State Dept. Daily Press Briefing September 18
State Dept. Daily Press Briefing September 18, 2001
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE Daily Press Briefing Index Tuesday, September 18, 2001
BRIEFER: Richard Boucher, Deputy Spokesman
AFGHANISTAN 1-4 Situation Update/ Expelling bin Laden / U.S. delegation to Islamabad / Contact with Taliban UN 4 Status of UNGA Meetings
AFGHANISTAN 4 Aid to the Afghan people
ISRAEL / PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY 5-6-7 Situation Update / Calls for Cease-fire / Departments Efforts 9 Targeted Killings DEPARTMENT 6 State Department personnel missing in WTC Attack
CHINA 6-7 Curtailment of visit of Chinese IVs
AFGHANISTAN 8-9 Status of detained aid workers / Food aid
DEPARTMENT 10-11 Meetings with Foreign Ministers / International Assistance
DEPARTMENT 11 International Assistance against Terrorism / Expressions of Condolence 12 Focus of Department Action
INTERNATIONAL ASSISTANCE 13 OAS and NATO Statements
AFGHANISTAN 14 Pakistan Cooperation against Taliban / Threats by Taliban
PAKISTAN 14 Cooperation with the U.S./Coalition
DEPARTMENT 14-15 Communications with Arab Countries / Chinese / Cooperation
IRAQ 16 Sanctions
PAKISTAN/AFGHANISTAN 16 Closing of Pakistani Border
DOMESTIC 17 Threats to Sikhs / Discussions with India / Xenophobia
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
DPB # 130
TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 18, 2001, 12:43 P.M. (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. BOUCHER: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I think the Secretary just spoke to you, so I am not going to try to make any additional statements or announcements. But if there is anything I can help you with, I would be glad to.
QUESTION: Is there anything more you can add to what's happening in Afghanistan, beyond the narrow question that I asked the Secretary outside?
MR. BOUCHER: To what's happening in Afghanistan? I am not sure there is that much to say about it. The Secretary did address outside the fact that they appear to be having meetings that we don't have a lot of readout from. We have seen the various press stories, speculation or officials, people talking about the possible responses to the request that they expel Usama bin Laden. There are these reports that a council of religious scholars will make a decision on the issue in the next day or two.
I just would say, for us, the issue is quite clear. There are UN Security Council resolutions that already established the requirements and we have repeatedly made clear to the Taliban, in the face-to-face meetings we have had and in public remarks, that bin Laden must be expelled to a country where he can be brought to justice for his crimes. That is what the UN resolutions require and that is what we would expect to see.
Those same resolutions require the Taliban end their harboring of terrorist organizations. After the tragedies of last week, the attacks of last week, these goals are even more important. It is not just that bin Laden must be brought to justice but that the whole structure of support for the terrorist organizations has to be dismantled.
QUESTION: There are some reports that the Taliban has said if all 60 members of the OIC were to call for bin Laden to be turned over, that they would consider it. Are you considering -- are there contacts with the OIC about this request or is that something that you would ask the OIC to do?
MR. BOUCHER: I had not seen that particular statement or request or reports. I am a little vague on what it is. But, in any case, I would say we have been in touch with the OIC, the Secretary has talked to a number of foreign ministers and the President has talked to some leaders in the Gulf area in particular. The Secretary talked to the Qatari Foreign Minister the other day and they are currently head of the OIC. We noted especially the statement that the OIC made the other day that indicated terrorist acts were un-Islamic. I forget if they used exactly those terms, but it was a pretty strong statement. And therefore, we have and do intend to try to work closely with those governments.
QUESTION: Richard, is it fair to say that you all have been speaking with various leaders in the Moslem world to ask them, perhaps, to take bin Laden and be the place for a trial?
MR. BOUCHER: Why would it be fair to say that?
QUESTION: Well, because you just said that the UN resolution --
MR. BOUCHER: I would not say that in any way, shape or form. And, first of all, we are not negotiating this. UN resolutions are quite clear. He needs to be delivered to a place where he can face justice. As I just made clear, it is not just that he needs to be brought to justice, but that the whole network of support for this terrorist organization and others needs to be dismantled.
The UN resolutions are quite clear. In the past, we have seen statements about various formulations of Islamic courts coming out of the Taliban, but frankly none of those have ever measured up to the requirements of the UN resolution. So I don't want to speculate on what might happen now. But it is clear to us that they need, first and foremost, to meet the existing requirements of the UN resolution; and second of all, to remember that he is now the prime suspect in another horrible attack, and that could obviously lead to other consequences.
