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State Department Spokesman Richard Boucher
State Department Daily Briefing
State Department
Washington, D.C.
October 1, 2001
Con't

QUESTION: (Inaudible) the information that Prime Minister Blair seen come from the United States, or was this evidence that the Brits had collected on their own?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't know specifically. I know the British have engaged in a number of law enforcement and other efforts, and I would assume that in addition to what we have shared, that he has information as well.

QUESTION: Who else would you have shared this information with?

MR. BOUCHER: We cooperate on information-sharing with a great number of countries, including most of our NATO allies.

QUESTION: Richard, this morning there has been a legislative attack in Kashmir, and there are now -- the Indians, as well as others, are saying that this may be rebels, or actually the Pakistani Government. Are we trying -- what are we doing, meaning the United States Government, to keep a lid on that situation between India and Pakistan?

MR. BOUCHER: I would say, first of all, that we very strongly condemn the attack today in Kashmir, as we have previous attacks. We think that no cause can justify the deliberate targeting of civilians in this manner. We extend our sympathies to the victims of the attack. We extend our condolences to India, a country that has suffered many terrorist attacks over the years.

India is a key partner in the Global Coalition Against Terrorism, and we do believe that terrorism must be ended everywhere. So we're in touch with the Government of India, obviously, and we have continued to maintain a policy on Kashmir that looks to everybody with influence to reduce the violence and to try to see that the situation there is resolved peacefully.

QUESTION: Change of subject. King Abdullah is saying through the official Jordanian media today that while he was in Washington, President George Bush promised him there'd be no attacks on Iraq or any Arab country as part of this war on terrorism.

Do you have a response to that?

MR. BOUCHER: I haven't seen those statements; I don't have a particular response. And since it involves the President, you might have to ask over there.

QUESTION: Well, when Secretary Powell met with King Abdullah, did he make any assurances to him that there would be no attack on Iraq or any other Arab country as part of the was on terrorism?

MR. BOUCHER: I'm not in a position to answer that question at this point. I haven't seen the statements.

QUESTION: Speaking of Iraq, when Secretary Powell sees the Czech Foreign Minister this afternoon, will there be any discussion of possible contacts between any of the hijackers and Iraqi intelligence officers in Europe this year?

There are reports that Mohamed Atta met an Iraqi intelligence officer in the Czech Republic, which have been issued by Iraqi opposition groups. Does the Administration give any credence to that, and will it be discussed this afternoon?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't think I'm in a position at this point to go into much detail. They will obviously discuss the situation regarding terrorism. I think the Czech Government has put out information that they are conducting various investigations, and of course, they are cooperating with us as NATO ally in the activities and the coordination that we're doing within NATO.

So I have to leave it at that for the moment. If he has something like you have to say to us, let him say it to us before we discuss it with you.

QUESTION: Richard, do you have any -- I have two questions. First, a reaction to the assassination of the former co-foreign minister of Colombia. And in that matter, the FARC are a terrorist group. What kind of cooperation are you giving to the government of Pastrana right now in this initiative, taking the fact that in the past, you mentioned that the FARC had some connections or links to another terrorist group outside Latin America? And my second question is, since the invocation of the Rio Treaty, what specific cooperation are you receiving from the Latin America countries? Or it was just a political statement?

MR. BOUCHER: First of all, on the murder of the former Colombian Culture Minister, I would say we are deeply saddened, we are outraged, to learn of this cold-blooded murder by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, the FARC. Ms. Araujo had been kidnapped on September 24th. Her body was discovered by Colombian authorities late September 30th.

We extend our condolences to her family and to her husband, the attorney general, and, as I said, to their family.

On September 30th, the FARC forcibly denied entry to the demilitarized zone to several thousand peaceful marchers, that were led by the presidential candidate, Horacio Serpa. This action and the murder of Ms. Araujo highlight the FARC's brutality and the indifference to those courageous Colombians who seek a negotiated resolution to Colombia's longstanding internal conflict. We will have a statement to that effect to put out for you shortly after the briefing.

QUESTION: But you didn't answer my question --

MR. BOUCHER: I know; I'm bad at three-part questions. I generally choose the one I feel like answering and dispense with the others. Did you have some more?

QUESTION: Well, you don't have anything to say about the cooperation, the links, between that you mentioned before, months ago, about FARC and a terrorist group outside Latin America?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't have any new information on the reports that there were links between the IRA and the FARC. Clearly, there are investigations going on in Colombia and elsewhere and, if we have any information to share, I am sure we will be glad to share.

