State Dept. Daily Press Briefings, 5,6 July 2001

Published: Tue 10 Jul 2001 10:41 AM
Daily Press Briefing Index Thursday, July 5, 2001
BRIEFER: Richard Boucher, Spokesman
ANNOUNCEMENTS 1 U.S. Welcomes Cease-fire in Macedonia
MACEDONIA 1 NATO forces/Disarmament process
CHINA 1-2 Falun Gong deaths 2-3,4 Detainees 3 Human Rights 3 EP-3 Plane Return 3 Non-proliferation issues 4 Secretary of State Powell/ASEAN meeting/possible China trip 4 Ambassador Haass trip to China 10 Secretary Powell/Phone Conversation with Chinese Foreign Minister
ISRAEL/PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY 5-6 Mitchell Committee Report 5-6 Violence 5-6 Security Discussions 5-6 Ceasefire 7 Targeted Bombing/U.S. Policy 7 Internal Tension within the Israeli Government
JAPAN 7-9,10 Okinawa Incident 9 U.S. Relationship with Japan 9 Ambassador Baker's meetings in Japan 9 Secretary Powell/Phone Conversation with Japanese Foreign Minister
MISCELLANEOUS 10 Worldwide Caution
NORTH KOREA 10-11 Hwang Jang-Yop Travel
FRY/SERBIA 11,12 Donor Coordination Meeting 11,12 Milosevic Trial /Cooperation of Yugoslavia
IRAQ 12 Sanctions 12 Frontline States
DPB # 94
MR. BOUCHER: Good afternoon. Hope you enjoyed your Independence Day holiday and didn't get too wet. I would like to start off with two statements: one on the subject of Macedonia; the other on the subject of China.
In Macedonia, there has been a cease-fire announced, and we welcome this cease-fire. It was declared today. We believe it's a very important and necessary step toward resolving the crisis in Macedonia. We urge the parties to fully honor the agreements that they negotiated with NATO and the European Union. The agreements were signed separately by the Republic of Macedonia and the ethnic Albanian armed groups.
The agreements indicate a willingness of the parties in Macedonia to work towards a political solution of the differences. On the political track, the US, NATO and the European Union are deeply committed to supporting the process that is under way for political dialogue in Skopje. That process started yesterday. Our Special Advisor, Mr. Pardew, remains in Skopje. He is working with the European representative, Mr. Leotard, to assist the political process and try to bring peace to Macedonia.
So we welcome the cease-fire announcement, and we are working for a political solution as well. Questions about that?
Q: Does this have any implications whatsoever in terms of NATO, US forces in NATO, et cetera?
MR. BOUCHER: The planning that NATO has been doing is to send forces to Macedonia to assist in a disarmament process that would be part of a broader political agreement on the ground between the parties, so until there is that disarmament process agreed between the parties in Macedonia, the NATO thing wouldn't kick in.
Obviously, having a formal cease-fire is a major step forward in the process of calming the situation, and seeing it observed would be an important part of that. And that could probably contribute towards a political understanding, a political agreement, but NATO is a couple steps down the road from this.
Okay, if I can talk about China a little bit. The United States is deeply disturbed by reports that China has further intensified its harsh repression of the Falun Gong. The June 20 deaths of over a dozen Falun Gong practitioners in the Wonjia Labor Camp in Harbin City, Heilongjiang Province in China, was particularly troublesome. Our sympathies go out to the families of the victims.
There are conflicting accounts of what actually occurred in the Wonjia Labor Camp, but the reports of violence and torture against these Chinese Falun Gong practitioners at the hands of Chinese authorities are chilling.
In the past, we have conveyed our strong concern to the Chinese Government on their crackdown, and we will continue to do so. We call on China to respect freedom of thought, conscience and religion, to allow all persons to practice their religious faiths freely, and to end the cycle of repression on the Falun Gong.
And I'll give you further details of that, in particular the practice of reeducation through labor that is being used against the Falun Gong. We don't believe that people should be in those camps to begin with.
Q: (Inaudible) a specific representation to the Chinese Government on this?
MR. BOUCHER: This has been a subject of continuing discussion. I can't cite a specific example since these deaths were reported, but certainly this is a clear concern of ours. And as we continue to discuss with them the question of the Falun Gong and the repression, this specific example would come up, I am sure.
