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24 September 2001

Transcript: State Department Briefing, September 24, 2001

(Department, India and Pakistan, Iran, Pakistan, International
Assistance, Russia, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Israel and the
Palestinian Authority)(10,890)
State Department spokesman Richard Boucher briefed.
Following is the transcript:
(begin transcript)
BRIEFER:  Richard Boucher, Spokesman
MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 24, 2001, 1:15 P.M.
-- Secretary's phone calls/embassy security/authorized
departures/travel warnings/providing the public information on
-- Review of the visa process
-- Department assistance into the investigation of the attacks
-- Threat to Embassy Paris
-- Scope of the campaign against terrorism
-- Waiver of sanctions/IMF standby agreement/military spare
parts/comparability to sanctions on China
-- U.K. Foreign Minister Straw's visit
-- Delegation to Pakistan/Other contacts
-- Actions to combat terrorism
-- Support of other nations and international organizations
-- Cooperation from Russia/Putin speech
-- Reaction to Taliban demands/US opposition to VOA broadcast/bringing
bin Laden to justice/Afghan opposition to the Taliban/reward for bin
Laden/Taliban seizure of UN offices
-- Saudi cooperation
-- Continued concern over weapons of mass destruction
-- Situation update
MR. BOUCHER: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I'm not going to
make any statements or announcements, so I would be glad to take your
QUESTION: Are there any steps being taken at embassies that you could
tell us about? I mean, any scaling down of personnel, any changes, and
while we're at it, any phone calls by the Secretary? The usual.
MR. BOUCHER: The usual daily rundown? Phone calls by the Secretary. He
talked to Foreign Minister Peres this morning. I don't know how much
we have told you about the weekend's phone calls; he talked to Prime
Minister Sharon and British Foreign Minister Jack Straw on Sunday, and
Saturday I have to look up. Saturday, he talked to Foreign Minister
Peres and the President of Turkmenistan.
I think he is now up to 100 phone calls in the last two weeks to
foreign ministers and leaders of foreign governments. He is now up to
100 phone calls in the last two weeks, all this devoted to trying to
build the coalition, get the support, as well as to work on very
important issues like the Middle East peace process. You know he has
worked very hard to encourage a meeting between Foreign Minister Peres
and Chairman Arafat, and to see that the meeting could be made
effective and useful to both sides. We will continue to do that, to
try to encourage them to work together in that fashion.
As for your other question about embassies and consulates, all US
embassies and consulates are open. There are some posts in Pakistan
which had been closed that are open again. The majority of posts are
providing full services, a. handful providing limited service.
Obviously, all our posts continue to exercise a lot of caution. They
are all on high alert. They are all being very careful about their
security and keeping their security under continuous review. Posts
have also kept in touch with the local American communities and, in
cases where there is security information or where even the post had
to close so that services wouldn't be available, they have used warden
messages to get out to the American communities about where they
In terms of authorized departure, that is where we allow families and
non-emergency personnel to leave post and the government pays their
tickets, obviously, to come back, we have several posts that are on
that status. We have the posts in Pakistan: Islamabad, Karachi, Lahore
and Peshawar. We have Ashgabat in Turkmenistan, Sanaa in Yemen, and
Bishkek in the Kyrgyz Republic. We have issued travel warnings for all
these places to indicate to the American public that there is some
reasonable concern about security, that people need to be careful and
should, like we have, consider leaving if they don't absolutely need
to be there.
So that is pretty much the daily rundown on those things, Barry.
QUESTION: Richard, I realize they say why they are being issued in
each one. But can you say from the podium that the warnings were being
issued for two reasons, one because of the threat from bin
Laden-related terrorist acts, but also because of any possible US
MR. BOUCHER: I would say from the podium that each of these warnings
explains very clearly what it is about and why, and I am not going to
try to generalize or accept somebody else's words.
QUESTION: Can you elaborate on the Secretary's words of yesterday
about this white paper, or whatever you want to call it, that might be
sent to countries to justify...
MR. BOUCHER: I am not going to -- I don't think there is much to
elaborate at this point. First of all, the Secretary didn't use the
phrase "white paper." He talked about a paper or a document in the
near future. Dr. Rice yesterday talked about laying out the evidence
to friends, allies, the American people and others. She talked about
making the case and those sorts of things. So we do intend to put out
I think the Secretary and the President both discussed this again this
morning and said that, first of all, we have an abundance of evidence
from law enforcement and intelligence that indicates very clearly to
us who did this. Second of all, we always remember that Usama bin
Laden and his organization, al-Qaida, have already been indicted for
various crimes before, especially the bombings of our embassies in
East Africa. So there is no question that they are responsible for
those actions in our mind.
