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Spokesman Richard Boucher
State Department Daily Briefing
State Department
Washington, D.C.
September 27, 2001

MR. BOUCHER: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I'm sorry I'm one minute and 14 seconds late, but that is as close as I've come for a long time.

If I can at the top, let me sort of tell you a little bit about what's going on today. First of all, at the United Nations, we are working a resolution to stop the financing of terrorist groups.

At the United Nations, we are working with other governments on a resolution that would help stop the financing of terrorist groups and enlist all countries in the cause to cut off the financing for terrorism. It is a resolution we have worked carefully with other governments, and we think it can be a significant contribution that will be worked and discussed over the next few days. The resolution should be submitted today.

Another development of importance to us today is there is a meeting in Berlin. The United Nations is meeting with the donor countries for Afghanistan in Berlin today. They will unveil their plan to respond to the current and projected refugee needs in all the neighboring countries of Afghanistan. We know that Afghanistan already is facing a humanitarian crisis. Winter is coming on, food distribution systems have broken down, sometimes because of the actions of the government, and we are looking at possible refugee needs as we go forward.

The body that is meeting in Berlin is a standing group. It is the Afghan support group, and it meets annually to set policy on Afghan political issues as well as humanitarian ones. Today's meeting is an extraordinary meeting to address the humanitarian crisis. It will be at the sub-ministerial level and our delegation will be led by Acting Assistant Secretary Alan Kreczko, who handles population, refugees and migration for us.

The international assistance to the Taliban controlled areas of Afghanistan has largely been suspended at this point. The expatriate relief personnel have left, transportation delivery systems, as I have said, have broken down. Food stocks for an estimated 2 million people may run out in two to three weeks.

The international community therefore is preparing for a contingency outflow that is estimated by the UN to be up to 1.5 million people that we have to prepare for, who might try to go to Pakistan and other neighboring countries. The UN is going to launch an appeal that estimates the potential requirement for six months to be about $580 million for the needs both inside and outside Afghanistan.

The Afghan forum, this discussion, will assess the current humanitarian situation inside Afghanistan and address the need of the five bordering states to provide temporary protection and open borders. We strongly support the efforts by the United Nations to prepare for the refugee outflow, and indeed we have looked at this question carefully ourselves to make sure that we do everything possible to help in the situation.

We are urging neighboring countries to develop or review plans for dealing with the refugee outflow. The international community wants to assure Afghanistan's neighbors that the UN-led effort will provide the support necessary to meet the needs of incoming refugees.

We would expect to formulate our response to this specific appeal, and we would hope to announce a contribution at next week's meetings of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and Executive Committee meeting next week in Geneva.

So that's what's going on in Berlin today with the other donors, and we are planning ahead, preparing for the humanitarian crisis that looks like it's starting to occur in Afghanistan and could be exacerbated by the troubles, by whatever may come.

QUESTION: Richard, can you say how much this crisis is affecting the coalition, and how quickly or not quickly you are moving ahead in your plan to address the terrorism threat?

And does the fact that --

MR. BOUCHER: There's two aspects to it. I don't think it directly affects the coalition and the planning and all the efforts around the world to coordinate on information, on law enforcement, on financial cooperation, isolation of the Taliban and other kind of steps that you see being taken all over the world right now.

At the same time, the efforts of the international community, whether it's what we've done over past years, the $180 million the United States alone is spending this year to help the Afghan people, and the planning that we're doing now to try to further assist the Afghan people as they face the hardship of winter and any other disruptions that might occur. We are, I think, showing -- and many people in the coalition care about this -- we are showing that this is not against Afghan people; it's against a particular group that operates out of Afghanistan with the tolerance of the Taliban regime. It's against the terrorism and not against the Afghan people.

QUESTION: Richard, is this meeting, though -- you said that when it regularly meets, it talks about -- it sets political and humanitarian policy; but this one is extraordinary to deal with humanitarian. Are they going to talk about politics at all, too?

MR. BOUCHER: Not as a primary topic that I'm aware of. This is principally the people -- there are some representatives, for example, on our team from the bureau that's concerned with South Asia. But it's being led, and the principal discussion of everybody is going to be on the subject of humanitarian assistance.

QUESTION: The reason I ask is that Mr. Vendrell is in Islamabad, and he's come out once again with some statements that appear to indicate that the coalition, or that the international community would like to see, if not the Taliban out, a new government that perhaps could include the Taliban, but something new, something different than what is there now. Is that a US goal?