As far as our cooperation with the government, we cooperate with the government of President Pastrana many ways. And I think I would just have to leave it at that. We supported his efforts to try to bring peace to his country, and we will continue to support his efforts.

QUESTION: On the Latin America question?

MR. BOUCHER: Latin America, there are quite a few things that have been done around the world, including in Latin America. On the financial side, for example, in Argentina, in Bahamas, in Brazil, Canada, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Paraguay and Uruguay, Venezuela, in each of those places, you have seen financial steps being taken, circulars being issued, investigations being carried out of financial matters. We have also had a great deal of information sharing with countries in Latin America. So I think the cooperation in that part of the world has been excellent.

QUESTION: Your answer on Plan Colombia was kind of intriguing, especially if you compare it to the fact that you are so -- you are tip-toeing completely around the same kind of peace initiative in Afghanistan. Is there -- do you foresee a time when the United States is going to come down and --

MR. BOUCHER: I don't think anybody has proposed a Loya Girga for Colombia. We support the President of Colombia, who was elected by the people of Colombia, democratically, and we support him in his efforts to bring peace to his country.

QUESTION: Do you foresee a time when the United States will decide that one way or another, to get a broad representative government in Afghanistan would be appropriate or more appropriate than another?

MR. BOUCHER: It may be that this is the appropriate way. I think our point is that we are not trying to choose the government, we're not trying to specify how it has to be done. If the different people involved in the situation decide to do something, I'm sure that would be something we would support.

QUESTION: President Pastrana has to decide this week if he renews the Zona Despeje or not. Would you have -- do you have something to say about that at this point?

MR. BOUCHER: What we have said before, we're leaving the decision up to him.

QUESTION: Okay. And the other one is, how do you consider the guerillas and the paramilitaries in Colombia in your global fight against terrorism?

MR. BOUCHER: We have listed both the FARC -- well, three -- the FARC, the ELN and the AUC all as foreign terrorist organizations.

QUESTION: You say you support the peace efforts of Pastrana in Colombia. But at the same time, there's the message that no sanctuaries will be permitted for terrorism in the world, or I mean, that's the concept. Isn't the demilitarized zone being used as a sanctuary for terrorism to establish links with other terrorist groups in the world, and being handled by a terrorist group, according to the United States?

MR. BOUCHER: I think those are all questions that President Pastrana will consider as he makes his decision.

QUESTION: Your Ambassador to Ireland attended a Sinn Fein meeting (inaudible). And I am not aware -- I don't remember the last time that happened. I'm wondering if this is an indication of a direct attempt by your government to influence the IRA disarmament process?

MR. BOUCHER: I'm told Ambassador Egan was following his predecessor's example by attending the annual Sinn Fein gathering. His presence was not meant to signify anything more than the fact that we view Sinn Fein as a key player in securing a lasting peace in Northern Ireland, and we continue to call on them to do their part in securing this peace.

QUESTION: Just a follow-up question on the DMZ zone. Isn't the United States underestimating the potential of the terror groups in Colombia, like the FARC, ELN, the AUC, with the connections that we just learned about with the IRA, and probably other groups that we still don't know? Isn't the US underestimating the potential damage that it can have in the United States, realizing that a group from the other side of the world came to our country here and attacked us in our own land? Being this in our own hemisphere.

MR. BOUCHER: I think the simple answer is, no. We are quite aware of the capability of these groups, we are quite aware of the danger of these groups, and that is why we have moved against them in any number of ways, including by designating them as foreign terrorist organizations.

QUESTION: Since the operative phrase in President Bush's speech was, "terrorist organizations of global reach," is the State Department considering redefining how it creates its lists, and in the next time it puts out a list, identifying those groups that do in fact have global reach -- not just foreign terrorist organizations, but those that fit the definition that the President himself made?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't know. I'll take that suggestion on board. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: I have a question back to all of the actions that other countries are taking on financial -- choking off financial links to terrorism. Is the US providing basically a clearinghouse of information, and other countries are taking its cue from that? And is there some mechanism the State Department has set up for judging eventually, as these new regulations and laws and efforts progress, whether they're passing the muster? I mean, some sort of standard formula?

MR. BOUCHER: I wouldn't say the United States has put itself in that position. There are -- first of all, there is an international convention on this, suppressing the financing of terrorism, that we have encouraged all governments to sign and to implement that, as you know, is up for ratification before our Senate. And essentially, many of those steps are embodied in the UN resolution. So the UN resolution last Friday becomes the standard that countries are obligated to meet, because it is a UN Security Council resolution under Chapter VII. As part of that resolution, there will be a committee established of the Security Council, where they can discuss the implementation, where they can look to how it's being done in various places. And I suppose, as you say, sort of become the clearinghouse for information on who has done what, and that will be the standard.