And third, we have a lot of intelligence and law enforcement
cooperation with foreign governments, so I think the case is becoming
better known internationally to other governments. We do want to make
available information to the publics and to other foreign governments,
and that is what the Secretary and the President talked about this
morning, making that information available as we can, when we can. But
people should not conclude from what Dr. Rice or the Secretary said
yesterday, or he and the President said today, that we're on the verge
of some imminent release of a so-called "white paper."
QUESTION: Can you give us some sort of a timeline on when you think
this information might be released?
MR. BOUCHER: I can't give you a real timeline at this point. I think
the Secretary sort of said this morning that as we find information
that is unclassified, we'll try to make it available. There's no
particular fixed date or target at this point for doing that in a big
show or anything.
QUESTION: My question relates to the Presidential Determination of 22
September, Removal of Sanctions against India and Pakistan. Can you
confirm that in the case of Pakistan, sanctions under Glenn, which is
102, Symington, which is 101, and Pressler, which is 620.E.E, have
been waived?
MR. BOUCHER: Boy, you're more familiar with American law than I am.
(Laughter.) Let me go through this -- and the answer is, yes. First of
all, we are continuing to work very closely with Pakistan's Government
on combating terrorism. What the President waived were the
nuclear-related sanctions on Pakistan and India.
As many of you know, we have been talking about this, considering this
step for months. We think it's an important step forward in being able
to pursue our goals with Pakistan, to be able to support Pakistan and
to cooperate more easily with Pakistan in the fight against terrorism.
The sanctions that were imposed after Pakistan's nuclear tests in 1998
under the Glenn Amendment, those have been waived; the sanctions
imposed under the Pressler Amendment in 1990 have been waived; and the
sanctions imposed under the Symington Amendment in 1978 by President
Carter, those have been waived as well.
Pakistan remains subject to Section 508 of the Foreign Assistance Act
because of the military coup in October 1999, so that prohibits
certain things with Pakistan. And then there are also missile
sanctions in place.
But what I would point out is that the lifting of these sanctions
allows us to do some things very quickly and very immediately to
support Pakistan, and we will continue to look at the other provisions
of law and see what we might do so that we have flexibility in working
with Pakistan and India.
In terms of the specifics, there's an IMF standby arrangement that
comes up for a vote on Wednesday, September 26, two days from now. The
IMF standby is the third tranche arrangements for $136 million and we
will be able to support that and vote for that because we have waived
these sanctions.
In addition, there are things like the provision of spare parts for
military goods that we will be able to look at now that we weren't
before the waiver of the sanctions. And, as I said, we will look at
the other pieces of legislation in place. We are talking to the
Congress about how to get the ability to move forward with Pakistan
and with India.
QUESTION: Would you have been compelled to vote against this tranche
if they hadn't been waived?
MR. BOUCHER: The Glenn Amendment required US opposition to lending by
international financial institutions for purposes other than basic
human needs. So that would have required a vote against this.
QUESTION: What is India's role in all of this? What consideration is
being given India so far as sanctions and so far as a role in the
campaign? And, you know, should I call it the ugly notion that India
and Israel can't be too prominent in that if the US expects to have
the support of Pakistan and other Moslem countries? Could you address
MR. BOUCHER: I am not going to try to give you a particular specific
description of each government involved in this coalition. I think --
QUESTION: No -- Pakistan  -- 
MR. BOUCHER: A lot of places are important.
First of all, we have waived these nuclear sanctions vis--vis India,
as well as vis--vis Pakistan; that we have for a long time had a
growing relationship with India, a very important relationship with
India; and I think, if I remember correctly, when Mr. Armitage was in
India earlier this year, he in fact said that we were looking at
waiving these sanctions, vis--vis India. We did it again with
Pakistan as well.
We want to cooperate with every country. Every country will contribute
probably in a different way, as the President and Secretary said. In
some cases it will be information. In some cases it will be law
enforcement. In some cases it will be financial. We are moving forward
today with the financial restrictions that the President announced,
and we're going out to foreign governments through our embassies to
work with them on that. So it will be different in different places.
India, obviously, is an important country, and we look forward to
working with them.
QUESTION: When you said you were going to talk with Congress about the
sanctions on Pakistan, the remaining sanctions, are you talking about
seeking some mechanism to waive the 508 sanctions which, according to
the texts, appear not to be waivable in their present form?
MR. BOUCHER: That is one of the things we'll be looking at. We have
consulted with the Congress on the various sanctions and the various
ways of going forward to give the President the flexibility that he
needs to be able to work with India and Pakistan, and so that's
obviously something we have to look at. I don't have a decision on
that yet, whether -- if we do decide to propose legislation, because
it would require legislation. We'll try to tell you when we do.
QUESTION: It would require legislation?
