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U.S. Department of State Daily Press Briefing, 01-09-28

U.S. State Department: Daily Press Briefings Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Department of State Foreign Affairs Network (DOSFAN) at <http://www.state.gov>


DAILY PRESS BRIEFING

Richard Boucher, Spokesman

Washington, DC

September 28, 2001

INDEX:

DEPARTMENT

1-2 Foreign Service Exam

20 Report on Counterterrorism

COALITION AGAINST TERRORISM

2-5 Financial Efforts Against Terrorism / UN Security Council

Aspects / Saudi Arabia Support

7-8,10-11 Under Secretary Bolton’s Travel to Central Asia

8-9,11-12,19International Support

17-18 Secretary’s Phone Calls

CHINA

5-6 Release of Wu Jianming

20 Support for Coalition Against Terrorism

AFGHANISTAN

6-7,18 Status of Detained Aid Workers

9-10 Taliban on Terrorism and Usama bin Laden

18 Conference on Refugees in Berlin

SUDAN

11-16 Lifting of Sanctions / US Policy / Extremist Groups

MIDDLE EAST

17,19-20 Security Meeting / US Role

MACEDONIA

21 Travel of James Pardew / Disarmament Efforts


TRANSCRIPT_:

MR. BOUCHER: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. If I could, I'd like to talk about one or two things off the top, and then we can go on to your questions.

The first is I suppose in the way of normal business, getting back to normal. We have -- the Foreign Service exam is going to be given tomorrow. We have been thrilled with the success of our efforts to get people to sign up. We encourage everyone who has signed up to turn out for the exam. There are more than 23,500 people who have registered, nearly than twice the number of registrants in the year 2000. The increase in the number of minority registrants has given us approximately 6,000 minority registrants.

We've been making phone calls and efforts to get the people who signed up to actually show for the exam. In the past, there's been something like a 36 percent no-show rate. So we've been making phone calls from people in this building, as well as others. But by 7:00 p.m. on Friday, we will have made approximately 6,000 calls to minority applicants to show up. In addition, those who have had further questions have been referred to State Department employees who spent their own time calling candidates, and several hundred calls have been made by Assistant Secretaries, from Senior Foreign Service officers, junior officers, people around this building to prospective applicants to the Foreign Service. So people like Phil and I have been calling other people besides journalists.

So that's good. We've also sent a series of electronic postcards from the Secretary of State to the applicants for the exam to remind them to show up, and to remind them of the importance of the work that they are applying for.

So that's the situation with the Foreign Service exam tomorrow.

QUESTION: Of the exam?

QUESTION: No, not of the exam.

MR. BOUCHER: You'd like the answers, too?

QUESTION: No, on the e-mail.

MR. BOUCHER: I'll see if we can do that.

QUESTION: Is it pass/fail? And if it is, passing doesn't assure you a job, does it?

MR. BOUCHER: No, it's a scored exam, and Sahar has taken it more recently than I have. I took it 25 years ago. It's a scored exam, and then there's a benchmark given, depending on the number of people we can take in. We're hiring now the Civil Service and Foreign Service, so this is only part of that. We're hiring about 1,400 people this year. But it's a scored exam, and a large number of people who pass the writtens, and then you have to go for an oral examination as well.

QUESTION: Do people who have specific languages this time already -- who already have languages --

MR. BOUCHER: We generally don't require any specific language. Once people pass the examination process, which has to do with the United States and history and world affairs and geography and all that stuff, then we look at people's language skills as part of the admissions -- the actual final decision on induction.

But we tend to think that languages -- it's always good to get people who have languages, but we also teach a lot of languages, too.

QUESTION: Did you say that you are making these calls to minority applicants exclusively, or is that --

MR. BOUCHER: I think it's especially to minority applicants. I'm not sure if it's exclusively. But that's the group that we have targeted the most.

QUESTION: Was this question asked before? How do you know? Do they say? Do they indicate on the form?

MR. BOUCHER: People, when they sign up, I think -- well, I guess the form may not be on the Web anymore, but when they signed up, they indicated their status.

QUESTION: You had two things.

MR. BOUCHER: Okay, the second thing I'd like to talk about is the financial aspects, controlling the finance of terrorism that the President started off the week with, by announcing that we were opening up a major effort on that front. And we have seen, I think, a number of steps taken around the world. Twenty-some governments have taken concrete action either to freeze assets or impose new regulations. We've also seen a number of countries sign the International Convention for the Suppression of Financing of Terrorism.

The United States signed this some time ago and it is now under consideration up at the Senate and we are working with the Senate to get ratification. There are now about 36 countries who have signed the convention. And just in the last week or two, we have seen a number sign up. Turkey, for example, signed it yesterday. We certainly very much welcome that. The other countries -- Belgium signed it yesterday; Jordan signed it the 24th; Indonesia on the 24th; Denmark on the 25th; Luxembourg on the 20th.