MR. BOUCHER: I'm not going to add to that discussion. We've had that discussion over the last several days. I think we've made our position quite clear. Mr. Vendrell is charged and has been charged by the UN with a mission, and we've worked with him; we've worked with him over a long period of time, and he is trying to work out a peaceful solution to the problems of Afghanistan.

We all believe that Afghanistan needs a truly representative government. But in terms of the immediate goals that we might have, I don't think I have anything to add to that discussion today.

QUESTION: Could you talk about the possibility of a visit by Jesse Jackson to the region?

QUESTION: One more humanitarian -- or two?

MR. BOUCHER: Speaking of humanitarian --

QUESTION: Did you ever find out or care to look into reports that the Taliban had stolen or confiscated a large amount -- many tons of food that was left inside the country when the humanitarian aid workers left? And I don't know if that's even important. But also could you address whether this is something -- the refugee problem is something that the US is bringing up in its bilateral talks with neighboring countries? Or are you leaving that to the international community and UN representatives?

MR. BOUCHER: On the question of whether the Taliban grabbed a bunch of food, I'll have to see. I haven't seen anything on that yet.

On the issue of how we are raising this and discussing it, we are clearly discussing it with neighboring countries like Pakistan, the potential refugee flows, assuring them that we will help, that the international community will help. But we are also talking to other donors. When the European Union representatives came to town last week, the Secretary had quite a discussion with them on the need to support the international effort for the Afghan people, whether they are in Afghanistan or forced to leave their country. So it is a matter that we have discussed with other donors and now getting together in Berlin on this issue offers the international community a chance to plan together, to prepare for any possible contingencies.

QUESTION: But along with that, are we asking them to open their borders when Pakistan says, we're expecting hundreds of thousands of more people? Are we urging them to let these people in, if it's only temporary, and saying we will help you take care of them?

MR. BOUCHER: At this point, the numbers are hard to judge. The UN has only talked a couple tens of thousands that have fled their homes and who may be on the border. But, as you know, they have said we need to prepare for as many as one-and-a-half million. So there is a potential there.

We are certainly discussing these issues closely with Pakistan and how they handle the border will matter. But also getting prepared and showing that the international community will be there to help them deal with the people who might come out, that's an important aspect too.

QUESTION: I assume that the countries at this meeting in Berlin would prefer that the Afghans stay inside Afghanistan. Do you know what measures they are looking at for getting relief food into the country? And is anybody looking at a possible role for the US military in this, for example, through airdrops or whatever?

Is Iran taking part in this?

MR. BOUCHER: First of all, airdrops of food, I don't think that is considered a very efficient or useful way of delivering food, frankly. On as to what can be done to get the food into the country, clearly we would all prefer to be able to take care of Afghan people inside Afghanistan. We have been doing that for years. We have been spending hundreds of millions of dollars doing that for many years, and we are willing to continue to do that. It is because of the Taliban not letting the foreign workers stay, it is because of Taliban restrictions on their ability to operate that makes it impossible to maintain that kind of distribution network.

But there are parts, small parts, of Afghanistan that are not Taliban-controlled, where there is food distribution. And I think some of the agencies involved, the World Food Program, are looking at how they might be able to maintain this, even given the difficulty of doing it. But, clearly, the Taliban have made it very difficult to take care of the Afghan people inside the country.

QUESTION: Is Iran taking part in this meeting in Berlin?

MR. BOUCHER: I am not sure of the full list of countries that go there. It is largely donor countries. But some of the assistance does go to refugees who are in Iran, through UN agencies and NGOs.

QUESTION: Could we get to Jesse Jackson, especially since you're on a short time leash today?

MR. BOUCHER: I appreciate it, thank you.

Reverend Jackson told the Secretary yesterday that he had been invited to go to Kabul. They spoke again early this morning. Secretary Powell has told Reverend Jackson that our demands on the Taliban are not negotiable, they are what the President said they were in his speech last Thursday night, and there are no matters for negotiation. The President was quite clear on what the Taliban had to do and, as well, you will see those requirements in UN resolutions.

The Secretary also told Reverend Jackson that he will have to make his own decision about talking with the Taliban. Any such discussion would be at Reverend Jackson's own initiative or decision. He would not be carrying a message from the United States. But United States policy, we believe, is very clear on the matter.

QUESTION: There's a report out of Islamabad that says that the Taliban says that he offered them a trip -- that he offered to them that he would come there. Do you know for sure whether --

MR. BOUCHER: I don't know. We know that he was invited; how that invitation came about, I just don't know.

