Department Spokesman Richard Boucher
State Department Daily Briefing
September 25, 2001
QUESTION: Sure, thank you.
QUESTION: Richard, when the Administration went before Congress and asked it
to support a decision to waive all sanctions against Pakistan, it was due to
the fact the US was saying it was receiving excellent cooperation. What evidence
is there of this excellent cooperation? We have seen the UAE and we have seen
Saudi Arabia make fairly significant moves in breaking off diplomatic relations,
but Pakistan has maintained diplomatic relations.
MR. BOUCHER: I am afraid this is going to be somewhat frustrating to you, because
in this whole campaign over however long it takes to put the squeeze on terrorism
and particularly on al-Qaida, there are going to be many, many things that happen
that people do with us that are not going to be visible for whatever reasons.
And I have to maintain the position I have taken before and say countries themselves
are going to have to be left to talk, to the extent they want to themselves,
about the steps they have taken. There are a great many steps a great many number
of nations have taken. Some of these are visible, some of these are new financial
regulations that you see in Switzerland or in Japan or other places that are
starting to issue them. Some of them are visible law enforcement efforts that
you see in Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands and other places. Some of them
will be tighter border controls, that we've seen in Pakistan on its border with
But many of the steps that people take with us are not going to be visible.
So I'm sure we'll be in a position to discuss in closed session with the Congress
this afternoon some of those steps that we've seen and some of the cooperation
that we're getting. But I'm afraid that just by the nature of these steps we
won't always be able to talk about them publicly ourselves.
QUESTION: When the Saudi Foreign Minister was here last week, he said that they
were going to take financial steps to help halt and to check on some banks,
to halt other transactions. Have you seen evidence of this? Have they told you
that they are now doing this?
MR. BOUCHER: Can I give the same answer I just gave to Andrea? I have to leave
it to countries themselves to talk about the steps they're taking, and I'm not
QUESTION: He did.
MR. BOUCHER: He talked about what he would be doing, and now you can go ask
him if they've done it and let him talk about the steps they've taken. We greatly
appreciate all the cooperation with the Saudis.
QUESTION: They're not letting journalists into Saudi Arabia.
MR. BOUCHER: Well, I'm afraid that various countries will go about this in their
own way. We are confident of the support we have. We have excellent cooperation
with Saudi Arabia and other governments. But it's not for me to talk about what
they are doing. They are going to have to do it themselves.
QUESTION: Richard, a couple of questions. First of all, what are you doing or
what's going on at the United Nations? There were reports yesterday that you
were exploring the possibility of an Article 7 resolution, which would impose
sanctions on countries that harbor terrorists. Can you confirm that and give
us any details of what exactly you're aiming for here?
MR. BOUCHER: I cannot confirm that. Let me go through a couple things, though,
that we have seen at the United Nations.
First, it's important to remember that within 48 hours of this attack we had
both the Security Council and the General Assembly going on record, noting the
need for a vigorous response to terrorism, for a sustained, comprehensive strategy
to defeat it.
Secretary General Annan made a speech yesterday talking about the complete solidarity
of the United Nations with Americans.
The General Assembly will begin a plenary session on October 1st to take up
the issue of international terrorism, and the US will participate fully in that.
In addition, we have been talking to other members of the Security Council about
possible resolutions focused on this or that aspect of the problem. One of the
things under discussion -- and it's not yet into a proposal for a resolution
-- but talking about how to coordinate financial controls, for example.
So there are grounds for continued coordination and action up at the United
Nations on various aspects of the problem, but I think the Secretary and Dr.
Rice have both answered questions about self-defense and the basis on which
we might act without having a further UN resolution on the overall thing.
QUESTION: Just to verify this, none of this -- are people talking about Article
7 in these consultations?
MR. BOUCHER: It's Chapter 7, and I don't know if Chapter 7 would apply to any
of the particular resolutions that are being discussed or not. Chapter 7 is
not only the use of force; Chapter 7 is the obligation of all members to carry
out a resolution. So if we want all members of the UN, for example, to carry
out financial controls, that may be one way of doing it. But those kind of topics
are under general discussion at the UN now, and I'm not sure that anything has
been presented or decided.
QUESTION: First, can you at least say that there has been a rapid response by
countries, without specifying who they are, to the financial restrictions announced
yesterday? Have countries come forward to you and been positively inclined toward
working on this? And my second question is about the aid workers in Afghanistan.
