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Text: State Department Briefing on Diplomatic Efforts in Response to Terrorist Attacks

Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2001

Following is the transcript of a State Department briefing given by Spokesman Richard Boucher.


BOUCHER: I think it's called the general debate that's usually held, was to be held next week with high-level leaders coming in from around the world.

The question of holding or not holding this debate, postponing it, is being discussed now. It's been discussed. The decision is really in the hands of the United Nations. Everybody agrees we should look first and foremost to the wishes of the city. We discussed the matter with Foreign Minister Han today. I think he indicated it is being discussed with various regional groupings at the United Nations and that there will be some sort of session tomorrow to decide.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE), and I understand he's having meetings with various U.S. officials. Is there any plan at this point for the United States to give extra support to help those refugees who are fleeing Afghanistan, or (inaudible) Afghanistan since Tuesday?

BOUCHER: If I can, let me go back a little bit to review what we have been doing and continue to do. I know that various charges have been made that somehow we're against Afghanistan or against the people of Afghanistan. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. We have been strong supporters over the years of assistance efforts for the people of Afghanistan; of assistance efforts for the internally displaced in Afghanistan; and assistance efforts for Afghans who find it necessary to flee their country as refugees.

We have provided emergency food aid and other lifesaving humanitarian assistance to the most vulnerable people that are suffering from drought and from the conflict in Afghanistan; from the U.S. Agency for International Development side, food that's targeted on the most impoverished. In fiscal year 2001, we provided 63,000 metric tons. That's valued at $29.2 million. Of that, about $1.9 million goes to Afghan refugees.

We've also provided lifesaving assistance to help with access to food, water, medical services and shelter that result from the drought. For those programs, 2001 funding is at $18.9 million. This is only part of an overall U.S. assistance program for Afghanistan. The total, including aid from our Bureau of Population and Refugees comes to over $140 million for this year in support for the Afghan people and for the refugees caused by the terrible and unfortunate situation that many people in Afghanistan face.

In the immediate circumstance, we have just given the U.N. high commissioner for refugees $2 million which can be used to meet initial emergency requirements.

And we are prepared to consider further contributions. So we'll be working with international organizations, with U.S.-funded nongovernmental organizations to determine their ability to ramp up assistance to Pakistan, in Pakistan, to Afghan refugees. So the U.N. has got emergency planners out there in Pakistan and we'll work closely with them in the field, as well as support their activities.


BOUCHER: I'd have to find the exact date. We have just given it.


BOUCHER: Just. I think in the past few days. I'll have to check if it's exactly today or not.

QUESTION: Do the encouraging developments in the Middle East today make it--how do they affect your attempts to build this global coalition?

BOUCHER: I would go, first and foremost, to what the secretary said over the past few days, that we consider ending the violence and getting back on a path of implementation of the Mitchell report and back toward peace negotiations based on Resolutions 242 and 338, that that path is important in and of itself for the lives of Israelis, for the lives of Palestinians. And so we continue to work very hard on that.

We have obviously noted that many in the Arab world who we work with in the coalition are as concerned--are very concerned, shouldn't say as concerned--are very concerned about the situation in the region, and we have assured them, as we have you, that we will continue to work on the issue of peace in the Middle East.

The secretary has had a number of discussions and phone calls with a variety of people in the Middle East over the last several days. In many of these cases, it's discussion not only of the coalition against terrorism, but also the situation between Israelis and Palestinians.

So we'll continue to work on that. He told you he's talked to Foreign Minister Peres, Prime Minister Sharon, Chairman Arafat today. We welcome Chairman Arafat's very explicit call for a complete cease-fire, for maximum self-restraint, for resumption of direct contacts to end the violence.

We noted, in fact, that he made this statement in Arabic. This is the kind of step, exactly the kind of step, that we have been talking about, that we have been looking for, and we certainty will continue to work with him and the parties to see that these kinds of steps are followed by others.

If I could just say a couple other important things about this. He also reiterated the right of Israel to live within safe and secure boundaries, and he reiterated his order to Palestinian security forces to act intensively to secure a complete cease-fire. We think that's very important.

We also welcome the Israeli government's statement that it will suspend offensive military operations and exercise restraint.

So our hope is that this effort to establish calm, to establish a real cease-fire, will be sustained and that the initial steps, which I said are exactly the kind of steps we've been looking for, will be followed by the others that we've been looking for as well.