QUESTION: Who decides the appropriate place of that third country?
MR. BOUCHER: I think it's totally speculative at this point that there might be any such thing. So I'm not going to try to speculate.
QUESTION: And has any decision been taken about sending a US delegation to Islamabad at this point?
MR. BOUCHER: Not yet. We do intend to send an interagency delegation to Islamabad, as the Secretary has discussed several times. There is no decision yet on timing and who would go.
QUESTION: Any change in your intentions towards action through the United Nations; for example, a new resolution? Have there been any consultations on that? Do you have -- what's your view on that?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't, at this point, have anything new at the United Nations. I would say, first, with regard to the United Nations, there is very good news today, and that's that our Ambassador to the United Nations, John Negroponte, was sworn in this morning, and we're glad to be able to do that. The team up at the UN has been doing an excellent job for us, and we look forward to his being able to go up there. He will be up tomorrow to present his credentials, mid-day tomorrow. And then he will be working up there to help implement the President's strategy.
We do want to work closely with the United Nations. And in the Secretary's meeting this morning with Foreign Minister Han, who is President of the General Assembly, he expressed our appreciation for the steps, the first resolution of the new General Assembly, and Foreign Minister Han was elected and then presided over that session, and for the efforts that they are making up there, and offered to continue coordinating with the United Nations in various ways.
The Secretary has spoken with Kofi Annan several times. And so we will keep working with the United Nations. But I don't have anything on a particular new step up there.
QUESTION: Do you know -- has there been any contact yet with -- or will there ever be with the Taliban themselves?
MR. BOUCHER: At this point, there has not been. The Secretary, I think, has said to you that at some point, we would expect there might be.
QUESTION: Can you tell us, to the best of the State Department's information, whether you believe the Taliban has finished meeting, in terms of a clerical assembly, and whether or not they have decided that they would not at this point hand over bin Laden?
MR. BOUCHER: No. We don't know. We don't have any direct contacts, we don't have any people there. We don't participate in clerics' meetings in Afghanistan. So, no, we don't know for sure. We're following the press reports on this. I suppose we will hear from the Pakistanis when they finish their discussions. And we'll see what they come out with.
But as I've said, we believe the requirements of the UN resolution are clear, and further know that he is the prime suspect in additional attacks.
QUESTION: I take it if the Taliban turns Usama bin Laden over, that would be insufficient; they would have to dismantle the terrorism network, for them to get off the hook.
MR. BOUCHER: The President and the Secretary have made clear our goal is to end terrorism. It is to dismantle the networks -- "rip up the networks" in the Secretary's phrase -- and make sure that other people, other cells, other groups can't do this kind of thing. And so, as I've made clear, the UN resolution makes clear already that because of the attacks in East Africa, Usama bin Laden needs to be brought to justice, and the Taliban has to end its practice of harboring terrorist groups. That is part and parcel of dismantling the entire network; it is what our goal is.
QUESTION: Has there been any decision yet, especially after the talks this morning with Foreign Minister Han, about what will happen with UNGA?
MR. BOUCHER: I think it's called the General Debate that is usually held -- that was to be held next week with high-level leaders coming in from around the world, the question of holding or not holding this debate, postponing it, is being discussed now. It has been discussed. The decision is really in the hands of the United Nations.
Everybody agrees we should look first and foremost to the wishes of the city. We discussed the matter with Foreign Minister Han today. I think he indicated it is being discussed with various regional groupings at the United Nations and that there will be some sort of session tomorrow to decide.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) is in town today and I understand he is having meetings with various US officials. Is there any plan at this point for the United States to give extra support to help those refugees who are fleeing Afghanistan or have fled Afghanistan since Tuesday?
MR. BOUCHER: If I can, let me go back a little bit to review what we have been doing and continue to do. I know that various charges have been made that somehow we are against Afghanistan or against the people of Afghanistan. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth.
We have been strong supporters over the years of assistance efforts for the people of Afghanistan, of assistance efforts for the internally displaced in Afghanistan, and assistance efforts for Afghans who find it necessary to flee their country as refugees. We have provided emergency food aid and other life-saving humanitarian assistance to the most vulnerable people that are suffering from drought and from the conflict in Afghanistan. From the US Agency for International Development side, food that's targeted on the most impoverished. In fiscal year 2001, we provided 63,000 metric tons, that is valued at $29.29 million. Of that, about $1.9 million goes to Afghan refugees.
