|Sunday, 18 February 2018|
U.S. Department of State Daily Press Briefing, 01-10-10
From: The Department of State Foreign Affairs Network (DOSFAN) at <http://www.state.gov>
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
Richard Boucher, Spokesman
October 10, 2001
MR. BOUCHER: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. It's good to be here. If I can, I would like to supplement a little bit some of the information that you heard from the Secretary and the President and others this morning over at the FBI about the Most Wanted and the Rewards for Justice program.
First of all, on the program itself, that we have, I think as you know, paid in the past for information 22 times, a total of $8 million, and we look forward to doing that in these present cases. The information on this program is available at www.dssrewards.net.
And in addition to the money that the US Government has put up, there is money from private groups, including the Airline Pilots and the Air Transport Association, and then there is a private fundraising effort going on right now to see if they can't supplement this money even more. And that's at rewardsfund.org, and that group whose support we very much appreciate and who has been very active in starting this up as a charitable organization, they can be reached at that website or at 203-354-1675, extension 124 or 125.
So that's on the rewards front. On the broader point on --
QUESTION: Can I ask a question on that specifically?
MR. BOUCHER: Sure.
QUESTION: Do you know how much money they have managed to raise, this private group?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know how much they have raised. They have just launched it. I think they did some of the publicity on it about a week ago. So I'm not sure how far they've gotten, but certainly it's an effort and a spirit that we very much appreciate.
QUESTION: And also, on the money that's been paid out, you said you've paid out 22 times. Does that mean 22 people have been turned in, or are some of those multiple? I mean, like, can more than one person collect a reward on the same suspect?
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not sure I have that kind of breakdown for you. I'll have to check on that. It is described as 22 cases, more than $8 million.
QUESTION: Twenty-two different wanted --
MR. BOUCHER: I think it's 22 individuals have received money under the program. And how many -- that's the same question Matt just asked. Is it possible that if two or three of you turn somebody in or give us information, do we give a little bit of money to three different people in one particular situation? And that's what I'm going to check.
QUESTION: No, I had a more difficult question, but I don't know that you would want to do anything --
MR. BOUCHER: All right. He has a more difficult one.
QUESTION: The question would be who besides information on Usama bin Laden is the US Government willing to provide rewards for? There are a lot of -- there are 25 terrorist groups listed, and of course there are countries listed as terrorist supporters. Are there rewards attached to all of these?
MR. BOUCHER: Well, generally, it's anybody who can provide information about attacks against Americans, about that. But you will find on our website a long explanation of the events that we are interested in, about things that happen, about people that are still missing. We want to find out where they might be and what happened to them. So there is a lot of different, very specific information there, but I would say those are specific instances that we are interested in. And indeed, as we go forward looking at al-Qaida's responsibility for the September 11th bombings, we will add them to the list.
QUESTION: So it goes to the incident, not to the group? In other words, you want information who had something to do with the terrorist attack on --
MR. BOUCHER: Look at the website. You'll see all different kinds of things. But more generally, it doesn't even have to be listed. If you know that there's terrorists attacking Americans and you give us a call and say so-and-so is going to try to blow up an airplane next week, the money can be made available to you -- (laughter) -- for providing that kind of information. So it's for things we know about, things we don't but want to know about. We're interested in information about people that may have ill designs or have taken terrorist action against Americans.
QUESTION: Do you remember the question about whether the bounty on bin Laden's head was $5 million, or whether it had gone up as a result of the national appropriations -- did you ever get an answer on that?
MR. BOUCHER: First of all, it's not a bounty on anybody's head. It's a reward for information that can lead us to be able to capture somebody. We do not encourage bounty hunters; this is not a program to support bounty hunters. And people are not advised to go up against these groups or individuals in the hope of reaping a greater reward. The reward is for information.
QUESTION: He is wanted dead or alive.
MR. BOUCHER: The reward is for information.
QUESTION: So wait a second, if Jonathan goes out and brings him --
MR. BOUCHER: You guys can keep talking, or I can finish answering the question, okay? The answer to the question is, the reward currently stands at $5 million, plus the money -- another million from the Airline Pilots, another million from the Air Transport Association. So in an incident that involves a hijacking or an airplane, we can pay up to $7 million right now.
There is legislation on the Hill that would authorize us to pay as much -- to pay $20 million more -- as much as $25 million, I guess it is, for any particular incident. And when that legislation passes, we'd be able to up the amount.
Now, we have received additional funding to pay those $5 million rewards. So we just got, I think, some $20 million to support this program out of the emergency funding. So if four people come forward, we can pay each of them up to $5 million. We have the money available.
But at present, until the other legislation passes, we're limited to $5 million for an individual case.
