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State Department Spokeman Richard Boucher
State Department
Washington, D.C.
September 24, 2001
Con't

QUESTION: On coalition-building, can you shed any light on the coalition-building among the opposition parties in Afghanistan, and in particular, are any specific representations, promises being made to them regarding whatever help they might be giving the United States?

MR. BOUCHER: Let me see. I think I'm somewhat restricted on what I can say, other than the fact that we do keep in close touch with a variety of Afghan people throughout the world, in addition to groups that may operate in Afghanistan. We have a lot of contact with Afghans abroad. We maintain contact with all the Afghan factions, as well as with significant individuals, like Zahir Shah. And we'll continue to pursue those and work those.

We have made quite clear this is not a fight against the Afghan people. The United States, in fact, is the largest foreign donor in support for the Afghan people. We are providing $173 million this year to support the people of Afghanistan from the hardship that they have suffered, both from the hands of the weather and from the hands of the regime.

QUESTION: A couple of other things to follow up on that. Does the State Department have any personnel in parts of Afghanistan controlled by the opposition?

And secondly, does -- there was some confusion at the weekend over the size of the reward that you're offering for Mr. bin Laden. The Secretary seemed to agree that it was $25 million, which appears to be derived from an appropriation included in the $40 billion bill passed by Congress.

But it's really only $5 million, is it not? Could you clarify what exactly it is?

Matt seems to think he knows the answer, but maybe -- I'd rather have it from you. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: I can't imagine why.

MR. BOUCHER: In that case, I'll be glad to give you the answer.

QUESTION: What is the answer?

MR. BOUCHER: There is an existing $5 million reward. There was an appropriation that, as you said, is part of the $40 billion that Congress appropriated -- $48 million has been allocated to the State Department for a number of purposes, including for providing reward money.


In this specific case, we are looking at now exactly how much we go to, and we'll do that to see where we go -- how we structure that next. So we don't have a final number for you, but we did get an appropriation of money, which we will use towards increasing the size of rewards.

QUESTION: Okay, but you're definitely thinking of increasing the reward specifically for Usama bin Laden?

MR. BOUCHER: Again, we're developing the program for this particular case, and I don't have an exact amount at this point yet, and how it will be defined.

QUESTION: Okay, but what about the question about if you have any presence in -- or in parts of Afghanistan?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't think that's something I could speak to, even if I knew.

QUESTION: Richard, on the money, the White House statement on Friday about the $5.1 billion that he signed in emergency -- that had a little paragraph about the State Department, where it said $48 million was going.

MR. BOUCHER: Maybe that's where it came from, okay.

QUESTION: And it said half -- about half of that -- which would be around $25 million -- was going towards rewards. Is that -- can you at least say that although you haven't yet decided how much of the -- or where exactly that half of $48 million is going to go in terms of rewards, that in fact it is going to be about $25 million?

MR. BOUCHER: Let me see if I can break down the $48 million better for you. And the answer is, not quite at this time, but I will be glad to get you that information when we have it.

QUESTION: Richard, can -- at the beginning of this briefing, you talked a little bit about all US posts being open. Can we go back to last Friday and talk about a reported threat against the US Embassy in Paris? Can you give us any information on that? Was there such a threat, even though we understand, of course, today it was open?

MR. BOUCHER: At this point, there's not too much I can say about this specific case, because the French Government is still investigating the people, the activities of the people that they recently arrested.

We have been working closely with the French Government, as we have been working with countries around the world. But it is an ongoing investigation. All I can say at this point is we would like to thank the French Government for their ongoing security cooperation.

QUESTION: You can't say anything about whether there might have been a threat, a possible threat?

MR. BOUCHER: No, I can't. I have to leave it to the French to investigate first.

QUESTION: If I could just ask you about Iraq, and what the state of its weapons of mass destruction program is, to the best of your knowledge?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't think we have anything particularly new to say on that. The United States has produced abundant reports on that and what we know, and I'd refer you back to those.

QUESTION: Back to Pakistan. Do you have any reactions to reports that the Taliban have taken over the UN offices entirely and seized 140 million tons of food aid, or something enormous like that? A hundred and forty tons, I'm sorry.