QUESTION: Can I just have a quick follow-up? Those 508 sanctions, as I
understand it, cover all foreign assistance; is that right? Or is it
all non-humanitarian --
MR. BOUCHER: They prohibit both military and economic assistance to
Pakistan. I think there is a humanitarian clause, if I remember
correctly. But I'd have to double-check the law.
QUESTION: Richard, until a few weeks ago, the thought of having all of
the sanctions waived against Pakistan was considered to be highly
unlikely. Is there a message in this to other countries that currently
have sanctions in place against them -- similar sanctions -- that as
long as they cooperate with the US in this war against terrorism, a
similar outcome waits for them?
MR. BOUCHER: I think the problem is with the word "similar." I don't
know that any country has similar sanctions against them. I can't
think of anybody else.
QUESTION: China.  With China, and export control sanctions.
MR. BOUCHER: Nobody else is subject to these nuclear sanctions that we
just waived. I would have to go through my Rolodex and figure out what
other countries might be subject to the overthrow of the democratic
government sanctions that apply to Pakistan.
So in many cases this is different. And there are cases where there
are, for example, the missile export sanctions which applied to
entities in both China and Pakistan. Those have not been waived. So we
have different relationships with different governments.
I do think, though, that the fundamental question you're asking about
is true, that we intend to support those who support us. We intend to
work with those governments that work with us in this fight. And this
has become, as the President and the Secretary have said, very, very
important to the United States, but to all the civilized world. We
will join together, and we will help each other in this fight.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) national security advisor is here this week.
Does he have any meetings in this building?
MR. BOUCHER: I'll have to check.  I don't know.
QUESTION: Can I follow-up on the sanctions? Two things. One is, what
happens to the entities list? And does the lifting of the non-nuclear
sanctions mean that the entities list will be wiped off?
And secondly, there were some sanctions, even before the nuclear
sanctions, dual-use technology; what happens to those?
And I wonder whether it's possible to get somebody here to explain in
detail what exactly are the sanctions lifted and what sanctions
MR. BOUCHER: Well, I think I just told you in detail what are the --
oh, on India? You want the same kind of list on India?
QUESTION: On an entities list (inaudible)?
MR. BOUCHER: Okay. Some of this is Treasury business, and I'm going to
have to check and see if we can get from them that kind of information
on the entities list because I don't know what that list, as it's
referred to, was actually attached to, which set of regulations.
But I will check for you, and I will see if I can get you the same
kind of list for India on what sanctions are waived, and what
restrictions might remain. Okay?
QUESTION: Secondly, what about the dual-use technology?
MR. BOUCHER: I will look at that as we go forward.
QUESTION: On the same subject, there was a report this morning that
the administration wants to lift a number of other restrictions on
foreign aid and arms exports, particularly human rights restrictions.
Can you tell us whether that's true?
MR. BOUCHER: The President said this morning we weren't going to do
that. That is not where we are headed.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) we are told that Pressler, Symington and Glenn
are also lifted. At least that is what the Embassy is saying.
MR. BOUCHER: That is what I just said.
QUESTION: Okay, and I was a little late. The other thing is that when
Pressler was interpreted for F-16s, it was said that commercial sales
are included as part of assistance, because all these amendments are
to the Foreign Assistance Act. So I am slightly confused. What is the
difference between 508 economic and military aid? You know, because it
is redundant because then Pakistan will not be able to buy anything
until Pressler has been lifted.
MR. BOUCHER: My understanding  -- 
QUESTION: -- you call it aid. (Inaudible) you call it aid. So that's
MR. BOUCHER: My understanding, which I just explained, was that the
lifting of these sanctions would allow us to authorize the commercial
sale of spare parts for the military, for example, so that commercial
sales would become possible.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) the US helping states that support it, could
that extend to, for instance, Middle Eastern countries that are
currently on the list of states supporting terrorism?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't think you should build too many images out of
this. There are sanctions, there are restrictions in place that we
would intend to follow. We certainly do believe it's a moment at which
states that have been on the terrorism list can take the final steps
and break their ties, and do what it takes to fully terminate their
support for terrorism or terrorist groups or terrorists who might be
living there. Were they to do that, then one would consider taking
them off. But at this point, don't imagine that we would be able to go
beyond that law.
QUESTION: Richard, can you describe the conversation between the
Secretary and Foreign Secretary Straw, particularly whether the visit
to Tehran came up? And also, are you getting any signs that Tehran, in
addition to sending welcome signals about support for the US campaign
on terrorism, is coming through on the other half of the equation,
meaning changing at all its views and sponsorship of the groups that
worry the United States?
MR. BOUCHER: The Secretary talked to Foreign Secretary Straw on
Sunday. They discussed, I think, a number of issues including Straw's
upcoming visit to Iran. We did not ask him to take any particular
message from us. But I think we look forward to hearing what
transpires in those discussions.
