
QUESTION: What do you consider the U.S.'s leverage over Syria at this point? If you've already had these one-on-one discussions where the Secretary made clear the views -- the sanctions, they're on the state sponsors of terrorism list -- I mean, what really -- what kinds of consequences could it have besides just the public opinion?
MR. BOUCHER: Again, I'm not in a position at this point to go into any more details about what consequences may occur. There is a consequence to an ongoing relationship of not making this choice or of making the wrong choice in this case of, as the Secretary said, you can either tie yourself with the terrorists and support a dying regime of Saddam Hussein, or you can choose a better path for Syria and for its people.
So, at the very least, there are the foregone benefits, the opportunity costs of choosing this course, opportunity costs for your own people, the opportunity costs for your relations in the world.
QUESTION: Well, to move over to Iran, there have been, you know, whether it's through third-party channels or indirect talks or whatever, there have been some things that you and the Iranians have agreed upon in terms of -- in terms of active neutrality, things like that. Are you afraid that coming out so publicly against Iran and Syria to some extent will, to follow up on Vicky's question, kind of ruin any kind of engagement that you already have, even if it's -- even if it's very limited?
MR. BOUCHER: Again, we have made these views known privately, we've made them known publicly. Iran shouldn't -- doesn't have any illusions, I am sure, that we have been concerned for many, many years about their support for terrorism, their opposition to the peace process, their development of weapons of mass destruction, especially the nuclear developments. I mean, have the United States running around the world campaigning with people not to help the Iranian nuclear program in any way. It's not going to come as any surprise to the Iranian Government that we oppose their nuclear developments.
So these are not surprises, nor are they particularly new in terms of statements, but they're quite clear statements that, at a moment when you have U.S. forces as part of a coalition fighting in Iraq, we do not think that neighbors of Iraq should be helping, helping Iraq.
QUESTION: Well, but at the same time, I mean, there are instances that you have needed the Iranians' cooperation. A couple of -- a week or two ago, there was a missile incident and it seemed to be kind of solved pretty quietly and not a lot of rhetoric on either side.
MR. BOUCHER: I guess we're being accused of being undiplomatic in this instance. Is that right?
QUESTION: Well, I guess I question the timing of such rhetorical statements at a time when you're actually looking for the Iranians' cooperation on Iraq and seem to be, if not getting cooperation, then certainly they could be a lot more of a spoiler than they seem to be right now.
MR. BOUCHER: I don't think I can comment on the timing. These are views that have been expressed before, expressed repeatedly, that are well known to the governments involved, both Syria and Iran. And it will come as no surprise to them that we've made these statements.
QUESTION: Richard, I would like to look at it -- I don't know whether it's inside out or outside in, but certainly from a different way. Given the fact that 10 years ago Jordan supported Iraq and given the fact that last week we just asked for a $1 billion in aid for Jordan, I wonder if Syria and Iran might not be taking an interesting road to getting on America's good side?
MR. BOUCHER: You're asking me to predict our relations with Syria and Iran 10 years down the road?
QUESTION: Well, maybe a little ways down the road. I don't know.
MR. BOUCHER: I don't think that's something I could do, Charlie. Find an academic or somebody with a crystal ball to do that for you.
QUESTION: Sort of in that same vein of Jordan and aid to neighbors, that neighbors shouldn't be helping Iraq, is the U.S. concerned at all that among the weapons found that there are piles of ammunition with Jordan denoted as the country of origin? And are we doing any -- is the U.S. doing anything about that?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't have anything on those weapons at this point. I don't think that's something I can get into, as they are still on the battlefield. But I'm sure, obviously, the assessment and exploitation of the information in whatever context might ensue will be done at the appropriate time.
QUESTION: Richard, I just want to make sure, in reference to a question that Elise asked, are you saying that the Iranians as well as the Syrians are aiding Saddam's regime?