MR. BOUCHER: I'd have to -- I'd want to double-check on any numbers and information like that. Unfortunately, the foreign humanitarian workers who have been working to feed the people of Afghanistan were -- had to withdraw about a week or so ago, I think, under orders from the Taliban. This has been one of the primary channels to maintain the welfare and support for the people of Afghanistan. We've been a major contributor to that.

With the withdrawal of the foreign humanitarian workers, it's made it impossible to keep funneling food and distributing food to people who need it in Afghanistan. So I think this other step that's reported by the Afghan Government -- and I can't confirm it because we don't have people there -- but it would just be another step in making it impossible to really take care of the people in the way that we've always been trying to do.

QUESTION: Can we go back to Saudi Arabia? Has Saudi Arabia informed the US that it will in fact sever relations with the Taliban? And I'm wondering, in terms of cooperation, if they're -- if you could talk about specific areas in which the US has made requests of Saudi Arabia. For instance, banking or related --

MR. BOUCHER: Well, let me answer your second half, and then not answer the first half. We have been working with a lot of governments around the world, and we've left it to each of them to make public what other steps -- specific steps they might want to be seen as taking, they might want to take.

So in terms of the specific areas and kind of steps and issues like the office, the diplomatic office that the Taliban have had there, those are questions the Saudi Government's going to have to answer. I would say that we have had very good cooperation with the Saudi Government. We have had excellent cooperation in the military area. We're talking to them about a variety of other steps and areas of cooperation, and we'll look for the same kind of cooperation in these other areas as well.

QUESTION: Can I ask about the list from this morning? Is it correct that the campaign against terrorism is not just limited to organizations that have international -- or that go beyond their own -- the borders of their own state, but it's to all? It's against all -- obviously focused first on bin Laden and al-Qaida, but you're going to go after all terrorist groups, even if they don't go across the ocean to do something?

MR. BOUCHER: The President described it as being a campaign against terrorist organizations with global reach.

QUESTION: Right.

MR. BOUCHER: I don't think I can define it any further for you at this point, because clearly the first -- the campaign is being targeted first and foremost on the al-Qaida organization.

QUESTION: Then does that mean that such groups, or that the governments of, say, Sri Lanka, Colombia and Spain should not expect soon to have -- to see the US move against -- or the US try to get the coalition to move against groups like the Tamil Tigers and the FARC?

MR. BOUCHER: I would say these governments would expect us to continue the cooperation we already have with them -- and in many cases, very close cooperation we have with them -- to help them with their problems of terrorism.

QUESTION: But they will not necessarily be placed on a similar kind of list as the groups were this morning.

MR. BOUCHER: In the -- what is it -- 12 days since the bombing, we have worked to identify the sources of finance and support for al-Qaida. We have worked to identify the associated organizations -- that's what this list is. As we move down the road, we will identify other terrorist organizations, other areas of financing for terrorism, and there may very well be people and entities from other parts of the world placed on this list.

QUESTION: So as far as you are aware, there will be a distinction drawn between groups like ETA, that only carry -- have only carried out attacks within Spain -- and a group like --

MR. BOUCHER: No, I wouldn't draw that conclusion. I would say the President said that we would go after groups with global reach. We have a list of terrorist groups. We will be looking to cut off the financing for all terrorist groups, and that will be something that we get to. In these few days, we've focused on one particular group, al-Qaida. But clearly, other individuals and organizations may be added to the list, and I don't want to try to circumscribe how far that might go.

QUESTION: And then one more briefly on the list. As it relates to bin Laden --

MR. BOUCHER: There are other -- let me -- I have to say one more thing. Sorry, I forget. There are other regulations and sanctions relating to people on the terrorism list of foreign terrorist organizations, et cetera, that do prevent people from providing financing, and were we to find such situations in the United States, clearly we would want to add them to the various lists.

QUESTION: And on that point specifically, is it not the case that the restrictions put on this morning on al-Qaida and bin Laden and several other groups are redundant, because they were already subject to sanctions by being designated FTAs?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't think that's a fair characterization. I would say this broadens the authority of the President. It directs federal agencies to work with other nations and banking systems to block the assets. It authorizes Treasury to take immediate steps to block the assets of these organizations, of terrorists, of foreign institutions that support terrorism. And it makes the declaration of a national emergency.