So in addition to all the work we have been doing and the individual regulations and then the United Nations resolution that we are working this week, there is I think a growing international momentum for signing and then implementing this International Convention on the Suppression of Financing of Terrorism.

QUESTION: When did the US sign it?

MR. BOUCHER: We signed it in January of 2000.

QUESTION: And a year later you still haven't been able to get it through the Senate?

MR. BOUCHER: I think it has been up on the Senate, but I think at this point we are working very constructively with the Senate.

QUESTION: Is there some kind of opposition to it?

MR. BOUCHER: Not that I know of at this point.

QUESTION: If you are encouraging all of these other countries to sign it and put it into effect, how come the United States hasn't made a big push to get this done immediately as a model for other countries to follow? I mean, how come this wasn't --

MR. BOUCHER: Who said we hadn't?

QUESTION: Well, it's still -- if it's still up on the Senate. How come the Senate didn't pass this --

MR. BOUCHER: Didn't I just answer Matt's question?

QUESTION: I'm asking again, I guess.

MR. BOUCHER: Okay, you can ask again. I'll give you the same answer. We signed it in January 2000. We think it is important. We have been working now with the Senate to try to get it ratified. We are making a big push. We are working constructively with the Senate. Matt asked me if I knew of any opposition up there and, frankly, I don't at this point. It looks like it will be done soon. And we are welcoming other countries signing it. Not enough have ratified it yet for it to enter into force. But that's the kind of momentum we are trying to establish, and I can assure you that we and the Senate agree the United States ought to be part of that.

QUESTION: Still on this, Richard. I'm sorry, I haven't read this as closely as perhaps I should have, but is signing and ratifying this treaty part of the resolution that you're shopping around up at the UN?

MR. BOUCHER: I think it's probably referred to in there. One of the virtues of the resolution at the UN is, under Chapter 7, it would make mandatory the taking of a number of steps that roughly parallel those in the convention. So it would encourage countries not only to join in the convention but also to start carrying out the kind of steps that would be called for in the convention. So, in a way, the UN resolution gives us a jump on implementing the steps in the convention.

QUESTION: But can the UN Security Council compel a sovereign nation to sign a --

MR. BOUCHER: It can't compel it to sign. But the Chapter 7 resolution would be mandatory on people to carry out those steps that are delineated in the resolution.

QUESTION: Richard, it seems to me after reading this document -- this draft resolution -- that you are going to run into the --

MR. BOUCHER: How come everybody has a copy except me?

QUESTION: -- you're going to run into problems with countries saying, well, we don't consider this group to be a terrorist group and we don't accept your definition -- why should we accept your definition. Because it doesn't attempt at any stage in this to identify any particular groups or provide any objective definition of what we're talking about.

How are you going to get around that problem when it comes up?

MR. BOUCHER: We're going to work with other governments as we have been. I think there is a clear recognition among most members of the international community that people who run airplanes into large buildings are terrorists.

QUESTION: Aren't we talking about other people, though?

MR. BOUCHER: We're talking about other people as well. And that there will be a great deal of effort expended to work on this. We have identified ourselves the foreign terrorist organizations that we know of. We have identified in our own executive orders the groups and organizations that work at least with al-Qaida, and we will have a very active effort with other governments to identify and restrict the sources of financing for terrorist organizations. There is also, if you have read your resolution, a committee to be set up by the Security Council to deal with implementation issues, and I am sure these issues would be raised and discussed there.

QUESTION: Have you happened to -- can you say if you found an Algerian link? I mean, the Algerian terrorists were running their own nice campaign - -

MR. BOUCHER: I am not going to try to explain the law enforcement effort and the status of the investigation.

QUESTION: No, no, but I was saying, apropos --

MR. BOUCHER: I don't know if it's apropos but, no, I'm not going to comment on the investigation.

QUESTION: No, I'm sorry. All right.

QUESTION: A number of the men who were just posted on the FBI web site last night were Saudi nationals. Has the Saudi Government in any way cooperated in trying to look into the cases of these individuals?

MR. BOUCHER: Again, not to comment on any specific actions that governments have taken, but we have found the cooperation with the Saudi Government on a variety of issues to be excellent.

QUESTION: On that, Richard, has the Secretary sent a letter to the Sudanese, basically saying in the coming days -- the Sudanese Foreign Ministry this morning released something that they said was a communication between the Secretary and their foreign minister. I just want to make sure that that was -- was there a letter specifically sent to Sudan, or is this some kind of form letter that went out to everyone, saying we want your help?

MR. BOUCHER: We're checking.

QUESTION: Can we step aside from this for just a minute to perhaps have you say something about the exile by China of the writer, Wu?

QUESTION: Are we going to go to China now, or are we staying --

MR. BOUCHER: We're going to go to China. This is the case of Mr. Wu Jianming who, as you know, we have been talking about for some months. And our people, especially at our consulate in Guangzhou, have been raising this case with the Chinese and have been working very closely with Mr. Wu since his detention on April 8th.