QUESTION: Richard, I hope this isn't too much of an esoteric question, but some people who view the latest developments on the Israeli-Palestinian front believe that it's a direct outcome of Secretary Powell's--you say that, yes, he has raised this in conversations with Arab leaders--but a direct outcome of this administration's attempt to build a global coalition. Do you hope that this new sort of spirit of camaraderie between all these countries lining against terrorism could also affect other policy issues that you have pending right now?

BOUCHER: I think there's probably a number of aspects to that. First, this kind of horrible crime has a sobering effect on a lot of people and makes clear, once again, that violence is not a path to anything and, therefore, we would hope that people who have an alternate path, people who have a path to resolve their differences, would once again commit themselves to that as we see perhaps going on because the Israelis and Palestinians.

The second is that many of the people that we work with closely in combating terrorism and that we expect to work with very closely in combating terrorism are interested in the Israeli-Palestinian situation and, as we work on both of them, we improve the relationships and establish a further basis for cooperation.

So I think there has always been a recognition that different issues in the region are linked in people's minds that people care about, many of them at the same time. And in terms of our approach, we have always stressed the importance that it's not just Americans and other people around the world who deserve to live in safety and security, but Israelis and Palestinians, too.

QUESTION: Two things briefly: Do you know, was there anyone from the State Department who was a victim or missing from--do you know if this building had...

BOUCHER: Not that I know of at this point.

QUESTION: Can you talk a little bit about this group of Chinese journalists who were asked to leave last week, last Friday, and why?

BOUCHER: There was a group of Chinese on an international visitor's tour. We curtailed the visit on September 14 because under the circumstances, it was decided not to continue the tour. They were in Washington, I believe, and their next stop was due to be New York so there was no way that they could continue that tour.

QUESTION: Well, were there reports that they had either laughed or cheered or applauded at...

BOUCHER: I really don't know. I know there's been rumors and things like that, talked about, I just don't know.

QUESTION: Well, there are other groups under the international visitors program that are in town, correct, and those groups were not--those visits were not curtailed...

BOUCHER: We are looking at all such tours on a case-by-case basis. It would depend on the itinerary, the ease of rescheduling, things like that.

QUESTION: So you're saying that just they--do you know if they've actually left now?

BOUCHER: I don't.

QUESTION: But they were asked to leave?

BOUCHER: On the 14th, the visit was curtailed, so...

QUESTION: But they were asked to leave the country?

BOUCHER: The visit was curtailed, that's the way I put it.

QUESTION: Well, could you please take the question as to whether it was entirely related to the situation in New York, or were there other reasons for curtailing it?

BOUCHER: I don't know if I can get you anything on that. I'll see.

QUESTION: Richard, how much credit does the United States claim for these latest developments in the Middle East, or do you think that it's mainly the parties themselves, acting on what they see as their own best interest under the circumstances?

BOUCHER: I think we have to recognize that, all along, the United States has played a very important role. The parties do sometimes act on their best interest, and we always encourage them to do that. The secretary's been in close touch with the parties; he's been in close touch with people in the region. Our representatives in the region have had a lot of discussions with parties at the senior levels. And we'll continue to work.

I give the parties credit for recognizing that it's important to move forward. And I give us some credit for having helped them recognize that and show them the way to move forward.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) Do you feel extra pressure to try and resolve this in order to secure the support of a lot of these Arab states to join the coalition?

BOUCHER: I don't think I'd put it that way. I think we recognize that there is an interplay. We recognize that people want to work with us in the coalition against terrorism. Remember, people are doing this unconditionally. They're joining the fight against terrorism because it's in their interest, because they recognize, too, that this kind of barbarism is an attack on civilization and all the great civilizations of the world.

And therefore, we think the people who are joining the coalition are offering their support, offering their help because they recognize it's in their own interest; that this, as many have said, is an attack on them, too. So I'm not aware that anybody has conditioned their cooperation against terrorism.

At the same time, I think I go back. We've been working very hard on the Israeli-Palestinian issues all along. The secretary has, our representatives in the region have, the president has, because we recognize that Israelis and Palestinians deserve a right to live in safety and security just as we do.

QUESTION: Back to the aid to Afghanistan, do you know whether all of the U.S. aid workers who were in Afghanistan have left, after the Taliban ordered all foreigners to leave? And can you tell us if anyone in our missions in Pakistan have yet availed themselves of the nonessential departure?

BOUCHER: Let's do departure from Afghanistan separately from departures from Pakistan, so we don't get them confused. In terms of Afghanistan, our understanding is that all the foreign humanitarian workers that were in Afghanistan have left. And obviously, that makes it impossible to conduct the programs inside Afghanistan that we did. We are working with the U.N. and others to try to make sure that we have good programs for the refugees that are in Pakistan (inaudible).


