State Dept Daily Press Briefing – 11th November

Published: Tue 14 Nov 2000 09:36 AM
State Dept Daily Press Briefing – 11th November
Yemen – Kuwait – Middle East Peace Process – Qatar – US Presidential Election – Russia – Yugoslavia – APEC – Mexico – Indonesia – Department Terminology
U.S. Department of State
00/11/09 Daily Press Briefing
Office of the Spokesman
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE Daily Press Briefing Index Thursday, November 9, 2000
BRIEFER: Richard Boucher, Spokesman
YEMEN 1..... Alleged Escape of Four Suspects in USS Cole Attack 4-5..... Positive, Productive Cooperation with USG in Investigation of USS Cole Attack; Progress in Discussion of Interrogations
KUWAIT 1-2..... Arrest of Three Suspects for Planning Terrorist Attack; Security of AmCits in Kuwait
MIDDLE EAST PEACE PROCESS 2-4..... Israeli Military Helicopter Attack on PLO Officials; Killing of Fatah Leader Hussein Abayat 3-4..... Continuing Violence 3-6.....Secretary Albright Meeting Today w/ PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat; Goals of Ending Violence, Sharm el-Sheikh Implementation, Return to Peace Process 6-7.....US View of Proposal for an International Protection Force 7-8.....USG Expectations for Peace Talks Under Current Administration 11.....No Details of Sharm el-Sheikh Fact Finding Committee Members Mitchell, Rudman Role in Arafat Mtg; Initial Steps of the Committee; No Overlap Between Arafat & Baraq
QATAR 4.....Qatari Closure of Israeli Trade Office in Doha
U.S. PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION 8-9.....International Reaction to US Elections; Libya Criticism of U.S. Democratic Process 8-9.....Absentee Ballots of American Citizens Abroad; U.S. Embassy Informational Role 9.....Possibility of OAS, Other Assistance Not Raised 9-10.....No USG Guidelines for American Embassies to Explain Current Election Process
RUSSIA 11.....Edmond Pope Trial; US Denied Consular Access; Medical Exam Results Received 1-12.....POTUS Routinely Raises Issue of Edmond Pope with Putin
YUGOSLAVIA 12.....Will Jim O'Brien Travel to Belgrade? 12.....Progress on Bilateral Diplomatic Front Expected Soon
APEC 12.....Secretary Albright to Participate with POTUS in APEC Leaders' Meetings, Separate Bilats in Brunei; No Albright Travel to Vietnam; Secretary Albright Returns to D.C. From Brunei 12-13.....Under Secretary Larson Represents U.S. at APEC Ministerial w/ USTR Barshefsky and Commerce Secretary Mineta
MEXICO 13-15.....Flores Execution Case in Texas; State Department Actions, Secretary Albright Letter to Foreign Secretary Green; Next Steps 15.....Mexico Government Delayed Involvement in Process
INDONESIA 15-16.....Amb. Gelbard Meetings in Washington; Discussion of Situation in Indonesia and U.S. Interests: Democratization, Stability, Ethnic Conflict; Sea Lanes; Business Presence; US Citizens
DEPARTMENT TERMINOLOGY 16-17.....Use of "States of Concern" Versus "Rogue States" on "West Wing"; Interagency Coordination 17.....No Aaron Sorkin Consultations with Secretary Albright
DPB # 113
MR. BOUCHER: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I don't have any statements or announcements. I would be glad to take your questions.
QUESTION: There are reports that four suspects in the attack on the USS Cole escaped shortly after the incident. Do you have anything on that?
MR. BOUCHER: No, I don't. I just saw those reports, and we haven't been able to check on that yet. So I may be able to get you something later. We'll see.
QUESTION: Have you seen the report about the Kuwaiti Government announcement on the arrest of three suspects wanted for planning a terrorist attack?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't think I've seen the Kuwaiti Government announcement yet. We certainly have ongoing and excellent cooperation with the Kuwaiti Government about possible threats to the United States, threats to Kuwait, threats to others in the region. This is an active cooperation that we have established in recent years with all the governments of the region in dealing with threats to all of us. So we certainly have active cooperation with Kuwait. We are discussing these particular arrests with the Government of Kuwait, but I don't really have any more detail for you at this stage.