We are pleased that he has been released. We are pleased that he is returning to his family in the United States. And our consular officers have reported that he appeared to be in generally good health. So that has happened, and we're glad to see it.

QUESTION: Did this come up with Foreign Minister Tang and the Secretary?

MR. BOUCHER: The issue of detainees and general human rights issues did come up. I can't remember if the specific case was mentioned. But this is something that we have pursued at a variety of levels in the past and I'm sure that it has been discussed with other members of the party.

QUESTION: Do you think the timing has any significance? Or what significance does the timing have, in your view?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't know. You would have to ask the Chinese on the timing. We are just glad he is out and glad he is able to return to his family. We have been working hard on this for a long time.

QUESTION: How about the detainees in Afghanistan? The status?

MR. BOUCHER: The people in Afghanistan. There is not a whole lot of news there. But let me tell you what there is. The Pakistani lawyer who was selected by the detainees has entered Afghanistan. He is on his route to Kabul. We understand he has a meeting with Taliban officials Saturday morning -- tomorrow morning at 10 o'clock. The lawyer has told the consuls, for the Americans, for the Germans and the Australians who are in detention, that he hoped to see them on Saturday. He's planning on taking a package of food and medicine and letters and personal items for the detainees. That package has been put together by their parents.

He will also keep family members and the US Embassy in Islamabad informed of the progress of the case. The parents of the American detainees are currently in Islamabad, and our embassy there remains in very close touch with them.

This is a Friday, a holiday for the Taliban, so US Embassy officials had no contacts with the Taliban representatives today about the welfare and the status of the Americans. But we've been in frequent contact with their officials in Islamabad to express our concern about these people and our concern about their welfare.

QUESTION: There are Christian groups around the world that are saying they are going to redouble their efforts to go into the Muslim countries. Do you find this a destabilizing factor?

MR. BOUCHER: I'm not aware of those statements. I wouldn't have any comment at this point.

QUESTION: Is it still your understanding that the trial is going to resume tomorrow, or is this what --

MR. BOUCHER: We don't know for sure. The lawyers told us that if the trial resumes, then he'll stay in Kabul; if not, if there are further delays, he'll go back to Pakistan. So at this point, we really don't know for sure if it's going to resume right away or not.

QUESTION: And is he going -- is the lawyer going for something special? I mean, is there some kind of --

MR. BOUCHER: He's going to see the detainees, first of all.

QUESTION: So there isn't any --

MR. BOUCHER: He's going to see his clients, you might say. And I guess he's there at this moment. If the trial starts, he'll be there for the trial.

QUESTION: So you're not aware that he's going for any specific proceeding?

MR. BOUCHER: We don't know of any particular proceeding. He wasn't able to pin that down before he left.

QUESTION: Was he told explicitly that he would be able to see the detainees?

MR. BOUCHER: No. He was told that he would have a meeting with the Taliban Saturday at 10:00 a.m. That's what he knows at this point -- what we know from him at this point.

QUESTION: Richard, do you consider the detainees to be human shields?

MR. BOUCHER: We consider them to be Americans who are detained, and we're concerned about their welfare.

QUESTION: Richard, what is Mr. Bolton doing in Uzbekistan?

MR. BOUCHER: Under Secretary Bolton is traveling in the region, including Uzbekistan. He is traveling as part of our diplomatic effort to counter the threat of terrorism.

QUESTION: Can you give us the other countries?

MR. BOUCHER: No, I don't have any other information on that.

QUESTION: How long has he been there?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't have any information on that.

QUESTION: I understand that in this new war on terrorism that a lot of information that we may have gotten before is not going to be available to reporters. But the itinerary of a diplomatic mission in the region, why is that now not something you're going to disclose publicly?

MR. BOUCHER: Because in this particular circumstance, it's not something we want to disclose publicly. Because that's essential -- we think it's a factor in the success of the mission.

QUESTION: But when you said the region, you mean Central Asia? Or do you mean South Asia? What region are you talking about?

MR. BOUCHER: The region around Uzbekistan.

QUESTION: Well, when we report this --

MR. BOUCHER: In Central Asia.

QUESTION: You mean Central Asia.

MR. BOUCHER: Central Asia and that region.

QUESTION: Speaking of that region, the Secretary is meeting today with the Foreign Minister of Kazakhstan. And the Kazakhs on Monday -- I'm sure you'll have no problem, since they came out and said that they were going to cooperate and they would offer over-flight access to their airspace. Have you guys availed yourselves of this?

MR. BOUCHER: As you know, we have not been confirming what we might or might not be doing, asking, or availing ourselves of in particular countries. But certainly, we have noted Kazakhstan's strong support. I expect the Secretary will thank the Foreign Minister this afternoon. We think Kazakhstan has made the clear commitment to the fight against terrorism and we appreciate the cooperation and coordination we have had. And I am sure the Secretary and the Foreign Minister will talk about the way forward.