BOUCHER: As far as I know, all foreign humanitarian workers have left.

QUESTION: Except for those detained, right? I just want to--are you saying that they've left too?

BOUCHER: Can I finish the sentence, please?

All foreign humanitarian workers in Afghanistan have left. The two Americans and the other Germans and Australians who were in detention in Kabul are still there under detention in Kabul, as far as we know. And we have been--if you want to be very precise--we have been in continuing contact with the Taliban in Islamabad about the question of the detained Americans, making clear that we felt they needed to be released. We've also been working very closely with their families.

Now, departure from Pakistan--I believe everybody by now has probably seen the statement, our new travel warning for Pakistan. I've seen it so recently, I can't quite find it. It was issued on September 17. We have authorized the departure of all U.S. embassy and consular personnel who are in non-emergency positions and of their family members in Pakistan.

Our posts remain open. Some of the employees of the consulate in Peshawar have moved temporarily to Islamabad, in light of the rising tensions in Peshawar. All our posts in Pakistan remain available for American citizen emergencies.

We have issued the advice to Americans that they consider their personal security situations, take measures that they deem appropriate to ensure their well-being, including consideration of departure from the country. Americans who decide to remain in Pakistan should exercise maximum caution, take prudent measures.

In terms of have any of our employees or family members left, at this stage I would say that a number of employees and family members have expressed interest in departing the country. But that's as far as I can go for the moment.

QUESTION: Does the State Department still opposed to Israeli's policies of targeted killings?

BOUCHER: We haven't changed policy on that.

QUESTION: Haven't changed any policy on that?

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE), not necessarily your order. But was there any contact between the United States and these NGOs who work in Afghanistan before they told their people to leave?


Have you suggested to them that you might want to get your people out of Afghanistan.

BOUCHER: Not that I know of. I think, if I remember correctly, at least the press reporting indicated it was an order from the Taliban, and then decisions by the groups to withdraw. I'm not sure how exactly it was.

We are in contact with these groups all the time. They work on U.S. aid programs. We have very, very close contact. So yes, we were in close touch with them. Did we instruct them to leave and are you in a position to draw some conclusion about actions based on that, I wouldn't want to lead you to that kind of conclusion, so let me not go any farther.


QUESTION: If we don't have anybody in the country, what are we doing with the--how are we disbursing the new foodstuffs that we're sending over to the refugee camps? Are we just passing that along to Pakistani officials, or how does...

BOUCHER: No, we have people in Pakistan. We don't have people in Afghanistan. Part of our assistance is to set up and make sure we can take care of refugees that would end up in Pakistan.

QUESTION: I wasn't saying they've necessarily left, but if we're urging Americans not to hang around. What happens to the food? What happens to the aid?

BOUCHER: Again, what we've done so far is to remove non-emergency personnel. I think aid workers or NGOs in Pakistan who were feeding starving people would be considered emergency personnel for the moment.

QUESTION: There's a report floating around that the Iraqis had requested an increase in property insurance in the days leading up to the attack. Is that something that you can confirm? Were you aware of that?

BOUCHER: That the Iraqis...?


BOUCHER: No. I have no idea. You can go find an Iraqi spokesman and ask them about their insurance, but I just don't...

QUESTION: You're not aware of the Iraqis asking to increase property...


BOUCHER: I haven't heard the story. I haven't had a chance to check it out. But really, I don't think the U.S. government is going to be the source of information on that.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) this week. Do you expect to put specific requests to those countries this week at all?

BOUCHER: It'll depend to some extent on the country. I think, as the secretary has noted to you, we expect to cooperate with different countries in different ways. We appreciate the outpourings of support and the offers of assistance from around the world. I think last count it was something like 194 messages of sympathy, condolence, and in many cases offers of assistance.

The meetings that we have coming up this week, the meeting with the Russian foreign minister tomorrow; the Saudi foreign minister arrives tomorrow--the meeting's not scheduled yet, could be tomorrow, could be Thursday; the European Union troika is coming on Thursday; Chinese foreign minister is coming on Friday. And I apologize to who I may have left out. Have to double-check on the Italian, I'm not sure if that's still scheduled. But...


BOUCHER: Yes. German foreign minister is coming. Foreign Minister Vedrine will come and see the secretary this afternoon.