We haven't had an update on them very recently --
MR. BOUCHER: The detainees, the people who are detained?
MR. BOUCHER: On the reaction to the financial controls the President announced
yesterday, I would say that we are seeing an international reaction that is
positive, we are seeing parallel steps in many countries. I think I have already
noted for you that Japan has instituted some financial regulations. Last week,
the Swiss imposed a set of financial regulations on certain companies associated
with the Taliban. So there is activity going on in those areas, and we hear
talk in various places of further steps that might be taken. But I am not aware
that all of those have yet come to the public announcement.
So I would say there is responsiveness on the issue of financial controls and
we will continue to work that issue with the international community, looking
both for what international action can be taken through various groupings, but
also then through individual national action to impose their own regulations
QUESTION: And the aid workers, the detainees?
MR. BOUCHER: Oh, the aid workers. Sorry. Our embassy officials have remained
very engaged in gathering information on the status of the detainees and their
trial. We would underscore the President's message of last Thursday to the Taliban.
The President said that they need to release all foreign nationals, including
American citizens whom you have unjustly imprisoned, protect foreign journalists,
diplomats and aid workers in your country."
At this point, we have no new information, though, on the progress of the trial
or the welfare of the detainees. That's since last Friday. The Pakistani lawyer
that was chosen by the detainees has not reached Kabul due to security problems
inside Afghanistan. The parents of the American detainees remain in Islamabad
and are in close contact with our embassy.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) those talks? I mean, have we had any more talks in Islamabad?
MR. BOUCHER: I think we have had further contact with the Taliban in Islamabad
on the subject of these people. The latest I remember was on Sunday when there
was some contact between our consular officials and the Taliban on the subject
of these detainees.
QUESTION: I believe the US chargé in Rome has been speaking with King
Zahir Shah, his folks.
QUESTION: Could we just stay on the detainees --
QUESTION: Richard, when they were first -- when the detainees were first arrested,
you wouldn't comment on the charges and I don't remember you saying that they
were unjustly imprisoned. Are you prepared to say now that you think that these
charges are false or --
MR. BOUCHER: I would say now that we have not been able to get much information
on the trial and the legal situation. We are in touch with the families, we
are in touch with their lawyer. But he, himself, has not been able to get to
Kabul. So I don't have any more to share on the legal process than I ever did
QUESTION: (Inaudible.) If there truly becomes an attack on Afghanistan, if they
kept these people and they couldn't protect them, would this be similar to use
other times, other places, of human shields? I mean, do they -- has there been
any fear that these people would not be kept safe and that might deter the United
MR. BOUCHER: To answer a question like that would require excessive speculation
on my part. I am not going to get into that road. I go back to what the President
said the other day, that they need to release all foreign nationals, including
QUESTION: The chargé and the King in Rome?
MR. BOUCHER: The chargé and the King. I think the context, first. We
have had longstanding contacts with Afghan factions and with all the significant
individuals involved in this situation, so US officials have had discussions
with many Afghans. I think we have noted recently we have had contact with Northern
Alliance leaders. We have been in touch with many Afghans since the terrorist
We do have regular contacts with the former King of Afghanistan, Zahir Shah,
and other Afghan expatriate groups, in coordination with the UN. The King was
deposed in a 1973 coup and now lives near Rome and has a continuing interest
in ending the bloodshed in his country. So today the chargé of our Embassy
in Rome met with the King to discuss the situation in Afghanistan.
QUESTION: Do you have regular contacts with an octogenarian former head of --
King? When was the last time that you had a meeting?
MR. BOUCHER: Today. In Rome.
QUESTION: No, before. Before today.
MR. BOUCHER: Before that? I don't know precisely. I know we have seen him from
time to time.
QUESTION: A year ago? Within a year?
MR. BOUCHER: Within a year.
QUESTION: You're sure?
MR. BOUCHER: I wouldn't say it if I wasn't sure. But you lead me to question
why I'm so sure. (Laughter.) I will try to get you more detailed information,
QUESTION: Can you also clarify exactly what this administration's position is
toward any kind of talks or assistance to the Northern Alliance? What was said
across town earlier today seemed to only confuse the matter. I am sure that
was unintentional. But what is the status of the US contact and possible support
for the Northern Alliance?