QUESTION: Did the question of the detainees come up, and would the Secretary think it's okay for him to talk just about that?

MR. BOUCHER: It may have come up with the Secretary, but again, our policy on the detainees is quite clear as well, and the President said it clearly in his speech. We certainly want to see the two detainees, as well as their colleagues, freed as soon as possible. The President, in his speech, said quite clearly that the Taliban needs to release all detainees.

QUESTION: There's been a big furor all over Europe about the statements made yesterday in Berlin by the Italian Prime Minister, which --

MR. BOUCHER: Okay, we'll finish with Jesse Jackson, then we'll go to Berlusconi.

QUESTION: When you say that he wouldn't be carrying a message from the Administration if he went, isn't "the US position is not negotiable" a message? I mean, it's obviously not a very lengthy message, but isn't it something that you would want him to say if he goes? It's still a message.

MR. BOUCHER: If he went and was asked, "What do you think US policy is," he would be in a position to say, "US policy is to do what the President told you to do." But we're not asking him to go and carry this forth to the Taliban. I think they probably saw the President; they probably know quite clearly what they need to do. They certainly know quite clearly what they need to do from UN resolutions. It's a matter now for them to decide and to do it.

QUESTION: So you're saying there's no message, just a way to keep the Administration separate from Jackson if he goes; he's not going with our blessing; we're not blocking him either?

MR. BOUCHER: He's not -- you know, we haven't given him some secret piece of paper; we haven't given him some wiggle room; we haven't given him some grounds to negotiate. We're not saying, yes go say this to the Taliban. If he decides to go, he knows what US policy is. That's all it is.

QUESTION: So it's fair to say that you're not encouraging him to go?

MR. BOUCHER: I haven't. It's up to him. I've said that several times, and I will again if you want me to.

QUESTION: Can I put it another way, then? Do you think -- does the Secretary think it would be helpful if Jesse Jackson went to --

MR. BOUCHER: I'll put it the same way, if you don't mind. We have not encouraged him; it's up to him.

Okay. We were asking about Berlusconi?

QUESTION: Yes.

MR. BOUCHER: I think I want to make two comments. One is, our cooperation with the Italians has been excellent. Just a few days ago, the Secretary met with Foreign Minister Ruggiero, and thanked them and the Italian people for the solid support that they have given to the United States and to all Americans in this time of crisis. The Secretary has extended his sympathy to the Italian citizens who lost their lives in the World Trade Center.

Italy is a trusted and valued ally. We have worked together in NATO; we have worked together bilaterally against terrorism before, and we know that Italy is fully committed to the campaign against terrorism.

As far as some of the broader issues, I think President Bush has made clear that our view is that this is not a clash against Islam or Arabs. This is about freedom, not culture. It's about working with Islamic governments who want to move forward into the modern world, working with Islamic governments who see their face as the face of peace, and working against the violence and the terror and the people that seek to hold back the world and would seek to disrupt peace and freedom for others.

And so that is what it's about for us. The true faith of Islam, we believe, is a religion of peace, and we intend to work with them in that regard.

QUESTION: And would you characterize his statements as not useful for the coalition? Or would you --

MR. BOUCHER: I wouldn't characterize his statement; he can characterize his statement. I'm just telling what US view and US policy is.

QUESTION: You have no opinion on his comment?

MR. BOUCHER: I am not trying to characterize other people's statements; I'm trying to tell you what US policy is.

QUESTION: I'm not asking you to characterize it; I'm asking you to react.

MR. BOUCHER: You're asking me for an opinion.

QUESTION: Well, I'm asking you to react to him. What does the US think? A lot of other people have come out and said things about it.

MR. BOUCHER: I'm just going to tell you what's the US view of these matters is, and I think you can hear quite clearly from us.

QUESTION: How about this: have you asked Prime Minister Berlusconi for an explanation of what he was reported to have said?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't know what our conversations with the Italian Government have been on that matter.

QUESTION: Can you find out?

MR. BOUCHER: I'll see if there is any such thing.

QUESTION: In your answer, you said you were interested in working with Islamic governments that want to move forward into the modern world. Are you implying here that sometimes they are sort of backward and not in the modern world? Or what's the --

MR. BOUCHER: Thank you for putting the worst possible interpretation on what I was trying to say. But if it's necessary to clarify --

QUESTION: What does that mean?

MR. BOUCHER: I think all of us feel that the future is of peace, the future is of freedom, the future is of opportunity for our citizens and development for our countries. And there are many in the Islamic world that want to achieve that for their own citizens as well.