So in all those meetings in different ways we'll be talking to people about how we can cooperate and what kind of effort we can make. As you know, the secretary has talked on the phone to a variety of foreign ministers, talked in person to others. Our ambassadors have talked to governments throughout the world. In turn, we've talked to the ambassadors of various--all the countries that we have relations with, we talked to them here.

And there's a basic look, I think, with every country, Can you share information? Can you help us disrupt the financial flows? Can you close your borders? Can you prevent transits of groups? Can you investigate aspects of groups or attacks that might be necessary to investigate? Can you close down offices or operations?

And we've seen statements around the world where different governments are doing different kinds of things. You've seen, I think, excellent law enforcement and intelligence cooperation, particularly with allies. You've seen, I think, some law enforcement steps being taken in Germany and Belgium.

There are things around the world that are probably noteworthy. There's probably much more--there is much more going on that I don't think it's for me to announce. But in terms of public statements, you've seen the United Arab Emirates, for example, say that they were reviewing the status of the Taliban office there, and governments around the world offering assistance of different kinds.

In Switzerland, they've frozen several of the bank accounts of groups that are associated with the Taliban. Pakistan--we've all seen what they're trying to do in terms of getting the Taliban to understand where their interests lie and what they should do. Australia--we and Australia have invoked the defense treaty so there's a basis for that cooperation. We've agreed with the Chinese that in addition to the foreign minister's visit, we'll have some follow-up discussions among terrorism experts, that Chinese counterterrorism experts will come to Washington after the minister's visit to plan and discuss means of advancing our cooperation with them.

So a great many steps that are being taken around the world; the basis for cooperation established in the multilateral organizations, but as well as the specific ones. Now, as we get more and more specific, in addition to those general steps we're talking to everybody about, there will be instances where we get more specific. In some countries, it may be law enforcement cooperation; in some countries it may be particular groups or individuals we want to look at; in other countries it may be money flow. So there will be different kinds of specific cooperation.

QUESTION: Yesterday the secretary was asked what countries we have either not gone to for assistance or who have not offered to help. Can you elaborate at all on those countries? And have we actually gone to some of these countries and they have not been responsive?

BOUCHER: I think I could say that the number 194 countries that have expressed sympathy and condolences was actually more than the number of countries I thought existed in the world. It's really remarkable the outpouring of support, the willingness of the international community. You see different places and countries offering assistance that we haven't asked for yet; statements in Uzbekistan and India and all over the place. You see different governments doing things. We see governments doing things that we're not in a position to talk about.

So we're buoyed by the kind of cooperation. We're buoyed by the concrete cooperation and the fact that people are willing to take this into action.

The stark exception to all that appears to be Iraq, which persists in keeping itself out of the international community and persists in just a horrible view of what's right and what's wrong.

QUESTION: I would like to try this one more time. It does seem certainly if the Chinese are sending a counterterrorism team to Washington--that's just one example, I'm sure there are others--of this new spirit of cooperation, in particular, on terrorism. Do you have any hope that this--whatever you want to call it--this cooperation and whatnot will spill over into other issues that you have had on your plate and, in some instances, haven't really been able to make much headway?

BOUCHER: Are you talking specifically about China or others?

QUESTION: Well, it doesn't matter. You've got the Russians coming here.

BOUCHER: Let me try to address them both.

QUESTION: You're going to be talking Iraq. Are you going to talk about other policies as well?

BOUCHER: I would say, clearly the issue of action against terrorism, the fight against terrorism is first and foremost in all our relationships and all our discussions these days, and it will be for some time to come. The question of how that affects other relationships, we certainly look forward to cooperation in this area, demonstrating in a variety of ways that we can cooperate with different people if there are common interests that we need to work together on.

So to the extent that we cooperate against the network that we believed carried out this specific attack, that's good. To the extent that we find areas to cooperate with others against terrorism as a whole, against other groups, other means of terrorism, that's better. To the extent that it demonstrates the kind of cooperation that can spillover into other aspects of our relationships, that's even better. But the first and foremost issue for us now is identifying the perpetrators and figuring out to rip up their network so they can't do this again.

QUESTION: The president said that the new fight against terrorism is a focus of his administration, and you also said that's the foremost in every conversation. But the world does go on and there are still other problems in the world and other things that you, as the State Department, need to advance. And how is this--I mean, I know you've said that the government is open for business and the State Department is open for business--how is this hampering your ability to advance other foreign policy challenges that you saw as crucial just a few weeks ago?