MR. BOUCHER: I would just say we are in regular contact with a whole variety
-- with a whole gamut of Afghan factions, including the Northern Alliance. But
I am really not in a position to go into detail on those contacts or their contents.
QUESTION: Do you have any more details on the discussions between the chargé
and King Zahir Shah?
MR. BOUCHER: No, I don't. We keep in touch with all sorts of factions and people.
QUESTION: What was the purpose?
MR. BOUCHER: The purpose was to discuss the current situation in Afghanistan.
QUESTION: On a related matter, the Secretary yesterday, and I believe the President
this morning, both talked in rather general terms about finding Afghans, possibly
within the Taliban movement, who are willing to cooperate with you against Usama
bin Laden. Are you in contact with such people and how -- could you give us
any details of how you assess the significance of this approach?
MR. BOUCHER: No. I'm afraid there is nothing in there that I would be able to
comment on. Sorry.
QUESTION: Richard, on the King again, last week and currently -- I think it's
still going on -- there is an announcement running -- the King is speaking,
has a recorded announcement that has been going out over BBC and VOA, talking
about the need to convene a Loya Girga for reconciliation and end to the war.
Is the State Department giving him air time and decided that he is worthy of
VOA air while Mullah Omar is not?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know. You would have to check with VOA if he has been on
their broadcast or not.
QUESTION: He has. But apparently it's an announcement. And I would imagine,
since you guys take such an interest in their programming, that you would have
had something to do with the King's message.
MR. BOUCHER: We respect the editorial integrity and independence of the Voice
of America and those kind of decisions on broadcasting newsworthy announcements
would be up to them.
QUESTION: On the Saudis, 20 questions back, is it the State Department's understanding
that the end of diplomatic ties with the Taliban, would that also cover the
hard line Wahhabi clerics and their financial links to the Taliban as well?
MR. BOUCHER: Without specifying exactly what steps Saudi Arabia might take,
I think we have seen statements from Saudi Arabia that they intended to take
steps to cut off any financial support that might exist. I leave it to them
to describe any detail they want.
QUESTION: And can I follow up? Have you asked specifically about the links between
these religious leaders?
MR. BOUCHER: Once again, we're not in a position to go into specific requests
we might have made of individual countries.
QUESTION: I'm wondering what kind of discussion the Secretary is having with
Egyptian officials and if there's been any special weight to that relationship,
given its experience of its own problem in the '90s?
MR. BOUCHER: It gives me an opportunity to tell you what we do know about Foreign
Minister Maher. He'll visit Washington tomorrow for meetings with senior administration
officials, including a meeting with Secretary Powell. I don't have an exact
time for that meeting, but it may be tomorrow.
Meetings will cover a broad range of bilateral and regional issues between the
US and Egypt, including the efforts to develop an international campaign against
terrorism and to bring justice to those responsible for the horrific acts of
September 11th; will also discuss the current situation between the Israelis
and Palestinians, how to maintain the cease-fire, how to encourage the restoration
of direct discussions between the parties.
We have long valued Egypt's critical role with the parties. We welcome this
opportunity to consult with one of our close regional partners. The Secretary
has kept in touch with Egypt throughout this period. He has talked on the phone
with Foreign Minister Maher at least once -- I can't remember if it's more than
that -- in the last two weeks. And clearly through our embassy there we've kept
in very close touch with the Egyptians.
QUESTION: Turkish Prime Minister Cem is coming to Washington tomorrow, and I
think he will meet Secretary on Thursday. Do you have anything about that, what
is about his visit -- just against terrorism or Middle East process?
MR. BOUCHER: I would expect that we will discuss any number of issues with Foreign
Minister Cem, one of our NATO ally countries with which we cooperate closely
on many issues. But clearly the most important issue to both of us right now
is going to be the fight against terrorism and building the international coalition.
That will be the prime subject.
QUESTION: And I know you can't go into details, but the Secretary mentioned
yesterday that there were outstanding requests, the Central Asian states, which
you were still awaiting answers to, and Sergey Ivanov has now suggested quite
strongly that Dushanbe in Tajikistan may be offered as a military base.
Can you just tell us whether Central Asian states have given a more solid or
more concrete indication of what they might be willing to offer in the last
couple of days?