QUESTION: You're now saying "individual case," not just for Usama bin Laden?
MR. BOUCHER: That's for any individual cases.
QUESTION: Richard, this isn't meant to be flip, but are you saying that you wouldn't give anyone money if they went out and -- if some guy went out and got bin Laden or someone else? I mean, are you saying it's illegal for you to give money to a bounty hunter?
MR. BOUCHER: As I said, we don't encourage that kind of thing.
QUESTION: Okay. And just the other thing, is this the same fund that the money for rewards for war criminals, like Milosevic and the others -- is that the same pool of money?
MR. BOUCHER: I'll have to double check.
QUESTION: Moving right along --
MR. BOUCHER: Moving right along?
QUESTION: Hopefully. This program in the past has been criticized by some in the Jewish community for not listing terrorists who were, I guess, affiliated with the Palestinian -- some of the Palestinian extremist groups. Are you addressing that concern at all at this point? And what do you say if someone would say that this is yet another instance of a sort of making a distinction between terrorism against the Americans and then regional terrorism, maybe against Israelis?
MR. BOUCHER: I would say what I just told you before. It applies to any terrorism against Americans.
QUESTION: Any terrorism?
MR. BOUCHER: Against Americans. It's defined by law in that way. Okay?
QUESTION: I was just going to say, do you have more information? You didn't finish your statement.
MR. BOUCHER: I have more information on other subjects. On the theme of law enforcement, I want to point to a couple other things. There is a lot of law enforcement activity going on. Law enforcement agencies, intelligence agencies, around the world are sharing information and intelligence.
We know of some 23 countries on several continents who have arrested or detained dozens of potential terrorists for questioning. This gets to the issue of closing down the cells, closing down the operations, closing down the communications, closing down the networks. This includes activity in Europe, in the Middle East, in Asia, Africa, and South America. So it's all over the world. There have been arrests and detentions of potential terrorists and closing down of the cells. We appreciate this and we will continue to work with people on this.
In addition, on the financial side, you are all aware that about a week ago we put in place new financial regulations, the UN passed a resolution. We know of 111 countries who have responded positively by modifying their banking regulations, reviewing accounts or freezing assets. So there is a lot of additional law enforcement activity going on in that area as well.
QUESTION: Does that include the United States, these numbers, or is that plus one?
MR. BOUCHER: It would be plus one.
QUESTION: On those countries that may be lagging on the financial restrictions, have we yet determined what would be a sanction for not responding? And what kind of time frame are you giving them to react positively?
MR. BOUCHER: I would say that the UN resolution becomes an obligation for all countries. Our embassies and others are very active in helping countries, working with countries, to get these kind of regulations in place. That resolution was passed last Friday. Now, five days later, we already know of 111 countries -- that's more than half the world -- who have done this. I would say that's pretty good so far. And we will continue to work with others to get more and more financial restrictions and regulations in place.
QUESTION: Richard, you can't talk about where these detentions and arrests were made beyond subcontinents?
MR. BOUCHER: I am not going to go through specific countries. Ten of them are in Europe, there's one in East Asia, there are four in Africa, there are seven in the Near East/ Middle East area, and there is one in Latin America that we would cite.
QUESTION: Which one --
MR. BOUCHER: Well, that's where I don't think I want to go into too much detail. Let countries speak for themselves.
QUESTION: These were arrests?
MR. BOUCHER: These are where there's arrests or detentions.
QUESTION: Or detentions.
MR. BOUCHER: In terms of the 111 with finance, I don't have that kind of breakdown at this point. We know certainly of many examples throughout the world where countries have issued new financial regulations or taken action to freeze assets.
QUESTION: On the 111 on the finance issue, could you just sort of walk us through what that means? And then when there are new laws, obviously these countries are going to have to pass and other kinds of things, can you kind of just walk us through what that process would be until there really is a secure monitoring system for terrorist financial resources?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know that I can actually walk you through it because it's going to be different in each country. Each country is going to use either laws or regulations or advice to banking or central bank circulars, or however they do it in their own country. Certainly you've seen the regulations that our Treasury Department has issued, and they work with the banks to put people on these lists, to instruct the banks on how to operate. In some countries, we have seen the same kind of lists, but as I said, each country does it differently so I can't really explain on that broad scale how each have done it.
QUESTION: But 111 countries have committed to the general UN resolution?
MR. BOUCHER: First of all, everybody is committed to the UN because it's an obligation as a Security Council resolution under Chapter 7. But these are 111 places where we have seen a positive response to our requests and to the UN resolution, countries that have either done one or all of the following, which is to modify banking regulations, to review accounts, and to freeze assets.