BOUCHER: I would say that to have one issue front and center in all our relationships is not in any way hampering our ability to do other things as well. You saw the secretary this morning. He talked to the South Korean foreign minister about the discussions that North and South Korea have been having, about the need to encourage that process and support that process.

We're working as well on the Middle East peace process, recognizing the importance of that to our foreign policy and to people in the region that we want to cooperate with. We have ambassadors all over the world. We have meetings with representatives from all over the world. But the fact that the world joins together in a fight against terrorism that all of us see this as a major threat to our security, to the well being of our people, to the well being of our societies, means that it is issue number one for us, and for many, many others.

So our job is to advance the nation's interests. And if this is the primary interest that the nation has at this stage, then we will advance it.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) the North Koreans?

BOUCHER: I think there have been some public statements from the North Koreans. I'm not able to talk about any particular communication.

QUESTION: Are you aware of a communique by the Ibero-American group--that is Portugal, Spain, and the Latin American countries--that was critical of the terrorist acts, but which was not unanimously approved?

BOUCHER: I'm not aware of that. I think some of those countries would be NATO members who invoked Article 5 of NATO. I'm not sure who else is in the group.


Well, I think you've seen statements from the OAS. You've seen statements from NATO. Those are the ones I'm aware of and those are very positive. OAS is still considering what more it can do. It will have a meeting of the permanent council tomorrow to consider how to expand its cooperation against terrorism.


BOUCHER: Cooperation against terrorism. We'll leave it at that for the moment.

QUESTION: Going back to Afghanistan, Taliban (inaudible) Pakistan and General Musharraf, his country, if they will be any kind of assistance to the U.S., and he will pay the price, number one. Number two, if you can clarify the statement by the foreign minister of Pakistan and other published reports that there is a price for Pakistan to help the U.S. There are a number of conditions before they act--three conditions.

QUESTION: If you can clarify--including $27 billion, an active role in Kashmir, and also India and Israel will not take part in...


BOUCHER: OK. Let me try to go through this carefully.

First of all, I think Pakistan has agreed to everything we've asked. We're very satisfied with the cooperation and the discussions that we've had with Pakistan, and we look to continue that cooperation.

Pakistan is with us because they recognize that this threat of terrorism next to their borders, this network that's operating in their region is a threat to their society, as well as ours and those of others in the world.

We want to join with them and we want to work with them. And for the Taliban to start making threats I think merely demonstrates once again why the world has gotten together, why the world has realized that we need to have action against terrorism and that it is, indeed, a threat to us all, to those many countries to who lost citizens in the World Trade Center bombing, including Pakistan.

For many countries, in fact, the losses at the World Trade Center were probably the most grievous terrorist attack they'd ever suffered. I don't know if that's quite the case in the numbers with Pakistan, but certainly they were the object of this attack as well. So we do want to cooperate with them and many others.

That cooperation is unconditional. It was entered into without any demands, without any conditions, without any quid pro quos. Our view on issues like Kashmir has not changed. Our friendship with Pakistan and desire to be helpful to them on economic matters or other things has not changed. And we'll work on those issues, certainly, but it was entered into without conditions and without quid pro quos.

QUESTION: And just to follow on that, (inaudible) agreed to everything U.S. asked them, including closing all the terrorist training camps belonging to Osama bin Laden? And also, this man was trained in Pakistan by Pakistani secret service or whatever, ISI, and they know where he is. They knew in probably the last five or more years, and U.S. have been asking that Pakistan should hand over or help us to bring (inaudible). Why they have not done it in the past and now--and can you trust them?

BOUCHER: We have had a friendship with Pakistan. We have had cooperation with Pakistan. We have established a firm basis for cooperation in this matter and we intend to continue to cooperate with Pakistan.

QUESTION: Have you had any communication in the last 48 hours or so through third parties from Iran on the possibility of a military operation in Afghanistan?

BOUCHER: I am not going to get into communications with individual governments, except to the extent that the secretary makes phone calls or things like that we want to acknowledge. So that's, I'm afraid, not a question I could answer. And second of all, don't expect me ever to talk about any communications regarding military things. So on two counts, I'm not in a position to answer that kind of question.



QUESTION: In your communications with Arab countries, are you avoiding the use of the word ``crusade''? And have you had any complaints from any of your interlocutors about the White House use of the word?

BOUCHER: I don't know what we might have heard about particular words. I think it's quite clear to all of us that the campaign, as the secretary calls it, needs to be wide-ranging, needs to involve people from all societies around the world. It's important that we work with Arabs, that we work with Muslims in this endeavor.