We have also provided life-saving assistance to help with access to food, water, medical services and shelter that result from the drought. For those programs, 2001 funding is at $18.9 million. This is only part of an overall US assistance program for Afghanistan. The total, including aid from our Bureau of Population and Refugees, comes to over $140 million for this year in support for the Afghan people and for the refugees caused by the terrible and unfortunate situation that many people in Afghanistan face.
In the immediate circumstance -- where is my number here -- we have just given the UN High Commissioner for Refugees $2 million, which can be used to meet initial emergency requirements and we are prepared to consider further contributions. So we will be working with international organizations, with US-funded nongovernmental organizations to determine their ability to ramp up assistance in Pakistan to Afghan refugees. So the UN has got emergency planners out there in Pakistan, and we will work closely with them in the field, as well as support their activities.
MR. BOUCHER: I would have to find the exact date. We have just given it, so -- just. I think in the past few days. I will have to check if it's exactly today or not.
QUESTION: Do the encouraging developments in the Middle East today make it -- how do they affect your attempts to build this global coalition?
MR. BOUCHER: I would go, first and foremost, to what the Secretary said over the past few days, that we consider ending the violence and getting back on a path of implementation of the Mitchell Report and back towards peace and negotiations, based on Resolutions 242 and 338, that that path is important in and of itself, for the lives of Israelis, for the lives of Palestinians.
And so we continue to work very hard on that. We have obviously noted that many in the Arab world who we work with in the coalition are as concerned -- or are very concerned about the situation in the region. And we have assured them, as we have you, that we will continue to work on the issue of peace in the Middle East.
The Secretary has had a number of discussions and phone calls with a variety of people in the Middle East over the last several days. In many of these cases, it's a discussion not only of the coalition against terrorism, but also the situation between the Israelis and Palestinians.
So we will continue to work on that. He told you he has talked to Foreign Minister Peres, Prime Minister Sharon, Chairman Arafat today. We have welcomed Chairman Arafat's very explicit call for a complete cease-fire, for maximum self-restraint, for resumption of direct contacts to end the violence. We noted, in fact, that he made the statement in Arabic. This is the kind of step -- exactly the kind of step -- that we have been talking about, that we have been looking for, and we certainly will continue to work with him and the parties to see that these kind of steps are followed by others.
If I could just say a couple other important things about this. He also reiterated the right of Israel to live within safe and secure boundaries, and he reiterated his order to Palestinian security forces to act intensively to secure a complete cease-fire. We think that's very important. We also welcome the Israeli Government's statements, that it will suspend offensive military operations and exercise restraint.
So our hope is that this effort to establish a calm, to establish a real cease-fire will be sustained, and that the initial steps, which I said are exactly the kind of steps we have been looking for, will be followed by the others that we have been looking for as well.
QUESTION: Richard, I hope this isn't too much of an esoteric question, but some people who view the latest developments in the Israeli-Palestinian front, believe that it's a direct outcome of Secretary Powell -- as you say, that, yes, he has raised this in conversations with Arab leaders -- but a direct outcome of this Administration's attempt to build a global coalition.
Do you hope that this new sort of spirit of camaraderie between all these countries lining up against terrorism could also affect other policy issues that you have pending right now?
MR. BOUCHER: I think there are probably a number of aspects to that. First, this kind of horrible crime has a sobering effect on a lot of people, and makes clear once again that violence is not a path to anything. And therefore, we would hope that people who have an alternate path, people who have a path to resolve their differences would once again commit themselves to that, as we see perhaps going on between the Israelis and Palestinians.
The second is that many of the people that we work with closely in combating terrorism, and that we expect to work with very closely in combating terrorism, are interested in the Israeli-Palestinian situation and, as we work on both of them, we improve the relationships and establish a further basis for cooperation.
So I think there has always been a recognition that different issues in the region are linked in people's minds and people care about it, many of them at the same time. And, in terms of our approach, we have always stressed the importance. It is not just Americans and other people around the world who deserve to live in safety and security, but Israelis and Palestinians too.
QUESTION: Two things briefly. Do you know, was there anyone from the State Department who was a victim or missing from -- do you know if this building --
MR. BOUCHER: Not that I know of, at this point.