QUESTION: The reason that you don't want to name any of the 111 -- I can understand there may be a time constraint here -- but is there some reason that you -- I mean, is it part of this thing that you don't want to say who's doing what?
MR. BOUCHER: It's just that we leave it up to individual governments to say what they're doing, and I don't think it's for me to speak on their behalf. But I think much of this information, we gather this from a whole variety of sources, and some of this information is out in the press, and you can find it yourself.
QUESTION: There's something I've lost track of, but it may be my fault. The notion of intelligence sharing with the Chinese, which some of us are thinking China, for obvious reasons again, there was supposed to be -- there was a preliminary meeting, and then Chinese (inaudible) was supposed to come to Washington about two weeks ago. Is there an ongoing exchange of information that you can tell us about?
MR. BOUCHER: I think first of all we've had Assistant Secretary Kelly in China for the last couple of days. I think he's just finished up his visit there, and so he and his team, which includes experts in a variety of fields, they're leaving China. I think they've been having some discussions out there. I'll check and see where we stand on counter-terrorism dialogue. I think we have experts getting together as well.
QUESTION: Richard, on China, can you fill us in on the human rights talks?
MR. BOUCHER: The human rights dialogue is ongoing. Yesterday they worked from 9:00 in the morning till 9:00 p.m. with about an hour's break for lunch. They are discussing the entire range of issues and matters that we want to take up with them, or they want to take up with us. They'll continue their discussions today and tomorrow, and we'll get you a rundown at the end of it.
QUESTION: And can you say whether the United States is bringing up the repression of the Uighur people?
MR. BOUCHER: I would say we're bringing up a broad range of topics, and we'll give you an accounting for that at the end.
QUESTION: Any update on whether Mr. Kelly made any progress on getting China to adhere to our restrictions on the non-proliferation agreement?
MR. BOUCHER: All I have at this moment, because he's not back, is he said he had a detailed discussion of our respective views on non-proliferation.
QUESTION: No positive directive? (Laughter.)
MR. BOUCHER: A detailed discussion is what he lays claim to.
QUESTION: In other words, they just beat each other's heads together? What --
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not going to interpret what he said. I think it's quite clear.
QUESTION: I believe the Finance Minister of the Philippines is due in the building fairly shortly to talk about terrorism-related matters, and there's a piece in The Times this morning about concern about an excess of al-Qaida-related organizations in East Asia. Can you tell us anything about that?
MR. BOUCHER: I think, first of all, we've been working with any number of governments around the world, including in East Asia. Our cooperation in East Asia is very good. As you know from The Patterns of Global Terrorism Report, some of the groups that are associated with al-Qaida are in fact in Asia, or had some training or otherwise had contact with them.
So we're working very well with the governments in the Asia Pacific region, as we are elsewhere, to combat terrorism. I think it's important, given some of the reporting on this, to remind people that this is an international effort. It's an effort that involves all the tools at our disposal. It involves economic cooperation, financial steps, political cooperation, diplomatic isolation of the Taliban, diplomatic moves together, law enforcement, information sharing, intelligence sharing. It's not just military. And so one shouldn't assume from any particular indication of interest on our part of working with somebody or working against terrorist groups that the next step is automatically military action. There's going to be a lot of action taken in cooperation with many governments, and I'm happy to say that our cooperation with the governments of Southeast Asia have been very good. I'm not aware of that specific kind of meeting, but the meetings we've been having with the Philippine Government and others are evidence of that cooperation.
QUESTION: So the specific implication, Richard, in The Times story that the Negroponte letter to the General Assembly about possibly expanding the military campaign, and that juxtaposed with the newspaper account of you having increased interest in the Philippines and Indonesia, that's an incorrect implication?
MR. BOUCHER: Just because you can connect the dots doesn't mean there's a picture there. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: You just put it in reverse when you made your statement. You say there were other options other than military. You didn't exclude military, as far as I could tell.
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not going to exclude military. The President has said we're going to go after these networks, we're going to get them, we're going to close them down. And much of this activity, as I have pointed out, as the President has repeatedly pointed out, is financial, diplomatic, economic, law enforcement, intelligence and other things.
QUESTION: Can you confirm that al-Qaida has people in Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't think I could do that. I'd have to leave it to the information we have already put out in The Patterns of Global Terrorism Report.
QUESTION: New subject? What do we think about the UN workers getting beat up in Afghanistan by the Taliban?
MR. BOUCHER: It doesn't sound good. But I'm not sure I have anything on it.
QUESTION: They were Afghan, but there are numerous reports that the Taliban has gone in and beat up UN workers in a de-mining program, for example. And also, if you can add in about reports that they are burning our airdrop food.