QUESTION: Do you know if Mr. Bolton traveled commercially to Uzbek on Air Uzbekistan?

MR. BOUCHER: That is not something I would be able to comment on.

QUESTION: Can you give us some kind of time frame to this mission that he is on? I mean, our understanding was that he had been there since Monday and he was staying right through next week. It seems to suggest you've actually set up a whole kind of department over there.

MR. BOUCHER: That's not anything I have any information for you on.

QUESTION: Richard, without going into specifics as you don't want to, as what individual countries are doing, you have thanked certain countries for their support and noted in cases where they have provided a lot of support. Would you say that the Uzbeks are as forthcoming as you would like them to be at this point?

MR. BOUCHER: I am not going to try to characterize too many individual countries, and that directly relates to what I am not able to talk about. So I am afraid I am not going to be able to talk about it.

QUESTION: There have been some countries that have offered a lot of support --

MR. BOUCHER: And we have left it to those individual countries to make statements about what they are prepared to do or not to do.

QUESTION: But that wasn't the question. Just as you said you welcome this support --

MR. BOUCHER: I can't characterize their cooperation unless they talk about their cooperation.

QUESTION: But you have characterized Saudi and Pakistan, at least, as being cooperative. And somehow I thought you had done that for Uzbekistan as well, but I don't remember.

MR. BOUCHER: I don't remember having done it. I have talked about the kind of support and cooperation that we have had in Central Asia. We have been pleased with that. We are working with a number of governments in the region. But that is about as far as I can go at this moment.

QUESTION: Pakistan also has its own security concerns with Islamic extremists. What kind of obligations does the United States have in helping Uzbekistan if we do --

MR. BOUCHER: We have worked for a long time with Uzbekistan and with other governments in the region on the fight against terrorism. We have supported their efforts. We have had cooperative programs and training, we have had meetings together with other governments in the region. The problems created by the Islamic movement of Uzbekistan, which is a terrorist organization with links to al-Qaida, have been things that we have been working on with them for many years.

QUESTION: Do we also still express concern about human rights and religious freedoms there?

MR. BOUCHER: I think, absolutely. We have not dropped our concerns about human rights all over the world. In terms of the way we have dealt with the problems of terrorism in the region, we have frequently made the point that an essential part of that is to separate the terrorists from the believers, from legitimate and peaceful believers in Islam. And that that is a human rights question, but it is also an essential element of the fight against terrorism.

QUESTION: Same subject. Have you got -- has the US Government received a fresh rejection, as it's being reported on one cable network, from the Taliban so far as releasing Usama bin Laden? I mean, it's a standing request, of course. But there was a report a while ago that they said no, again.

MR. BOUCHER: There haven't been any particular contacts with the United States. We haven't had any direct discussions with them. I don't know if it's in relation to the Pakistani -- there was a group of Pakistani clerics and government people, I think, who were going. We are aware of that trip. Nobody is carrying any message on our behalf.

But, clearly, we would expect them to express the view to the Taliban, the view that is shared by the United States and Pakistan, that the Taliban need to do what the President told them to do -- asked them to do -- last Thursday night in his speech. And if they don't do that, they're going to suffer the same fate.

QUESTION: Richard, has the time for diplomacy, as far as the US is concerned with the Taliban -- has the time for diplomacy run out?

MR. BOUCHER: I am not going to try to make statements like that. I am not offering any sense of timing of other measures.

QUESTION: When you say you don't want to talk about Mr. Bolton's itinerary or his -- but can you say when he left the United States, not necessarily when he arrived in wherever he might be?

MR. BOUCHER: No.

QUESTION: And the reason being? That his departure from the United States is somehow a classified secret?

MR. BOUCHER: No.

QUESTION: Then I don't get it.

MR. BOUCHER: We are engaged in a broad-based campaign that has many elements, many people doing different things. Under Secretary Bolton is part of this. He is traveling in the region of Central Asia, including Uzbekistan, to try to help accomplish this mission. But, frankly, some of the details of the who, what, when, where and how and what he is doing are just not going to be made available because we think it's important for some of these missions to be able to occur with a sense of discretion.

QUESTION: But you have just come out and announced that it's happening. I don't understand why you can't say when exactly he left the United States. I can understand that you want to keep his arrival and wherever he is going --

MR. BOUCHER: It's not too hard to calculate when he might have arrived in various places based on the time he left. There's no essential difference.

QUESTION: Can you say that this is a diplomatic mission, or are there any -- is there a Pentagon element in this, by any chance?

MR. BOUCHER: I can't talk about that.

QUESTION: When you talk about this mission, can you be more specific?