Now, clearly, we are as interested as anybody in seeing that resolution implemented. So we are going out to our embassies and have our embassies going to foreign governments around the world, to encourage people to take steps as soon as possible, take steps immediately to implement those requirements of the UN resolution.

QUESTION: The cease-fire in the Middle East doesn't look too good.

QUESTION: Could I go back to UN and terrorism?

Do you have any specific hopes for the UN General Assembly meeting on terrorism this week?

MR. BOUCHER: I can make a few general comments about it. The plenary meeting began today in the General Assembly. As I think you know, the debate is about measures to eliminate international terrorism. It's called a debate. I don't think there is actually too much disagreement over the need for such measures. The US is participating fully.

Our overriding objective is to see the unequivocal and unified condemnation of international terrorism. We think there is no middle ground between those who oppose terrorism and those who support it. So our objective is to see those who aid, harbor and support perpetrators and organizers of terrorist acts be held accountable. But we will urge member states to fulfill their obligation under Security Council Resolution 1373 to deny financing, support and safe harbor to terrorists. We will also urge UN member states to become party as soon as possible to the 12 UN conventions and protocols that are designed to combat terrorism. These 12 specialized conventions provide important legal steps for combating terrorism. Together with the many bilateral and regional treaties, they also provide the legal means to fight international terrorism.

The United States is party to 10 of the counter-terrorism conventions and the administration has requested rapid advice and consent from the Senate for the remaining two; that is, the terrorist bombing convention and suppression of terrorism financing convention. We are trying to see if we can work with the Senate and get ratification of those two this year.

QUESTION: You say you didn't think there is much debate, that everyone is pretty unified. But, in fact, that is not really the case, is it, because the Government of Nicaragua has taken this opportunity to try and bring Taiwan into this. Do you think other governments should be attaching somewhat unrelated items to this debate?

MR. BOUCHER: I think our view, and we have expressed that view around the world to foreign governments through our embassies as well, is that this meeting should concentrate on the issue of terrorism and the steps that people can take against terrorism, and that other issues not be introduced.

QUESTION: Okay, but do you --

MR. BOUCHER: But there will be -- I mean, there will be statements of various kinds. I'm sure people have a different take on the situation. You may hear slightly different voices, but I think the overall tenor of the debate and discussion will be on how we can effectively move against terrorism.

QUESTION: Well, what about Taiwanese participation in the coalition, and as it relates to the UN -- to what you're trying to do at the UN? Did they get any --

MR. BOUCHER: I don't have anything new on that.

QUESTION: But do you have -- really, you don't have anything new on it? How about something old? Should they be --

MR. BOUCHER: No, but I'll refer you back to everything we've always said before about Taiwan's status and participation.

QUESTION: Is this something that you think that they should be allowed to participate in?

MR. BOUCHER: Once again, I'll refer you back to everything we've said before.

QUESTION: But what you've said before, though, has been based on very limited things -- Red Cross, APEC-type stuff, as immunities.

MR. BOUCHER: Once again, I'll refer you back to everything we've said before.

QUESTION: Yes, but you're referring me back to nothing, though.

MR. BOUCHER: No, I'm referring you back to everything we've said before.

QUESTION: No, but has it always been very --

MR. BOUCHER: Numerous times, we have a standard policy; the policy hasn't changed.

QUESTION: Richard, the UN is also working on a new convention, fourth convention against terrorism, a number 13, and they are saying it will encompass the most important steps from the first 12.

Is the US supporting that effort, and how much is it involved in it?

MR. BOUCHER: That's not something that will be decided this week. There have been proposals on the table for some time of a broader convention against terrorism. There are actually several other proposals that have been discussed at various times. I think a UN committee will take up some time this month that issue of the broader convention, and obviously we'll work with other governments to see if there's something that's useful that can be worked out.

QUESTION: The cease-fire in the Middle East doesn't look too good. Has the Secretary had any contact with the parties, either over the weekend or today?

And other than that, are you -- what are you doing to try to strengthen the cease-fire?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't see over the weekend that he had any phone calls directly with the parties, with the Israelis or the Palestinians, but clearly our representatives in the region have been in touch with the leadership on both sides.