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know anything particularly about these reports. But I think it's been quite clear all along that we, the UN, the UN workers, the Afghans who have been working with the UN, the non-governmental organizations who have been working with the UN and the World Food Program have been the major source of support for the food of Afghanistan, to feed the people of Afghanistan. We have an update for you on that, if you want it.
But I think overall the issue is that we have been trying to help people who have suffered under the Taliban, who have suffered drought, who have suffered from conflict and civil disruption and who now are facing a tough winter. And this program should be allowed to go forward. These people need our help. We have been gearing up for this effort, even without the events of September 11th, and we want to make sure they get fed.
There have been three years of drought, years of civil conflict and repressive Taliban rule. And the people need our help, and we're trying to give it to them.
If I can just go through the numbers, since we're on the topic. There have been three days of airdrops now, nearly 111,000 humanitarian daily rations. Since September 11th, the World Food Program has distributed 14,000 tons of food, feeding 1.7 million people inside Afghanistan. The World Food Program has moved more than 6,000 tons of food into the country since September 11th.
Furthermore, the three convoys of the World Food Program trucks that have carried 1,000 tons of wheat -- they left from Pakistan and Turkmenistan on Sunday -- two of those convoys have arrived in the northwest and in Kabul. The third is expected to arrive in Herat by the end of the week.
Five trucks loaded with 100 tons of wheat left Iran yesterday and arrived today in Herat. Trucks loaded with an additional 110 tons of wheat left from Mashad, Iran today en route to the Iranian-Afghan border. Also today, the World Food Program moved 40 trucks loaded with 1,000 tons of wheat from Pakistan. They are headed towards Kabul, and the trucks are expected to arrive tomorrow morning. There are another 30 trucks with 1,000 tons of food that left Turkmenistan today. They are expected to arrive in Northern Afghanistan early next week.
All this food will raise the total food stocks inside Afghanistan to 12,000 tons. That's enough to feed 3.4 million people for one week, and additionally 50,000 tons of wheat is already in the region. As I told you yesterday, we've got 165,000 tons on the way from the United States.
The United States remains the largest contributor of food aid to Afghanistan. In fiscal year 2001, the US sent 300,000 tons of food to Afghanistan. And the President has recently announced an upgraded and intensified program.
QUESTION: Richard, before you went into that barrage of numbers, you were once again plaintively trying to make your case, and it doesn't seem to be getting through, about this not being against the Afghan people and all that. And as you know, you were just up on the Hill testifying about this and how to make the case better. What does the State Department think about Congressman Royce's idea for Radio Free Afghanistan? How will you vote your seat on the IBE board?
MR. BOUCHER: I thought you were going to ask how we are going to vote in the House of Representatives, and I could point out we don't actually vote on this appropriation.
QUESTION: No, no, on the Board. Does State think it's a good idea?
MR. BOUCHER: We think that the idea of increasing broadcasting into Afghanistan is a good idea. And as we said on the Hill, we do want to make sure that the brand recognition that Voice of America has, that the penetration that Voice of America already has, that the expanded services that Voice of America already has, that those are maintained.
But certainly this idea of Radio Free Afghanistan is something we are interested in looking at. If it's done properly and managed to avoid some of the difficulties that the previous incarnation experienced in the early '90s, it can be a useful adjunct and addition to the broadcasts that go into Afghanistan. So we will consider it in that light on the Board with the other members of the Board. Obviously, as the legislation proceeds, I suppose the Administration will take some position.
QUESTION: Richard, to go back to the UN workers and de-mining, have you now had any communication with the United Nations on the four de-mining guards who, by almost every account apart from the Pentagon, were killed by US bombs the other day?
MR. BOUCHER: I think the Pentagon has spoken to that. I don't frankly know --
QUESTION: They just said that they didn't know, but everybody else --
MR. BOUCHER: I think they have spoken further to that. At least according to the wire stories I've read they've said more than that. But I leave it to them to describe how much they can say, how much they know about what might have happened in that specific instance.
I don't think I have anything to add to what we and others said yesterday, frankly.
QUESTION: Have you had any communication with the United Nations on this?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know. I assume we have. I'll double check to make sure we have.
QUESTION: Can you talk a little bit about the unmanned spy plane that was shot down over Iraq today? And are you at all concerned that the timing of that seems to coincide right after our UN Ambassador John Negroponte delivered a rather stern warning to his Iraqi counterpart in the UN?
MR. BOUCHER: Any questions about airplanes go to the Pentagon.
QUESTION: Well, Richard, what about UN diplomacy --
MR. BOUCHER: Hang on, hang on.