QUESTION: And secondly, can you talk a little bit about this group of Chinese journalists who were asked to leave last week, last Friday, and why?
MR. BOUCHER: There was a group of Chinese on an international visitor tour, a group of Chinese journalists, who were on an international visitors' tour. We curtailed the visit on September 14 because, under the circumstances, it was decided not to continue the tour. They were in Washington, I believe, and their next stop was due to be New York. So there was no way that they could continue that tour.
QUESTION: Well, were the reports that they had either laughed or cheered or applauded at --
MR. BOUCHER: I really don't know. I know there have been rumors and things like that talked about. I just don't know.
QUESTION: Well, there are other groups under the international visitors' program that are in town, correct? And those groups were not -- those visits were not curtailed, as I understand.
MR. BOUCHER: We are looking at all such tours on a case-by-case basis. It will depend on the itinerary, the ease of rescheduling, things like that.
QUESTION: So you are saying that just -- do you know if they have actually left now?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't.
QUESTION: But they were asked to leave?
MR. BOUCHER: On the 14th, the visit was curtailed.
QUESTION: But they were asked to leave the country, yes?
MR. BOUCHER: The visit was curtailed. That's the way I put it.
QUESTION: Well, Richard, could you take the question as to whether it was entirely related to the situation in New York, or were there other reasons for curtailing it?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know if I can get you anything on that. I will see.
QUESTION: Richard, how much credit does the United States claim for these latest developments in the Middle East? Or do you think that it's mainly the parties themselves acting on what they see as their own best interest under the circumstances?
MR. BOUCHER: I think we have to recognize that all along the United States has played a very important role. The parties do, sometimes, act in their best interests and we always encourage them to do that. The Secretary has been in close touch with the parties, he has been in close touch with people in the region. Our representatives in the region have had a lot of discussions with the parties at the senior levels, and will continue to work. I give the parties credit for recognizing that it is important to move forward, and I give us some credit for having helped them recognize that and show them a way to move forward.
QUESTION: May I follow up on that?
MR. BOUCHER: Sure.
QUESTION: This is kind of building on Andrea's question. Do you feel extra pressure to try and resolve this in order to secure the support of a lot of these Arab states to join the coalition?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't think I would put it that way. We recognize that there is an interplay. We recognize that people who want to work with us in the coalition against terrorism -- remember, people are doing this unconditionally. They are joining the fight against terrorism because it is in their interest. They recognize, too, that this kind of barbarism is an attack on civilization and all the great civilizations of the world. And therefore we think that people are joining the coalition, offering their support, offering their help because they recognize that it is in their own interests, that this, as many have said, is an attack on them too.
So I am not aware that anybody has is conditioned their cooperation against terrorism. At the same time, I think I go back -- we have been working very hard on the Israeli-Palestinian issues all along. The Secretary has, our representatives in the region have, the President has. Because we recognize that Israelis and Palestinians deserve a right to live in safety and security just as we do.
QUESTION: Richard, back to the aid to Afghanistan. Do you know whether all of the US AID workers who were in Afghanistan have left after the Taliban ordered all foreigners to leave? And can you tell us if anyone in our missions in Pakistan have yet availed themselves of the non-essential departure?
MR. BOUCHER: Let's do departure from Afghanistan separately from departures from Pakistan so we don't get them confused.
In terms of Afghanistan, our understanding is that all the foreign humanitarian workers that were in Afghanistan have left. And obviously that makes it impossible to conduct the programs inside Afghanistan that we did. We are working with the UN and others to try to make sure that we have good programs for the refugees that are in Pakistan and may resume.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) are -- they may be sort of Pakistanis, or other people working for the UN?
MR. BOUCHER: As far as I know, all foreign humanitarian workers have left.
QUESTION: Except for those detained, right? Well, I just want to -- are you saying that they have left, too?
MR. BOUCHER: Matt, can I finish the sentence, please? All foreign humanitarian workers in Afghanistan have left. The two Americans and the other Germans and Australians who were in detention in Kabul are still there in detention in Kabul, as far as we know. And we have been - if you want to be very precise -- we have been in continuing contact with the Taliban in Islamabad about the question of the detained Americans, making clear that we felt they needed to be released. We have also been working very closely with their families.