MR. BOUCHER: I am -- do I have with me the text? I don't have the exact words that the Secretary used last night. Our concern about Iran has been the involvement of Iranians in Iraq. You know that the issue has been raised with these so called "Badr Brigades" possibly moving into Northern Iraq or even being there. And so we've been concerned about that. We've made no secret of our views that we oppose any Iranian presence in Iraq because we think that kind of presence would be serious, it would be de-stabilizing. So we have made that message very, very clear and, I think, in a very serious manner.
QUESTION: Isn't that far -- that's a far cry -- I mean, the Badr Brigades fought Saddam in 1991. Isn't that a -- that's a lot different than what Syria's doing, which is giving them night vision goggles from Russia.
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not here to compare and contrast. I was asked a generic question about whether expressing our view so strongly undercuts the kind of cooperation we might envisage, and I said no. But that doesn't mean that each of them is doing the same thing. Okay?
Let's keep going. Elise.
QUESTION: Do you think that perhaps the movement of the Badr Brigades has anything to do with Iran seeing Turkey seek to move some of its troops towards --
MR. BOUCHER: You want to go ask Iran that question? Be my guest. I don't have speculation on somebody else's political motives.
QUESTION: But isn't one of the reasons that you were afraid to --
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not here to be a political commentator on what other people do. I'm sorry. I'm not in a position to examine, to try to divine, Iran's motives in doing this, that or the other. We don't think it's a good step. We oppose it. I can tell you U.S. views, that's all.
QUESTION: Does the -- do your very strong statements on the issue of Iran at this particular juncture say anything about your optimism, or lack thereof, of engaging the Iranian Government at some point -- you know, the reformers in Iran? Have you sort of given up on them?
MR. BOUCHER: I wouldn't draw any broad political conclusions. Our policy on Iran has been frequently stated and well stated, I think, and I will just stick with what we said before.
QUESTION: Yesterday, when Secretary Powell spoke about Iran, he mentioned that there was going -- he seemed to hint that there would be a new international effort regarding its nuclear program. Can you -- you seem to have, today, been saying that there really isn't much new in these statements about Iran, there's always been concerns about it, but is there -- The Financial Times over the weekend said that the Pentagon had a list of oil companies working with the Iranians that would be ineligible for contracts. Is there anything --
MR. BOUCHER: I think we also made clear what our view was on contracting, and we administer the Iran-Libya Sanctions Act, so that's a question we can answer for you, as well.
QUESTION: Well, I understand that, but the -- anyway, I don't want to get into that Financial Times story. Is there anything more you can say about any new policy of substance -- the Secretary --
MR. BOUCHER: No. You did.
I should have brought the Secretary's text with me. I don't have the exact words that he said on Iran, but what I indicated was policy goals. It's no secret the United States doesn't like Iran's support for terrorism, is concerned about their development of weapons of mass destruction, especially nuclear, is concerned about the human rights situation in Iran, believes that the voices that are calling for reform and change and more democracy in Iran deserve our support and appreciation. And so those are the fundamentals of the policy at any given moment.
Obviously, our concern about nuclear developments in Iran has only grown in recent months with the kind of information that has been coming out on Iran's nuclear fuel cycle. And obviously, equally obviously, we are engaged in an effort with governments that may have some form of nuclear cooperation with Iran to try to point out these new facts and make sure that they understand this is why we have opposed it all along.
The policy hasn't changed. The effort certainly has.
QUESTION: Does the United States have any plan to impose trade embargo against North Korea?
MR. BOUCHER: I couldn't answer a question like that at this point. As you know, we have looked for a peaceful and diplomatic solution to the problems in North Korea. All options are available to the President should he make any decision like that. But at this point, we're exploring opportunities to try to solve this peacefully and diplomatically.
QUESTION: Can I ask you about public diplomacy? Last week, you mentioned how some of the Arab press are misconstruing stories. Is there anything that the U.S. is actively doing about that, and could you just sort of talk about the public diplomacy ongoing efforts?