Q: Can we just stay on China, but not on the Falun Gong, unless anybody else has --
MR. BOUCHER: Yes, I see. Updates. Okay, go ahead, ask your question.
Q: An update on some Chinese detainees and communications with the Chinese Government about a possible trial for them?
MR. BOUCHER: Yes, I guess I was just -- the first sentence just changed from, "We have no confirmation" to, "The Chinese Government has confirmed to us that the trials for Li Shaomin and Gao Zhan are under way. As you know, in the case of the detainees, we have consistently urged the Chinese Government to resolve these cases as soon as possible, and we will continue to urge them to do that.
Our Embassy in Beijing requested permission for a consular officer to attend Li Shaomin's trial. At this point, I don't know if we were able to do that.
And I would note -- you will hear from the White House -- the President talked to President Jiang this morning and raised this issue.
Q: Was there any mention of any other scholars who may be facing trial?
MR. BOUCHER: Not that I know of at this point. Some of the other -- the other American citizen, Mr. Wu Jianming, has not yet been charged. And then I don't know about the permanent residents, whether there have been -- well, Ms. Gao Zhan is a permanent resident. Her trial is under way. Those are the two I know of.
Q: On the Falun Gong, I take it you don't think that the Chinese behavior disqualifies them from -- or Beijing from being the host for the Olympic Games of 2008?
MR. BOUCHER: I think you know very well that our efforts on human rights in China have been consistent and have been very strong. We have consistently raised human rights issues. We have consistently looked for the kind of changes in China that would allow us to say the human rights situation had improved, which we were not able to report in our Human Rights Reports in January.
At the same time, we have not taken a position on the Olympic Committee's decision whether or not -- on who should host the upcoming Olympics, and at this point we are not prepared to do that.
Q: Have you received any information that any Falun Gong members may have been harmed or disappeared in the United States?
MR. BOUCHER: Not that I have heard of. Are you reporting that to us, or just fishing?
Q: I have some information to that effect.
MR. BOUCHER: I am not aware of any such information, but until I check the specific question, I couldn't say definitively.
Q: Richard, we have touched on several aspects of the US-China relationship. Since the plane has arrived back in the US today, in light of these other instances, is there a way you can tell us what you think the overall status is of the relationship?
MR. BOUCHER: I would say that we are certainly very interested in having a constructive relationship with China. I think we have spoken before about this overall process of bringing China into the world's institutions and the world's rules. That obviously proceeds better in some areas than others. Getting China to adopt non-proliferation guidelines that the rest of the world supports, or getting China to support the kind of international cooperation we have with the United Nations or enter into world trading rules, has been easier than getting China to adopt the world's human rights standards. But nonetheless, that effort will continue and so we want a constructive relationship with China that brings China into the standards that the rest of us accept in any number of areas.
Q: On the possible trials of the Chinese detainees, would you say this is a welcome development or are you disturbed by this development? Gao Zhan has been charged with espionage, and I think people have said that there is no reason to believe that she was involved in any type of those activities.
So could you characterize how you feel about this news?
MR. BOUCHER: I would say that we have encouraged China to treat these people fairly, to resolve these issues as quickly as possible, and we have also looked for them to be reunited with their families. I guess I'm just reporting on the development without saying that it is particularly good or bad in any respect, but we would hope to see these things resolved and to see these people reunited with their families.
Q: Do you see any way for them to get a fair trial? You won't be able to judge if there is a fair trial, then, if you won't be able to have consular access. Is that how you --
MR. BOUCHER: We don't have consular access for people who aren't citizens, and I don't think these are open trials. We'll have to see in any specific case. And I don't know yet whether we will be able to attend the trial of the American citizen, so it is an open question as to whether one will be able to say that they got a fair trial or not, particularly given what we know about the Chinese legal system.
Q: In the past, there have been trials of dissidents which, followed by conviction, have resulted in the person being expelled from China. Have you any indication that this kind of thing is being considered at the moment?
MR. BOUCHER: Not that I know of, no.
Okay, other topics? China, in the back.
Q: Is the Secretary going to China on the 20th or around the 20th of this month?
MR. BOUCHER: I can't give you a date yet. I don't have stops to announce on the Secretary's upcoming trip, but I would not be surprised if he were to go to China during his upcoming trip to the ASEAN meetings.
