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U.S. Department of State Daily Press Briefing

Daily Press Briefing
Richard Boucher, Spokesman
Washington, DC
March 27, 2003



1-4 United Nations Security Council Oil for Food Resolution
4-6 Future Leadership of Iraq
6-7 Contact with the Turkish Government about Northern Iraq
8 State Department Communications with Poland
10-12, 17 Coalition Member Support
16-17 Optimistic Nature of Department Commentary
18-21 The Arab Media/Iraqi Television


7 Response to President Chavez


9 Transfer of Russian Items to Iraqi Military


12-13 U.S. Ambassador to Canada’s Remarks on War in Iraq


14-15 Coordination with South Korean Government to Address Situation in North Korea
15 Secretary Powell’s Upcoming Meeting with the South Korean Foreign Minister


14 Expulsion of Iraqi Diplomats


15-16 Militia Groups


21 Potential Elimination of the UN Special Rights Rapporteur for Sudan


MR. BOUCHER: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. If I can, I'd like to call your attention to a couple things. First, about an hour ago, we put out a joint statement, Secretary Powell and Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, on the situation and the violence in Kashmir. So that's out for anybody who wants it.

Second of all, I call your attention to the fact that Under Secretary Grossman this afternoon is going to be speaking at the Foreign Service Club in connection with the release of a new publication by the American Foreign Service Association entitled, "Inside a U.S. Embassy." It will be an interesting event for all of you, so I hope people will be there. It's open to the press. Check with the Press Office.

And that's, I think, about as much as I have off the top. Be glad to take your questions.


QUESTION: -- a while ago that the U.S. and Britain will be willing to work closely on a UN Security Council endorsement of an appropriate post-conflict administration for Iraq. Does that coincide exactly with the U.S. view of the situation?

MR. BOUCHER: Let me remind you of what the President, the Prime Minister and the Prime Minister of Spain said in the Azores. They describe their vision of Iraq in the future, say, "In achieving this vision, we plan to work in close partnership with international institutions, including the United Nations, our allies and partners, and bilateral donors. We also propose the Secretary General be given authority on an interim basis to ensure humanitarian needs of the Iraqi people continue to be met through the Oil-for-Food program."

So, indeed, that work on both those elements is going forward. That's what Prime Minister Blair talked about in almost exactly the same words today. Both the Prime Minister and the President urged the United Nations Security Council to pass as quickly as possible the Oil-for-Food resolution. That work has continued in New York. There was another meeting this morning on the subject. Experts and ambassadors both reviewed the text yesterday. So we're working, trying to come to closure on that and trying to do that as soon as possible.

I think Ambassador Negroponte said this morning that we are close to -- we think we're close to being able to finish this, but I'm not sure we're quite there yet. It's important to all of us that the UN Secretary General be given this authority so that we can continue to deliver the goods under the Oil-for-Food program so that we can continue to put goods in the pipeline for the Iraqi people in the weeks and months to come.

As far as the broader issue, there is discussion of these broader issues about how the appropriate UN role can be defined for the transition, how the UN can help in terms of the humanitarian relief and the reconstruction phases.

QUESTION: And what about endorsement of the post-conflict administration for Iraq?

MR. BOUCHER: That would be part of this whole issue of the second relief and reconstruction phase, how the UN is involved in that. Those are issues that are being discussed. I think he and the President both said there are many aspects that still need to be worked out.


QUESTION: Can you flesh out some of the aspects that need to be worked out?

MR. BOUCHER: No, I don't think I can at this point. I think we'll have to leave that discussion to be a discussion with partners and other members of the Council at the appropriate time.

QUESTION: Well, I mean, without speaking for any of other members of the Council, can you see how this administration sees the UN role?

MR. BOUCHER: No, I think we'll want to discuss it with other members of the Council at the appropriate time.

The immediate need is to pass an Oil-for-Food resolution. That's where our focus is. We've also begun thinking and talking with some other members of the Council about some of these follow-on issues, but that will be a discussion that we have to have with other members of the Council in order to define all these things.

As the Secretary said yesterday, there is a UN role in the post-conflict situation in Iraq that will involve humanitarian aspects, coordination, as well, as Prime Minister Blair said, a UN role involved with the administration. But the goal in all this is to move from a military situation to a civilian one, to involve the United Nations in some role in that phase, and to get it all turned over to the Iraqi people as soon as possible.

QUESTION: But, wait, can I follow up on this one?


QUESTION: The Secretary said yesterday at his hearing that there would be some kind of UN chapeau. What does that mean?

MR. BOUCHER: That means hat. (Laughter.) No, I can't --

QUESTION: I understand what a chapeau is, but when you talk --

MR. BOUCHER: I can't define the kind of hat or -- no, I can't. I'm sorry to make the joke, but I can't define it any more than I have at this point. The initial resolution, Oil-for-Food, is a very high priority. And how then we get the UN coordination involved in the further phases after the conflict is not defined yet, partly because we're working, concentrating on the initial phase. But also, partly, it depends how the end of the conflict occurs.

