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MR. BOUCHER: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. It's a pleasure to be here. I'm happy to take your questions.
QUESTION: This morning, the Reconstruction Conference opened here, but I understand that there's now going to be one -- the next one is already planned for Islamabad next week; is that correct?
MR. BOUCHER: That's right. Let me go through this as much as I can for you all. The meeting today brings together a lot of potential donors and the people who are going to need to be involved in planning for the reconstruction of Afghanistan. It is intended to begin organizing the international community in support of proceeding with the reconstruction and rehabilitation of Afghanistan, and to offer Afghans a vision of a better future.
The tremendous scope of this task means that there are going to be many countries, many international institutions involved and there is going to have to be an orderly process for getting there. So this meeting is to kick off that process.
We will hear reports this morning from the UN Development Program, from the World Bank. I guess you would say there are initial reports of what they consider to be Afghanistan's needs. And that will let the potential donors focused on planning in more detail in the future on how they could meet those needs and what kinds and the amounts and the types of assistance that will be needed to reconstruct the country. The World Bank, the Asian Development Bank and the UN Development Program will then convene a more technical discussion in Islamabad next week and that meeting, they will begin to work even more on a very detailed needs assessment that eventually will result in looking for funding.
QUESTION: When does the process get to the point where you -- as the Secretary said -- where you put out the hat?
MR. BOUCHER: After the real definition of needs and amounts is done. You have to know what you will need to do. You have to figure out what you need to do, you have to figure out how much it is going to cost and then you have to ask for money, okay? This is the beginning of the process figuring out what we need to do. The World Bank assessments, as they go forward will come to define more -- once they define what needs to be done, how much is it going to cost and then we'll get the money. What's clear is there is a lot of support in the international community for this, a lot of people who intend to support the reconstruction of Afghanistan, and I think today's meeting and the meeting next week are clear signals of that.
Second of all, let me remind you that there is a massive humanitarian effort under way to take care of the immediate needs of the people of Afghanistan. And what we are talking about planning for here is the reconstruction of a country that has been destroyed by many years of devastation and that's a process that will proceed over a longer term.
QUESTION: That's what I'm getting at. Is the Islamabad -- are you expecting to have a firmer idea of the dollar figures needed for the longer term? And I wasn't trying to suggest that this is moving too slowly. I was only trying to figure out when exactly the actual amounts needed is -- when that's going to become clearer. Do you think that might happen at the meeting in Islamabad?
MR. BOUCHER: No, I don't think that will happen in Islamabad, because the Islamabad meeting is to focus more technically. Today, you might say, this is what needs to be done in general terms. Islamabad will start looking more technically. If people agree that roads need to be built, they will look at what roads need to be built, and that kind of thing. But that then leads to an assessment process that will result in quite detailed planning and then an estimate of the costs.
QUESTION: I'm not trying to suggest anything either. But I am having trouble juxtaposing the Secretary's plaintive appeal for quick action, how urgent it is, winter is approaching. And, you know, if you'll forgive me, there are other ways to go at this to have a quick fix and then plan long-term aid. And the US is -- is contributing a huge sum of money. I guess the question is, if it's so urgent, do you need all this exquisite planning? Shouldn't more be done right away?
MR. BOUCHER: As I just mentioned two minutes ago -- maybe you weren't here yet -- but there is extensive assistance being done in the humanitarian area. We've got trucks moving. We've got trucks moving back into Afghanistan for the first time in a week from Peshawar to Jalalabad. There are six trucks that have gone over, arrived safely. The World Food Program is sending 48 more trucks today. There is a lot more movement, there is a lot being done. The World Bank staff, the World Food Program's female staff that used to work for them is back on board working again for them in normal program activities. So there is a tremendous amount being done. The World Food Program has got international staff going back into Afghanistan. There's an enormous amount being done for the immediate needs of the winter.
But that has to transition into a longer-term effort. There will be things that can be done earlier in that effort. There will be needs perhaps identified through this process, where we can use the food assistance to help build roads. There is a natural transition in this process that can take place, and things can be done quickly. In addition to feeding the people who desperately need the food, as the needs are identified, some of the things can be done sooner rather than later.
QUESTION: Can you say who will be attending the UN talks for the United States in Berlin? And are there any people who haven't been invited yet that -- or who aren't planning to attend that you would like to attend? If you see what I mean.
MR. BOUCHER: No, I don't see what you mean.