QUESTION: The reason -- I just want to clarify -- the reason why you don't want to be forthcoming with a lot of the details about this trip, does that have anything to do with the safety of the party, or is it because of the discretion of the actual diplomacy involved?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't think I want us to get started down that road, Eli. You start talking about security concerns, you start talking about the nature of the mission. It's just not a mission that we feel it's appropriate to talk about, because we think the success of the mission would be enhanced by not talking about it.

QUESTION: So you're saying -- what is the mission?

MR. BOUCHER: I'm not going to answer questions about the mission.

QUESTION: He said he wouldn't talk about it.

MR. BOUCHER: The mission is to coordinate with governments of Central Asia on the fight against terrorism.

QUESTION: Is he alone?

MR. BOUCHER: I can't answer that.

QUESTION: Richard, harking back to the theme of what some countries have done for us, and whether or not you'd comment on it, can we go back to Sudan? You said you were checking on the letter. But has the Government of Sudan done anything else that you can tell us about publicly that has been favorable?

MR. BOUCHER: The Government of Sudan itself, I think, has talked a little bit in public about what it's done, and you've seen that in the United Nations this morning, the Security Council passed UN Security Council Resolution 1054, which lifts the UN sanctions that had been imposed upon Sudan because of the assassination attempt on President Mubarak.

We have given an explanation of vote up there, which describes that. I can go into that particular resolution if you want to. But in that context, I think we've noted that over the last year we've had a dialogue about terrorism with the Government of Sudan. We feel like we've made concrete progress in that dialogue. And in the last few weeks since the attacks in New York and Washington, we have had some serious discussions with the Government of Sudan about ways to combat terrorism in that context.

We have noted that they have recently apprehended extremists within that country, whose activities may have contributed to international terrorism. We have noted that they have taken other steps. We welcome the steps that they have taken. We would expect the Government of Sudan to demonstrate a full commitment to the fight against international terrorism by taking every possible step to expel terrorists and deny them safe haven. And we'll continue to work with Sudan and to pressure Sudan to take those kind of steps.

QUESTION: As a follow-up, have any other steps they've taken had to do with financial squeeze?

MR. BOUCHER: I'm not sure I can go into too much more detail on the steps until they do, but I'd say that they have worked with us to eliminate the presence of terrorist groups that could threaten American interests. They have provided information on the past doings of terrorist groups in Sudan. And as I said, they have recently apprehended extremists who might threaten people there.

QUESTION: Do some of those terrorists that they apprehended, were they involved in the bombing of UN humanitarian planes? And do you expect Sudan to be removed from the terrorism -- list of state sponsors of terrorism --

MR. BOUCHER: I don't think I'm able at this point to describe the people they might have apprehended, other than the way I've already described them.

As far as the US terrorism list, I would say that they really do need to meet all the requirements that we have set up for getting off the terrorism list. It is a different topic than the UN resolution, which dealt with some specific elements relating to the attempted assassination of President Mubarak in Addis Ababa. Both Egypt and Ethiopia had felt it was time to lift that particular resolution.

But on the US counter-terrorism sanctions, they still have additional and substantial steps that they need to take, and we will continue to urge them to do those things, before they would be lifted.

QUESTION: Are you saying that the Government of Sudan -- so if these terrorists were not the ones involved in bombing a UN humanitarian --

MR. BOUCHER: I didn't say one way or the other what the people they've apprehended had been doing.

QUESTION: Do you believe that the government was involved in that bombing?

MR. BOUCHER: Which bombing are you talking about?

QUESTION: Well, several months ago, there was a bombing of a UN humanitarian plane, wasn't there?

MR. BOUCHER: We have frequently said that the government action in the south in particular has involved bombing of humanitarian efforts and relief efforts. That was a pattern in the past. And about the time the Secretary was in Africa, I think we noted that those bombings had stopped.

They haven't stopped. I think they have occurred since then again, on occasion. And certainly that has been one of the major issues that we continue to raise with the Government of Sudan. We have not, in any way, changed our view of the many things that need to be resolved in Sudan. The entire peace process, and many of the elements of human rights violations, of religious freedom, of slavery, of interference with aid efforts, these are still major problems. And the President has appointed Senator Danforth to try to deal with these and the other issues.

QUESTION: Very quickly, you said they have apprehended extremists. How do we know that these are, in fact, extremists and not just political opponents of the government?

MR. BOUCHER: I think we have enough information ourselves to know that.

QUESTION: So we know who these individuals are?

MR. BOUCHER: Yes. We do. You don't.

QUESTION: You mentioned there were a variety of things that the Sudanese still needed to do to get off the terrorism list, and Elise was asking about the bombing of UN humanitarian sites. Not trying to be flip, but is bombing UN facilities an act of terrorism that is one of the activities we need them to stop on the terrorism list? Or is it a separate issue?