Okay, now, departure from Pakistan. I believe everybody by now has probably seen the statement, our new Travel Warning for Pakistan that was issued on September 17th. We have authorized the departure of all US Embassy and consular personnel who are in non-emergency positions, and of their family members in Pakistan. Our posts remain open. Some of the employees of the consulate in Peshawar have moved temporarily to Islamabad in light of the rising tensions in Peshawar. All our posts in Pakistan remain available for American citizen emergencies.
We have issued the advice to Americans that they consider their personal security situations, take measures that they deem appropriate to ensure their well-being, including consideration of departure from the country. Americans who decide to remain in Pakistan should exercise maximum caution and take prudent measures.
In terms of have any of our employees or family members left, at this stage I would say that a number of employees and family members have expressed interest in departing the country. But that's as far as I can go for the moment.
QUESTION: Does the State Department still oppose Israel's policies of targeted killings?
MR. BOUCHER: We haven't changed policy on that.
QUESTION: You haven't changed any policy on that?
QUESTION: Can I go back to the people leaving? Not necessarily your order, but was there any contact between the United States and these NGOs who were working in Afghanistan before they told their people to leave? I mean, have you -- did you say, have you suggested to them, you might want to get your people out of Afghanistan?
MR. BOUCHER: Not that I know of. I think, if I remember correctly, at least the press reporting indicated it was an order from the Taliban, and then decisions by the groups to withdraw. I'm not sure how exactly it was.
We are in contact with these groups all the time. They work on US aid programs. We have very, very close contact. So, yes, we were in close touch with them. Did we instruct them to leave, and are you in a position to draw some conclusion about action based on that? I wouldn't want to lead you to that kind of conclusion. So let me not go any farther.
QUESTION: One more aid question. If we don't have anybody in the country, what are we doing with the -- how are we disbursing the new food stuffs that we're sending over to the refugee camps? Are we just passing that along to Pakistani officials, or how does --
MR. BOUCHER: No, we have people in Pakistan; we don't have people in Afghanistan. Part of our assistance is to set up and make sure we can take care of refugees that would end up in Pakistan.
QUESTION: I wasn't saying they've necessarily left. But if we're urging Americans not to hang around, what happens to the food? What happens to the aid, the actual items?
MR. BOUCHER: I think, again, what we have done so far is to remove non-emergency personnel. I think aid workers or NGOs in Pakistan who are feeding starving people would be considered emergency personnel for the moment.
Okay, can we start heading back?
QUESTION: There is a report floating around that the Iraqis had requested an increase in property insurance in the days leading up to the attack. Is that something you can confirm? Were you aware of that?
MR. BOUCHER: That the Iraqis?
MR. BOUCHER: No. I have no idea. You can go find an Iraqi spokesman and ask him about their insurance, but I just don't.
QUESTION: You are not aware of the Iraqis asking to increase property --
MR. BOUCHER: I haven't heard the story. I haven't had a chance to check it out. But, really, I don't think the US Government is going to be the source of information on that.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) foreign ministers this week. Do you expect to put specific requests to those countries this week?
MR. BOUCHER: It will depend, to some extent, on the country. I think, as the Secretary has noted to you, we expect to cooperate with different countries in different ways. We appreciate the outpourings of support and the offers of assistance from around the world. I think at last count, it was something like 194 messages of sympathy, condolence and, in many cases, offers of assistance.
The meetings that we have coming up this week, the meeting with the Russian Foreign Minister tomorrow, the Saudi Foreign Minister arrives tomorrow, the meeting is not scheduled yet, could be tomorrow, could be Thursday. The European Union Troika is coming on Thursday. The Chinese Foreign Minister is coming on Friday. And I apologize to who I may have left out. I have to double check on the Italian; I am not sure if that is still scheduled. The German Foreign Minister is coming. Foreign Minister Vedrine will come and see the Secretary this afternoon.
So in all those meetings, in different ways, we will be talking to people about how we can cooperate and what kind of effort we can make. As you know, the Secretary has talked on the phone to a variety of foreign ministers, talked in person to others. Our ambassadors have talked to governments throughout the world. In turn, we've talked to the ambassadors of all the countries that we have relations with, talked to them here.
There is a basic look, I think, with every country. Can you share information, can you help us disrupt the financial flows, can you close your borders, can you prevent transits of groups, can you investigate aspects of groups or attacks that might be necessary to investigate, can you close down offices or operations? And we've seen statements around the world, where different governments are doing different kinds of things.