On the other hand, there are certain groups, al-Qaida being among them, that are trying to destroy that prospect, take away that opportunity for citizens, and disrupt the process of development through violence and terror.

QUESTION: There are several reports of international support --

MR. BOUCHER: Can we stop, because Jonathan did ask about the meeting with the King, King Abdullah, and I would say, yes, to some extent this came up in the meeting with King Abdullah just now. Part of the discussion was about the aspirations, the views of moderate Arabs, and people who believe in Islam as a religion of peace.

We also discussed the close coordination between the United States and Jordan in the crisis, and the type of cooperation that we might have in the future.

QUESTION: On international support, there has been in Mexico some criticism over President Fox saying that he hasn't demonstrated enough support to the United States, besides he calls himself a close friend of President Bush and a compadre of President Bush. How can -- how does the United States see the Mexican Government's support in this crisis?

MR. BOUCHER: I am not going to try to give a daily temperature reading on everybody's support. I would just say generally that we have found our cooperation with Mexico, whether it's through the OAS in terms of the democracy declaration, in terms of the sentiments that Foreign Minister Castaneda expressed that first day when we were in Peru, or through their cooperation on things like invoking the Rio Treaty in the OAS. We found our cooperation with Mexico to be very good all along. And I am not going to get involved in some internal debate in the politics of Mexico.

QUESTION: Maybe you won't address this, but what cooperation with the Mexicans on invoking the Rio Treaty? I mean, they were fighting tooth and nail against it and it took quite a bit on your part to get them not to oppose it.

MR. BOUCHER: That is not the way I would characterize it. They joined us all in doing it.

QUESTION: The Jordanian officials, before they arrived here and indeed outside, were saying that the King's message was that the United States and everyone else, too, has to address the root causes of terrorism.

I assume that the King put that point to the Secretary; what did -- how did the Secretary respond to that?

MR. BOUCHER: I'll let the Jordanians characterize their message as they wish. I'm not going to try to speak for them.

QUESTION: I'm asking what the response was, not what the message was.

MR. BOUCHER: Well, I wouldn't automatically assume that what you say their message is is what their message is. I would invite others to check what the Jordanians actually said, because what I heard doesn't correspond to what you're saying. I guess that's where I'm starting.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) getting invited to these meetings, and not -- this is what they said in public both before and --

MR. BOUCHER: I'm not going to argue with you about what they said in public.

QUESTION: Can you say anything else about the meeting?

MR. BOUCHER: I will try to answer the questions if I can. We discussed any number of issues that relate to the crisis and to the issue of terrorism and how we cooperate; how do they see the situation in the region; how do they see sentiment in the region; what are the issues that are important as we go forward; what are the things to bear in mind as we go forward; what is the view of people in the region of this kind of terrorism; what is the way of encouraging and getting the cooperation of all the countries in the region to fight terrorism. And he made quite clear that, first of all, Jordan is committed; and second of all, that the many people that Jordan is in touch with in terms of the Arab world are also committed to moving forward with the serious fight against terrorism. And that, I think, was welcome news.

We also discussed the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. We recognized what the King and others have told us, that this has a bearing on how one might say the "atmosphere" or how we go forward in terms of dealing with the problem of terrorism. But there is, I think, also a strong commitment to deal with the problem of terrorism and to work with us in that regard.

QUESTION: On a related issue, has your embassy in Riyadh received reports from American citizens in Saudi Arabia of incidents of harassment of Americans and other Westerners in the kingdom? And are you giving them any special advice?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't know; I'll have to check.

QUESTION: Richard, there was a report out of Kuwait that the Kuwaitis had stopped some Iraqis coming across their border, and the reasons that they were coming, they said, was to target US facilities in Kuwait. Do you have any information on that?

MR. BOUCHER: I've just seen the report. I don't have anything for you. I'll check and see if we can get you something later.

QUESTION: Can we get a quick response on Macedonia? Apparently the rebels are surrendering.

MR. BOUCHER: Well, that's not part of the news that I have. I do know that -- I mean, there's two pieces on Macedonia. One is that Task Force Harvest has finished its job and has done an excellent job, completed its mission. And we look to the Macedonian politicians and political system now to fulfill, as well, its part of the process. And as we know, things have been moving forward in the Macedonian parliament, and there's been welcome news there.