MR. BOUCHER: Bombing aid workers is a terrible thing and nobody should do it. But the criteria for getting off the terrorism list would be to completely distance itself from any activities of terrorist groups and remove all vestiges of cooperation, you might say, with terrorist groups. And until they have completely satisfied those requirements, we would not be in a position to remove them from the terrorism list.

QUESTION: On a larger issue, unless you have addressed it, the Egyptian Foreign Minister late Wednesday, and the Russian Foreign Minister a few days earlier, both had made a pitch -- they support the US, they say -- but they have both made a pitch, and maybe others have as well, for a larger setting, for some sort of an international conference, an international gathering, for a sustained campaign against terrorism. Of course, this reference you've made to the ongoing UN -- the interest in what the UN may be doing about financing.

Is this a thought the US is entertaining, that there be some major gathering of all the nations to try to sustain this drive?

MR. BOUCHER: It is a topic that has been discussed with the people who have talked about it. I believe the Egyptian Foreign Minister, when he was outside, clarified with you all, as he did in our discussions, that he didn't see it as a requirement for proceeding further, that they were in the coalition --

QUESTION: He said the culprits should be pursued anyhow. That's right.

MR. BOUCHER: They knew we needed to go after the people who did this. They knew we needed to go after terrorism. They saw this as one possible way, over the longer term, of enhancing the cooperation. So it is a topic that we will consider. We haven't made a judgment one way or the other at this point.

QUESTION: I'm going to try this time using the US. You said that the US has information that these individuals who were apprehended by the Sudanese were extremists; is that correct?

MR. BOUCHER: You asked me if the United States knew that the people they had apprehended were extremists or terrorists rather than some kind of political prisoner, and I said, yes.

QUESTION: So are you using "extremist" interchangeably with "terrorists"? The US knows for a fact that these individuals have committed acts of -- or are believed to have committed acts of terrorism?

MR. BOUCHER: I can't quite go that far. I think when you have the word "extremist" used, it indicates they have either committed acts, or they have been associated with people who might have, or associated with groups that might be associated with people who might have.

QUESTION: Is the US concerned, though, that there are going to be governments around the world who may, for their own domestic reasons, decide to use this as a pretext for just arresting people who perhaps they just don't like?

MR. BOUCHER: I think, first and foremost, in terms of our cooperation, we would want to have a substantial basis for discussing any specific cases or individuals with other governments; second of all, that obviously we stand for the due process of law around the world, and we believe that in many places -- European countries, for example, where there's a great deal of law enforcement effort being undertaken -- that they do in fact follow all due process of law. So those protections are in place in countries around the world in many of the places where we do see an active law enforcement effort being made.

As far as other places might go, I suppose it would depend on the particular case. But we would want to have the opportunity to raise any problems like that that we would see.

QUESTION: But there are a lot of groups around the world that the countries call -- have been for a long time calling these people "terrorists." And so, how do you -- are you going to have standards for these countries to submit to you what in fact -- like what is your definition of a terrorist?

MR. BOUCHER: We're not -- how can I say it? We're not the only judge in the world. But clearly, we do have standards; we do have beliefs; we do have grounds for citing who's a terrorist and who's not, and that is something that we would advocate forcefully if we thought that people were using this as an excuse to pick up other people.

QUESTION: Richard, your implication is that by saying that you know that these people are in fact extremists is that you may have pointed the Sudanese in the general direction of like, hey, look at this guy; you might want to do something about --

MR. BOUCHER: I'm going to stop here. I've probably gone too far already.

QUESTION: Can you say if that's --

MR. BOUCHER: No, I can't.

QUESTION: Can you say that -- you talked about how the Sudanese have been cooperative in intelligence-sharing; can you at least say that you, as well, have been sharing intelligence with the Sudanese?

MR. BOUCHER: No, I can't.

QUESTION: You can't?

MR. BOUCHER: I can't. I don't talk about intelligence. I don't talk about intelligence-sharing.

QUESTION: You just did.

MR. BOUCHER: No, I didn't.

QUESTION: You just said the Sudanese have been cooperating on intelligence- sharing; can you say if that's reciprocal?

MR. BOUCHER: I said they have provided information on past doings of terrorist groups in Sudan.

QUESTION: Have you provided them any information --

MR. BOUCHER: We have had an active dialogue over the course of the year where we have discussed what we know about activities of terrorist groups, and what we would like them or expect them to do about those --

QUESTION: And the second part is, you have said that there are still some concerns about Sudan. Does that reflect the fact that your action in the UN today was an abstention rather than a ringing endorsement by voting "yes."

MR. BOUCHER: I think the resolution today had to do with the precise circumstances of the resolution today. So the abstention was based on the fact that the resolution had called on them to arrest and expel, I think it was, the suspects of this attempted assassination on President Mubarak. The suspects were not turned over to the appropriate authorities. That was not satisfactory. But we do understand, as do the governments of Egypt and Ethiopia, that they are no longer in Sudan.