MR. BOUCHER: Even without going into details, it's hard for me to formulate
an answer. I would say that you have seen, from various governments in that
region, some strong expressions of support, and some specific offers of cooperation.
We are in continuing contact and discussion with leaders in that region. The
Secretary has talked to several of them; the President has talked to some of
them as well.
If I remember correctly on the phone calls, just yesterday the Secretary talked
to the Foreign Minister of Uzbekistan, for example, and he has talked to the
President of Turkmenistan last Saturday, and obviously we have been in contact
with the countries of the region through our embassies and our ambassadors there.
So we will continue to work closely with the governments of that region, who
themselves have been affected by the terrorism coming out of Afghanistan. We
have cooperated with them against terrorism in the past, and we want to continue
that cooperation with them in the future.
QUESTION: Richard, on that -- speaking of the Central Asian states, has the
Ambassador flown back in to Tajikistan for talks -- who has been doing the talks
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know; I'll have to check.
MR. BOUCHER: No, we've got Macedonia and other places back there.
QUESTION: One more on Afghanistan -- well, it's Afghan-related. I think it would
be remiss for you not to -- do you have anything to say about the insinuation
by William Kristol this morning that the Secretary is somehow being disloyal
to the President?
MR. BOUCHER: Nothing could be further from the truth. I'll stop at that. Macedonia?
QUESTION: Yes. NATO Secretary General, George Robertson, is in Macedonia today.
And the Operation Essential Harvest is finished. And also, NATO's mission officially
will end tomorrow. However, President Trajkovski, the Macedonian President,
requested a new mission to Macedonia to act as a security guard to OSCE monitors.
And I would appreciate your comment on that.
MR. BOUCHER: She's telling me all the things I was going to tell her. (Laughter.)
Let me cut to the chase then, and not offer you the facts, and just offer you
the commentary. On the facts, the Essential Harvest -- the Task Force Harvest,
sorry -- is progressing well. It's not quite finished; it comes to a close on
tomorrow, September 26th, and we think that it will be able to meet or surpass
its target for weapons collection by that date.
NATO has received the request for a NATO presence in Macedonia following the
conclusion of that operation. The allies are currently discussing this issue
and the possible options for what NATO might be able to do. There are no final
decisions at this point. We refer you to NATO for details of that. I think we
all look forward to hearing from Lord Robertson after his visit.
NATO has had a presence in Macedonia since before the outbreak of fighting that
we saw, and we would expect to continue to have a presence after the end of
Operation Essential Harvest. That's pretty much where we are.
I have also noted there has been progress in the political side in Macedonia.
The parliament approved procedural votes on the draft text of the constitutional
amendments that are called for. A final vote is expected after a short found
of public debate. So we continue to urge the party leaders to implement fully
the framework agreement according to this agreed timeline. But those steps are
welcome and that progress is welcome.
QUESTION: The UN Security Council today holds closed session on the situation
in Macedonia. Do you have anything about that?
MR. BOUCHER: No, I don't, I'm afraid.
QUESTION: Last week, the President indicated that Governor Ridge would be setting
up a homeland-type defense group. Is there any equivalent with the State Department
overseas for a special cabinet-type post, and also to enlarge existing type
departments to function as such?
MR. BOUCHER: I haven't heard any talk of that. There are several departments
that are active on this overseas with foreign counterparts. We help manage and
coordinate that. I don't think there's any change contemplated that I've heard
QUESTION: (Inaudible) Secretary expects to hear today from the Italian Foreign
Minister in their meeting this afternoon, what he will be asking and what he
will be telling?
MR. BOUCHER: Well, can he have the meeting himself before we have to kind of
describe it all to you? I would say that clearly Italy, among our NATO allies,
has a key role to play. We have seen very strong support from Italy. So clearly
we are going to thank Foreign Minister Ruggiero for that support. We have seen
solidarity. The clear commitment we have seen from Italy is deeply appreciated
and makes an excellent contribution to the broad and multilateral campaign that
we are mounting. I'm sure they will discuss first of all the campaign against
global terrorism -- the Global Campaign Against Terrorism -- as well as the
situations that they have discussed in the past, like the Middle East and the
QUESTION: Richard, did you ever find out what the answer was to the question
about yesterday's sanctions?
MR. BOUCHER: We have lawyers working on this, so I don't have a final answer