MR. BOUCHER: I think there's a lot of things going on. The first is we are perhaps a little more outspoken than usual on places and stories that we think jump to conclusions or are erroneous.
The second is that we are pretty active in briefing ourselves and trying to make ourselves available to the Arabic language press so that we have American officials appearing, I don't know, a dozen times a week on Arabic media of various kinds. Probably more than that if you start adding in all the work that our embassies do day after day after day.
As you know, Arabic language journalists have been welcomed in Doha. Some of them are embedded with U.S. forces. And we try to make available to them the kind of footage that we might have, for example, of the humanitarian efforts, as we do to media around the world, so that people can understand the true nature of what the United States is doing in Iraq and the fact that our goal is to help the Iraqi people. So we try to make that kind of information available to them.
QUESTION: There have been some reports over the weekend, editorials, talking about Secretary Powell's feeling about how this war is going. And could you speak to this? He's -- I know he has said that he endorsed the war plans, but he certainly didn't endorse Donald Rumsfeld and was a little bit hazy in terms of whether he thinks that his question of the Powell doctrine -- overwhelming use of force -- is being used.
MR. BOUCHER: Decisive. He has answered that question, like, a dozen times. And anybody who reads his transcripts and looks at what he says should have a quite clear view of how the Secretary feels about the things. Read the transcripts from last week and see how many times he was asked about the Powell doctrine, how many times he said "clear political goals, decisive use of force, this operation meets that standard;" how many times he said he has total confidence in the war planners and the people who are carrying out the plan; how many times he has said he is, you know, with the President on this one.
You see these very odd stories that sort of talk to somebody who is not reflecting the Secretary's views and where the Secretary's views are known not to be the same, and yet somehow what that person out there in the wilderness thinks is imputed to be -- to relate to the Secretary in some manner or the other. The fact that that person has views is great and may be important, but one shouldn't sort of confuse all the various views out there when the Secretary himself is so clear about what he thinks at this juncture.
QUESTION: Did the Powell doctrine call for decisive force and overwhelming use of force?
MR. BOUCHER: The Powell doctrine, as the Secretary frequently points out, including in each one of these interviews I'm referring you to, the Powell doctrine, I think, was codified by a journalist, and the way the Secretary usually puts it is decisive force.
QUESTION: Have these developments concerning Syria and Iran had any impact on making the decision on this trip to Ankara? Any impact?
MR. BOUCHER: I wouldn't say it had any particular impact on the trip to Ankara, no. The trip to Ankara is because we have an important ally with a lot of issues and things we want to do with that ally, and that we need to talk about the situation next door in Iraq, we need to talk about the future of Iraq, but we also need to talk about many other issues in our bilateral relationship. The economic situation in Turkey remains important to us and there is just a whole lot of other things. It's a key ally and a key place at a key moment, and that's why we're going there.
QUESTION: You don't think developments in Syria will not be on the table? I mean --
MR. BOUCHER: I didn't say that, either. But I don't know if we will discuss developments in Syria and Iran and the region or not at this point. We will have to see how the meetings work out. But the reason we are going is not - we are not going to Turkey to talk about Syria, we're going to Turkey to talk about Turkey, to talk about the region that Turkey is in, talk about what the United States and Turkey can do together as allies.
QUESTION: But you remember there was this meeting before the war, the peace initiative by Turkey and all these --
MR. BOUCHER: No, that's not what we're going to talk about, either. Okay, we had a gentleman over here. Sir.
QUESTION: I was wondering, a few days ago in Afghanistan the Governor of Herat, Ishmael Khan, met a -- apparently met a delegation of the U.S. Civil Affairs Office there. I was wondering if you had anything on that.
MR. BOUCHER: I don't have anything on that. I'll see if there's anything to say about it.
QUESTION: Moving back to North Korea for a second, one, the question was odd because isn't there already some sort of trade embargo on North Korea?