QUESTION: What about -- can you talk a little bit about the Negroponte meeting with Mr. al-Duri on Sunday and his response?
MR. BOUCHER: I can do exactly that. I can talk a little bit. As the Secretary mentioned this morning, we thought it was important to remind Iraq of its obligations under UN Security Council resolutions, given Iraq's dismal record in this regard. It is not unusual for us to remind Iraq of its international obligations and to remind Iraq that the international resolve on these issues is not going to waiver.
The Iraqi response was vitriolic, but it is also clear that they understood our message.
QUESTION: Well, do you still think that they understood your message after they go and shoot down this plane, or claim to have shot down a plane? And the Pentagon says it's missing. Was this not included in the list of what Mr. Negroponte said don't do, or we're going to get you?
MR. BOUCHER: There is no "this" yet. I have to let the Pentagon deal with the question of "this" if "this" exists.
QUESTION: Well, they say they're missing this plane and the Iraqis say that they shot one down.
MR. BOUCHER: And that's what happened several weeks or months ago, as well.
QUESTION: Exactly. So are we to assume --
MR. BOUCHER: I am not going to try to talk about that. I wouldn't assume anything from that because I don't know what happened.
QUESTION: Fine. But I'm not -- all right. This plane is missing. They say they shot it down. Do you still think that the Iraqis got Ambassador Negroponte's message, or was this not included in his message?
MR. BOUCHER: I think it was quite clear from the Iraqi response that they got our message, and that's where I'm going to stop.
QUESTION: But isn't it unusual to do it in person? You said it's not unusual to remind Iraq, but it's very unusual that we do it in person, isn't it, face to face with Iraqi officials?
MR. BOUCHER: We have done it before.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) has?
MR. BOUCHER: No, recently. Six months ago.
QUESTION: A one-on-one meeting?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't remember how exactly we communicated all these things. Sometimes we pass messages, sometimes we have met with them. It's not unprecedented. Let me put it that way.
QUESTION: I just want to follow up on the VOA and what you were talking about this morning on the Hill, that despite your best efforts to kind of get the message out that this is not against Islam, this is not against the Afghan people, it's about terrorism, anti-American demonstrations are increasing across the world, even despite governments' best efforts to quash them.
What can you say about how you are going to need to fine-tune your message in terms of getting that it's not --
MR. BOUCHER: It's a serious question, but let me not try to accept the premise. I think despite what one might sometimes see on television, there have been demonstrations. We expected there would be. We have seen demonstrations. But, for example, we have no major reports of demonstrations today in Pakistan, and the demonstrations that have occurred have been well- managed by the security forces.
The other place that people have focused on is Indonesia. Let me see what the update is there. October 10th -- that's today -- there were several large but peaceful demonstrations in front of our Embassy in Jakarta, and at those police protection was excellent.
We obviously remain concerned by these events, remain concerned by the threats, but you have also seen several leaders in the Arab and Muslim world stand up in strong support of the action that we have taken. You have a statement today from the Organization of Islamic Conference that is largely supportive of the effort being made against terrorism and that says very clearly that this kind of terrorism is anti-Islam.
So I think if you look around the world and compare it to yesterday, you find that there is, first of all, more support, and second of all, less violent demonstrations against the idea. There is quite a lot of recognition in the countries that are cooperating with us -- and that involves dozens of countries, including many in the South Asia and the Arab world -- quite a lot of recognition that these actions are necessary.
QUESTION: If I can follow up, though. But I think that several officials in this building and in other buildings have said that while a lot of these governments are being helpful, the people -- there is a disconnect between what the governments know is the right thing to do and what they are willing to do, and what the people want them to do.
MR. BOUCHER: Okay. That gets back, as I said, to the more profound or serious part of the question, having dealt with the premises. I think, first of all, many of the governments that have spoken out have done so with full knowledge of their political situation and, as President Musharraf said, the strong belief that the majority of his people are behind him.
Second of all, we have increased our ability to communicate with people in this part of the world. The Voice of America has expanded its broadcasting in Afghan languages, for example. Our embassies around the world are very active. Our Embassy in Pakistan is making more and more material available to the Urdu press. Our ambassadors around the world, some 37 of them, have written op-ed pieces.
We have expanded use of websites. Frankly, the hits on our websites have gone up enormously. The state.gov website has gone from 1 million hits a week to about 4.5 million hits a week. And we have put sort of the basic news of the day right on the front page, which any of you can click on and get any time you want to.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) trying to get --
MR. BOUCHER: Trying to get the news of the day and read the transcript. Well, also the pages that were most popular used to be the travel warnings, and now it's the terrorism pages that people are going to. And there has been a similar expansion, maybe not quite as much, in the sort of internationally oriented pages that exist in six languages on terrorism. I think a doubling over there.