Q: Richard, Mr. Hass is already in China. What are they talking about?
MR. BOUCHER: He has been and gone. He had policy planning talks with the Chinese, which we do periodically, and they basically discussed the state of the world and its future.
Q: Were there any others going ahead, by the way -- any other pathfinders? Are there any other talks that you anticipate in Beijing prior to the Secretary going to sort of smooth the way, clear the way?
MR. BOUCHER: I'd have to double-check if we have any other travelers.
Q: An administration person?
MR. BOUCHER: There are regular discussions and travelers at various levels discussing various things with the Chinese. I'm not sure I'd describe any of these particular individuals as an advance party for the Secretary; on the other hand, we have regular dialogue about any number of issues with the Chinese.
Q: Can I ask about the Middle East?
MR. BOUCHER: Can he ask about the Middle East? One more China question.
Q: Hong Kong's Executive Officer is coming next week. What do you anticipate his talk with President Bush?
MR. BOUCHER: That is something you can ask at the White House.
Q: It's about a week, I guess. The Secretary adopted this timeline, beginning with a seven-day period of utter quiet that the Israelis have asked for. It's pretty quiet today, the last time I looked. But he said on the plane that, you know, if this doesn't do it he'd have to find another approach; the US certainly wasn't going to walk away from the Arab-Israeli conflict.
Can you bring us up to date on his thinking? Is he still hoping that he can get seven clean days and move on to Mitchell, or does it look like the US has to try something different?
MR. BOUCHER: I think, Barry, if you look back at what the Secretary said on the airplane, he indicated that would stay involved, we would stay active. But at the same time, we didn't have Plan B sitting on a shelf if this doesn't work; if this doesn't work, we'll do that. This was the option. The international community is very strongly supported of moving down the road of the Mitchell Committee Report. And as the Secretary was in the region, he worked out with them an approach that would institute seven days of quiet and then get on with a cooling-off period and the other recommendations of the Mitchell Committee Report. So that remains our intention, and I think that process has the unanimous support of the international community.
Now, there is an overall lower level of violence on the ground. We hope that will continue. We have the seen the trend of relative calm before, only to be followed by new outbreaks of violence, so we think it's absolutely critical that the parties exert maximum efforts to sustain and improve the cooperation on security issues and to bring the violence to a halt.
I think I mentioned they had constructive security discussions earlier this week. We are pleased that both sides have agreed to continue those discussions tomorrow, and we believe the continuation of those efforts does illustrate the value that both sides do place on ending the terrible cycle of bloodshed and violence.
We are working in the region. Our representatives are in continuous contact with the Israeli Government, with the Palestinian leaders, on the political and the security side. Our efforts are focused now on security cooperation and the practical efforts to bring down the violence and move forward the discussion of the Mitchell timeline. Assistant Secretary Burns in the region, as you know, still and he is regular touch with our posts and with the Secretary.
Q: It's about eight o'clock out there now, and I don't suppose you want to be clinical about it, but it's close enough to having the day concluded without much violence. Could this pass as day one, do you think?
MR. BOUCHER: I think I have made fun of the idea of counting days or putting up a thermometer before, so rather than do that again, let me just say that we are looking for a period of calm. We will be watching for that. I'm sure others will as well. I think the wires services today are reporting a relatively calm day. We are looking for a period of quiet, and when we start seeing that period of quiet, then we will be in a position to talk to the parties.
Ultimately, it is up to them whether they have seen the kind of quieting down that they are looking for that can lead to moving forward with the Mitchell Committee recommendations. But we will be watching the situation closely, and if we start seeing that kind of calm take hold, then we will be talking about it with the parties.
At this point, though, I would say that we are still looking for them to exert further efforts. We are looking for maximum effort from the parties, looking for continued security cooperation from the parties, to really make the quiet take hold.
Q: The seven days were not invented either by the US or by the media. They are the result of the Israeli Government asking for 10 days, and when the Secretary was out there, the decision was taken to try for seven days of calm.
It seems to me you are suggesting that that is too fine-tuning; that, if there is a period of calm, that will be cause for the US to talk to the two parties and say, are you ready, can we move ahead to Mitchell? There is no longer a precise seven-day period you need?