You have seen, I think, excellent law enforcement and intelligence cooperation, particularly with allies. You have seen, I think, some law enforcement steps being taken in Germany and Belgium. There are things around the world that are probably noteworthy. There is probably much more -- there is much more going on that I don't think it is for me to announce. But in terms of public statements, you have seen the United Arab Emirates, for example, say that they were reviewing the status of the Taliban office there, and governments around the world offering assistance of different kinds.
Switzerland, they have frozen several of the bank accounts of groups that are associated with the Taliban. Pakistan, we have all seen what they are trying to do in terms of getting the Taliban to understand where their interests lie and what they should do. Australia, we and Australia have invoked the Defense Treaty, so there is a basis for that cooperation. We have agreed with the Chinese that, in addition to the foreign minister's visit, we will have some follow-up discussions among terrorism experts, that Chinese counter-terrorism experts will come to Washington after the ministers' visit to plan and discuss means of enhancing our cooperation with them. So, a great many steps are being taken around the world. The basis for cooperation established in multi-lateral organizations, but as well as the specific ones.
Now, as we get more and more specific in addition to those general steps we're talking to everybody about, there will be instances where we get more specific. In some countries, it may be law enforcement cooperation, in some countries it may be particular groups or individuals we want to look at. In other countries, it may be money flows. So there will be different kinds of specific cooperation.
QUESTION: Yesterday, the Secretary was asked about countries we have either not gone to for assistance, or who have not offered to help. Can you elaborate at all on those countries? And, have we actually gone to some of these countries and they have not been responsive?
MR. BOUCHER: I think I could say that the number 194 countries that have expressed sympathy and condolences is actually more than the number of countries I thought existed in the world. It is really remarkable, the outpouring of support, the willingness of the international community. You see different places and countries offering assistance that we haven't asked for yet. Statements in Uzbekistan, in India and all over the place, you see different governments doing things, we see governments doing things that we are not in a position to talk about.
So we are buoyed by the kind of cooperation, we are buoyed by the concrete cooperation and the fact that people are willing to take this into action. The stark exception to all that appears to be Iraq, which persists in keeping itself out of the international community and persists in a just a horrible view of what's right and what's wrong.
QUESTION: If I could just try this one more time, it does seem certainly if the Chinese are sending a counter-terrorism team to Washington, that is just one example, I am sure there are others, of this new spirit of cooperation in particular on terrorism. Do you have any hope that this -- whatever you want to call it -- this cooperation and whatnot will spill over into other issues that you have had on your plate and, in some instances, haven't really been able to make much headway?
MR. BOUCHER: Are you talking specifically about China, or others?
QUESTION: It doesn't matter. You've got the Russians coming here. Are you going to be talking about Iraq? Are you going to talk about other policies as well?
MR. BOUCHER: I would say, clearly, the issue of action against terrorism. The fight against terrorism is first and foremost in all our relationships and all our discussions these days. And it will be for some time to come.
The question of how that affects other relationships, we certainly look forward to cooperation in this area, demonstrating in a variety of ways that we can cooperate with different people, that there are common interests that we need to work together on.
So to the extent that we cooperate against the network that we believe carried out this specific attack, that's good. To the extent that we find areas to cooperate with others against terrorism as a whole, against other groups, other means of terrorism, that's better. To the extent that it demonstrates a kind of cooperation that can spill over into other aspects of our relationships, that's even better. But the first and foremost issue for us now is identifying the perpetrators and figuring out how to rip up their network so they can't do this again.
QUESTION: The President said that the new fight against terrorism is the focus of his administration, and you also said that's the foremost in every conversation, but the world does go on and there are still other problems in the world and other things that you, as the State Department, need to advance. How is this -- I know you have said the government is open for business and the State Department is open for business. How is this hampering your ability to advance other foreign policy challenges that you saw as crucial just a few weeks ago?
MR. BOUCHER: I would say that to have one issue front and center in all our relationships is not in any way hampering our ability to do other things as well. You saw the Secretary this morning talked to the South Korean Foreign Minister about the discussions that North and South Korea have been having, about the need to encourage that process and support that process. We are working as well on the Middle East peace process, recognize the importance of that to our foreign policy and to people in the region that we want to cooperate with.