Second of all, NATO has approved a plan which it calls Operation Amber Fox, a follow-on force in Macedonia to provide support for European Union and OSCE monitors as they assist in the implementation of the Framework Agreement. So that's been done. And NATO will deploy that mission to help this process to continue.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.) There is the dispute about the duration of NATO's mission -- three, six, nine months. What's your comment on that?

MR. BOUCHER: Those things would be finally decided at NATO. The decision that NATO has made is to do it for three months, with an option to extend it if it's needed. So that will be decided in the course of time by NATO.

QUESTION: Led by Germany? And British soldiers?

MR. BOUCHER: Yes, I will leave it to NATO to describe the mission in more detail. I've seen reports of that, but frankly, I can't -- yes, apparently it is under the leadership of Germany. But NATO will describe the mission in more detail.

QUESTION: On Afghanistan again. Is it the State Department's belief that the Taliban leadership is united, or is there a belief that there are different factions within the leadership that might respond differently to US requests?

MR. BOUCHER: We've seen different reports on this subject. I'm not sure we can give you a precise reading at this moment of where they stand. But clearly the Secretary and the President have said that if there are those within the Taliban that want to do the right thing, they should do it.

QUESTION: Richard, this is a hunting expedition. Is there anything new on Sudan's commitment to helping the coalition in this part?

MR. BOUCHER: Nothing new that I have to share.

QUESTION: Could you comment on reports that they have agreed that, first of all, they are arresting extremists and that they have agreed to the use of Sudanese bases?

MR. BOUCHER: I didn't comment on it yesterday, and I won't comment on those reports today, either. That's why I said nothing new.

QUESTION: Yes, do you have any comment on what's been happening in the Middle East since the meeting yesterday? It hasn't been too good news.

MR. BOUCHER: First, to say that we think that the direct discussions the two sides had yesterday, an agreement to consolidate and strengthen the cease-fire. These are critical steps toward ending the violence and restoring a substantive dialogue.

Both sides now have to take this opportunity to break from their past practices, break from the provocation or the retaliation and begin to build a new relationship of trust and confidence. We think it's essential that Israelis and Palestinians both take the opportunity to act in a manner that helps make progress and avoid actions that can only make forward movement more difficult.

We have called on the Israeli Government to halt the demolition of Palestinian homes and to halt the incursions by Israeli defense forces into Palestinian-controlled areas. We think it's especially important to do this at this moment, when the genuine opportunity exists to break the cycle of violence that has taken so many lives on both sides. We think it's important for Israel to refrain from provocative acts that can only escalate tensions and undermine efforts to bring about a lasting halt to violence.

For their part, we continue to call upon the Palestinian Authority to undertake sustained and effective steps, to preempt violence, to arrest those responsible for planning and conducting acts of violence and terror. We think it's essential that the parties not underestimate the challenges ahead. President Bush, Secretary Powell, Assistant Secretary Burns, our diplomats in the field will continue to do everything we can to help those two sides end the violence, create circumstances where they can resume a meaningful political dialogue.

QUESTION: Have there been any calls since yesterday?

MR. BOUCHER: To the Middle East? No, yesterday the Secretary spoke to Foreign Minister Peres, Prime Minister Sharon, Chairman Arafat. He also talked to French Foreign Minister Vedrine and EU Representative Solana. He usually talks to Europeans about the Middle East as well. Not so far today.

QUESTION: When you say we've called on the Israelis to stop (inaudible) is this in response to this latest incident? You mean today or --

MR. BOUCHER: We have done it in the past and this is the view that we are reiterating to them in contacts today.

QUESTION: Throughout? I mean, now?

MR. BOUCHER: I'm doing it here. But this is also the view that we are telling them in private as we meet with their people.

QUESTION: So you have reissued the request to stop incursions or the --

MR. BOUCHER: Our diplomats meet with Israelis and Palestinians every day. This is the message they are carrying today.

QUESTION: If you don't know the answer to this, if you can maybe you can just look into it. Do you know when the last Taliban official to come to the States was issued a visa, when the last person was that actually came from Kabul? Not the New York guy but --

MR. BOUCHER: Teri knows. I'll get the answer from Teri and put it up later. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: Did the subject of several Palestinians who have been killed in the last short while also come up in these conversations? Since the cease-fire.

MR. BOUCHER: You mean the violence that has taken place over night?

QUESTION: I understand that between three and five Palestinians, including a teenager and a 30-year-old man who was described as "deranged" by his family were killed in sort of random incidents with Israeli soldiers, according to hospital sources.