QUESTION: Have you increased the security at the US Embassy and Embassy employees in Kuwait?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't think we actually -- in our form of maintaining security, we don't actually handle things that way. We make sure that Embassies are at a high state of vigilance all the time. As you know, we had an announcement a week or two ago, maybe two weeks ago, that went public that mirrored what we have advised our people internally, that there was a threat of terrorist attack in a broader region. I think it was the Persian Gulf, Arabia and Turkey.
This kind of reported arrest of suspects and people that might have been planning or working on such a thing I think confirms the warning that we issued, and during this time we have maintained a very high state of vigilance.
QUESTION: Before you said we were discussing these particular arrests with the Government of Kuwait. Now you just said this kind of reported arrest. Have the Kuwaitis actually told you guys that these arrests have been made?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know quite at what stage we are in this, whether I can confirm that they have confirmed to us. I haven't seen their public statement. I don't have the response back yet from the Kuwaiti side, but we understand they have made these arrests and we are talking to them about them.
QUESTION: So we don't need to say that you said it was a reported arrest?
MR. BOUCHER: Well, you can because I said that, but that's not as significant --
QUESTION: But we don't have to. (Laughter.)
MR. BOUCHER: You don't have to.
QUESTION: What do you have to say about the killing of Fatah leader Hussein Abayat?
MR. BOUCHER: I think the answer there is not a whole lot either. At this stage, we are certainly aware of it. We have made clear that it is important to end the violence, end the cycle of violence. That is one of the things that we will be discussing with Chairman Arafat today and with Prime Minister Barak on Sunday.
The incident today does raise serious issues. The reports indicate that it was an attack by an Israeli helicopter that resulted also in two civilian deaths in addition to the people being attacked. And we will be looking into the matter further through our Consulate and Embassy.
QUESTION: What are the serious issues that it raises? Whether assassinating people is a good idea? I mean, the Israelis have basically said that they intended to kill this guy. I mean, is that something that you wouldn't comment on?
MR. BOUCHER: No, I think the various issues that need to be considered will be considered. I don't want to try to do a list at this point.
QUESTION: What are the serious issues that it raises?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't want to try to do a list at this point.
QUESTION: Well, can you give us an idea?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't want to try to do a list at this point.
QUESTION: I'm not asking for a list but, you know, you say "serious issues."
MR. BOUCHER: Yes, you are.
QUESTION: I don't know how you can get -- I don't know why we should let you get away with just saying "serious issues" and not explaining, you know, what kind. Maybe not exactly what they are, but at least what kinds of issues they are. Does it have to do with, you know, with specific targeting of people or does it have to do --
MR. BOUCHER: What I would say is that the issues that we are concerned about are the circumstances and the facts of the situation, first. And obviously, if there are broader implications, those will result from a better understanding of the facts, so we'll be looking into it more through our Embassy and our Consulate in order to understand better the circumstances of the attack.
QUESTION: But on several occasions in the midst of saying -- telling both sides that you want the violence to stop, there have been quite direct suggestions that Arafat needed to do more to stop the violence. Is this an indication that Israel also -- I mean, are you prepared to say that Israel -- to specifically say Israel needs to calm down?
MR. BOUCHER: I will say again today what I have said before: We think it is incumbent on both sides to carry out their commitments; we think it is incumbent on both sides to do everything they can to immediately implement the understandings and commitments that were reached at Sharm el Sheikh.
QUESTION: Does targeting the Fatah leader constitute a violation or somehow not living up to the Sharm el Sheikh agreement?
MR. BOUCHER: Once again, we have tried not to do a scorecard on a daily basis on specific actions, so I'm not going to start today.
QUESTION: Can we talk about overall trends in violence? Do you feel like the violence has remained at the same level, or do you see that there may be some increase in the methods, the type, the overall situation on the ground?
MR. BOUCHER: It certainly varies from day to day. I suppose if you compare it on an overall basis that there is a lower level of violence now, and I think each of the parties has generally credited the other side with trying to take some steps. At the same time, as long as the violence continues, as long as the deaths of people continue, as long as the fighting continues, we think both sides need to continue taking steps and fully implement these commitments.
QUESTION: Well, would you consider targeting specific leaders as a new -- a change in what we have seen --
QUESTION: Does it help the process?
MR. BOUCHER: Again, you are asking me on a daily basis to sort of condemn this, comment on that, give a grading on this and that. I'm not going to take out one particular incident and highlight it. There are clearly many things that people have to do in order to implement the Sharm el Sheikh commitments.