MR. BOUCHER: No, I didn't say that. I just said we are not necessarily going to start measuring day one, day two -- woops, back to day one, day two, day three -- every day and have a little countdown clock or thermometer on the wall. The point is that the parties need to continue to take steps, need to continue to cooperate. Both parties said that they were looking for seven days of quiet, as you know. There are different phrasings. But Chairman Arafat said that he would make every effort to make that happen, and Prime Minister Sharon said he was looking for seven days of complete quiet.
So we are, too, watching carefully the situation, looking for the efforts from the parties, looking to see if the violence has been reduced. And if we start seeing that, then I'm sure that you will be reporting it and we will be looking at it, and the parties will be discussing it.
Q: Is there anything further to say on targeting? Israel has reaffirmed now that that is what they intend to do as their way of coping with terrorism, and you have said twice now, at least, that that's not what the US likes to see happen.
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know that there is anything further to say. Our policy has not changed. We still continue in our belief.
Q: Can we move towards another peace process in Northern Ireland? Will the United States have any input or role in the mini peace summit that is being held next week, as I understand it?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know. I have to check.
Q: Okay.
Q: Yes, back to the Middle East. Shimon Peres has indicated that his views, in reference with the Israeli Government, are not being taken seriously; that, in effect, that it's worthless for him to remain in his current position.
I was just wondering what the State Department's view on internal tension within the Israeli Government is.
MR. BOUCHER: Thank you. You gave my answer in the question. The US doesn't take a view on internal developments within somebody else's government.
Q: Is there anything that the State Department would like to address?
MR. BOUCHER: No. Never have, never will.
Q: Okay.
Q: New subject?
MR. BOUCHER: Please.
Q: Japan, the case in Okinawa, the rape case. Are there any new developments as far as the US serviceman over there?
MR. BOUCHER: Not today. We are considering the Japanese Government request. I think we have made quite clear that we take the accusations and the situation very seriously. The Secretary spoke yesterday with the Japanese Foreign Minister. But at this point we are still looking at the Japanese request and considering it intensively, I would say. Hopefully we will be able to respond shortly. The US officials are cooperating on the ground with local authorities in the investigation. So that is where we are today.
Q: Richard, does the Status of Forces Agreement with Japan obligate the US to do something in such a situation?
MR. BOUCHER: The Status of Forces Agreement has provisions for transfers of custody of a suspect upon indictment. There is a 1995 US- Japan Joint Committee Agreed Minute in which the United States said we would give sympathetic consideration to any government of Japan request for pre-indictment transfer of custody in the case of heinous crimes of murder or rape.
It also says that we will take full account of any special views Japan may put forward in the Joint Committee -- that's the Joint US-Japan Committee -- as to other specific cases it believes should be considered.
So that is what we are doing in this case. We are obligated and are, indeed, giving sympathetic consideration to the Japanese request for a pre-indictment transfer in this situation. We will have to get back to them.
Q: Richard, in his conversation with the Foreign Minister, did the Secretary say that the President would be personally involved in the decision as to whether to turn him over?
MR. BOUCHER: I think he said the President was being kept informed of the case. I don't think he promised the President would decide.
Q: Could you tell me why it takes so long to decide whether to turn him over? It's four days past.
MR. BOUCHER: I don't think it's four days past, first of all. I think it was Tuesday when the Japanese made the request. It might have been Monday. But in any case, the issues that need to be looked at in terms of assurances or considerations having to do with the individual are things that we have to look at carefully. But we will get back to the Japanese, I think shortly.
Q: Both the President and the Secretary of State have stressed repeatedly they want to improve relations with Japan, and at the summit last weekend that was the first real concrete sign that that was taking place.
Is there any concern in this building that incidents like this, particularly after the summit, given their political sensitivity in Japan, are making the process of improving relations with Japan more difficult and making the job of the Prime Minister, as he tries to marshal support behind his economic plan and perhaps taking more a role in Asian security, that they make it more difficult?
MR. BOUCHER: There is concern about these particular incidents. I mean, the charges are serious. The situation is one of very serious concern to the United States. I don't think that changes the outcome, the agreements, the process, that was established at the summit and the overall approach that we have to our relationship with Japan.