We have ambassadors all over the world. We have meetings with representatives from all over the world. But the fact that the world joins together in a fight against terrorism, that all of us see this as a major threat to our security, to the wellbeing of our people, to the wellbeing of our societies means that it is issue number one for us and for many, many others. So our job is to advance the nation's interest, and if this is the primary interest the nation has at this stage, then we will advance it.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) the North Koreans?
MR. BOUCHER: I think there have been some public statements from the North Koreans. I am not able to talk about any particular communication.
QUESTION: Are you aware of a communiqué by the Ibero-American Group -- this is Portugal, Spain and the Latin American countries -- that was critical of the terrorist acts but which was not unanimously approved?
MR. BOUCHER: I am not aware of that. I think some of those countries would be NATO members who invoked Article V of NATO. I am not sure who else is in the group.
MR. BOUCHER: I think you have seen statements from the OAS, you have seen statements from NATO. Those are the ones I am aware of and those are very positive. OAS is still considering what more it can do. They will have a meeting of the Permanent Council tomorrow to consider how to expand its cooperation against terrorism.
MR. BOUCHER: Cooperation against terrorism. We'll leave it at that for the moment.
QUESTION: Going back to Afghanistan, the Taliban have wondered when Pakistan and General Musharraf and his country, if they will be of any kind of assistance to the US, and he will play the price, number one. Number two, if you can clarify the statement by the Foreign Minister of Pakistan in other published reports that there is a price for Pakistan to help the US. There are some number of conditions before they act, three conditions. If you can clarify? Including $37 billion, an active role in Kashmir and also India and Israel will not take part in --
MR. BOUCHER: Let me try to go through this carefully. First of all, I think Pakistan has agreed to everything we have asked. We are very satisfied with the cooperation in the discussions that we have had with Pakistan and we look to continue that cooperation. Pakistan is with us because they recognize that this threat of terrorism next to their borders, this network that is operating in their region, is a threat to their society as well as ours and those of others in the world. We want to join with them, we want to work with them.
For the Taliban to start making threats, I think merely demonstrates once again why the world has gotten together, why the world has realized that we need to have action against terrorism and that it is indeed a threat to us all, to those many countries who lost citizens in the World Trade Center bombing, including Pakistan.
For many countries, in fact, the losses at the World Trade Center were probably the most grievous terrorist attack they had ever suffered. I don't know if that's quite the case in the numbers with Pakistan, but certainly they were the object of this attack as well. So we do want to cooperate with them and many others. That cooperation was unconditional. It was entered into without any demands, without any conditions, without any quid pro quos.
Our view on issues like Kashmir has not changed. Our friendship with Pakistan and the desire to be helpful to them on economic matters or other things has not changed. And we will work on those issues, certainly. But it was entered into without conditions and without quid pro quos.
QUESTION: Just to follow on that, you said they agreed to everything the US asked them, including closing all the terrorist training camps belonging to Usama bin Laden. And also, this man was trained in Pakistan by Pakistani secret service or whatever, ISI. And they know where he is, they knew in the past, for the last five or more years, and the US have been asking that Pakistan should hand over, or help us to bring Usama -- why they have not done in the past, and now -- and can we trust them?
MR. BOUCHER: We have had a friendship with Pakistan. We have had cooperation with Pakistan. We have established a firm basis for cooperation in this matter, and we intend to continue to cooperate with Pakistan.
QUESTION: Have you had any communication in the last 48 hours or so through third parties from Iran on the possibility of a military operation in Afghanistan?
MR. BOUCHER: I am not going to get into communications with individual governments, except to the extent that the Secretary makes phone calls or things like that that we want to acknowledge. So that's, I'm afraid, not a question I could answer.
And second of all, don't expect me ever to talk about any communications regarding military things. So on two counts I'm not in a position to answer that kind of question.
QUESTION: Can I have another one? In your communications with Arab countries, are you avoiding the use of the word "crusade," and have you had any complaints from any of your interlocutors about the White House use of the word?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know what we might have heard about particular words. I think it's quite clear to all of us that the "campaign," as the Secretary calls it, needs to be wide-ranging, needs to involve people from all societies around the world. It's important that we work with Arabs, that we work with Muslims in this endeavor. Terrorism, as we have said, is a threat not only to our civilization but to theirs as well. And we don't see this as an effort against Arabs; we don't see this as an effort against Muslims. It's an effort against a particular group of people who seem to have betrayed the tenets of all religions around the world.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) Chinese (inaudible) communication or assisted with China, working with the Pakistanis?