QUESTION: But, clearly, when two sides are looking at what the situation is, we haven't asked you to comment on all 177 deaths or whatever it is that we're at now. But when it's someone who is quite visible and symbolic, you don't see any importance or significance in that?
MR. BOUCHER: Certainly we see some significance, and that is why I said this is a serious matter and we want to look into it. We want to know the facts. We want to understand the circumstances more.
QUESTION: Have you examined the comments by Israeli military leaders on this incident in which they basically say that this is a new tactic of theirs? I mean, there doesn't seem to be much doubt about it. I don't know why you're being so reluctant to --
MR. BOUCHER: Well, I would say, first of all, I am being consistent. This was discussed a week or so ago, I think, when Deputy Defense Minister Sneh had some comments. We are going to try not to -- we have not tried to comment on every development, statement or tactic that is being used. We are trying to say that there is a lot more the parties can do on both sides to implement Sharm.
QUESTION: Do you have any comments on the decision of Qatar -- or Qatar, as it is said in some places -- to close their Israeli trade office, apparently under pressure from the upcoming Islamic summit?
MR. BOUCHER: I think in general we would say we think that those relationships are important to maintain.
MR. BOUCHER: Period.
QUESTION: Can I go back to Yemen for a second? Can you give us a status on the cooperation between the US and the Government of Yemen and whether or not you are any closer to an agreement, written or otherwise, of cooperation?
MR. BOUCHER: Okay, quick answers. Cooperation we consider productive and positive in the investigation. There are, of course, differences in our investigative procedures and legal systems that will have to be worked on on an ongoing basis. It will be an ongoing dialogue.
As far as identifying the more specific modalities that we need to use to continue the process, we are making progress in those discussions, but we don't have anything particularly finished yet. But there is an ongoing process where we are working out things as we go along. We are also, as you know, working on an understanding on the overall arrangements. That's not done, but we are making progress in those discussions as well.
QUESTION: On the particular question of arrangements for interrogations, have you come to -- you say you're making progress. Have you come to any preliminary agreement on those aspects?
MR. BOUCHER: I think I said we don't have a conclusion or an agreement on those issues yet.
QUESTION: So how do you know you're making progress, then?
MR. BOUCHER: Because we're making progress.
QUESTION: Maybe you're getting fairly friendly. I don't know how you can make progress unless you've actually achieved something already.
MR. BOUCHER: Are you guys just out here to give me a hard time today? What's up? (Laughter.)
Look, we can make progress in discussions without reaching a conclusion. I'd like to be making progress in this briefing room and also reach a conclusion. But the point is, we're discussing this issue with the Yemeni Government; we need to work out the arrangements; we are making progress in terms of working out the arrangements, but we haven't pinned down all the details yet, and we can't say that we have --
QUESTION: You've pinned down some?
MR. BOUCHER: We've pinned down some of it. We've got some understandings on it. We're making progress, but we haven't reached a conclusion. That's kind of what I said before, and I'll say it again.
QUESTION: This is an easy one. It goes back to the Middle East. What are the Secretary's hopes, what are the White House's hopes, to come out of the meeting today with Arafat?
QUESTION: Do you have a schedule for -- a little bit firmer schedule on --
MR. BOUCHER: Well, let's take separate questions separately, if we can.
In terms of the discussions, I think as have said before, first and foremost, we want to look at the question of the implementation of the Sharm el Sheikh commitments and the ways to end the violence and restore calm. We need to discuss those issues. We need to try to get clearer understandings and progress in that direction. Clearly, ending the violence should be the first priority for all of us. There has been too many lives lost and too many innocents killed.
Our goal is also to look at the broader aspects of Sharm el Sheikh, to look at the ways of moving forward that were also discussed at Sharm el Sheikh, and to see if we can find a pathway back to the peace process.
Next question?
QUESTION: When is he coming? Will he be meeting with the Secretary separately? What is the schedule?
MR. BOUCHER: He will be meeting with the Secretary separately after the meetings with the White House, but I don't have a final time for that meeting. They will take place this afternoon.
QUESTION: Well, are they meeting here or in the White House?
MR. BOUCHER: It was expected to be here, but if they -- they may have set it up at the White House in the time that I was out here preparing. So we'll double check.