Q: Could you kindly tell us what kind of conditions should be met before you finally decide to hand over the suspect?
Q: And also, it is reported that on the US side there are some arguments as to whether or not the US should hand over the suspect, and for one reason, the US -- that alleged serviceman denied the crime. Could you elaborate what kind of argument on that point?
MR. BOUCHER: No, I can't. I'm not going to go into arguments. I think we are working with the Japanese Government on this. Ambassador Baker met with the Japanese -- I think it was the Foreign Ministry today -- so we are continuing our discussions with the Japanese Government. And as I said, we are giving sympathetic consideration to their request. That is where we are. When we have a response, we'll get back to you.
Q: My name is (inaudible) from (inaudible) Daily, South Korea newspaper. I want to ask you (inaudible) about, who is the --
MR. BOUCHER: Excuse me. Are we finished with Japan for the moment? We have a couple more Japan, and then we'll go there.
Q: Is there anybody from the Japanese Embassy here in Washington today meeting with anybody from this building?
MR. BOUCHER: Anybody from the Japanese Embassy meeting with anybody in this building? On most days, the answer is yes.
Q: Well, specifically on this?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know if there were any particular discussions of that today here. I do know that Ambassador Baker had meetings in Japan this morning, our time, and I think that would probably take care of most of the discussion we need to have at this moment.
Q: When contemplating the request to turn the suspect over, how much of a factor, or how closely would the US side be looking at the specific evidence in the case before determining whether to grant that request?
MR. BOUCHER: That kind of gets back into the kind of questions here: what exactly are the considerations, what are we looking at, why are we thinking about this so carefully. I really don't think I can go into these elements. We have to examine the situation closely. I don't know that we actually try to conduct our own investigation. We are cooperating with local authorities on the investigation and give sympathetic consideration to the Japanese request. We want to make sure that it's worked out properly and carefully, and we're looking at that now.
Q: And you said that you'll get back to them shortly. In the agreement, is it written how long they need -- the time frame for a response?
MR. BOUCHER: Not that I know of, but I do think we want to be responsive to the Japanese. We are very serious in looking into this situation and how we deal with this situation, so we want to get back to them and be responsive.
Q: Who will have the final say on whether and when he is turned over, like at what level?
MR. BOUCHER: Don't know.
Q: Concerning the phone conversation between the Foreign Minister and Secretary Powell, I heard the Japanese Foreign Minister Makiko Tanaka called Secretary Powell at home. I want to know if it's true, or if it is, is it common?
MR. BOUCHER: Yesterday was a holiday. I don't think the Secretary was in the office, so by definition, therefore, they would have reached him at home. But yes, the Secretary makes a lot of phone calls from cars and homes and various other places. He talked to the Chinese Foreign Minister the other day from a car phone on the way to Ramallah in the West Bank. So it's not unusual.
Q: Speaking of the 4th of July, there's a Worldwide Caution out, but a major holiday has passed apparently without incident, I think. Is there any new appraisal of the security situation worldwide you can share with us? I know the Caution is supposed to be in effect until September, I believe.
MR. BOUCHER: The Caution is in effect until September 22nd. It wasn't particularly tied to the 4th of July.
Q: There's extra concern. Usually a major holiday is a time to --
MR. BOUCHER: No, it wasn't -- the 4th of July was not cited in the Caution. We do continue to believe there is an increased risk of terrorist action from extremist groups and recommend that people exercise a high level of vigilance, take appropriate steps to increase their security. So no, nothing has changed in that. If it should change, we will revise the Caution.
Q: Thank you. I want to ask you about Mr. Hwang Jang-Yop, who is the highest ranking defector from North Korea. As you know, Congress invited him to take a hearing in Congress.
My question is, according to a Congress Member, your Department agreed to take some steps for the safety of Mr. Hwang if he visits the United States. What is your position on that?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't think we know the details of any visit or schedule. At this point we just understand that he has been invited by members of Congress and something called the Defense Forum Foundation, which is a non-governmental foundation. I really don't have any details of any particular travel, so I would have to check and see if we had offered to do anything about the gentleman's security. But I don't think we are that involved in it.
Q: Can I follow up? According to Mr. Chuck Dang, who is in Seoul now, your Department sent a letter to Congress that agreed with some kind of steps --
MR. BOUCHER: Now, here we go. I guess I found it now. What we have agreed is to say that we would notify appropriate authorities of the visit and coordinate security with relevant local and federal law enforcement agencies. That would be the extent of it.