As for the situation today, I'd say we're deeply troubled by the continued violence over the weekend. We condemn in the strongest possible terms the car bomb attack this morning in Jerusalem, for which the Palestinian Islamic Jihad has claimed responsibility. The Palestinian Authority, we believe, must take sustained and effective steps to preempt violence and to arrest those responsible for planning and conducting such acts of violence and terror.

It is essential that both Palestinians and Israelis avoid actions that jeopardize the reestablishment of direct discussions and do everything possible to restore an atmosphere of calm. We are pleased that today's security meetings proceeded as planned. These meetings represent an important step towards restoring calm. Both sides must engage in the fullest possible coordination on security issues to help ensure a lasting halt to the terror and violence.

QUESTION: By linking your reference to the car bomb and then appealing to the PA to take steps to preempt violence, do you think that the Palestinian Authority could have done more in this particular case to preempt the operation?

MR. BOUCHER: Without being able to specify this particular case, I would say that we believe that both sides need to take every possible step to prevent violence, and that the Palestinian Authority has a responsibility to see that their steps are sustained, to see that their steps are effective in preventing this kind of violence.

QUESTION: Have you, in this, asked the Palestinian Authority to re-arrest the members of Hamas and Islamic Jihad who were in jails? And considering that they were let out of the jails, does that in any way make the Palestinian Authority a harborer of terrorists

And considering that they were let out of the jails, does that in any way make the Palestinian Authority a harborer of terrorists?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't know the status of particular individuals at this point. I'd have to check and see if there's anything we can say on that.

QUESTION: When talking to other countries, how much attention has been given to renditions? And have you received any promises of more cooperation in that regard?

MR. BOUCHER: I'm sorry, is this a theoretical question I'm getting here, or --

QUESTION: No, it's -- the latest Patterns of Global Terrorism talks about renditions, and I'm just wondering if that's been a subject of discussion with other countries.

MR. BOUCHER: I'm sure that where the subject had occasion to arise, it would be raised. But, again, we have talked to a great many governments about specific kinds of steps of cooperation we can take in this situation, specific kinds of information-sharing, law enforcement efforts, diplomatic efforts, financial efforts. We're moving forward with any number of steps, with any number of governments. So I can't say that the subject of rendition hasn't come up, but we're not having theoretical legal discussions at this point; we're moving forward against terrorism.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) a distinction between the East political conflicts, such as Kashmir, or some might even say the Middle East situation, and groups that might commit acts of terrorism with what you call a war on terrorism?

MR. BOUCHER: The difference is that political conflicts can have political solutions. And certainly in the Middle East we have done everything we can to try to help the parties reach a political solution that responds to the needs on both sides, to the aspirations on both sides.

We don't deny people that they have the right to have differences; we don't deny people the right to argue. But there's a clear distinction between people who want to achieve ends through a political process or negotiation and people who would blow up innocent people in the World Trade Center, for example.

QUESTION: Well, has the US ever thought knowing that -- this is a little ridiculous; I'll acknowledge this -- but knowing that al-Qaida has had problems with US soldiers being based in the Middle East, and Saudi Arabia in particular, has the US ever thought about discussing this with al-Qaida?

MR. BOUCHER: I think that's a little ridiculous.

QUESTION: But, Richard, can I follow up?

MR. BOUCHER: No, let's go to somebody else for a moment.

QUESTION: Different subject.

MR. BOUCHER: Okay, do you want to continue here?

MR. BOUCHER: Well, on the political conflicts, I mean, some of these groups might commit what one would call a terrorist act but are still willing to have political discussions, such as Kashmir or Chechnya, or there are plenty of other conflicts around the world. I mean, do you see these groups as only committing terrorist acts and not willing to go to the table as terrorists, or anybody that commits any acts -- it goes back to the whole definition of what is a terrorist?

MR. BOUCHER: I'll refer you back to the whole definition of what is a terrorist. That's the best I can do for you.

It's clear that people who blow up other people with some political or religious pretext are not seeking to advance a political cause in a legitimate manner. You don't push for a political result by blowing people up who have nothing to do with it.

QUESTION: Terrorism is defined by the means?

MR. BOUCHER: Terrorism is defined by the Patterns of Global Terrorism Report and Title 22 of the US Code.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) in Colombia -- I'm going back to Colombia. It has been demonstrated that the FARC and other groups are not willing to really commit to a peace process. And the people of Colombia are asking to do something major.