As far as some broader appreciation of where Iran stands on these
issues right now, I don't think I have anything new to say for you.
QUESTION: Back to Pakistan for a second. Can you tell us, give us an
update of the State Department wing of the interagency team that was
supposed to go to Pakistan and apparently now is not going to
Pakistan? Does that team still exist? Can you tell us a little bit
more about what they are trying to do, in lieu of going over there,
how they are going to contact their counterparts?
MR. BOUCHER: The State Department is flying on one wing to Pakistan.
The image is wonderful.
Let me try to explain this to you. The Secretary had talked about
sending an interagency delegation to Pakistan. At this point there is
no set composition, timing or delegation. In fact, it looks like we
may not do that in the immediate future. The goal of an interagency
group was to make sure that each of our agencies was working closely
with its Pakistani counterpart, and frankly that seems to be taking
place without the need for an interagency delegation. So at this point
there's nothing set on that.
QUESTION: Is there still an informal grouping in the State Department
that's just working on this issue, that has other kinds of contacts
with their Pakistani counterparts?
MR. BOUCHER: Oh, throughout the US Government, we have contacts with
our Pakistani counterparts. I am sure the counter-terrorism people are
talking to the counter-terrorism people, the finance people are
talking to the finance people, and on down the line. And that is the
point of getting a group together to go out there. It doesn't seem
that we need to make that trip in order to establish the kind of
cooperation across the board, up and down in these various sectors
that we want to have.
QUESTION: With respect to various terrorism bases that are supposedly
in some of the countries we're trying to work with, if a country says
one thing and actually keeps these terrorist bases open, are we giving
-- meaning the State Department diplomatically -- a prescribed length
of time for those to close down and to dismantle those networks? Or
are we going to start implementing diplomatic sanctions?
MR. BOUCHER: I think the President and the Secretary have both made
quite clear we are looking for actions, not just words. We're looking
for actions by countries around the world, and we are very gratified
to see the countries around the world have been taking actions,
actions either law enforcement effort, actions to share information,
actions to squash the financing of these groups -- I think Japan and
Switzerland have taken some steps in that regard -- actions such as
the one the UAE took to close down the Taliban representation.
So we are seeing a lot of action in a lot of places. We will look for
action by others as well. And in the circumstances you have described,
if there are states that appear to be tolerating the activities of
these terrorist groups, we would expect action from them as well.
At what point do we decide to start moving against them? I think that
is not going to be the same in each instance. But clearly the
Secretary and the President have made clear that we expect people to
be with us and to take action.
QUESTION: Are you saying terrorist-sponsored -- that group, states
that sponsor terrorism, some of them have taken action that we find
favorable? Since the President said as of this moment, we will
consider hostile countries -- we will consider as hostile countries
that support terrorism -- carried away with his rhetoric --
MR. BOUCHER: That continue to support  -- 
QUESTION: -- it sounded like that night was the marker, that countries
are either for us or against us. And still I see the US soliciting
countries that are listed as sponsors of terrorism. So either they
changed their habits overnight -- the Secretary said we're looking for
them to come to their senses. Has anybody come to their senses lately
in that prescribed list of seven countries? (Laughter.)
MR. BOUCHER: Do we have more?
QUESTION: This is a question that's got to be asked. We've been
dancing around -- not you, but you know, it's been danced around for
-- since the speech.
MR. BOUCHER: Since which speech, Barry?
QUESTION: The President's.
MR. BOUCHER: Oh, okay. Since you want to quote the President, let's
quote the President accurately. The President said "against states
that continue to support terrorism", right?
QUESTION: We will consider hostile -- we will consider them hostile.
MR. BOUCHER: Yes.  "Continue to support terrorism" was his quote.
MR. BOUCHER: I am not in a position to go through every country in
specific terms. We have taken the position all around the world that
individual governments would have to say what they're doing and would
leave it to them to make their announcements on their own behalf.
But I would say that we have seen action around the world from
different countries. We know of a great many actions taken by
governments around the world, and many of these are not visible in the
public arena yet. But those include states of all kinds, some of our
closest allies and some of the countries that we have not been so
friendly with.
QUESTION: Does that include states that are designated as sponsors of
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not going to go that far, because that gets to a
small group of countries, and then we only have to go through a list,
which I am not prepared to do.
QUESTION: Can I ask about the conversation with the President of
Turkmenistan? And then I have another question I'd like to move on to.
Can you give us --
MR. BOUCHER: I don't think I have that much to say, other than that
they spoke, and obviously we're looking to encourage, and cooperation,
and we hope to continue that cooperation.