MR. BOUCHER: I'm not sure. I can't tell you that any specific event came up. But certainly our people in the field have been discussing the violence that has occurred. They have been telling the parties it's really an opportunity to take advantage of, you've got to keep moving in the direction that you set, you've got to keep taking the steps that can help end the violence, taking the steps that can help cement the cease-fire. And certainly they look at the kind of violence that is occurring within that context.

QUESTION: I don't know if you have reported this, but there is supposed to be a security cooperation meeting tomorrow, right? Have you established what the US role in that will be?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't have anything for you on that now. We'll see if we have anything tomorrow.

QUESTION: Could you kindly shed some light on the precise nature of US-Northern Alliance contacts, especially in view of the serious reservations expressed by the Pakistani Foreign Minister the other day?

MR. BOUCHER: No. I'm afraid the answer is, no. We are not in a position to go into any detail on our particular contacts.

We keep in touch with all the factions. We have kept in touch with exile groups. We keep in touch with Afghans of all kinds. That's about as far as I can go.

QUESTION: OPEC is apparently leaving oil prices unchanged -- oil production unchanged. Do you consider that to be an act of cooperation with the present --

MR. BOUCHER: I think I would say, I would leave it to those who follow the energy market more carefully than I do to comment on it. Certainly, we have welcomed the statement that we have seen, for example, from Saudi Arabia early on that they would cover the needs of the oil market should there be any disruptions. And we would hope that the oil markets would -- that everybody would act to maintain stability in the oil markets.

QUESTION: There have been some Arab leaders and also political analysts mentioning that the attacks on the US could be a reaction to the US policy toward Israel. My question is, has there been in this administration any member suggesting to the President to review the US policy toward the Middle East so far?

MR. BOUCHER: We have been discussing the Middle East policy of this administration for the last nine months. I don't think we have ever said that we were reconsidering our commitment to Israel or that we were reconsidering our role in trying to bring peace for Palestinians and Israelis. That has been a very firm commitment on the part of the administration. It has been the subject of many, many efforts by the Secretary, by the President, by our diplomats. And it continues to be a major effort of this administration, even as we go forward to fight terrorism on a global scale.

QUESTION: You touched on this, but you have never really given a very kind of illuminating answer --

MR. BOUCHER: That was marvelously illuminating, Jonathan.

QUESTION: To what extent does this campaign -- as you constantly review your Middle East policy, what -- how much influence does this campaign against terrorism have in that? What's the input? How does it weigh in there? See what I mean?

MR. BOUCHER: No, I don't.

QUESTION: It's obviously a factor --

MR. BOUCHER: We have talked about this on and off over the last few days. We recognize that there is an influence. Some have said it affects the atmosphere, the Palestinian/Israeli issues affect the atmosphere of cooperation. But, essentially, there are, on some planes, two different things. One is that there are violent people trying to destroy societies, ours, many others in the world. The world recognizes that and we are going to stop those people.

On the other hand, there are issues and violence and political issues that need to be resolved in the Middle East, Israelis and Palestinians. But we all recognize that the path to solve those is through negotiation and that we have devoted enormous efforts to getting back to that path of negotiation. And we have called on the parties to do everything they can, particularly in the present circumstance, to make that possible.

I guess that's about as close as I can come to the kind of sophisticated analysis I'm sure you will want to do on your own. But they are clearly issues that are different, not only in geography but also, to some extent, in their nature.

QUESTION: Mr. Ambassador, I would like to know, the President had laid so many sanctions and restrictions to the terrorist funding, most of the terrorist funding in South Asia is through the hawala transaction, where one person gives money to one country and receives it in any part of the world.

Whether State Department has spoken to some of the countries who make that consortium to stop that sort of a funding, like the states or the countries which unofficially or officially are supporting this sort of a transaction?

MR. BOUCHER: I think if you look at what we are doing in our regulations, probably in some of the G-7 finance discussions and certainly it is one of the issues that has to be discussed and dealt with in the context of the new UN resolution, that these sort of informal banking systems or informal monetary systems from country to country are something that we need to cooperate better on, we need to get a better handle on. And so that is one of the focuses that we will be working on, I'm sure.

QUESTION: A follow up -- you said you were maintaining contacts with factions in Afghanistan. Does that extend beyond the Northern Alliance, within Afghanistan?

MR. BOUCHER: We are keeping in touch with everybody, various factions in Afghanistan, as well as overseas.

QUESTION: With the Taliban?

MR. BOUCHER: We have had contact in the past with the Taliban. Nothing recent of a diplomatic nature.

END