QUESTION: Half an hour ago, then?
MR. BOUCHER: It was expected to be here, but the time might have been moving; and given that the time might have been moving, that may have led to a change of venue as well. So what you say is plausible, but I can't confirm it yet.
QUESTION: Has there been any softening on the US position to support an international protection force for the Palestinians?
QUESTION: You are dead-set opposed to a UN -- an international force under the UN mandate, but this Department has in the past said that it would be willing to listen to the Palestinians' demand for some kind of an international force; is that not correct? I mean, you may not support them, but you're not going to tell them, "Don't even bring it up, because we're not going to listen to it," right?
MR. BOUCHER: Is that an assertion or a question?
QUESTION: It's a question. I want to make -- is it true?
MR. BOUCHER: Clearly this idea is going to be discussed. The meetings are ongoing. I don't know if Chairman Arafat is raising it with the President now. We expect that there will be some discussions up in New York as well with the Security Council, probably tomorrow.
The point of view of the United States is that we don't believe -- as we have said before -- we don't believe this is the time for UN initiatives, UN resolutions. We don't think that's where the solution lies. We think the immediate implementation of the commitments of Sharm el Sheikh is first and foremost the item on the agenda, and the best way to ensure that the violence subsides.
QUESTION: Well, can you say anything about the possibility of a non-UN type of international presence or something --
MR. BOUCHER: I don't want to get into speculation on varieties or permutations. What is being discussed, requested and otherwise proposed seems to be a UN force, and we are against that.
QUESTION: Right. But you are very specific in saying that what you do not believe it is time for is a UN resolution, not necessarily some other type of move that might --
MR. BOUCHER: Well, I mean two things. This is what is being proposed, and we are against it. Second of all, what we are for doesn't involve these other speculative things that you are raising. It involves the immediate and complete implementation of the Sharm el Sheikh commitments.
QUESTION: Can I just rephrase that? In your discussions on this, have people -- have either you or the Palestinians or anyone else -- made a distinction between a UN force and a multinational force of some other kind?
MR. BOUCHER: I think this is just leading us into sort of speculative areas of permutations. I'm not opening the door to these things. I'm telling you exactly what we're against and what we're for.
QUESTION: No, I just asked you, in your discussions with either the Palestinians or whatever, has anybody brought up the distinction between --
MR. BOUCHER: I can't answer a question that says "has anybody brought up." We have not been raising the idea of an international force. We have made quite clear that this is not a US proposal. Clearly the parties are expressing their views on this, we have expressed our view, and that's where the matter rests.
QUESTION: Given that we had our elections on Tuesday, and that it looks like Dennis Ross and other members of the peace team will be moving on, what does the United States at this point expect, or what does this Administration expect to accomplish in the next ten weeks in terms of the Middle East peace process? Do you have -- I mean, can you give a range of possibilities?
MR. BOUCHER: We expect to accomplish everything we can, and as much as the parties are willing to do.
QUESTION: Anything more on that? What is "everything we can" at this point? What do you think --
MR. BOUCHER: That's period. Frankly, that would have to be the answer if you were asking the question four years ago, eight years ago, or two years ago. The fact is, the United States and the President and the Secretary and Ambassador Ross, remain heavily engaged in this process. We are talking to the parties but, in the end, as we have pointed out again and again, only the leaders of the parties can take this process forward. Only the leaders of the parties can make the decisions that need to be made to reach peace. Only the leaders of the parties can make the decisions and take the steps necessary to end the violence.
So we continue to work with them. We will continue make every possible effort to achieve the goals of ending the violence, stopping the loss of life, and moving on back to a peace process and trying to attain peace, if that's where the parties are willing to go.
QUESTION: Speaking of elections, do you know or could you just check - - some of the governments, as did some of the networks, prematurely sent congratulations to Governor Bush. Do you know, have any governments asked the State Department for any kind of guidance or anything like that? Is there any election-related color you have for us?
MR. BOUCHER: We are quite aware that there is a lot of interesting press commentary overseas, but I have checked a couple times with our Operations Center. They haven't seen any official cable traffic or reports from overseas or inquiries from foreign leaders about the status of things or concerns that might be raised or anything like that.
QUESTION: Given the fact that it's coming down to a very narrow margin of votes and the absentee ballots are seen as crucial in determining who the next President will be, has the State Department been involved at all in any kind of work regarding these absentee ballots -- any State Department employees, embassies?