So while we thought it was appropriate to allow the lifting of these sanctions because the suspects are no longer in Sudan and the situation no longer applies, we would have preferred that they carry out the resolution fully by arresting those people.

QUESTION: Okay, so you would have voted "yes" instead of just abstaining had they turned them over to --

MR. BOUCHER: If they had been able to arrest them and turn them over, that would have fulfilled the requirements of the resolution.

QUESTION: And you would have voted yes.

QUESTION: Richard, if they were arrested, and they weren't turned over, and they're not in Sudan anymore, where are they?

MR. BOUCHER: They're no longer in Sudan; that's about all the information I have at this point.

QUESTION: Well, aren't you afraid that these would-be terrorists are running around, planning another attack on somebody? Or can you --

MR. BOUCHER: I'm not going to speculate on that.

QUESTION: Are they still in custody somewhere?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't know.

QUESTION: Can you tell us anything more about the meeting with Mr. Iryani of Yemen yesterday and what the current state of your discussions with the Yemenis are? Have they also been arresting extremists, perhaps?

MR. BOUCHER: Who met with Mr. Iryani of Yemen yesterday?

QUESTION: Mr. Grossman and Mr. Crocker.

MR. BOUCHER: Oh, Ryan Crocker. No, but I'll be glad to check on it with Mr. Grossman and Mr. Crocker.

QUESTION: Are you satisfied with the pace of the Egyptian-Israeli talks? The Secretary --

QUESTION: Egyptians?

QUESTION: I'm sorry.

MR. BOUCHER: We knew what he meant --

QUESTION: I was about to say, when the Egyptian Foreign Minister came out Wednesday, the Secretary said that, as the meetings progress, he could see a more active role for the US. I wonder if you could flesh that out at all? And, indeed, they met today and they had talks, preliminary discussions. Are things moving along nicely?

MR. BOUCHER: We are, indeed, glad to see that they had the security meeting today. We think it is essential that these meetings continue, that they engage in the fullest possible coordination on security issues to help ensure a lasting halt to violence and terror. The United States attended and facilitated these discussions. We recognize much work remains to be done, particularly in the security areas.

We are encouraged that the sides have agreed to meet again soon to continue those discussions. We would say it's also essential that both the Palestinians and Israelis avoid actions that jeopardize this renewed dialogue that has been initiated on September 26 in Gaza, and that both sides need to do everything possible to restore an atmosphere of calm.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: Any thoughts on the anniversary of the outbreak of the Intifada?

MR. BOUCHER: No. We think that what is going on right now offers an important opportunity to break with the violence, to break with the terror, and to let both Palestinians and Israelis get back to a situation where they can lead normal lives and where they can resolve their issues through political discussions.

QUESTION: Any phone calls on this subject?

MR. BOUCHER: On this subject?

QUESTION: Or on any other subject, for that matter.

MR. BOUCHER: They are always making phone calls. He talked to NATO Secretary General this morning. Yesterday, the Secretary talked to a number of people, including the Sri Lankan Foreign Minister, the British Foreign Secretary, Chairman Arafat, Foreign Minister Peres, the Indonesian Foreign Minister, the Foreign Minister of the United Arab Emirates.

QUESTION: That was all yesterday?

MR. BOUCHER: That was all yesterday, with Lord Robertson being this morning.

QUESTION: It concerns Afghanistan.

MR. BOUCHER: Please.

QUESTION: Will the detainees be a factor in this government's planning for any other measures that may be in store for Afghanistan?

MR. BOUCHER: We consider the status of the detainees to be a completely separate matter from what's going on, and we believe that they need to be released right away, which is what the President said last week.

QUESTION: So they will not be a factor?

MR. BOUCHER: I just stated our position on it.

QUESTION: Any conclusions from the meeting yesterday in Berlin? I think when you spoke yesterday it was still going on.

MR. BOUCHER: I don't think we expected to have any particular conclusions. There was, as you know, an appeal from the United Nations to help the refugees and the people of Afghanistan. We have been working on that for a great, long period of time. We attended the meeting.

I think we, and many others, expressed our intention to work with the United Nations and to bring these preparations we have made into fruition, so that we can adequately take care of the people. There was no new pledge announced there, but we would expect to be able to describe an initial contribution probably next week when we talk again in Geneva.

QUESTION: Did you discuss a possible reconstruction of the country after the Taliban perhaps would leave?

MR. BOUCHER: We talked about the humanitarian situation with regard to refugees. That was the subject of the conference.

QUESTION: But reconstruction did not come up?

MR. BOUCHER: I have no idea if words like that came up or not. But the subject of the conference was to talk about humanitarian assistance for the people of Afghanistan.

QUESTION: There are reports out of Saudi Arabia that that country has agreed to allow us to launch military strikes. How important is that in the cooperation between US and Saudi Arabia?