MR. BOUCHER: There are many sanctions still remaining on North Korea, but as you know, in the past, some of those have been lifted. I took the question to be do you intend to re-impose some of those. Maybe that wasn't the question, but that's the way I took it.
QUESTION: Okay. Well, then can you explain the imposition of the sanctions on North Korea that you did do, and, actually, perhaps explain why it wasn't, as I understand it, why it wasn't -- I mean, this is a question directed at the publishers of the Federal Register, but why it wasn't in there as it was supposed to have been?
MR. BOUCHER: Feel free to ask the publishers of the Federal Register. We submit things for publication and they decide when to publish.
On March 24th, the United States imposed missile proliferation sanctions on the North Korean entity, Changgwang Sinyong Corporation. Sanctions were imposed for its involvement in the transfer of Missile Technology Control Regime Category 1 items from North Korea that contributed to a Missile Technology Control Regime Category 1 missile program in a non-Missile Technology Control Regime country. Sanctions will be announced in the Federal Register shortly, I am assured.
That's as specific as I can get.
QUESTION: Okay. And can you talk about the entirely unrelated other sanctions that were imposed on a Pakistani company?
MR. BOUCHER: I didn't say that. But I can talk about the sanctions imposed on a Pakistani company.
On March 24th, the United States imposed nonproliferation penalties on the Pakistani entity, Khan Research Laboratories, pursuant to Executive Order 12938, as amended. Under this order, penalties are imposed on the Khan Research Laboratories for a material contribution to the efforts of a foreign country, person or entity of proliferation concern to use, acquire, design, develop or secure weapons of mass destruction and/or missiles capable of delivering weapons of mass destruction.
QUESTION: Okay. Now, I don't know how you're going to respond to this at all, but given the fact that these sanctions were imposed on the two -- the two sets of sanctions were imposed on the same day, should one draw any kind of conclusions from that?
MR. BOUCHER: I will leave it to you to draw whatever conclusions.
QUESTION: Is there any conclusion that the State Department is drawing between these two --
MR. BOUCHER: Not any conclusion I'm able to draw in public. I would be able to say that the -- I read you the law and the order with regard to the sanctions on Pakistan. Among the many possibilities that that contains these sanctions on Khan Research Laboratories were because of the importation of missiles.
QUESTION: The Iraqi civilian fighters that were caught in Iraq, are they going to be treated as war POWs according to Geneva Convention, or are they going to be sent somewhere like Guantanamo, or?
MR. BOUCHER: I think I have to leave it to the Pentagon to answer that question since these are people picked up on the battlefield at this moment. Whatever their exact legal status, I can tell you they'll be treated humanely, they'll be given due attention to their needs and to their comfort and their safety.
QUESTION: Richard, can I go back to this North Korea for one second? Sorry, I forgot this. It's my understanding that the sanctions on this North Korean entity actually apply not just to the North Korean entity, but to the Government of North Korea, as well. Is that correct?
MR. BOUCHER: I will see if I can get the exact reach of the --
QUESTION: Who would be familiar with the entities?
MR. BOUCHER: The entity is Changgwang Sinyong, C-h-a-n-g-g-w-a-n-g; and the second word Sinyong, S-i-n-y-o-n-g, Corporation.
Under U.S. law, there are different penalties if the sanctioned activity involves Missile Technology Control Regime Category I items. That would be missiles or major sub-systems versus Category II items. The penalty in this case is for Category I activity. In addition, it was determined that the activity made a substantial contribution to missile proliferation.
So, for a two-year period, the North Korean entity and its sub-units and successors will be denied all new individual export licenses for State license and Commerce license exports, all new U.S. Government contracts and all imports into the United States of products it produces.
In addition, because North Korea is a country with a non-market economy that is not a former member of the Warsaw Pact, the Helms Amendment to the missile sanctions law requires that these sanctions, except for the ban on Commerce licenses, be applied not just to the Changgwang Sinyong Corporation, but also to all activities of the North Korean Government relating to the development or production of Missile Technology Regime annex items or affecting the development or production of electronic space systems or equipment and military aircraft.