MR. BOUCHER: On an ongoing basis, every time there is an election we are normally the channel with Americans overseas to get them the request for the absentee ballots. Sometimes in difficult places we help them with the mailing and the sending of the ballots or the sending of that request in. But, in the end, the actual absentee ballot, the filling it out and mailing it back in, is a matter between the voter and his jurisdiction and it's not something we get involved in.
I am aware that in some circumstances overseas we might help people mail them or send them back in a pouch if there is no reliable way of sending them back, but other than that we're not involved, except some jurisdictions might ask to have the outer envelope notarized, which we would probably do for the voter as well. But we don't count them. We don't know the numbers that are actually mailed back or anything like that. We get them the request. They fill out the request, send it in to their jurisdiction, get their absentee ballot, fill it out, and send it back.
QUESTION: Did you have any locations where anyone registered complains that they had difficulty? Were there any times when you had shortages of ballots or anything like that?
MR. BOUCHER: Again, we don't actually pass out the ballots. What we pass out is the information on how to request your ballot. I haven't heard of anything. I haven't actually checked on that question, though.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) your reaction. Some pariah states have taken this opportunity to criticize the United States political process. Just today, Libya's Ambassador to the UN, Abuzed Omar Dorda, said that American democracy was scandalous, asked whether or not Cuba should follow the Florida model for its political system, and said that we can see from the elections that we are the true democracies and not this ridiculous American model.
Do you have any comments? Is Libya the "true democracies"?
MR. BOUCHER: Ha. I stand by that comment.
QUESTION: Do you see that the counting votes in Florida could be in a space to have the OAS observers helping the Americans?
MR. BOUCHER: I haven't heard anybody make any proposal, anything like that, except for you, so --
QUESTION: I am just asking, as the United States is a member of the OAS. You always use the OAS to help other countries count votes. Why not helping the United States as member of the organization?
MR. BOUCHER: No, I'm sorry, I haven't heard anybody make such a proposal from the OAS side or from the Florida side. I'm not going to entertain the idea here.
QUESTION: Let's return for a moment to Arafat's visit --
QUESTION: Wait, wait. Can we stay on the election --
QUESTION: (Inaudible) joke?
QUESTION: No, not a joke. But is there anything that State Department has sent out in terms of guidances to what ambassadors or embassy employees should tell foreign governments if they are asked, or is it just kind of left up to them to say that we --
MR. BOUCHER: If they are asked for what?
QUESTION: Well, what's going on?
MR. BOUCHER: What's going on?
QUESTION: What do they do? Tell them to watch TV?
MR. BOUCHER: Yes. I mean, we all -- we have information. There is information on the Internet and elsewhere you can get on the Electoral College. Obviously any American official overseas will try to explain the democratic process in the United States. But, no, we haven't, as far as I am aware, sent out any kind of instruction to people. You know, we have elections, we follow legal processes, we count ballots carefully, we reach results and we have peaceful transitions of power. We have done this for 200 years in the United States, and we think we know how to do it pretty well.
QUESTION: Which is why you quite vociferously comment on other countries' elections but you don't seem to want to hear any comment about it -- you don't seem to want to hear -- you're not even interested in entertaining the comments of other --
MR. BOUCHER: We are happy to entertain the comments of anybody that wants to comment on it. As I have said, nothing seems to have been raised in policy terms with any of our embassies, because we're not getting cable traffic from overseas proposing one idea or another or expressing concerns or inquiring officially whether the United States is lost in space or something like that. The fact is we are having an election. I think pretty much most of the world -- maybe most of the world outside this room -- understands that this is a regular, normal, legal, clear, transparent, open process for United States democracy.
And certainly we discuss it with people overseas, the way all of us in this building discuss it with each other. But I don't think that raises any policy issues that we need to get involved in on a foreign affairs basis, which is what we do here.
QUESTION: So there is no question that this wasn't a free and fair election?
MR. BOUCHER: I have not heard anybody but you raise the issue.
QUESTION: Have you seen any response from the international observers groups?
MR. BOUCHER: Not that I've seen. I know there have been plenty of -- this is an open and transparent process. We're watching it minute by minute on TV. I mean, let's not pretend.
QUESTION: Well, don't believe everything you see on TV.