As you know, the Secretary himself has spoken to various foreign media outlets, including Arab media outlets like al Jazeera and al Hayat, and we have tried to make people available to these networks, as well as to the Voice of America, which, as I said before, has a lot of penetration into Afghanistan.
All that said, all that said that we are making this bigger effort to get the message out, that we are making the effort to correct the incorrect facts that are out there sometimes, we understand and know that we have to rise to a higher level. And that is really what our discussion with the Congress was about this morning.
We heard a lot of ideas, a lot of suggestions, a lot of support, I think, for the more long-term efforts that we can make with education, with exchanges, with broadcasting, to do a better effort at really getting an appreciation for the role that America can play in this part of the world. And that is something that we intend to do as well.
QUESTION: Can I just have one more? Under Secretary Beers spoke about the four tenets of your message that you were trying to get out that we spoke about -- not Islam and all those things. But do you think that there is a deeper, more profound kind of understanding of American beliefs and values that need to be put out, rather than just things related to this particular campaign against Afghanistan to make especially people in the Middle East and Arab and Muslim world understand more about US policy?
MR. BOUCHER: Yes, and that's much of what we talked about today was what I think Under Secretary Beers described as wider, deeper and younger; that we need to get the message into new places. We need to get a basic message about the United States and the role we do play and the role we want to play in this part of the world, the positive role that we play, the positive role that we have played vis-à-vis Arab communities, Muslim communities; and that we want to get that message out more widely, deeper into various communities and societies, and to a younger audience that maybe hasn't adopted the biases and prejudices that are often foisted on them.
QUESTION: Didn't the Organization of Islamic Conference today say it could not support the US strikes? You seem to suggest that they did somehow give us some sort of backing.
MR. BOUCHER: I think what I said was that they talked about the willingness of member-states to contribute effectively to the international collective effort.
MR. BOUCHER: They certainly did.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) against Arab or Muslim countries.
MR. BOUCHER: We take the good with the bad.
QUESTION: Your more specific, I think, is probably more operative in this case, isn't it?
QUESTION: What is your reaction to the fact that they can't support what the United States is doing?
MR. BOUCHER: Once again, let me get back to the answer. First of all, as I said before, we are pleased that they strongly condemned the terrorist attacks of September 11th. We are pleased that they underscored that terrorism is inconsistent with the tenets of Islam. We also welcome the repudiation by the Islamic Conference of attempts by bin Laden to link his terrorism to Islam and Islamic values. As recognized by the Conference, ending the threat of international terrorism is in the interest of all nations, and clearly that view is shared by the vast majority in the Arab and Islamic worlds.
They welcomed, I think, the stance that the United States had taken and others in terms of trying to avoid civilian casualties. We do share their concerns about civilian casualties. And as we have said, we are taking every possible step to avoid them. In addition, we are providing an extraordinary amount of humanitarian support for the Afghan people that I have just talked about.
As far as specific comments on military action, frankly, I am sort of looking to what you are pointing to. They express concern about possible consequences of the fight against terrorism, including the death of innocent civilians in Afghanistan, as a result of military operations there. And that is something that I just said. We have expressed our concern about it as well. We will do everything possible to avoid any innocent deaths.
QUESTION: Richard, as I saw it, point two of the statement says we reject attacks on Islamic and Muslim countries. You seem to -- and the problem with what you have just said about everything that you like about what they said is that they had already said that. Back after September 11th they had condemned the attacks. They had said that Islam does not support terrorism. They had already done that.
And so the operative part of what their statement is today is what has happened since Sunday, since the attacks started.
MR. BOUCHER: Maybe I read this too quickly, but point two does not contain the language you are saying it contains.
QUESTION: At the top -- in the top couple of --
MR. BOUCHER: All right, so let's all do our more complete analysis. The fact that they said something again that they've said before I think is welcome. The fact is this group has a lot of standing in the Islamic world. And the fact that they repeat this message is most welcome. And that's from somebody who tries to repeat a message to you every day.
QUESTION: But, Richard, these people are telling you they're against what you're doing now. So how are you answering that?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't read that into their statement, Jonathan. I read support for the overall campaign and some issues that they raise with regard to military action. But we all know that many of the Islamic governments, many governments in the Arab world, are cooperating with us and are working with us in a whole variety of ways on the campaign and we welcome that.
QUESTION: Are we setting the bar a little lower for the OIC than we would other regional groups, who have gone so far as to have begun proceedings to actually change their legislation and whatnot? Is there a double standard in effect here?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't think there is. The same standard applies all over the world. We expect countries to make the choice. We expect them to reject terrorism, we expect them to work with us. How they do this, how they express it in public in many cases is up to them. But there is no separate standard.