QUESTION: Okay. Do you have any reaction to comments by President
Putin not long before we came into this room, in which he said Russia
would not send troops to Afghanistan, but it would open a humanitarian
corridor should there be some military activity there? Was the United
States asking him to take any such action? Do you feel you're getting
as much cooperation as you want from them right now?
MR. BOUCHER: We're very pleased with the cooperation we've had with
Russia. I think we've worked quite closely with Russia, and you know
that Foreign Minister Ivanov was here last week. So we've been in very
close contact with the Russians on this. Both President Putin and
Foreign Minister Ivanov have pledged their support to the global
coalition against terrorism, and we feel that we have worked very well
with them.
I know he was going to make this speech. I think he made it right as I
was preparing to come out, so I don't have any immediate reaction to
the details of what he might have announced.
QUESTION: As far as India is concerned, daily the cross-border
terrorism is continuing, and India kills about three or four people
from across the border and loses some two or three.
So when you say that in the anti-terrorist coalition, state-sponsored
terrorism must stop, it doesn't seem be happening in that part of the
MR. BOUCHER: I would just say that our views on Kashmir haven't
changed. We continue to have the same policy.
QUESTION: Due to the amount of scrutiny that is now being placed on
these suspects who had student visas, obtained abroad under false
pretenses, is the State Department planning to implement any new
measures to maybe make the background checks stricter or maybe more
follow-up once they're inside the country, although I know that gets
into INS territory --
MR. BOUCHER: Inside the country gets into the Immigration and
Naturalization Service. What I would say is, we are obviously looking
at this whole process and how to make it safer, how to make it better.
But that review, the look, the process of reviewing is just beginning.
We do operate from information that we have from a variety of US
Government agencies, and we make sure that the equipment that we use,
that all our embassies use to issue visas, it is impossible to issue a
visa without a cleared name check. So if the information is in the
database, then every visa we issue is checked against the database. No
visas are issued until the applicant has cleared the system.
So we will probably concentrate on some of the other aspects rather
than maybe the issuance aspect. But we will be looking at all of this,
and certainly all of the agencies will be looking together at what we
can do to get an improved system.
QUESTION: Can you tell me whether there is more scrutiny given to
potential students coming from the state sponsors of terrorism
countries, or do they get the same kind of check as anyone else?
MR. BOUCHER: Every person coming from a country where there is a state
sponsorship would be looked at very carefully. But I'm not aware that
that has been an issue in this particular situation, frankly.
QUESTION: In general, since September 11, have the rates at which our
consular offices issued visas declined in any way? Have they stayed
the same? Has there been any change in the rate at which we've issued
these visas?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't frankly know. I would not assume that there would
be, because certainly given the millions of visas we issue, if we turn
down five or 10 or 15 more terrorists, it's not going to show up
anywhere in the rates.
QUESTION: What is your response to the political demands expressed by
Mullah Omar today, apparently on behalf of Usama bin Laden? And also
to bin Laden's appeal for help against what he called the Jewish
crusade, or whatever it is, Jewish crusade or assault?
MR. BOUCHER: I think I just need to -- I would be glad to repeat once
again that the Taliban know what they have to do. Bin Laden has to be
expelled to a country where he can be brought to justice. The Taliban
need to stop harboring terrorist organizations. And the whole
structure of support for terrorist operations in Afghanistan must be
We are looking for action, not words, on their part; and they have to
demonstrate now whether they want to support terrorism or they want to
support justice. All this other talk is really irrelevant to it. There
is a broad international coalition, which includes people of many
faiths, many regions, many ethnic origins, that is appalled by the
kind of attack that we saw in New York, appalled with the idea that
anybody could be planning such actions, and appalled by the idea that
any regime could be harboring people who do this.
So it's quite clear to us that the Taliban needs to act in a way that
the whole world is asking for.
QUESTION: On Mullah Omar specifically, can you explain the rationale
that this building had when it expressed its opposition to VOA
broadcasting portions of an interview with Mr. Omar?
MR. BOUCHER: I'd be glad to. We didn't think it was right. We didn't
think that the American taxpayer, the Voice of America, should be
broadcasting the voice of the Taliban. We were informed that the Voice
of America intended to accept an offer from Mullah Omar to be
interviewed. We indicated at that time we thought it wouldn't be
appropriate for a number of reasons. One is that his commentaries have
already appeared on other broadcasters. Unless he was going to accept
the requirements of the United Nations, then there was no news or
anything newsworthy in any interview like that.
And carrying the interview would be confusing to the millions of
listeners to what is essentially a US Government broadcast, paid for
by the US Government. So we -- the State Department has a seat on the
board, we talked to other board members -- other Board of Broadcasting
governors -- about this and indicated that we felt as a matter of
policy the Board should not -- that Voice of America shouldn't be
making these broadcasts, putting this man's voice on our radio. And we
think, whether it was the Board of Governors or the Voice of America
that ultimately made this decision, it was the right decision, and we
think good sense prevailed.