If the Government of Colombia listened to what the people of Colombia wants, which is peace, and asked the United States to do something similar of what he's -- or what the United States are doing in Afghanistan, to go in there and do something drastic -- I'm not suggesting military or any other -- but drastic in Colombia, what would be the United States' response to that, in this particular moment, when the FARC blow up people and kill people for no reason?

MR. BOUCHER: At this particular moment, what we're doing is what I explained to you before: we're working with the democratically-elected leader of Colombia and supporting him in his efforts to rebuild his country and to obtain peace.

QUESTION: It's Macedonia. There was an official call -- there was a call from Macedonian officials today for abducted Macedonian citizens to be returned, to be released, and they were abducted by ethnic Albanian rebel groups. Since the Ambassador Pardew is again in Macedonia, is he going to do anything about it? Because ethnic Albanian rebel groups don't exist anymore officially, and the people are still missing.

MR. BOUCHER: As far as the status of the groups, we have seen their announcements that they intend to disband, but I wouldn't try to explain their status at this point. We'll see if they actually carry out what they said they were going to do.

Ambassador Pardew is back in Macedonia. What he'll be doing is working with the parties, particularly with the politicians in Macedonia, to see if they can implement in full all their obligations. As far as the release of people who might have been abducted, I'm really not familiar enough with the agreements to see if they're covered, but I would assume that they would be, and that the ability of people to return to their families and their homes is a key part of this entire agreement.

QUESTION: They are not just displaced people.

MR. BOUCHER: I know. There are these other reports. I'm not -- again, I'm not -- I can't go into that much detail. I just don't know specifically how they're covered in the agreements. But clearly, the objective of having people safe and able to return to their homes is part of the overall agreement, and I'm sure that everyone in Macedonia will be interested in securing that result.

QUESTION: I know they haven't been designated a terrorist group, but Secretary Powell has called the NLA "terrorists" before. So now that they've been willing to be disarmed, and there is some kind of political process under way, would you still consider them terrorists?

MR. BOUCHER: That gets into the question of their status as well. Have they disbanded or not? We'll make our designations of foreign terrorist organizations at the appropriate time, and we'll tell you then.

QUESTION: I know you don't like to talk about specific countries, but we haven't heard too much from President Mubarak. How would you characterize his cooperation in this war against terrorism?

MR. BOUCHER: I think you've heard quite a bit from President Mubarak. The Secretary spoke with Foreign Minister Maher just about a week ago -- I can't remember what day it was last week. We've kept in close touch with the Egyptian Government all along, and I think we've cooperated with them very, very well.

QUESTION: Going back to Afghanistan for a moment, over the weekend, the Taliban ambassador in Pakistan actually (inaudible) said that they have known exactly where bin Laden was for the last two years. And I wondered if you'd care to respond to this rather zig-zaggy representation of the Taliban's awareness of bin Laden's whereabouts.

MR. BOUCHER: I think, first of all, that various Administration officials responded over the weekend in different ways. I think it's quite clear, to us at least, that the Taliban remain -- we remain unconvinced that they are serious about combating terrorism. It's very simple: they know what they have to do; that is, deliver bin Laden and his organization to justice and dismantle the terrorist networks that operate in their territory. As we have said before, it's up to them to take action to demonstrate whether they support terrorism or whether they are inclined to justice. And so far, everything we have seen would indicate that they are not yet serious.

QUESTION: Two things extremely briefly and just for the record. On the Middle East, those security talks that were had today, is it presumed that you guys have someone there who attended and facilitated, just like in the last one? I just wanted to make sure of that.

MR. BOUCHER: We had someone there, and the person indeed --

QUESTION: Facilitated it?

MR. BOUCHER: Attended and facilitated. That's what they were doing there.

QUESTION: And the second one, which is completely on a different subject, is do you have anything to say about the election in Bangladesh, or is it too early?

MR. BOUCHER: I think it's too early. I'll check and see when we can.

QUESTION: You said that the Secretary did not talk to either the Palestinians or the Israelis this weekend; can you say who he did talk to?

MR. BOUCHER: He talked to the UN Secretary General. He talked to several other people. He talked to -- on Saturday, he talked to the President of Kyrgyzstan, President Akayev. He talked to the Secretary General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan.

On Sunday, he talked to Foreign Minister Fischer, and he talked to Omani Sultan Qaboos, the Sultan of Oman.

QUESTION: What did he bring up with the Sultan about?

MR. BOUCHER: The fight against terrorism.

QUESTION: The use of bases --

MR. BOUCHER: The fight against terrorism.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MR. BOUCHER: Thank you.

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