QUESTION: Going back to Iraq, if people don't mind, China and Turkey had statements today expressing concern about the US possibly going into Iraq. Basically, they would not like that. Have we talked to some countries in the alliance to say that -- I mean, Secretary Powell has said there is no evidence at this time of Iraqi involvement on September 11th. Are we telling other countries right now that we have no interest in Iraq, or --
MR. BOUCHER: I am not aware of any statements one way or the other. We have made quite clear to Iraq that we remain vigilant, that the policy that has applied before continues to apply. So there has been no change really one way or the other at this stage.
QUESTION: What about other countries being concerned that the US might turn its sights on Iraq?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know if we have had those kinds of discussions. But, as I have said, we remain vigilant vis-à-vis Iraq. Everybody knows that. Everybody knows what the red lines are.
QUESTION: Can I ask about Belize?
MR. BOUCHER: Sure.
QUESTION: Can we talk about the sad state in Belize?
MR. BOUCHER: We know of four US citizen survivors of the 21 who were on the boat at the time of the wreck. The process of identifying the individuals is ongoing. The embassy is providing all possible assistance to the survivors and the families of the deceased or the missing.
Our ambassador and the embassy team are working with the Belizan Government to assess needs and determine how we can best assist in the overall problem that they face. The process is ongoing, and at this point no final decisions have been taken.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) together?
MR. BOUCHER: Among Americans?
MR. BOUCHER: There were 28 people on the dive boat at the time of the wreck, 21 of these were US citizens. Four of the Americans survived. So that would mean that 17 either perished or are missing. There were four non- American survivors. Of the remaining 20 people on board, the people who did not survive, they recovered 18 bodies. The process of identifying the bodies is ongoing.
QUESTION: Do we know anything yet on these remains that were found in the Philippines that were thought to be perhaps this American man from California?
MR. BOUCHER: I have to double check on that. I think the analysis is still going on there. I will see if we have anything new.
QUESTION: I am sure you heard what your colleague over at the White House said today about messages and his appeal to the networks not to run this al- Qaida footage. The question came up about whether the United States Government had asked any other governments to do likewise, in other words to ask their networks not to broadcast this stuff untreated --
MR. BOUCHER: I thought my colleague at the White House handled it quite thoroughly. He didn't answer that one?
QUESTION: Exactly. I thought you might be able to answer it, since you are in charge of contacts with these governments.
MR. BOUCHER: I'll check.
QUESTION: Richard, can you comment on the story from The Financial Times today that says that the Saudis sent the US a letter before the September 11 bombing, saying that the US position vis-à-vis the Palestinians, you know, against the Israelis in that situation was becoming untenable and they protested US attitudes towards the Palestinians? And then there was the leak of the speech that the Secretary was supposed to give, saying that the US was going to endorse giving the Palestinians a state, and they believe that this was in response to this letter. Can you comment on that?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't think I can go into the specifics of discussions and exchanges that we have had with the Saudi Government. But I would say that we talk to them all the time about these issues. We know of their deep interest in the situation in the Middle East, particularly between Israelis and Palestinians. We have remained in close touch with them. We have an ongoing dialogue and expect to continue that dialogue. We believe it's useful for both of our parties, and we think that they do know how much we've worked on these issues to try to end the violence and get back to a political process.
QUESTION: What about the report this morning in the Boston Globe about how you were going to start pressuring Sharon more to accept a Palestinian state? There is a draft State Department document about a shared Jerusalem. Have you seen the story?
MR. BOUCHER: I haven't read this at all. But I would have to say that Prime Minister Sharon has already said he sees the outcome as involving a Palestinian state.
QUESTION: Did he say he sees sharing Jerusalem?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't think so.
QUESTION: I don't think so either. That is the gist of the Boston Globe article.
MR. BOUCHER: Well, I'm sorry, I didn't read the article. I am not going to get into hypothetical issues.
QUESTION: Well, I wasn't going to ask you, but -- get deeply into these things, we know. But since the subject is up, is there a draft floating around, a draft of what the Middle East should look like?
MR. BOUCHER: I think, Barry, it is important to remember where we are and when we are at this point, that we're trying to get the violence stopped, we're trying to get the parties to do things, the Palestinians to continue to take steps, the Israelis to avoid provocation, the parties to cooperate on security so that we can get into this process of rebuilding confidence and getting back to negotiation.
You know, we are not at a moment when somebody is going to plunk down a map of Jerusalem.
