Daily Press Briefing
Richard Boucher, Spokesman
January 14, 2004
QUESTION: Richard, moving on to —
QUESTION: Can we stay in Monterrey?
MR. BOUCHER: Stay in Monterrey. I wanted to, but they wouldn’t let me. Had to come back.
QUESTION: This is — I assume this was discussed, the issue of Haiti, in the periphery of the Monterrey meetings. And I’m just wondering, the Secretary was calling last week for Aristide and the opposition to join up to the bishops’ plan and all that sort of thing, and now it looks like there’s going to be a meeting between the President and some of the opposition in the Bahamas coming up.
Do you have any reaction to that?
MR. BOUCHER: The issue of Haiti was discussed quite extensively in and around Monterrey. The Secretary had a meeting with the CARICOM nations, including Haiti, and the President joined that meeting for part of it. Both the Secretary and the President encouraged President Aristide very strongly to engage in dialogue with the Haitian opposition to try to resolve these issues. CARICOM, the bishops, others have made their services available and their ideas available to try to help out, to try to help bring the parties together into some sort of dialogue. And so strong support from us, but also from other members of the — the people in the region was expressed at that time for encouraging that kind of dialogue.
As far as the specific meeting that you talked about, the idea was discussed but I don’t know if I’m — I’m not sure it’s confirmed at this point.
QUESTION: But it’s something that you would —
MR. BOUCHER: It’s certainly something that we would encourage.
QUESTION: Richard, on Haiti. Apparently, supports of Aristide attacked some radio outlets in Haiti. Do you have any specific —
MR. BOUCHER: Sorry, that’s new news to me. I’d have to check on it and see.
QUESTION: Also on Haiti. In the meeting with the CARICOM heads of delegation, was the — just for clarification, did Powell meet specifically one on one with Aristide and convey this message, or was it only in the larger group setting?
MR. BOUCHER: It was a group meeting, but I think they had some time to talk a little bit privately as well. Whether it was that meeting or during the course of the two days, I don’t know. But it was, I think, basically the same message that the President conveyed, that the Secretary conveyed, that it’s very, very important for the government to enter into dialogue with the opposition to try to solve these problems peacefully, take advantage of the proposals and suggestions being made by the bishops or the intercession of the CARICOM nations and the help that they can offer, in order to resolve the political turmoil in Haiti for the benefit of Haiti’s people. That was a very clear message, and I think there was a lot of support for that kind of message among other nations in Monterrey as well.
QUESTION: And did President Aristide appear to be receptive at all?
MR. BOUCHER: I wouldn’t try to characterize his reaction at this point.
QUESTION: Is it your understanding that Aristide has actually accepted, in principle, the bishops’ plan, and that it is, in fact, the opposition who are —
MR. BOUCHER: I don’t know. No, that’s not my understanding, but I can’t give you an exact state of play.