Q: Then do you have a plan to have a dialogue with South Korean counterpart to discuss the issue?
MR. BOUCHER: We have seen the reports about the travel, and we are seeking clarification from the South Korean Government. So we talk to them about it.
Q: Now, the South Korean Government is very reluctant to send Mr. Hwang to the United States, and they almost decided not to send him. And what is your position on that?
MR. BOUCHER: As I said, we have seen those reports. We are talking to the South Korean Government to try to clarify what their position is.
Q: There's a New York Times editorial -- I haven't seen it, but I'm told it says that --
MR. BOUCHER: Good for you. That's on the record, too. (Laughter.)
Q: I'm told that there remains some linkages between the release of assistance money and Yugoslav willingness to come forth with documents concerning Milosevic for the War Crimes Tribunal.
Do you have anything on that?
MR. BOUCHER: I would say that what I think we have said before. Before Mr. Milosevic went to The Hague, we made clear that what we were looking for was a pattern of cooperation with the Tribunal. Turning over documents and various other steps are part of that pattern. No single step disposes of the entire obligation to cooperate, nor is a single step an absolute criteria of cooperation.
So we are looking for the pattern of cooperation -- turning over documents, working with the Tribunal, cooperating in further handovers of suspects. Those kinds of things are things that we expect to happen.
We, I think, made quite clear last week when we decided to attend the donors conference that we look forward to supporting Yugoslavia, to supporting the democratic development of Yugoslavia; that we were going to pledge some money to do that, that we intended to go forward with those projects and those pledges. And we expected, at the same time, the government would continue to cooperate.
So I think in some ways we changed the outlook a little bit. They changed the outlook by carrying out this step with regard to Mr. Milosevic, which we believe expresses and demonstrates a very clear commitment to cooperate with the Tribunal. So we still expect to see other steps, yes.
Q: So there is a fuzzy linkage, at least?
MR. BOUCHER: There is the expectation that they will continue the kind of cooperation that they demonstrated by turning over Mr. Milosevic. They will continue the pattern of cooperation, and that the turning over of Mr. Milosevic establishes a commitment to do that.
So we have every expectation they will do that, just as we have expectations -- they, I am sure, have expectations that we will continue to support their democratic development.
Q: Can I ask one on Iraq? Are you in a position to elaborate at all on ideas the Administration has for helping compensate frontline states in your effort to look at the sanctions issue again?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't think I can elaborate at this point. We have talked about it in the past. We have seen the Iraqi threats to retaliate against people, and we have talked to other governments to make sure that people are willing to support frontline states should they be the subjects of Iraqi retaliation.
Q: I have no idea what the protocol is on this, but do you have -- is there any official reaction to the suicide of Mrs. Kohl?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't have any official statement on it. Obviously it is very sad, and our sympathies will go out to former Chancellor and others of the family. But I am not sure we will have an official "reaction."
Q: Thank you.
MR. BOUCHER: Thank you.
(The briefing was concluded at 1:05 p.m.)
Daily Press Briefing Index Friday, July 6, 2001
BRIEFER: Richard Boucher, Spokesman
ANNOUNCEMENTS 1 Travel of Secretary Powell to Rome 1 Travel of Secretary Powell to Asia
CHINA 1-2 Detainees and Judicial Proceedings
JAPAN 2-3 Okinawa Incident
DPB # 95
MR. BOUCHER: Ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon. It's good to be here. Let me announce a couple trips, talk about one thing that I said yesterday which turned out not to be completely true, and then we'll get on with the rest of the briefing.
First on travel, let me tell you about two trips the Secretary is going to make in the up and coming. He will depart on July 17th for Rome, Italy, will get there the morning of July 18th. He will participate in the G-8 Foreign Ministers Meeting on the 18th and 19th where they discuss the issues that will be taken up in advance of the G-8 Summit in Genoa, and then Secretary Powell will return to the United States on July 19th. So that's a quick trip to Rome for that meeting.
A sign-up sheet is being posted in the Press Office, and it will come down Tuesday, July 10th at 5:00 p.m. So you have until next Tuesday to sign up for that trip.