QUESTION: Well, that has been the US position through this Administration -- you know, stop the violence, get them started down the road. These leaked stories go considerably further, or as the Chinese might say, it doesn't seem to be an accident that your interest in giving up -- having Israel give ground would surface when you are trying to solicit Arab support.
MR. BOUCHER: As the Chinese might say, just because you can connect the dots, doesn't mean there's a picture there. No, they don't actually.
No, I have not read this article. I can't give you any analysis of it.
MR. BOUCHER: We're not putting down maps of Jerusalem. That's all I can say at this point.
QUESTION: Richard, were you able to find out what I asked you yesterday, if there has been any sort of directive gone out to Americans, American embassy employees abroad from this building, about any special precautions that they should be taking or prepared to take for chemical attack?
MR. BOUCHER: There is an existing program that we have had for employees since 1998 on chemical and biological countermeasures. We began to send some chemical antidote and antibiotics to selected posts abroad at that time. We don't have any information to indicate that there is an imminent threat from the use of anthrax or other biological agents at an overseas mission. But as a precaution, we have encouraged our missions to stock a three-day supply of the antibiotic Ciprofloxacin. I'll spell it for you later.
QUESTION: Say it -- I need it for radio.
MR. BOUCHER: I'm sorry, you're going to have to say it on the radio. (Laughter.)
But we've invited them to ask our missions to stock a three-day supply of this antibiotic for the individuals who work in or who frequent the missions, cover employees, families, Foreign Service national employees, contractors, others who might be there, as a precautionary measure.
QUESTION: The inference is that, while the flow began in '98, it has to be increased.
MR. BOUCHER: We have expanded it to other places, yes, to all our missions at this point.
QUESTION: Is it all missions and is it yet up to that level every place? Which means, everybody has to get more of the same?
MR. BOUCHER: Yes, it is all our missions that we are asking to stock this stuff, just in case.
QUESTION: When did you ask them to do that, just recently?
MR. BOUCHER: It is an expansion of an existing program that has been going on since 1998. I will have to check when we asked them to do that.
QUESTION: This antibiotic, is it specific to one thing? Is it anthrax? Or is it for everything?
MR. BOUCHER: I think it is being stocked in case of anthrax exposure.
QUESTION: Is this in response to things you have heard from the field, from different posts? Did they request this? Or did you do it just on your own?
MR. BOUCHER: It is a precautionary measure that we have taken just to have people increase their stocks at all our posts, just to make sure they have it on hand.
QUESTION: So they didn't ask for these supplies?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know if posts asked in some cases. But if we can be careful, we'll be careful.
QUESTION: Are there similar steps being taken for State here, or recommendations to the embassies in Washington regarding an anthrax attack?
MR. BOUCHER: Not that I know of.
QUESTION: Are they supposed to buy it locally, or are you shipping it out to them?
MR. BOUCHER: I think they are supposed to buy it. Whether they can buy it locally depends on where they are.
QUESTION: Will you check on the timing of this?
MR. BOUCHER: I will double check on the timing.
QUESTION: Because that is obviously an important element, from our point of view.
QUESTION: Have you heard back today -- unless someone has more on that -- have you heard back today from the Pakistani lawyer who was supposed to go to Kabul?
MR. BOUCHER: Yes, we have heard a little bit from him. The lawyer representing the detainees arrived in Kabul today, but he spoke with our Consul General in Islamabad by phone. He has met with all eight detainees today. He delivered to them personal items, clothing, blankets and letters to the Americans that had been sent there by their parents.
Despite media reports about hunger strikes, Mr. Kahn, Mr. Ali Kahn assured us that the detainees appeared well and were extremely happy to see him. He further stated that he will present his response to the indictment tomorrow at the Taliban supreme court before it recesses for the weekend. The detainees' parents remain in Islamabad and they are in close contact with our Embassy.
QUESTION: Well, is it your understanding that the trial -- well, when he goes to court tomorrow, does he know whether he -- I mean, is this just -- he is presenting their defense and then that's basically it, and then the court deliberates?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't have any more details for you on legal procedures. Clearly our first and foremost view is that these people should be released immediately, as the President said. Our understanding is that he will present his response to the indictment tomorrow. There will be a recess over the weekend. I frankly don't know what happens after that.
QUESTION: Is he staying or is he returning to --
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know for sure.
QUESTION: I mean, I'm just trying to get -- I mean, are you expecting -- is he expecting a decision soon or is --
MR. BOUCHER: I don't think we have any particular indication of that one way or the other.
QUESTION: Can you go over what the indictment is? Because I know that in the past you didn't know.
MR. BOUCHER: No. As far as I know, as of a day or two ago, we were still trying to translate and analyze it, and I don't think we have a good analysis for you at this point.
QUESTION: Thank you.[End]
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