MR. BOUCHER: Well, we don't any more.
MR. BOUCHER: Some of us might have before, but we don't any more.
QUESTION: Well, you're not -- I mean, with the chairman of the Russian electoral commission and watched this whole thing from Chicago is going to come out with some rather snide comments, as has the -- other people in Russia. You're not willing to entertain --
MR. BOUCHER: Good for him.
QUESTION: So you're not willing to entertain anyone's offers of help?
MR. BOUCHER: I haven't seen any offers of help. As I said, we have checked the cable traffic. We have no reports that some government has offered to help us count, and I am not aware that we have either the need, the desire, or any necessity of doing that in any way.
QUESTION: Can we return for a moment to Arafat's visit? Is Mitchell involved at all, or is he expected? Mitchell and Rudman?
MR. BOUCHER: I am not aware that anything has been set up with them. I guess I would have to check a little more. As you know, the committee has just been established. We don't have any information at this point on what their initial steps or initial meetings will be. I will double check just to make sure.
QUESTION: And Barak is coming on Sunday?
MR. BOUCHER: That's right.
QUESTION: And Arafat is going to be gone by that time?
MR. BOUCHER: That is our understanding, yes. Our understanding is he will be in New York tomorrow. I don't know where he is going after that.
QUESTION: Do you have anything on Edmond Pope today -- on his case?
MR. BOUCHER: Let me see what I have. I am not sure it is news, but it has now been four weeks since our consular officers had access to Mr. Pope. We think that is outrageous. It has been a highly stressful period for Mr. Pope and his family, and we feel that we must have consular access.
We understand in the Russian legal system that access is under the control of the judge, but we believe that the judge, too, is bound by treaty obligations. Ambassador Collins has made this point again at senior levels in Moscow today. We once again reiterate our view that Mr. Pope should be released immediately and reunited with his family and that he should receive proper medical attention.
On the medical situation, we have, as I said, received the medical exam results. We are reviewing them, but we are not in a position to discuss that publicly.
QUESTION: We know that the Secretary has been talking to Ivanov. Has the President recently spoke to Putin about this, or does he plan to?
MR. BOUCHER: I think the answer is that every time the President has spoken to President Putin, he has discussed this, at least in recent weeks and months. I can't remember exactly when was the last time they talked. I think it was not more than a week or ten days ago. But we would have to check with the White House and get the exact date.
QUESTION: Is Jim O'Brien going to Belgrade?
MR. BOUCHER: Not that I've heard of, but I'll check.
QUESTION: I mean, this was put to me. I can't remember quite what the details are. No?
MR. BOUCHER: Not that I've heard of, but I'll check.
QUESTION: He's already been. Is there anything new from yesterday on the diplomatic front there?
MR. BOUCHER: No. The answer is still soon, or very soon.
QUESTION: Very soon. Imminent, perhaps?
QUESTION: What does "very soon" mean in this context? I mean, "very soon" to me means like within a week, so can you offer what it means to you?
MR. BOUCHER: That's roughly what it means to us, yes. But, you know, it is not scheduled. It is not set at this point. We are going through the process. We are doing the letters we have to do -- in the process of doing it with the Government of Yugoslavia. But we don't have a specific moment at which it is going to happen. It is not like I know exactly when it is going to happen but I'm refusing to say; it is just we are well engaged in this process. We are making progress, but we haven't reached a conclusion yet.
QUESTION: No snags?
MR. BOUCHER: Not that I've heard of.
QUESTION: Could you tell us about the Secretary's travel plans next week, and who she plans to meet with and so forth?
MR. BOUCHER: We've done the announcement, right, Chuck?
MR. BOUCHER: Oh, okay. Travel plans are to leave after the meeting on Sunday with Prime Minister Barak. I'm not exactly sure at what moment she leaves, whether she goes on Air Force One or otherwise, but then to proceed to Brunei. She is going to miss the Ministerial portion of the APEC meetings, and Under Secretary Al Larson will represent us there and he will be participating in those discussions, as well as US Trade Representative Barshefsky and Secretary of Commerce Mineta.
The Secretary will arrive, then, after that Ministerial portion concludes. She will then participate for several days in the President's bilateral meetings, and she will have a number of bilateral meetings herself with other Asia-Pacific foreign ministers. At this moment, there are a lot of tentative meetings being planned on her schedule, but I'm not aware that any of them are quite pinned down so I don't think I'm quite in a position to give you a list.