Now, there is another trip shortly thereafter. Secretary Powell will travel to Asia from July 22nd to August 1st. The stops will include Japan, Vietnam, the Republic of Korea, the People's Republic of China, and Australia. He will arrive in Tokyo July 23rd for meetings with key officials, and then he will go on to Hanoi to attend the ASEAN Regional Forum and the ASEAN Post-Ministerial Conference on July 24-26.
While in Hanoi, since many leaders from Asia will be gathered, he will have an opportunity to meet with representatives of other countries from the region. And then from Hanoi, he will travel back to Seoul on July 27th, to Beijing on July 28th, for meetings with senior officials in those countries. And then from Beijing, he will travel to Canberra where he and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld will participate with their Australian counterparts in our Annual Australian-US Ministerial Consultations on July 30th. And then he will depart Canberra on July 31st.
Again, a sign-up sheet is being posted in the Press Office today. You can sign up for that trip. The sign-up period will close also Tuesday, July 10th at 5:00 p.m.
All right, now for a brief mea culpa. I apologize for trying to be a wire service. It turned out the late-breaking news yesterday was not entirely accurate. The trials that we talked about in China have not started. There was somewhere along the chain a mistranslation of what the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman said, which amounts to that the judicial process was under way.
So having that information corrected, let me give you the best and most accurate information of where these things stand that I have at this moment. And this is more direct information from the Chinese Government, not just what the spokesman said.
The trial of US citizen Li Shaomin will begin on Saturday, July 14th, in the Beijing First Intermediate Court. The Chinese Government has also informed us that an Embassy consular officer would be permitted to attend the trial with an interpreter.
As far as a trial for Gao Zhan, we do not have any specific information on that at this point, other than, as I said, the Foreign Ministry's spokesman's comment, which was that the judicial process was under way.
And I think those are the facts, as we know them on trials in China, or people we are interested in. As you know, the President talked to President Jiang yesterday and raised the issue of our detainees.
Q: Do you know what they mean by "judicial process"?
MR. BOUCHER: No, I don't, and I would have to leave them to explain how their courts proceed in these matters.
Q: Mr. Armitage had said earlier today that there was an expectation that both would begin in about a week. Is that how you see the Gao Zhan proceeding as well?
MR. BOUCHER: We actually have a date for the trial of Li Shaomin. We would assume that the Gao Zhan trial would be in the same time frame, but we don't have a date for it. So I can't speak for the Chinese on this one and tell you when it might start.
Q: Because Gao Zhan is not a US citizen, are you expecting that you will be allowed a consular officer and interpreter?
MR. BOUCHER: I think if it's not an open public trial, which most of these are not, we wouldn't have any ability to get somebody in there.
All right. Other issues and questions? George?
Q: I have enough words already. No questions.
Q: I second that.
Q: Can I ask one about the Japan handover of the servicemen? One of the issues, it seems, if we are to believe Japanese media reports, is whether the guy was allowed to have a translator, either of his own naming or of the police naming, during the questioning period that is going to take place.
Can you say if he will, in fact, be allowed a translator or give us any more details of the conditions under which the process will go ahead?
MR. BOUCHER: I am not able to give you any more details of the conditions under which the process will go ahead, other than to say that we have had discussions with the Japanese Government on the situation that the US service member will be in, and from those discussions we have satisfied ourselves that he will be receiving fair and humane treatment throughout his custody.
Q: Could you kindly give us a reason why you cannot go into details of this "fair and the humane treatment"?
MR. BOUCHER: Because we have satisfied ourselves, but it is not for us to announce any particular procedures or circumstances that the Japanese might apply to this case. We are not the ones that will be carrying them out.
Q: Are you saying that the Japanese Government has advised you not to go into details of the deal?
MR. BOUCHER: I'm saying we are not the ones that will be carrying out these procedures, so we are not going to describe them.
All right, we can set a new record. We've got one more.
Q: Related to the military bases in Japan, on SOFA, Status of Forces Agreement, there is a growing demand in Japan that SOFA should be reviewed. Are you considering the situation in Japan, or are you concerned about it?
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not aware of any change in that at this point.
Q: Thank you.
MR. BOUCHER: Thank you.
(The briefing was concluded at 12:40 p.m.)

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