MR. BOUCHER: It is clearly one of those areas where I can't get into any particular detail on what governments may or may not have agreed to do unless they, themselves, decide to do it. I go back to say that we have welcomed the cooperation of the Saudi Arabian Government in working with us to confront terrorism, including their decision earlier this week to break relations with the Taliban. But I leave it to individual countries to announce what they might be doing.

QUESTION: Back to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Could you give us an idea of what kind of steps would be necessary at this point for the US to undertake the larger role that the Secretary said he could foresee?

MR. BOUCHER: I would say that the United States has been involved at various levels. We do play a significant role. We will continue to work with the parties as they move forward and as our services or help or contribution is desired by the parties, we will play whatever role they think is appropriate, whatever role we think can usefully contribute.

QUESTION: But if he said he can foresee a larger role, what is holding that up now?

MR. BOUCHER: As things accelerate, if we get towards more and more steps of cooperation, as we get towards the political dialogue based on Resolutions 242 and 338 that we anticipate, I am sure the United States will play a very large role.

QUESTION: On that, isn't the attending and facilitating a security talk an enlarged role? I mean, there hadn't been any security talks, so obviously your role --

MR. BOUCHER: There hadn't been any security talks for several months.

QUESTION: Right.

MR. BOUCHER: So we have played that role in the past; I am sure we will in the future. We take --

QUESTION: But that -- that attendance and facilitation --

MR. BOUCHER: I am not going to argue with large, medium, small on this one. We played a very active role. We have been involved in what's going on. We have tried to move this process forward. One of the ways we have done that is through our direct contacts with the leaders, and also in our direct work with the sides on the security.

QUESTION: What I am trying to get at is, was the Secretary -- do you think the Secretary -- or was the Secretary referring to this when he was talking about the role, or was he referring to something else?

MR. BOUCHER: I think he was referring to the general proposition that whatever role we could play to help this process move forward, we would try to play. And that as it accelerated, as the cooperation between the two sides grew larger, after their initial direct contacts with the two sides, there may be a larger role for the United States to play in helping that process continue.

QUESTION: Richard, yesterday you made some specific requests from the Israelis. Do you consider them to have responded adequately to your requests?

MR. BOUCHER: I think 24 hours is probably too little time to judge. But we continue to believe that it is important for both sides to take specific and concrete steps to cement the peace, to make the quiet work better, and that they avoid actions that could escalate. We have talked about those kind of things before.

QUESTION: Richard, two quick things. Do you have any plans any time soon to review the terrorism list? And, second, there was a report this morning that -- you probably can't talk about this -- two Chinese companies have been helping the Afghans to build some telephone systems. Anything on that?

MR. BOUCHER: I wouldn't, first of all, be able to comment on any information that purportedly comes from telephones or intelligence systems. But I would say that we found Chinese cooperation in concrete ways to be very good. We are very pleased with the cooperation we have had from China.

As you know, we have had detailed counter-terrorism discussions with the Chinese. The Chinese were among the first -- I think President Jiang was among the first people to call President Bush. They have supported the UN Security Council resolution. So we have been working productively with the Chinese in a number of ways in this circumstance.

QUESTION: The list --

MR. BOUCHER: Oh, the terrorism list. There is a sort of a re-issuance of the current list that takes place every year around this time. It should take place fairly soon. But we always look at organizations that may go on or come off the list.

If you're talking about countries, there are two lists, actually. There are foreign terrorist organizations, which is an annual re-issuance that we will be doing fairly soon. But we put organizations on from time to time in the interim periods. And then, of course, there is a list of state sponsors of terrorism. And, again, that is the sort of thing that gets updated as necessary, as appropriate. If countries should take steps to stop any form of cooperation with terrorism, we would be happy to take them off the list.

QUESTION: Can we go to Macedonia briefly? (Inaudible.)

MR. BOUCHER: Macedonia.

QUESTION: Mr. James Pardew, one of the major negotiators in this process in Macedonia, will be there Monday, I believe, again. So can you confirm that?

MR. BOUCHER: I would have to say, I've stopped -- oh, I've got it. Yes, he will return to Skopje on Monday to support the peace process. He goes in and out so frequently and he is working very closely with the European Union representatives that I don't always track his travel.

QUESTION: One more. The leader of the so-called MLA in Macedonia said recently that this group no longer exists and what would you say about this? And there are also reports that this leader will form his own political party there?

MR. BOUCHER: I can't confirm any particular reports. We have seen the statements that they have disbanded. We know that they turned over 3,800 weapons and more than 400,000 explosives. But as far as disbandment, we would say we will continue to watch the situation and we would expect to hold them to their commitments.

QUESTION: Can you comment on the initiative for the referendum?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't have anything on that for you. We think that the process that's under way in the Macedonian parliament to implement the agreements needs to continue and needs to be completed.

QUESTION: Thank you.

(The briefing concluded at 1:37 p.m.)

[End]


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