QUESTION: It's still the plan for her to come directly back, right?
MR. BOUCHER: And then she will come back here after those meetings conclude in Brunei.
QUESTION: Why wouldn't she go on to Vietnam, Richard?
MR. BOUCHER: She goes to a lot of the places the President visits. She goes with him. Sometimes where she has been there before, by herself, she doesn't go. It depends on, I think, other business and how she and the President decide to either join together or divvy up their responsibilities. At this point, she is not going to Vietnam. That's just about the only way I can put it.
QUESTION: But then can you say she is coming home, or is that an open question?
MR. BOUCHER: No, the plan is that after she finishes the meeting in Brunei, she'll come back here.
QUESTION: I don't suppose that (inaudible) Brunei. Will there be?
MR. BOUCHER: Not that I'm aware of, no.
QUESTION: Have you heard back from Texas yet on your questions about the guy who is supposed to be executed today?
MR. BOUCHER: I think it's up to Texas to make clear any results of their clemency board or other hearings.
QUESTION: So they no longer have to go through the State Department to talk to the Mexican Government about this? They no longer go through the State Department? I know the whole thing was that the Mexicans called you, you asked the Texans to get back to you, and you --
MR. BOUCHER: No. Our job is, first of all, to try to ensure that local jurisdictions notify foreign officials when foreigners are arrested, and we have efforts under way, major efforts under way throughout the United States, to try to make sure that happens more consistently. Then we are the contact with the foreign government, but in terms of actually deciding the case, they are the ones who do this. So the Mexicans have written us. We sent them -- they sent us a diplomatic note. We have responded on an interim basis.
The Secretary responded yesterday evening or this morning to a letter that she had received from Secretary Green, Foreign Secretary Green, on the subject. We have conveyed the concerns of the Government of Mexico to the clemency board. It's not called a clemency board. Let me get the exact name. The Board of Pardons and Paroles. We have told them that we think the issue of the lack of consular notification should be given careful consideration, but our job is to convey that information to the Board and then they have to decide what to do in the circumstances.
QUESTION: Right. I was not suggesting that the State Department makes the decision for the State of Texas. What I was asking is, did you -- maybe you didn't expect any reply to the letter from the legal advisor -- from the State Department Legal Advisor to the Texas board. Did you not expect a reply from them? And if you did, have you gotten one? That's my question.
MR. BOUCHER: No. I think I would describe our role in this -- I mean, we have been in touch with them since this issue was raised, but it's for them to make any statements or announcements about what they are going to do and what their opinion is. But our job I would describe a little more as is to convey the issues and concerns that have been raised by Mexico to the board so that when they consider the matter they can take these into account. And as I said, we urge them to carefully consider the lack of consular notification. We didn't necessarily expect to have something to convey back to the Mexican Government.
QUESTION: Then what did the Secretary say to -- what was the Secretary's letter to --
MR. BOUCHER: She basically told Secretary Green that we had heard the concerns of the Mexican Government, and we have conveyed these to the board of pardons and appeals.
QUESTION: And that's it? Nothing else?
MR. BOUCHER: That's basically what it said.
QUESTION: The Mexicans were aware of Mr. Flores' conviction as of 1991, and only on October 19th did they approach the State Department about this. It seems to me they let a lot of time pass before they acted. Is there a sense that Mexico got into this a bit late in the game?
MR. BOUCHER: I think that is a question -- I mean, you can ask Mexico what might have prompted them to act at this moment or what might have resulted in this period of time elapsing. You can ask Texas whether there was any difficulty in taking into account the concerns of the Mexican Government and the lack of notification because of the timing of the notification.
But in terms of our role, whenever a foreign government raises these kinds of concerns and we think it's appropriate to convey them to the board of parole or appeals -- I can't get this right -- Board of Pardons and Paroles for any given jurisdiction, we will do that. So we are not the ones who decide the timing in any way. If we get a legitimate concern raised by a government, especially when we find that there has not been appropriate consular notification, we convey that whenever we have it as soon as we can, and hopefully within time for the appropriate board to consider it when they make their decisions.