QUESTION: Can I go to the Oil-for-Food for a second? I believe the Russians have said that they are willing to go with 45 days, or for Kofi Annan to have an interim 45-day period, at least initially. Is that something that you guys would -- is that something that's --

MR. BOUCHER: I am not going to negotiate the details of the resolution here. There have been still a number of issues to be resolved. I am not going to focus on any particular one.

QUESTION: Okay. So that is still unresolved. The other thing is --

MR. BOUCHER: No, I didn't say that either. I am just not going to go into particular aspects of a resolution that is still under discussion. When it's passed, we'll explain it. That's been our practice in the past; it's our practice now.

QUESTION: Well, that's fine except for the fact that you said that you are not going to -- so I shouldn't assume that that's still under negotiation just because you said that you are not going to go into points that are still under negotiation?

MR. BOUCHER: That's right.

QUESTION: Okay. And you don't want to talk about any of the stuff that has been ironed out, I take it, then?

MR. BOUCHER: That's right.

QUESTION: Okay. Now, Ambassador Negroponte, as you said, did say, that -- this morning that you were very close. He said by the end of the week. Now, this administration, by the end of the week seems to -- these kind of things seem to be in flux. Does that mean that you think that you can get this done tomorrow or Saturday?

MR. BOUCHER: Matt, we are working this as fast as we can. If we can get it done today, tomorrow, Saturday or Sunday, we are going to try to get it done. It's hard to predict with any specificity how 15 nations of the Security Council are going to act. And I am not going to try to predict that, you know, Sunday at 2 p.m. it will be done, or Saturday at 3 p.m. it will be done. We are trying to get this done. The Secretary-General wants it, we want it, the people of Iraq need it, and I think the Council is working hard on it.

QUESTION: Richard.

MR. BOUCHER: Well, okay.

QUESTION: Can you say how the Oil-for-Food resolution would affect the question of recognition of the Iraqi Government inside the United Nations, if it would have any effect at all?

MR. BOUCHER: I am not aware that it would.


MR. BOUCHER: It's a technical resolution, a humanitarian one. I think the Secretary said that yesterday.

QUESTION: Richard, I assume you have seen the statement put out by the Iraqi opposition in Salahuddin saying that they intend to declare a provisional government as soon as Iraq is liberated.

Did they coordinate this with you, and do you have any comment on their ambition, their aspirations?

MR. BOUCHER: I would repeat what we said before. We have certainly not changed our position. We think we have made very clear over the past few months that Iraq's future needs to be decided by the broadest possible grouping of Iraqis reflecting Iraq's diverse ethnic and religious makeup, and people from both inside and outside Iraq.

The views that the leadership committee established at the Iraqi opposition Salahuddin meeting, represent the segment of Iraqis who attended the meeting. Obviously, the vast majority of Iraqis living inside of Iraq under the tyranny of the current regime could not participate in these discussions or make their views known.

We've also made clear that we do not support the creation of a provision government by the outside Iraqi opposition at this time. We believe that creating a new government for the Iraqi people prior to the liberation of the country, before those Iraqis inside Iraq can make their views known, would disenfranchise the vast majority of Iraqis who continue to live under the brutal dictatorship of Saddam Hussein.

Once the conflict is over, it is the coalition's intent to establish an Iraqi interim authority to help with the transition. Ultimately, the only way that there will be a legitimate government is through free and fair elections.

The Iraqi interim authority must come from all Iraq's ethnic groups and regions, including Iraqis inside, Kurds and the external opposition. The exact mechanism for choosing the interim authority will be determined later, after the conflict is over, in consultation with the Iraqis.

QUESTION: So if the leadership council does go ahead with their plan to announce it, you would ignore it? Reject it?

MR. BOUCHER: At this point, that's a hypothetical. I think we've made our views clear and I think our views will be taken into account.


QUESTION: Did they notify you that they had planned on doing this?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't know. I don't know. The Presidential Envoy Zal Khalilzad is now in Northern Iraq, so I'm not in touch with him. I don't know if he got word in advance or not.


QUESTION: I'm Chinese journalist. I wanted to know why the Vice President Cheney, what delay his plan of visiting China? Because of the war?

MR. BOUCHER: I really don't have anything new on that at this point. You'd have to ask that question at the White House. They take care of his travel.


QUESTION: Richard, can I just go back to the statement for one second?


QUESTION: On Northern Iraq, you said, "I think our views will be taken into account."


QUESTION: That's based on -- since you haven't heard back from Zal, you don't know if they still -- so this is based on your understandings previous, prior to --

MR. BOUCHER: I was asked about a point in the future, in the much farther future than right now, whether once the brutal regime of Saddam Hussein is gone, whether they would do this or not. And I would say we've made our views known and I would expect that our views would be taken into account at that time.

