MR. BOUCHER: I don't really have anything new. We put out a statement on fighting in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, an offensive they've launched which we condemn, but I'll leave the full text of that if anybody wants it.
QUESTION: You urge restraint on all six sides?
MR. BOUCHER: In this case, we think that the attacks by the government are a violation of the Lusaka Accords. They threaten and undermine the implementation and they should stop immediately. It's less than six sides.
QUESTION: Jamie's old friend, Mr. Von Sponeck, has been spouting off again about these sanctions on Iraq, saying they're a complete waste of time, they're not accomplishing anything, basically his standard line. Do you have anything other than the standard line to respond?
MR. BOUCHER: I hadn't seen the precise remarks. Obviously, we think the sanctions on Iraq are still necessary until Iraq complies with all the Security Council resolutions. We also would add that they're not the source of the suffering for the Iraqi people. It's quite clear we have programs available, programs that work quite well in the north in providing for the welfare and health of the people who live there, which in the Iraqi Government areas don't work as well because of the interference of the Iraqi Government.
QUESTION: On Iraq, are we concerned that so many countries have now restored diplomatic relations with Iraq, that relations are improving apparently between Jordan and Iraq – I think an Iraqi vice president has visited with Crown Prince Abdullah or is about to. Is this an alarming trend?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't have any broad observations to make, because actually I haven't had a chance – you know, I haven't checked the record of exactly who has done what and I would just go back to what I said: We think it's necessary to maintain the sanctions on Iraq and pressure on Iraq so that they again don't become a threat to their neighbors and their people.
QUESTION: Do you have anything more than Joe said about the Chinese-Russian statement on NMD?
MR. BOUCHER: I guess just a little bit more, not much. I think basically a couple things to keep in mind here. The first is, we don't really have any fundamental problem or any problem with closer relations between Russia and China. These are two big countries that have borders and some common interests as well as an interest in the broader world and we've talked to these countries and they should talk to each other as well. So, fundamentally, there is no problem with that.
Second of all, we've made quite clear that our National Missile Defense is not directed against Russia and it is not directed against China; it is designed to deal with the emerging long-range ballistic missile threat. We've seen examples of missile development programs recently. And, you know, the President is going to have to make a decision on the basis of the four criteria, and it is a decision that takes into account the interests of the United States and the possible threat that we might face.
So we will continue our discussions with Russia and China, with our allies about it. But in the end, the President has to make a decision based on what's in the US national interest, considering the kind of threat and the cost and feasibility and the overall environment.
QUESTION: May I follow on that? After the Korean Summit, when we asked if closer relations between North and South would eliminate the need for the missile defense, you and I think several other officials said that, no, we have to look at the capability, not the intention.
What is to prevent Putin and Jiang Zemin from saying the same thing when you say it is not our intention to aim this system at them?
MR. BOUCHER: Well, I think it is both. Certainly, the capability of this system is not such that we could eliminate a threat from a country that had multiple weapons, numerous weapons. It is not directed at the kind of capabilities the Chinese and Russians have. It is not intended – it is not being built to counter that. I think that should be clear from the technology involved that that's the case.
QUESTION: A North Korea question? When was the Secretary – is the Secretary supposed to meet the North Korean foreign minister?
MR. BOUCHER: What would make you think that? We haven't announced anything.
QUESTION: I thought it had already been announced, that she was going to --
MR. BOUCHER: We haven't announced anything. We don't have anything to announce today. Stay tuned. That's the word.
QUESTION: Stay tuned on North Korea?
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah.
QUESTION:What – I'm going to ask this question anyway. When is she leaving for Thailand?
MR. BOUCHER: We haven't announced a departure. The meetings are – I think the dates of the ASEAN meetings, the ASEAN Regional Forum meetings are fairly well known. That remains on her schedule but we haven't worked out the exact schedule of her travel yet.
QUESTION: When would she have to leave to get there – I mean –
MR. BOUCHER: I mean, really, it hasn't been – stops, distances –
QUESTION: Does Middle East peace trump the North Korean foreign minister?
MR. BOUCHER: We haven't announced anything on either one, so I can't play dueling announcements on it.
QUESTION: Can I ask one kind of general question, and you can answer it if you want to. Because we're at Camp David, we're focusing on the three countries involved here. Is there a broader effort to involve other countries in the Mid East Peace Process and related to Camp David to solicit suggestions from them?
MR. BOUCHER: Without answering Camp David questions, if you look back at the last several months, you see that we have been actively working not only with countries in the Peace Process but other countries in the region. And in the week or so before coming here, the Secretary talked to a number of Middle Eastern leaders on the telephone, we had the Tunisian foreign minister in Washington. She talked to people in the region at various times. And so there is – you know, we've sent messages out to other governments in the region to encourage people to support this process and to support the parties in the process and try to help them reach peace.
QUESTION: Did she form an impression during these conversations of what other Middle Eastern leaders would accept in terms of Jerusalem?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't think she actually negotiated any particular issues with those leaders. No, I wouldn't hazard a guess on that.
(The briefing concluded at 2:47 p.m.)
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