QUESTION: Well, are there any --
MR. BOUCHER: First of all, we're assuming that all the major Afghan leaders, groups, factions will be represented there, and we think it's important that, as a result of the talks the UN is having, as a result of the talks that Ambassador Dobbins had in Tashkent, and then in Bagram Airfield, the Northern Alliance has made it clear that they intend to participate in this process to form a broad-based government in Afghanistan. We certainly welcome the meeting that will take place in Germany, I guess starting over the weekend, or starting by Monday.
As far as the United States, we'll be there. We certainly welcome this process and want to support this process. We do work closely with the United Nations, and in fact, Ambassador Haass is in touch with Mr. Brahimi several times a day, actually.
As far as who will go to Germany over the weekend, certainly Ambassador Dobbins will be there, probably, possibly Ambassador Haass as well, and others. So we don't know for sure, but that's generally the kind of people we'd intend to send.
QUESTION: Just back to reconstructing Afghanistan for a second. In this forum, will there be an appeal to other countries to contribute to just the relief effort, which has been primarily American now?
MR. BOUCHER: This is a reconstruction conference.
QUESTION: Right, but --
MR. BOUCHER: Remember, the UN identified $580 million worth of needs for relief in Afghanistan. That was oversubscribed by considerable amounts. The United States put up $320 million. If I remember correctly, there was a slightly larger than that amount pledged by other countries. So other countries are pledged to give very significant amounts to the relief effort, and I think that is an indicator of what we would hope to see in the future, that everybody will be there to support reconstruction as well.
QUESTION: Can I ask you about the Northern Alliance's statement that this is merely a symbolic meeting? Does that suggest --
MR. BOUCHER: I'm sorry; we just talked about three different meetings. Which --
QUESTION: I'm sorry, I beg your pardon. Not the humanitarian meeting, the Berlin meeting, the post-planning for diverse whatever -- whatever you call it. It sounds like they're not enthusiastic about it. They backed away from insisting on Kabul. But they say it's only a symbolic meeting.
MR. BOUCHER: I haven't seen any particular quotes like that, Barry, so I am not going to take two words out of context for that. What we have found in our meetings and in their public statements is that they have agreed and supported the idea of forming a broad-based government for Afghanistan, that we would hope this meeting in Berlin or near Berlin would register progress toward the creation of an interim political authority, interim political arrangement that leads to that kind of broad-based government for Afghanistan. So we think it's a useful meeting.
Clearly, all the parties have said that we want the process to move back to Afghanistan as soon as the parties can move back to Afghanistan and continue the work.
QUESTION: Let me ask three very, very quick questions all kind of related to the same thing: Dobbins, Haass and the King. One, is the -- does the United States believe that the former King -- sorry, Zahir Shah, is he an adequate representative for the Pashtuns at the meeting in Berlin? And then, two, Ambassador Haass apparently is going to India in the beginning of December. Can you say why? And number three, over the weekend, the Secretary referred to Ambassador Dobbins as the ambassador to the Northern Alliance at one point. Was that a slip of the tongue, because that would seem to imply diplomatic recognition. Is he still the special envoy -- special representative to the Afghan opposition?
MR. BOUCHER: Yes, of which the Northern Alliance is part. So he is --
QUESTION: But he is not ambassador --
MR. BOUCHER: He is our guy to meet with the Northern Alliance. He is an ambassador. He is our man who meets with the Northern Alliance in the field. And that's as accurate a description of some of his activities as anything.
Now, moving backwards --
QUESTION: But his title hasn't changed?
MR. BOUCHER: No, his title hasn't changed.
Moving backwards slowly, because I'm trying to remember -- Haass in India, I will have to check on.
QUESTION: The King representing the Northern Alliance, is he --
MR. BOUCHER: My understanding, I was watching Mr. Vendrell on television this morning, and he was talking about quite a number of other Pashtuns who we expect to be there. The King, and the people who have been working with them in this group are indeed Pashtun leaders as well. So I would expect that there will be others in addition to them that would be there. But, as you know, we are encouraging everybody to participate and the United Nations will be working on the participation in the meeting.
QUESTION: There are reports, I think mostly out of London, of some concerns between the British and Americans regarding the behavior of the Northern Alliance around the Bagram Airport, reports that they were not welcoming British troops coming in working on humanitarian aid, had asked them to leave. What can you tell us about that and what the United States is conveying I guess again and again to the Northern Alliance, that they are not yet the government of the new Afghanistan and they shouldn't be treating their allies this way.
MR. BOUCHER: Are you referring to brand new reports or the reports from the other days, because there were sort of reports like that a couple days ago and then I think the Northern Alliance said that they didn't object to us; they just wanted to talk about it. I assume that people have been talking about it. You can get probably a better update from the British than anybody on that.