Okay, Terri.

QUESTION: Is there any threat at this time to cut off funding, cut off support, if they go ahead and do this at an early stage? I mean, they are prepared to announce something like this long before Iraq is liberated, long before the views of the people inside Iraq, as you put it, are --

MR. BOUCHER: I have not made such a threat today.

QUESTION: No? Do you --

MR. BOUCHER: Would I like to? Not right now. I've made our views clear, I think.

Okay, sir.

QUESTION: -- did you reach any agreement about the Northern Iraq with the Turkish Government?

MR. BOUCHER: Well, as you know, the Turkish Chief of Staff, General Ozkok, has made statements on this, and I think really I'd first and foremost refer you to those statements.

Secretary Powell has made clear that we remain in close touch with the Turkish authorities on Turkey's concerns with respect to the situation in Northern Iraq. The Presidential Special Envoy to the Iraqi opposition, Zal Khalilzad, will return to Ankara Friday night for further discussions. But we do note yesterday's remarks by Turkish General Chief of Staff, General Hilme Ozkok, that Turkey would not initiate any uncoordinated troop movements into Northern Iraq.

QUESTION: How about the unique problem for the Turkey? Several -- not thousands, 10,000 PKK guerillas, they're based in the Northern Iraq. When you are discussing about the post-Saddam Iraq, did you find any solution for how do you handle these groups and how do you take care of these groups?

MR. BOUCHER: I would just say that we and the Turkish Government have been working very closely together. We want to make sure that Iraq stays together, that all the people in Iraq are fairly represented in the future government of Iraq. We have issued a statement together with the groups from Northern Iraq. We have worked together and we'll continue to work together to ensure, as I said the other day, that a situation does not arise in Northern Iraq that would cause such concern to Turkey that they would have to put troops in there.

QUESTION: On that, and I can't remember if you dealt with this on Monday, but in Sunday's Washington Post, in an interview with Erdogan, he said that Secretary Powell had approved the movement of Turkish troops into --

MR. BOUCHER: I think we dealt with that.

QUESTION: You already talked about that?


QUESTION: And you said that wasn't true?


QUESTION: Okay. Can I have another question, then?

MR. BOUCHER: No. (Laughter.) Yes.

QUESTION: Perfect. What do you make of Hans Blix saying that there's no evidence yet that Baghdad has used any banned weapons? He says weapons of mass destruction, but --

MR. BOUCHER: He is reporting what the CENTCOM briefing has been saying, right?

QUESTION: I don't know. He doesn't necessarily --

MR. BOUCHER: I think that sounds like the same thing that CENTCOM has been saying.

QUESTION: But what about these illegal missiles? I mean, a missile isn't, on its own, a weapon of mass destruction, but what do you have to say about that, that the missiles are going beyond their proscribed length?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't know I have information like that yet. You'd have to check with the Pentagon or CENTCOM on that.



QUESTION: (Inaudible) the countries in the Western Hemisphere have supported the coalition. How do you believe this is going to be reflected on the UN decisions that -- or, is the U.S. losing its leadership in the Western Hemisphere, as President Chavez of Venezuela said?

MR. BOUCHER: No. Simply put, no. That's not a logical argument or anything that has any basis in fact. The fact that there are some nations from the Western Hemisphere who want to stand up and be counted on this issue is important to us. We think it's an important fact that there are nations in the Western Hemisphere who want to participate one way or the other in freeing the Iraqis from the dictatorship that they live under, getting rid of the weapons of mass destruction that are a threat to the whole world, and contributing to a better life for the Iraqi people. We think the fact that people want to be part of that is important and is worth noting. And that's a positive thing, not a negative one.

QUESTION: How are they going to participate?

MR. BOUCHER: That's for each country to define and decide on its own.

QUESTION: On a similar issue, yesterday, after the President was down in Florida and gave his speech in which he talked about some of the other coalition members, mentioned the Poles and the Czechs, I think, in particular. After that, the Polish Defense Ministry -- or the Polish Government has said -- came out and said that they had asked through the State Department that the President and others not to mention the role of Polish troops so prominently because they didn't want it to be seen as propaganda.

And given the fact that the President, again today, in his press conference mentioned the presence of Polish troops as being forward deployed, I'm wondering if you guys got that message from the Poles and, if you did, did you pass it on to the White House?

MR. BOUCHER: I have no idea. The fact is that the Polish Government, itself, has talked about the presence of Polish troops. So that's not news to anybody.

QUESTION: No, no, it's not. They are not unhappy with being listed as a member of the coalition. They were just asking, according to the Polish Government, that they not be made such a -- not such a big deal about their -- you don't know anything about this?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't know anything about this, Matt. It's an interesting story, but really, the fact is that the President has cited nations who, themselves, have talked about their contributions.