It does three specific things. It expands the coverage of existing executive orders from terrorism in the Middle East to terrorism as a whole, global terrorism. It expands the class of targeted groups to include those who provide financial or other support to terrorist groups. And it makes clear our ability to block US assets of foreign banks who refuse to freeze terrorist assets abroad. So it does some very specific things in addition to taking the fight to the financial front.

QUESTION: But in terms of bin Laden and al-Qaida, and as it relates to the freezing of their assets -- the potential assets of the United States -- it doesn't add anything?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't think I could agree with that. I'd have to check with Treasury for more detail to see whether that's an accurate description or not. But I think, in many important ways, it broadens the authority, it broadens the scope and it broadens the target.

QUESTION: Can I just try again on Iraq? In terms of --

QUESTION: This is to help a colleague who's stuck in Baghdad. So keep that in mind.

QUESTION: In terms of -- we're talking about all these terrorist threats to the United States. From what you know about Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction program, is that -- would you consider that just as much of a threat to the international community as some of these other terrorist activities? (Laughter.)

MR. BOUCHER: No. I'm not going to start speculating and comparing every threat that exists in the world. There are a lot of things we need to work on. One of them is terrorism; one of them is weapons of mass destruction. We have very active programs on weapons of mass destruction, and we have very active programs to restrict Iraq's ability to acquire weapons of mass destruction. That continues to be a concern.

It continues to be a concern that Iraq is trying to threaten its neighbors, threaten its own people, and that Iraq has still not disclosed what it has to the international community. So we have not in any way lessened our concern about Iraq's programs for weapons of mass destruction. But I would say that clearly there is a major effort being mounted to go after terrorism.

QUESTION: One more question. Are you disappointed that the talks between Peres and Arafat have yet to go forward, and it seems that Sharon is putting the kibosh on it quite a bit?

And also, do you have any information on the -- Israel's extradition request for Marwan Barghouti -- I don't know how to say it -- Barghouti?

MR. BOUCHER: I addressed the particular issue of the meeting between Foreign Minister Peres and Chairman Arafat a little bit earlier. The Secretary has continued to encourage such a meeting. We think a meeting like that can be useful, and should be prepared to be useful.

As far as the general view of the situation, we do think it's very important that the Palestinian Authority continue to take sustained and effective steps, and take those steps immediately to preempt violence and arrest people responsible for planning and conducting acts of violence.

We strongly urge the parties to seize the opportunity in order to begin their direct and substantive dialogue, in order to end the violence and move forward with implementing Mitchell Committee recommendations. We think it's important that the Israeli Government take steps to help improve the situation of the Palestinian people on the ground, and through practical measures to facilitate the movement of goods and people.

We have welcomed Chairman Arafat's explicit call for a complete cease-fire. We have welcomed the Israeli Government's statements that it will suspend offensive military operation. We think it's essential that concrete actions -- more concrete actions continue to flow from these positive messages. We think all sides need to act in a manner that sustains and strengthens efforts to end the violence in the region.

As for the question of the request for the arrest and transfer of the senior Fatah official, I think I have to leave that to the Israeli Government. We continue to call on both sides to cooperate in the security area, to resume their security contacts as a means of ending the violence, restoring trust and confidence and moving towards a resumption of political discussions. And that would provide an opportunity for them to discuss areas like this of concern.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: Is the Secretary getting impatient with Mr. Sharon's foot-dragging?

MR. BOUCHER: I would say the Secretary continues to work assiduously and diligently on the problems of the Middle East and will continue to do so to make sure that we do everything we can to make the situation better.

QUESTION: A question there, for a two-second answer. I think it's tomorrow, right, that the Chinese counter-terrorist people are coming?

MR. BOUCHER: Yes.

QUESTION: Do you have any details about what their schedule is going to be?

MR. BOUCHER: No, I don't.

QUESTION: Is it in this building?

MR. BOUCHER: I'll see what I can get for you.

QUESTION: Thank you.

END