QUESTION: But do you still maintain that VOA has editorial
MR. BOUCHER: We recognize the independence of the Voice of America.
The Voice of America works for the Board of Broadcasting Governors,
and we have a seat on the Board. The VOA works according to its
charter. Its charter says that they should explain US Government
policy and present responsible discussion about it. We don't consider
Mullah Omar to be responsible discussion.
QUESTION: Well, does this mean then that you will also oppose VOA
broadcasting statements from the Taliban that are released, say,
through the Afghan Islamic news agency -- the news agency in Pakistan?
MR. BOUCHER: We would not want to infringe on their ability to report
the news if there is news. But there is quite a bit of difference
between broadcasting that and broadcasting an interview with Mullah
QUESTION: So does this mean that any contract, say -- this is just a
hypothetical question, but if this happens again in the future with
someone else, that you would also oppose that? And are you --
MR. BOUCHER: With someone else?
QUESTION: Well, if bin Laden himself called up VOA and said, would you
like to interview me?
MR. BOUCHER: If he wanted to tell them something newsworthy about
where he expected to turn himself in, it would be fine.
QUESTION: But how would you know that?
MR. BOUCHER: Well, generally, people might say that if they were
calling up. Otherwise we don't think it's up to the US taxpayer to be
broadcasting these voices back into Afghanistan.
QUESTION: Hold on, Richard, can I just ask a question? Are you saying
that the journalists -- the editorial wing of Voice of America --
cannot make decisions on their own as to what would be confusing to
listeners? Or what would actually be considered news? I mean, is this
a precedent now that you're setting? Has this happened before?
MR. BOUCHER: No. I'm saying the policy for the Voice of America and
the other government broadcasters is set by a Board of Broadcasting
Governors, which we participate in. I'm saying that it's up to
journalists to make journalistic decisions, but it's also up to the
policy board to make policy decisions on these broadcasts. And we
don't think it's for the US taxpayer or the US Government to be
broadcasting those voices into Afghanistan.
QUESTION: Hold on, so just to follow up. So it's a policy decision at
the Voice of America as to whether or not you have this particular
MR. BOUCHER: It's a policy decision above the Voice of America. It's a
policy decision by the Board of Broadcasting Governors.
QUESTION: Can I ask, back to your earlier comment about bin Laden
should be expelled to a country where he can be brought to justice. I
may be mistaken, but I thought that the Bush speech -- the President
MR. BOUCHER: The President said the United States.
QUESTION: The United States.
MR. BOUCHER: Which is a country where he can be brought to justice.
QUESTION: Okay, so you're not adjusting that  -- 
MR. BOUCHER: No, I'm not adjusting that. The language of "expelled to
a country, brought to justice" is in the UN resolution. So it's
something that is clearly and widely recognized already. The United
States is clearly a country where he can be brought to justice. He has
been indicted in the United States for the bombings, and that's what
the President said we thought should happen.
QUESTION: I have one other question. Are you saying that he should be
brought to a third country, and then would the US seek his
MR. BOUCHER: If you look at the UN resolution, I think it's fairly
clear. He needs to be brought to a country where he can face justice,
and then there's another clause that says, or put to a place where he
could be brought to a place. I don't want to try to get into legal
procedures. But it's clear that he needs to face justice in a country
where he can.
QUESTION: Richard, we've been hearing a lot about how the FBI is
leading the investigation, but do you have any information as to how
the State Department is assisting in this investigation?
MR. BOUCHER: We're involved in a number of ways. The Diplomatic
Security Bureau of the State Department works closely with the FBI and
the other investigative agencies. We do things like we immediately ran
down whatever visa information we might have on these individuals. We
work with foreign governments, along with the FBI in places where
they're located, or on behalf of the FBI and other investigators in
places where they're not.
So our Diplomatic Security Agents ends up carrying up a lot of the
load of investigation overseas.
QUESTION: Richard, can I go back to the VOA thing for a second? Are
you saying the State Department was aware before VOA did this
interview with Mullah Omar that he was not going to make any news?
MR. BOUCHER: We're saying that we had no indication that he was going
to make any particular new statement.
QUESTION: So the VOA charter doesn't protect them from prior
MR. BOUCHER: The VOA charter describes what they're supposed to be
doing. We think that these decisions not to broadcast are entirely
consistent with the VOA charter, which is, again, what I said. Read
it; you can look it up on the Web. President Ford signed it; it's out
there. It says to present -- to explain US -- among other things -- to
report on the news and to explain US Government policy and present
responsible discussion thereof. If he's not -- if there's no
indication he's going to make a new announcement, then it's not the
first part of it; it's the responsible discussion part of it, and we
frankly don't consider Mullah Omar to be a responsible discussion of
US policy.