QUESTION: It's not that it's a story. It's a fact of the Polish Government.

MR. BOUCHER: It's a fact they made the statement?

QUESTION: No, it's a fact that they said they asked you, through the -- they asked through the State Department --

MR. BOUCHER: All right. It's a fact they made the statement. I will check and see if we have anything to say.

QUESTION: Richard, on a related matter, has there been any contact with the Solomon Islands about their listing on the list of the coalition? Because I understand that they have actually issued a statement dissociating themselves from this coalition, whereas you still continue to list them. Do you know about any --

MR. BOUCHER: I will have to check on the Solomon Islands.

QUESTION: You don't know?

MR. BOUCHER: No. And let's not sneer at some of the small countries that are participating in this. I think I saw a very eloquent letter from one of their ambassadors that said he has children and nephews who are soldiers in the U.S. Army participating in coalition forces.

QUESTION: Richard, I notice the Secretary spent most of his morning at Camp David in meetings with the British, but can you update us on any phone calls he's made since we last saw you, and particularly if he's talked again to Ivanov about the Russian sales to --

MR. BOUCHER: He spoke yesterday with Foreign Minister Ivanov. I think he cited that in his hearings. He talked about that. Nothing since then because, as you note, he's been up at Camp David. He did meet with Foreign Secretary Jack Straw last night.

QUESTION: And other than a phone call, clearly he hasn't spoken to Ivanov. Have you gotten any indications since earlier in the week that the Russians are --

MR. BOUCHER: I don't have any new news on that point. The Russians told us that we're going to look seriously at this and get back to us, and so that's what we're looking for.

QUESTION: Powell said in an interview yesterday that they looked up all the information he had given them until -- I think it was until yesterday, and that they hadn't found any facts in the information that you had given them, although he did note that now they were getting more.

MR. BOUCHER: And he also noted that if they found that that something had happened, they would pursue criminal charges. So I think we'll have to wait for them to get back to us and see what they do find and what they are going to do.

QUESTION: But how can -- I mean, with Secretary Powell saying it's very credible evidence and Ivanov saying we didn't find any facts in that evidence, I mean, how do you bridge that?

MR. BOUCHER: Let's see what the Russians find and how they get back to us. Let's leave it at that.


QUESTION: A couple things, Richard. There was actually a report from a Washington newspaper about an interview that the Deputy Secretary had done with them yesterday, I think. It's on --

MR. BOUCHER: He talked to Izvestia yesterday.

QUESTION: And they quote him as saying that the United States is satisfied with what they've been getting from the Russian Government. Can we possibly get a transcript of that interview?

MR. BOUCHER: I'll check on it and see.

QUESTION: And the other thing is, the President and the Secretary yesterday gave two different numbers for the coalition. One of them said 47, the other one says 48. Could you just shed light on that? I mean, is that the coalition that people get off the normal list and is that --

MR. BOUCHER: No, I think generally we've been adding people to the list. And I'm not sure at what point people's briefing books were prepared, or points, or at what moment in the day people were added to the list. I actually think if you check the White House website today --

QUESTION: It's not there.

MR. BOUCHER: Is that right?

QUESTION: Well, maybe we couldn't find it. It's possible.

MR. BOUCHER: Well, I won't say what's on it. Lynn found it not too long ago. What was the number this morning?

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

MR. BOUCHER: No, she's not. Anyway, I'll leave surfing to others, but I think that's a place to check. At any given moment, there may be people added, yeah.

QUESTION: The White House website gives 48, but that doesn't include the unnamed help. Are there more unnamed ones now, or is it still 15, or is it fewer unnamed?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't have an estimate. There are other countries that are contributing or helping in a variety of ways who have not been named. But for the moment, we'll just leave it for the named ones.

QUESTION: Richard, another one -- I know you don't want to dwell on the list of the coalition members, but Ukraine appeared on the list for the first time the other day, and I'm wondering if that means that you guys now pretty much have decided to put the whole radar sales to Iraq behind you.

MR. BOUCHER: I think at the time when we talked about that and we talked about the other problems in Ukraine that had led to a strain in our relationship, we said these are important issues but the United States will cooperate with Ukraine in areas where we can. So I would just say this is an important and significant area where we found we can cooperate with the Government of Ukraine, where we do share some views in common, and therefore we'll work together. It doesn't necessarily resolve the other issues, it doesn't lessen our interest particularly in human rights, but it does mean that there are areas where we can find to cooperate when it's in both our interests.

QUESTION: Don't you find it a bit odd that you found a way to cooperate on Iraq when you say that the President of this country personally authorized the sale of radar equipment, illegal sale of radar equipment to Iraq?

MR. BOUCHER: I think the important thing is that we can cooperate in some ways, and in those ways we will cooperate.

QUESTION: Richard, on that, have the Ukrainians, in fact, offered any new information about the sale in the last -- since they went on the list?