QUESTION: And, hopefully, won't get the same --
MR. BOUCHER: Is that clear?
MR. BOUCHER: At least it's long.
QUESTION: But in actual, in practical terms, there wasn't any business going on between the United States and the North Korean Government on this, in this area or between the U.S. -- U.S. companies and this North Korean company, you say?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know for sure if that extends to everything, but a good part of this, as you note, exports from the United States would already be covered on the bans for dual-use high-tech items or military items that wouldn't be sold to that. Whether this company or its subsidiaries, sub-units and successors had any exports to the United States or not, I don't know.
QUESTION: But it's safe to say that there is not really any -- the impact of this on this company is going to be -- is likely to be negligible and this is -- you're just doing this to get it out there and on the record?
MR. BOUCHER: Well, we do this as a matter of law, first of all. Second of all, we have to decide as a matter of law the appropriate penalties under the law. These are the appropriate penalties under the law. Whether they, you know, lose out right now or lose any future possibilities, that depends on a whole lot of other factors I can't predict at this point.
QUESTION: Do the sanctions on the Pakistani entity, do those apply solely to that entity or also to the government?
MR. BOUCHER: In the case of the Pakistani entity, they apply to the entity.
QUESTION: And why only to the entity in that instance?
MR. BOUCHER: It, as I explained, in North Korea's case, it was a non-former Warsaw Pact country and that has a different -- there is a different angle under the law that applies there.
QUESTION: Can we move on to the Israelis?
MR. BOUCHER: Sure.
QUESTION: Thank you. Just, I don't -- Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom said that, while not giving a timeline, that the Israelis would not negotiate until there was at least an effort to end the terror. Do you have any comment on this and does this jibe with what the Secretary, how the Secretary views the roadmap process once you guys publish it?
MR. BOUCHER: Our intention, as you know, is to publish the roadmap when the Palestinian Prime Minister is confirmed. In the meeting today, the Secretary and the Foreign Minister discussed that process of moving forward on peace, looking, understanding the plight of the Palestinian people, I think, on both sides, and seeing what we could do in terms of working with the new leadership that we see emerging on the Palestinian side.
The United States and Israel have been both looking for this kind of transformation that's occurring and we need to see how that can be made to work and whether the new prime minister and government, once they are confirmed, are able to take up the responsibilities of -- that would eventually lead to statehood.
So certainly ending the violence is the first priority. The Secretary made that abundantly clear last night in many ways, I think, several times during his speech. And that it is important before we should expect any significant progress on this road to know that we have to end the violence. We have to take away the uncertainty for people, the abnormality of people's lives. And we have to not only give the feeling of safety and security for Israelis, but also a sense of hope and opportunity for Palestinians, as well. And so I would say they discussed both sides of that today.
QUESTION: You have anything to say about the by-election in Zimbabwe?
MR. BOUCHER: The by-election in Zimbabwe. Yes, I do, as a matter of fact.
Candidates for the Opposition Movement for Democratic Change Party have defeated candidates from the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union Patriotic Front Party in parliamentary by-elections in Highfield and Kuwadzana, two high-density suburbs of Harare.
The United States calls on the Government of Zimbabwe to ensure that all parties to the elections peacefully accept the results. The Movement for Democratic Change victories occurred despite a political playing field that has been and remains far from level.
The pre-election period was marred by a substantial escalation in political violence perpetrated predominately by the government and ruling party supporters. In some instances, primarily on March 29th, diplomatic observers from the United States and other countries were subjected to intimidation by ruling party supporters.
Results of the March 29-30 elections were announced on March 31 by state radio and officials at the counting centers for the districts where ballots were tallied under observation of the two parties, polling agents and a representative of the Zimbabwe Election Support Network. [End]