QUESTION: Well, what can you expect  -- 
QUESTION: We're on the verge of going to war with this guy. You don't
think that that's news, anything he has to say?
MR. BOUCHER: A lot of things that he has to say are reported, have
been reported very, very widely by other media. And we're not in any
way restricting that. I'm just saying that the bottom line for US
Government broadcaster paid for by US taxpayers is that we shouldn't
be broadcasting his propaganda.
QUESTION: Well, what can you say about -- hold on, Barry.
QUESTION: Okay, sure.
QUESTION: I'm surprised that you're not in on this. What can you say
to VOA listeners out there who now may have questions about whether
the news that they're listening to is going to be impartial and
present all sides to the story?
MR. BOUCHER: I'm going to say, you're going to get the news, as you
always have from VOA.
QUESTION: But not if the State Department objects to it.
MR. BOUCHER: I'm going to say, you're going to get the news, as you
always have from the VOA, and as you continue to get every day from
the VOA. You're going to get clear explanations of US policy, and
you're going to get responsible discussion -- pro and con -- about US
policy. Nothing different. I'm going to say exactly what's in their
charter that they continue to exercise today.
QUESTION: But not from Mullah Omar?
MR. BOUCHER: Not from Mullah Omar, unless he's about to announce
something that falls under another category.
QUESTION: How do you know? I don't understand how you can make this
decision before --
MR. BOUCHER: If Mullah Omar wants to call up and say, I've got news
for you; I want to read it out on the VOA, then it might be a
different situation. But, frankly, to present another one of his
statements in his voice to Afghanistan, we don't consider that
compatible with the charter. We are on the board. Other members of the
board did not consider it compatible with the charter and, frankly, we
don't think it makes good sense to be asking US taxpayers to pay for
QUESTION: Was that a unanimous decision by the board?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know that there was actually a vote by the board.
We talked to some of the board members and they seemed to agree with
QUESTION: I'm sorry, I'm not familiar with the charter. But is it
supposed to be, you know, the majority of people on the board that
make this decision, or --
MR. BOUCHER: I don't think that is specified in the charter; I would
have to go back in the board's rules. But I think any board that --
when board members feel strongly about these things, that they do set
the policy.
QUESTION: I have something to follow up, and my hand is almost numb.
MR. BOUCHER: Well, I'm sorry, we have a numb hand over here, and a
numb hand over here. (Laughter.) So we can do them one at a time. I'll
get back to you, I'm sorry.
All right, you can go first.
QUESTION: First, the phrasing is  -- 
MR. BOUCHER: You can take your hand down now.  (Laughter.)
QUESTION: First, your phrasing is that you don't think that it is the
job of Voice of America to broadcast back Mullah Omar's comments back
to Afghanistan. Does it mean that you would not object if they were
included in some other service being broadcast not of Afghanistan? One
MR. BOUCHER: This was a particular question that had to do with some
Afghan language services. I am not going to give free license to
everybody to go broadcasting Mullah Omar.
As I said, you know, they report the news. If he makes news, I am sure
they will report it. This was a different circumstance, though.
QUESTION: The other thing I wanted to ask. Don't you think the US
taxpayer really wants balanced news and freedom of press and First
Amendment for everybody in the world? Isn't that what we are fighting
MR. BOUCHER: I think we absolutely do.  And there is  -- 
QUESTION: That is his point of view. Because you are accusing him. He
doesn't have Sixth Amendment rights under US Constitution, but at
least his point of view should be heard.
MR. BOUCHER: My turn? I think we consider it plain common sense, as
well as good policy, as well as consistent with the Voice of America's
charter to say that we support freedom of the press around the world,
we can support all these wonderful things that you people do every
day. We can fight to defend all these wonderful things that you people
do every day, without asking the US taxpayer to pay for broadcasting
this guy's voice back into Afghanistan.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) -- Pakistan perhaps could buy spare parts as
commercial sanctions lifted. Now, is it only spare parts, or Pakistan
perhaps can buy anything, including the F-16s, which are in storage?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't want to go too far down this road yet. I do want
to take this one step at a time. But it allows the commercial sale of
military goods, so that would be a larger universe than just spare
QUESTION: You said that the Secretary had made more than 200 phone
calls --
MR. BOUCHER: I think it was 100; 100 in two weeks.
QUESTION: One hundred phone calls to several countries. Did he --
could he get full support of all countries that he talked to, or are
there any different opinions or approaches within countries in the
international coalition?