MR. BOUCHER: I'll have to double-check. I'm not aware of anything new, but I'll have to double-check.

QUESTION: Those 12 countries, the unnamed countries, Saudi Arabia in particular, that even though they say they're -- (laughter). Well, you can say that it's a unnamed country, but we all know that it's a member of the coalition.

MR. BOUCHER: I don't know that they're on the list of unnamed that we had either, so I'm not going to name the unnamed.

QUESTION: I don't -- I'm not saying that it's on the list of your unnamed. I'm just saying --

MR. BOUCHER: All right. Just, if you want to ask about Saudi Arabia, ask about Saudi Arabia.

QUESTION: Okay. Or any other country that you have looked to in the past or right now for support. You list political support as one of the things that coalition countries are doing. How does it make you feel when countries that have traditionally been your allies are publicly bashing the U.S. role in Iraq and calling for you to get out? I mean, do you -- are all these members of the coalition, named or unnamed, providing political support?

MR. BOUCHER: There are many countries in the world that are cooperating and helping in ending Saddam Hussein's rule in Iraq, disarming Iraq, and leading to a better future for the Iraqi Government. Some of these people are named as members of the coalition. Some of these people are contributing in very significant ways, might not be named. And others may not wish to associate themselves with that particular goal.

At the same time, I think it's evident to all that U.S. military operations, coalition military operations, are not done in a total vacuum, and that we are able to achieve these goals of providing a better future for the people of Iraq, and getting rid of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction with the support and cooperation of a variety of countries.

What matters to us right now is that we have the ability to carry this out because this is an important endeavor. It's necessary for our security and the security of others, it's necessary to achieve the UN's goals, and it's necessary to give a better life back to the Iraqi people. So I don't think we start dividing people up into classes, or rating them, or saying, well, you know you can't help us in this way because you wouldn't help us in that way. We appreciate the support that's provided. We appreciate those who may be helping with one aspect.

Some may be involved in military operations. Others may be involved in the future of Iraq. Others may be, you know, willing to help for logistical and humanitarian reasons, at this point, but not for other reasons. So whatever the support is, whatever the cooperation is, we appreciate it. We have got a job to do, we're going to get it done, and once it's done we will all be better off for it.

QUESTION: But even if a country is providing whatever kind of support they are providing, if they are going out publicly and condemning the United States for what it's doing right now, is that helpful? Is that -- would that -- would you consider them an ally?

MR. BOUCHER: I am not talking about a particular country. I am not considering anybody a particular ally in this or not. The fact is we think we are doing the right thing. Many other countries think we are doing the right thing. Many countries are prepared to support it and cooperate with it, and we will be successful. And I think people will more and more, as time goes on, see that this was a necessary operation and a positive one.

The fact that some people criticize us right now is not news. I mean, we have seen this from the start. But the fact is we know we are doing the right thing, and we are going to succeed.

QUESTION: Richard, in terms of -- I know that you have said that you are not going out and buying support or even, you know, trying -- bribing people for support. But there are some benefits to being on the coalition. Yesterday, you guys announced that you were streamlining the arms export control rules processing for countries that are members of the coalition.

And I'm wondering if: (a) that applies to just armaments and weapons that will be used in terms of a conflict with Iraq; and, too, if it applies to the unnamed countries, or is it only the countries that are willing to be publicly "outed," so to speak? Are they the only ones that get this?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't know. I'll try to get you an answer on that.

QUESTION: You are aware of what I'm talking about though, right?

MR. BOUCHER: I am aware of what you are talking about. We did the same thing in Operation Enduring Freedom, I think, to make sure that military supplies for people that are cooperating with us on this operation are able to flow freely without any bureaucratic hindrance, and so we have expedited license processing.

What exact list of countries it applies to, I don't know if we put out a list, or if somebody orders some things from us and says, "Hey, I need this to support Operation Iraqi Freedom," and we'll put it on the fast track."


QUESTION: Thank you. The U.S. Ambassador to Canada said in his speech that the U.S. was not only disappointed, but upset that Canada didn't support the war on Iraq. He also said that security trumps trade. Is that coming from the Secretary of State? No diplomat would say such things unless they --

MR. BOUCHER: I've said worse. Ambassador Cellucci's remarks were an accurate reflection of our disappointment at recent Canadian actions, particularly the decision not to support the coalition to liberate Iraq.

QUESTION: I have a follow-up.


QUESTION: Is the President still going to Canada in May?

MR. BOUCHER: Again, that is the same kind of White House question about travel by the President or the Vice President.

Okay. Can we finish up and go to the back? Same subject.

QUESTION: No, different.

MR. BOUCHER: You don't want to ask about Canada?

QUESTION: I do want to ask about Canada.


QUESTION: Yesterday, the Liberal Party also said that they thought that there should be some sanctions against Cellucci and that they would -- they would consider this serious enough to call home the Canadian Ambassador. Do you think that this -- since you think this accurately reflects the Department, is this just making much ado about nothing, or does it concern you that the Canadians are this upset about it?