MR. BOUCHER: We will be talking to the Chinese about the entire situation, particularly when the Foreign Minister comes on Friday. But I don't know anything about meetings between the Chinese and the Pakistanis.
MR. BOUCHER: I think you're basically talking about one group. I don't know. I'd have to check and see if there's anything I can say about that.
MR. BOUCHER: There is already a lot of different established structures to cooperate with other governments against terrorism. The G-8 has an active counter-terrorism activity working group. The Organization of American States decided the other day to enhance its cooperation against terrorism, and will be discussing that subject tomorrow as well.
I think in a variety of groupings, then, we are active with other governments against terrorism. In a variety of groupings, then, we are active with other governments against terrorism. What we have seen recently, I think, is an outpouring of support for the idea of really making the campaign work, of not having any more tolerance, of asking countries to choose sides and to really have everybody carry out all possible activities to end terrorism in the world today.
What that leads to in terms of other international cooperation, I can't quite say at this point. But clearly, the desire of the international community to cooperate and to rid itself of this scourge once and for all is very clear.
QUESTION: On Iraq, to sort of follow up on Andrea's question, two things. Is the US still pursuing revising UN sanctions against Iraq? And have you asked the countries that have diplomatic relations with what appears to be the one nation that is against us in the coalition against terror to cut those diplomatic ties?
MR. BOUCHER: On the second question, I'm not aware of any specifics like that. I'll check and see if there would be anything to say. Clearly, Iraq is once again isolating itself from the international community through its actions and statements.
In terms of the UN sanctions on Iraq, those are on a timetable that was five months from the beginning of July. So we'll get to that point, and that will be something we will have to work on and make sure that we conclude properly.
QUESTION: Under the circumstances of the last week, are we -- in the United States Government -- asking other governments to put emergency decrees -- or I guess you'd say specific measures in place where people cannot travel, get finances, and other specific areas, in smaller governments that travel here, such as some of these "rogue states," and that we appear definitely at war with the Taliban, which are landlocked? Is there any way where we can perhaps go to the FCC and other units, where we can completely close down their telecommunication under emergency conditions?
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not exactly sure where the question is in there, but let me put it this way. We have gone to governments around the world to take steps, like the kinds that I cited: don't allow transits; don't allow money flows; don't allow activities by groups or associated groups; investigate; share information; cooperate with your neighbors on security; work with the international community on airplane security. How exactly each government goes about this -- whether it's decrees, laws, statements, executive orders -- that will depend on the local environment, on the local government and how they do that.
So there are steps like that to be done. Clearly, the ability of these networks to support themselves and operate involves many factors, and that's why the Secretary has made clear it's going to be a multifaceted approach. It's going to involve diplomatic activity, legal activity, intelligence-sharing, information, immigration authorities, airline authorities -- a whole -- any number of steps, including possibly military ones, to rip up these networks, to get at the people who did this horrible crime, and to make sure that terrorism can be brought to an end.
QUESTION: Richard, a lot of Afghans have come down to the Pakistani border, fleeing the cities in fear. Are we asking the Pakistanis to allow them into their country and into existing or new refugee camps?
MR. BOUCHER: I'd have to check on the exact situation next to the border. We have, as I have said, supported the UN High Commissioner for Refugees' activities. We have recently given them $2 million. They are looking on the ground at the situation there, and what needs to be done to take care of people who are suffering. That's the point we're at right now.
QUESTION: Richard, members of the Indian-American community, particularly the Sikhs, are under attack, and one was killed in Arizona and others are -- because of their mistaken identity, they think they are friends -- or the look-alike of Usama bin Laden, or the Taliban. This morning, the members of the community at the National Press Club condemned, and are asking the Administration to take action.
Now, as for the State Department's concern, have you received any official protest or condemnation from India, or the Foreign Minister or Indian --
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know what conversations we might have had with India, but I would say that other governments have talked to us about the issue of discrimination in the United States. And the President has been absolutely clear in terms of our society that the openness, the welcome that we have given to people from all around the world needs to be maintained, that these people are fellow Americans, members of our society. The President went yesterday to the Islamic Center, I think, to make quite clear the point that what we are defending is the United States as a place that represents the whole world, that has people from all over the world, that has Americans from all over the world. And it's very important that we maintain our freedoms and the efforts that we have against any kind of discrimination inside our country.
(The briefing was concluded at 1:35 p.m.)