QUESTION: In addition to the diplomatic note, has the Secretary spoken with Secretary Green on the telephone about this?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't think they have spoken on the phone for some time. As I said, it was a letter. We got a diplomatic note from the Mexican Government. She got a letter from Secretary Green, and she has now responded to the letter from Secretary Green.
QUESTION: Do you have anything to bring us up to date on the schedule of Ambassador Gelbard, who he has seen in the building, who he is going to see or not going to see?
MR. BOUCHER: As on normal visits to Washington, Ambassador Gelbard will meet with officials of the Department and with other agencies. In the Department, he will be meeting with officials in the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, as well as senior officials, including Under Secretary Pickering. At this point, there is nothing scheduled with the Secretary, but it is possible that he may meet with her if her schedule can permit that.
QUESTION: Do you suppose Gelbard will come down and talk to us?
MR. BOUCHER: No, I don't think so.
QUESTION: So what specifically are they going to be talking about?
MR. BOUCHER: The situation in Indonesia.
QUESTION: Yes. But just the situation in Indonesia, or the rather prickly relationship that he seems to have developed with the Indonesian Government?
MR. BOUCHER: The situation in Indonesia and the American interests there.
QUESTION: Which are?
MR. BOUCHER: Well, maybe I'll do a long list. I could do probably -- US interests in Indonesia. I could probably do a list that lasts until 2 o'clock.
QUESTION: Well, you know your interests in East Timor last year seem - -
MR. BOUCHER: Okay. We have a very strong in democratization in Indonesia; we have a very strong interest in stability in Indonesia; we have a very strong interest in the ethnic conflicts being worked out in Indonesia; we have a very strong strategic interest in Indonesia that relates to sea lanes; we have very strong economic interests in Indonesia relating to the interest of US business there; we have obviously a very strong interest in the health, safety and the welfare of US citizens who either reside there or may be visiting there.
QUESTION: That's the only one I wanted to hear. Thank you.
MR. BOUCHER: And there are a few more.
QUESTION: And now, those meetings in Washington were today? I don't think you said that. Maybe you did.
MR. BOUCHER: No, I don't think I said. Let's see. He is meeting -- I think it is today and tomorrow. It's really a brief visit. I don't have the exact timing of it, though.
QUESTION: But he's here in Washington today.
MR. BOUCHER: We expect him to have -- yes, some of these meetings are today.
QUESTION: And then he goes directly back to Indonesia, or is he staying?
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not exactly sure. I think he is headed back to Indonesia, but whether it's direct or not, I don't know.
QUESTION: Since the future of democracy is hanging in the balance, a very important question: Last night, on the critically acclaimed West Wing they had a running issue about rogue nations versus states of concerns, and I'm just wondering, does the State Department thing they might have been mocked last night by the television show, or was this their way of trying to address the Secretary's complaints that they don't have a Secretary of State in the program?
MR. BOUCHER: I have no idea.
QUESTION: Well, how about let's see if truth is stranger than fiction, as it seems to be with the election. When that decision was made, does the State Department have to go to the White House and clear a description change like that?
QUESTION: Yes, CJ Cregg had to.
QUESTION: I mean, you know, you go to -- the White House Spokesman has got to sign off on this kind of thing, or the White House in general?
MR. BOUCHER: I certainly had never discussed it with the White House. Well, let me see -- no, I had not. But we stopped using the term about January, and I didn't start speaking until --
QUESTION: Secretly.
QUESTION: No, subtly.
QUESTION: No. covertly.
MR. BOUCHER: No, we did it in public, in full view of anybody who was watching. We didn't really use the term anymore. Now, maybe you didn't pick up on the fact we weren't using it anymore, but we did stop beating our rogues in January.
Whether there were discussions at that time on the use or the non-use of the term, I don't really know, but ordinarily I think the use of this terminology would not be a major policy issue that would be discussed in any more than sort of incidental conversations.
QUESTION: But you coordinated it with the Pentagon and the White House, because they simultaneously --
QUESTION: No, the Pentagon did not get in on it. They still used the term after it was announced.
MR. BOUCHER: I really can't do the exact history of the use of the term "rogue states," but I am sure Lexis-Nexis can probably give you the answer if you do the proper search.
QUESTION: Does Aaron Sorkin ever call the Secretary and consult with her about things when he is writing?
MR. BOUCHER: Not that she has mentioned to me.
QUESTION: Thank you.
(The briefing was concluded at 1:20 P.M.)

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