MR. BOUCHER: I am not going to comment on political statements by various political parties up there. Obviously, we will keep in touch with the Canadian Government, if they have anything to say with us. But what Canada decides to do with its Ambassador is also its own decision, not ours.

QUESTION: But this is part of the debate in Canada, and some people are saying -- some prominent members of parliament are saying we do actually support the U.S. And what are your thoughts on the division within Canada about this?

MR. BOUCHER: I think Canada is a great democracy, and there is a lot of different views, and they are all very interesting.

Okay, ma'am.

QUESTION: I want to talk to you about Korea. President Roh of South Korea has really emphasized that that a strong alliance with United States is essential for South Korea to get -- ensure a bigger role -- I mean, bigger role towards the peaceful solution of ongoing North Korean nuclear standoff.

By the way, North Korea insist only direct talk between United States and North Korea will solve the problem. What would be the real role the United States expect from South Korea in this North Korea nuclear crisis?

MR. BOUCHER: The United States, first of all, has worked very closely with South Korea and with Japan throughout this period of North Korea's first admitting they were developing a nuclear enrichment program, and then taking a number of steps that broke its agreements with the international community, including its agreements with South Korea on the denuclearization of the peninsula.

So we have coordinated throughout very, very closely with South Korea and with Japan. We have been working on a peaceful and diplomatic solution to these issues. That is something we have agreed with our partners in the endeavor, something the Secretary discussed when he was there at President Roh's inauguration. And so, we have continued to coordinate very closely with South Korea as we go forward.

We do think this can be solved diplomatically and peacefully. We have been exploring the ideas that were developed during that trip and will see where that leads us.


QUESTION: Any comment on the expulsion of the Jordanian of five Iraqi diplomats, and then reinstating more?

MR. BOUCHER: I haven't tried to comment on any particular country's actions in that regard. We have, as you know, talked to a great many countries about expelling, first, Iraqi intelligence officers who posed a threat to U.S. missions; and then, second of all, terminating the -- suspending the operation of Iraqi embassies.

So, in particularly with regard to the expulsion of intelligence officers, I think there has been quite a number who have been -- I'd say significant progress along those lines. I don't think I am in a position to give you a number.

QUESTION: Can we go back to Korea?


QUESTION: Yesterday, also, North Korea pulled out of the -- the command that monitors the demilitarized zone. I know that there has already been a comment from the military side. But, yesterday, Secretary Powell said in his hearing that -- he was asked what progress is being made. And he said we'll still working it, and I have done something on it as recently as an hour-and-a-half ago, something like that. Could you explain what he -- what he was talking about?


QUESTION: Nobody asked about that. I couldn't believe they --

MR. BOUCHER: No, I haven't had a chance to ask him since then.

QUESTION: Do you remember him saying it?


QUESTION: Okay. Will you check on it?

MR. BOUCHER: I will.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: Does he meet with this South Korean tomorrow?

MR. BOUCHER: Monday. South Korean Foreign Minister? Oh, it's the 28th? Well, that would be tomorrow then. Okay.

QUESTION: Can you confirm the Australian Foreign Minister on Monday?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't think I can yet.


MR. BOUCHER: Yes, sir.

QUESTION: Is there any more contact with Iran over the --

QUESTION: That's the question.

MR. BOUCHER: That's the question. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: Sorry, Eli.

MR. BOUCHER: Not aware of anything new on that front. That's something I'll have to check on as well.

QUESTION: Can I follow up on that?


QUESTION: The Iranian Foreign Minister yesterday released a statement saying that they would not allow militia groups over their border. Do you have any comment or reaction to that? It seems that --

MR. BOUCHER: I didn't see the statement. You know our position on -- I guess I don't know exactly what we're talking about here. Our position on Northern Iraq has always been that no groups like that should come in.

QUESTION: Right, right.

MR. BOUCHER: But I don't know. I didn't see the statement, so I can't comment.

QUESTION: Right. Can I ask a question that I doubt you might be able to answer? But had the U.S. made any kind of direct requests to the Iranians with regard to movement of any militia groups over their border, not just in the north, but also in the south?

MR. BOUCHER: I think that's the kind of detail of our discussion with the Iranians that we are not usually in a position to put out.

Okay, Betsy.

QUESTION: Richard, I have sort of a general question about the language that was used before this conflict started by not only this building, but other buildings as well, which I know you don't speak for, but if you could handle this building's part of it. There was some very optimistic language about how this would all go, and the coalition and how this would all work.

And I'm wondering if that optimistic language is now beginning to hinder you when things are not going as well as you would like. You're meeting a lot of opposition at the UN trying to get this new resolution, now that things seem to be bogging down, according to some people?