MR. BOUCHER: I would say that there has been very, very broad and
solid support around the world. I think we have counted -- let me
check on today's fact sheet -- messages of condolence and sympathy
from 197 countries and entities. There were 60 countries that offered
specific support for the disaster, the kind of search and recovery
operations that need to go on.
There have been multilateral declarations of support from 46 different
international entities, from the United Nations to NATO to the
Organization of African Unity to the Organization of American States.
The European Union, as you all know, has been very forthcoming. The
NATO-Russia Permanent Joint Council has issued a statement. And the
list goes on and on and on.
So I think we have had very solid support around the world. We are
now, I guess I would say, moving from the stage where we looked for
rhetorical support, where we looked for the statements, where we
looked for commitment to the stages where we are starting to do a lot
of things with a lot of things with a lot of countries. And, as I said
before, there are many, many things we are doing that are not visible
and won't be visible. But if you look around the world, you will see
all kinds of actions being taken by governments to try to squeeze the
terrorist organizations, cut down their financing, cut down on front
organizations, offices, their ability to move or to operate. So I
think, generally, we have gotten very, very positive response.
QUESTION: One more question on this VOA issue. You spoke of some
unease that the message would be misinterpreted around the world if he
got on the air. Do you feel the US message which you pretty much just
gave earlier in another context -- that it's a multi-ethnic coalition,
that it comes from various cultures, various viewpoints -- it suggests
that this argument -- I don't know what the word would be -- that this
presentation the US has been making hasn't -- the US is fearful it
hasn't sunk in, that you're proceeding with part of the world not sure
what the US is about -- is doing here.
MR. BOUCHER: And how do you get that from what I said before?
QUESTION: Because one of the arguments you gave against letting this
guy on the air was that his message might fall on nave ears. You
didn't --
MR. BOUCHER: I would say, Barry, that the message is clearly, this is
a broad, multi-national, multi-ethnic, multi-region coalition with
people from around the world of all faiths and ethnicities, which
includes virtually everybody in the world except terrorists and those
who harbor them.
QUESTION: But the US has confidence that this is how this is perceived
in the streets?
MR. BOUCHER: I think we have confidence that those are the facts and
we have confidence that we can continue to make that clear to people.
QUESTION: Let me turn to something else, if I may? This situation is
unique, I mean, this whole campaign, as the Secretary has said. Still,
I wondered if it could be said, with the Taliban turning you down
every which way now for days, is the diplomatic phase over?
In the Gulf War, there was a definite delineation. Mr. Baker put a
piece of paper on a coffee table that Tariq Aziz did not pick up and
diplomacy had come to an end. Is there any room, any more, for
diplomacy to turn the Taliban on this?
MR. BOUCHER: Barry, this is not the Gulf War. We have tried to make
that clear. This is not a Geneva meeting with Secretary Baker and
Tariq Aziz. This is an international effort to stop terrorism. This is
an international campaign that is not just military. It could involve
military elements, but you see us out there every day working
diplomatically with governments, working on the financial controls
with governments, such as we are doing today with the President's
announcements, working on information sharing with governments,
working on law enforcement cooperation with governments, working on
immigration controls with governments.
All of these things that we are doing that are not in the nature of
military action are essential aspects of a broad campaign to squeeze
terrorism, to stop it, to cut off its sources of financing, cut off
its ability to operate. That diplomatic effort is strong, it is, I
would say, even picking up speed. And it is going to continue for
years. This is what it takes to get terrorism stopped.
That involves pressure in terms of Afghanistan, it involves continuing
the pressure on the Taliban, and you've seen their offices being
closed down in certain cases, diplomats being withdrawn. Pakistan has
withdrawn its representatives. So it involves pressure on the Taliban,
as well as an effort to cut off the al-Qaida organization, to cut off
its means of communication, to stop it from being able to finance
itself, to stop it from being able to plan and carry out terrorist
QUESTION: But is a military element here -- and I guess I was asking
in a way if there is still an opportunity to avert a military move by
the US, if there's some room still for the Taliban or Taliban's
friends -- I assume they still have some friends -- to divert -- to
avert a blow-up, a military action?
MR. BOUCHER: I'd go back to the President's speech, which you quoted
before, but I'd quote the other passage that says -- that I can't
remember precisely, the one about justice -- we will render him to
justice or justice will be done. But clearly there are certain things
the President said he expected the Taliban to do, and that in terms of
the organization of al-Qaida, I repeated them again this morning, and
we expect to see them do those things. That's the way to avert any
further consequences.
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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 --
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
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
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
QUESTION: A question there, for a two-second answer. I think it's
tomorrow, right, that the Chinese counter-terrorist people are coming?
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.
(The briefing was concluded at 2:20 p.m.)
(end transcript)
(Distributed by the Office of International Information Programs, U.S.
Department of State. Web site:

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