Terrorism, as we've said, is a threat not only to our civilization, but to theirs as well. And we don't see this an effort against Arabs. We don't see this as an effort against Muslims. It's an effort against a particular group of people who seem to have betrayed the tenets of all religions around the world.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) China working with the Pakistanis?

BOUCHER: We'll be talking to the Chinese about the entire situation, particularly when the foreign minister comes on Friday. But I don't know anything about meetings between the Chinese and Pakistanis.


BOUCHER: I think we're basically talking about one group. I don't know. I'd have to check and see if there's anything I can say about that.


BOUCHER: There is already a lot of different established structures to cooperate with other governments against terrorism. The G-8 has an active counterterrorism activity working group. The Organization of American States decided the other day to enhance its cooperation against terrorism, and will be discussing that subject tomorrow as well. I think in a variety of groupings, then, we are active with other governments against terrorism.

What we've seen recently, I think, is an outpouring of support for the idea of really making the campaign work, of not having any more tolerance, of asking countries to choose sides, and to really have everybody carry out all possible activities to end terrorism in the world today.

What that leads to in terms of other international cooperation, I can't quite say at this point. But clearly, the desire of the international community to cooperate and to rid itself of this scourge once and for all is very clear.

QUESTION: On Iraq, sort of a follow-up, two things--Is the U.S. still pursuing revising U.N. sanctions against Iraq and have you asked the countries that have diplomatic relations with what appears to be the one nation that is against us in the coalition against terrorism to cut those diplomatic ties?

BOUCHER: On the second question, I'm not aware of any specifics like that. I'll check and see if there would be anything to say. Clearly, Iraq is, once again, isolating itself from the international community through its actions and statements.

In terms of the U.N. sanctions on Iraq, those are on a timetable that was five months from the beginning of July, so we'll get to that point and that'll be something we will have to work on and make sure that we conclude properly.

QUESTION: Under the circumstances of the last week, are we, the United States government, asking other governments to put emergency decrees or, I guess you'd say, specific measures in place where people cannot travel, get finances? And are there specific areas, smaller governments that don't adhere, such as some of these, quote/unquote ``rogue'' states. And we appear definitely at war with the Taliban which are landlocked--is there any way where we can perhaps go to the FCC and other units where we can completely close down their telecommunication under emergency conditions?

BOUCHER: I'm not exactly sure where the question is in there, but let me put it this way. We've gone to governments around the world to take steps like the kinds that I cited--don't allow transits; don't allow money flows; don't allow activities by groups or associated groups; investigate; share information; cooperate with your neighbors on security; work with the international community on airplane security. How exactly each government goes about this--whether it's decrees, laws, statements, executive orders--that will depend on the local environment, on the local government and how they do that. So there are steps like that to be done.

Clearly, the ability of these networks to support themselves and operate involves many factors and that's why the secretary has made clear, it's going to be a multifaceted approach. It's going to involve diplomatic activity, legal activity, intelligence sharing information, immigration authorities, airline authorities--any number of steps, including possibly military ones, to rip up these networks, to get at the people who did this horrible crime and to make sure that terrorism can be brought to an end.

QUESTION: A lot of Afghans have come down to the Pakistani border fleeing the cities in fear. Are we asking the Pakistanis to allow them into their country into existing on new refugee camps?

BOUCHER: I'd have to check on the exact situation next to the border. We have, as I have said, supported the U.N. high commission for refugees activities. We recently have given $2 million. They are looking on the ground at the situation there and what needs to be done to take care of people who are suffering. That's the point we're at right now.

QUESTION: There are members of the Indian-American community, particularly the Sikhs, are under attack and one was killed and others because of their mistaken identity. They think they are friends or the look-alike of bin Laden of Taliban. This morning the members of the community at the National Press Club condemned and are asking the administration to take action and asked for the State Department's concern. Have you received any official protests or comments from India by the foreign minister...

BOUCHER: I don't know what conversations we might have had with India, but I would say that other governments have talked to us about the issue of discrimination in the United States.

And the president has been absolutely clear in terms of our society that the openness, the welcome that we've given to people from all around the world needs to be maintained; that these people are fellow Americans, members of our society. The president went yesterday to the Islamic Center to make quite clear the point that what we're defending is the United States as a place that represents the whole world. It has people from all over the world. It has Americans from all over the world.

It's very important that we maintain our freedoms and the efforts that we have against any kind of discrimination inside our country.

© 2001 The Washington Post Company