MR. BOUCHER: I think the military has dealt quite successfully with the issues of bogging down, and everybody continues to say it's on track. I am, frankly, not aware of any overly optimistic statements from this building or even from other buildings about the military progress, nor on the prospects of what would happen when we went back to the United Nations for other resolutions, nor on, I don't know, any of the other issues that you sort of referred to.

The fact is this is a war. This is a very difficult and dangerous enterprise. We are all aware of that. The people making the decisions -- the President, the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of State -- they are very aware of that and I think they've been quite clear in their comments that this is a dangerous and difficult enterprise and that we will pursue it to its end because it's important to do and because it's important to the world to get rid of these weapons of mass destruction, to end the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein, and to give a better life to the Iraqi people. Nobody ever said this was easy.


QUESTION: Can I follow up on that?


QUESTION: But even so, I mean, before the actual hostilities started, before you even decided that diplomacy had reached its course, it did seem as if administration-wide, you expected a greater level of support. And I know you say you have a coalition -- named, unnamed, whatever. Can you say whether you're surprised that you didn't have even more support than you do right now? Did you think that --

MR. BOUCHER: No, we've never claimed the whole world would stand up and applaud. We have never claimed --

QUESTION: Not applaud, but support your goal of disarming Saddam Hussein.

MR. BOUCHER: We have very significant support. The goal of disarming Saddam Hussein has even greater support. I mean, if you ask those people who are opposed to military action, they are all supporting the idea of disarming Saddam Hussein. Where we parted on this one is the question of how we do it and when we do it.

And certainly for the United States and a great many other countries, we felt that the final opportunity had been missed. Saddam Hussein has refused to disarm, he's refused to change his behavior vis-à-vis his own people and the world and the inspectors, and therefore that this job had to be done. But I don't think that we ever predicted that there would be a sudden -- people who would oppose military action at this time would, seven days after combat began, suddenly admit they were wrong and become supporters.

There is an effort underway militarily, and the product of that effort will be a better Iraq, a less dangerous Iraq for all of us and a better Iraq for the people of Iraq. We want those people to benefit first. After that, we can talk about who supported it and who didn't.

QUESTION: Richard, (inaudible) when and if America wins the war, do you expect all those people who are opposing you now to come on board?

MR. BOUCHER: We'll see. That's up to them. What we know is we're doing the right thing. And when it is over, as it will be, it will be increasingly obvious to everybody that we have done the right thing.

QUESTION: If I could follow up, would one measure of victory in the war be when all these countries that you've asked to expel the current ambassadors actually do so?

MR. BOUCHER: One measure of victory in this war will be victory in this war. The one measure of victory in this war is the end of the regime that has stockpiled these weapons and brutalized its people, and an end to the weapons and an end to the brutality that's been perpetrated against the Iraqi people. That's the goal.

QUESTION: Yesterday, European Union, they criticize the United States in this war. Do you have any reaction?



MR. BOUCHER: I'm sorry.


QUESTION: How do you view the Arab media newspaper reports? Is it sort of inflaming the situation? And also, a day ago the Arab television channel or network was put off the air temporarily. Was that ultimately a military decision or is it any --

MR. BOUCHER: I think you're talking about Iraqi television.


MR. BOUCHER: That's a military decision the Pentagon can explain.

And as far as the general Arab press, I have avoided from this podium trying to make commentary on what the people who listen to me actually write, except in cases when I could say they were wrong. And I'm afraid many in the Arab press have been misconstruing things and inflaming things.

All we ask is, frankly, a fair hearing, that they look at the various views, that they look at the facts; that they not jump to conclusions. We have this situation in the marketplace in Baghdad where many people jumped to the conclusion that it must have been the U.S. bombing that had done it. Now it's at least fair to say, as the CENTCOM briefers did today, that with the Iraqis firing unguided missiles everywhere and the fact that we didn't have any targets in that vicinity, it's at least fair to say it's entirely possible it was an Iraqi missile that came down in that marketplace.

So all we ask is what we normally ask: look at all the facts, treat them fairly, don't jump to conclusions, and print the facts not only of who died, but print the facts of who's been rescued, who's been liberated and who's been fed. And increasingly, more and more people are going to be liberated, more and more people are going to be rescued, and more and more people are going to be fed.

QUESTION: Apparently, most of the time you are interested only in TV media. I mean, the print media like --

MR. BOUCHER: No, we got very interested in some print media the other day.

QUESTION: Well, we've been asking for interviews with the Secretary of State or lower and we couldn't, you know, for weeks we've been asking and they are ignoring us.

MR. BOUCHER: I will be glad to do print media interviews. I think we've actually done quite a few.

QUESTION: Which one? Tell us. I haven't seen any print media.

MR. BOUCHER: I will go back and look, but we have.

QUESTION: Richard, can I follow up on your earlier comment?

MR. BOUCHER: Who talked to Al-Hayat yesterday? Armitage.

QUESTION: No, that's LBC, not Al-Hayat.

MR. BOUCHER: Well, they are connected, I mean, they are together, you know. All right. We'll --

QUESTION: Richard, did you mean to suggest that the reporting in the Arab media on that specific incident of whatever happened on that marketplace or street was specifically misconstrued and inflamed?

MR. BOUCHER: The problem is, talking about the Arab media is like talking about the English language media. It spans the whole world. It spans a vast region of different views in different countries.

There have been people in Arab language media who automatically assumed that the United States was responsible for this and were portraying it as some kind of American atrocity. But we don't think it's fair to jump to that conclusion. We don't think the facts support it. And indeed, as more facts are developed -- and we're very careful about investigating these things, and CENTCOM in particular is very careful about telling everything that they can find out -- and as the facts have been developed, it's entirely possible that was not a U.S. missile.

QUESTION: Richard, a couple of things. You said that you got very interested in a couple of newspapers earlier this week. What were you referring to in terms of --

MR. BOUCHER: Just some stories that we had to knock down.

QUESTION: You don't have to name the media. If you would that would be great, but what were the stories?

MR. BOUCHER: Oh, there was one story out there that we had bombed a particular mosque and so we went and did some location searches and found out very clearly that we did not -- that coalition forces had bombed the mosque, and it turned the thing's still standing and doing fine.

QUESTION: When you said -- at the very top of that you said that, "I'm afraid that many in the Arab press have been misconstruing things that I, meaning you --

MR. BOUCHER: Did I say "I?"

QUESTION: I thought you did. Well, considering the -- well, all right. Maybe not you personally, but the Secretary yesterday made -- took great points on the Hill that he had just done interviews with three Arab media and you're doing one this afternoon, I understand.


QUESTION: That's correct? Has there been a problem in the way these interviews have been conducted? Are you simply talking about actual news reporting and not interview type --

MR. BOUCHER: I'm not going to be a commentator on media reporting any more than I have already. It's one thing to say sort of generally that there are these problems out there. We are doing what we can to help people with accurate and detailed information. We are doing what we can to help people with clear statements of U.S. views so that if anybody wants to know what we think, they have a chance to watch and to hear.

Okay. Last one.

QUESTION: Quickly, a follow-up on my question. There were television reports by some of the people, especially down near Basra, saying we have maybe four to six weeks of stored food, we don't need food. Is that just propaganda-type lies, or --

MR. BOUCHER: No, there are places like that. And, in fact, I think if you talk to some of the UN people, the ration system has been fairly full for a while, and have been passing out rations.

But the issue is to start right away, as the fighting continues, and as different parts of Iraq are affected, to make sure that the distribution system stays full, to make sure that the system stays full, to make sure that there is access for humanitarian goods, to make sure that people who may be cut off from normal channels of distribution have a way of getting the food, the medicine, the other supplies that they need.

That's why Oil-for-Food is important, not because it's going to feed somebody tomorrow, but because you need to keep the pipeline full so that the goods can continue flowing, so the civilian needs of Iraqis are taken care of on an ongoing basis, so we don't hit a hole in that.

That's why it's important to open the port of Umm Qasr and start moving the goods and the food in there, take care of the people in that immediate vicinity; and then, as the military conflict proceeds to other areas and they get secure, then those supplies can be distributed onward. But you need to have the stuff there and moving already in the first stages if, you know, some time from now they are going to get farther up in the country.

QUESTION: I have got three very brief ones. One, are you aware of any -- there seem to be some rumblings now again in Havana about possibly kicking out or expelling Mr. Cason. Are you aware of anything new on that front, other than what was going on now?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't know of anything new. I'll have to check.

QUESTION: Okay. Did you have anything to say about the Chechnya election referendum?

MR. BOUCHER: We did, and I forgot, and we'll get it for you.

QUESTION: Okay. And the last thing is, yesterday, the Secretary, up on the Hill, was asked about an apparent move by some in the UN Human Rights Commission to -- I think it was -- the question was about eliminating the position of UN Special Rights Rapporteur for Sudan. And the Secretary said that he had seen these reports, and that he had -- well, and --

MR. BOUCHER: He said he had spoken to the Secretary General about them, yeah.

QUESTION: So is there -- what is it that you guys are worried about here? You're worried -- and is it correct that you think that the -- that the Libyans are leading this charge and may be backed by the French or other members of the EU?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't know who's leading or backing. But this is an issue that did come up, apparently, at the UN Human Rights Commission that people are agitating for this. We think it's not the right thing to do. It's certainly not the time to do this; that the human rights problems in Sudan continue. And we have made that view clear to others. And the Secretary, as you know, did discuss the issue with the Secretary General.

QUESTION: Also on the Commission, any decision yet on whether you are going to go with the China -- go for a China resolution?

MR. BOUCHER: Nothing new on that, at this point.