QUESTION: Have the British expressed concerns to you or dissatisfaction to you with perhaps the message that --
MR. BOUCHER: As far as military deployments, really, I would leave it to the military, and I am sure we are coordinating very, very closely with the military on that.
QUESTION: No, I am talking about diplomatically, are they discussing that with us?
MR. BOUCHER: As far as military deployments go, we are coordinating with the British, I'm sure. But I don't have anything new on that front. As far as I know, nobody has really objected to those things.
QUESTION: Richard, one gets the impression that the Northern Alliance have been very grudging about yielding any ground on issues such as power sharing and a number of issues. And you are not lending any credence whatsoever to that, is that --
MR. BOUCHER: I don't think it is something to make a big deal of, frankly. I would say if you look at the behavior of the Northern Alliance, I know there were a lot of fears, I know there were a lot of concerns, I know there were a lot of concerns, I know there were a lot of people who thought events moved very, very quickly and that the rest of the political organization didn't catch up. But I think the history of this is quite clear.
Before Kabul fell, they formed an arrangement with the former King to try to work on a broad-based government. We initially felt that they shouldn't try to go into Kabul, but events moved so quickly that they did. But they have still left the bulk of their forces outside. And they seemed to have provided security, and based on all the news reports that I see, it appears that life in Kabul is returning to normal, pre-Taliban normal, and that people are able to do things, live comfortably and safely in the city once again.
The Northern Alliance has agreed to attend these meetings, agreed to continue working on a broad-based government. So obviously we judge people by their behavior, but things seem to be moving in a direction that was set towards a broad-based government, and so far that's the way things have proceeded.
QUESTION: But what do you think about Rabbani saying that he is still president, especially as we recognized him as president all these years? Doesn't that put us in a quandary if we don't want him declared president automatically now?
MR. BOUCHER: No.
QUESTION: Why not?
MR. BOUCHER: Because Ambassador Dobbins and others have met with Mr. Rabbani and the whole leadership of the Northern Alliance. That was the meeting that we had yesterday at Bagram Airport. And all those people, including Mr. Rabbani, have made quite clear that they intend to participate in this process to create a broad-based government for Afghanistan, and that a whole variety of Afghan leaders will be there, and they intend to work with them.
QUESTION: Do we not consider him president in this interim time?
MR. BOUCHER: I'll get you the specific sort of formal guidance on recognition if I can.
QUESTION: Thank you.
QUESTION: Richard, this morning, Secretary Powell and the other two speakers who kicked off the conference all took great pains to mention the role of women in Afghanistan, and the role women should play and ought to play and deserve to play in reconstruction and the rebuilding of Afghanistan.
Has Ambassador Dobbins raised this in his talks with any of the groups? And if so, what has the response been from groups he has raised it with?
MR. BOUCHER: Let's just say, the United States has raised this. I don't quite remember which meetings it's been raised in. But the United States has certainly made this point in our diplomatic discussions and our meetings with Afghan faction leaders, and our meetings with Afghan representatives. The importance that we attach to seeing women participate in the political process, participate in the reconstruction process, and participate in the future life of Afghanistan. One would say it's sort of a basic part of "broad-based," to have all segments of society represented, and that includes two genders.
But this is an issue that we have raised, and I think we found some receptivity to that.
QUESTION: Can we assume then that this means that if the future Afghan government chooses to exclude women from power, there will be consequences?
MR. BOUCHER: I would say this means that you can assume that the United States will continue to promote the idea that women have to be involved in all aspects of Afghan life, and that we see that as essential to the creation of a broad-based government.
QUESTION: Richard, can I shift slightly, not very much? I'm confused about the whole reward thing.
MR. BOUCHER: Don't be.
QUESTION: For information. Because it seems to me that this actually -- the up to $25 million offer doesn't come into effect until this afternoon, or whenever it is that the Secretary signs the paperwork to do that. And yet, for the past several days, the Pentagon has been advertising this up to $25 million reward on the airwaves and through word of mouth in Afghanistan. It seems to me that they are guilty of a little bit of false advertising here. If I had turned in bin Laden two days ago, would I not have been able to get $25 million?
MR. BOUCHER: First of all, it's "up to" 25 million, so --
QUESTION: Would I have been able to get up to $25 million or only up to $5 million?
MR. BOUCHER: We would have had to make the appropriate determinations, as we say.
No, I think we've all known since Congress passed the law that we would authorize up to $25 million for this, and, in fact, I think the first time that the number actually appeared that way in public was when we did our public diplomacy rollout. And I think we showed you one of the posters that was being prepared that had a $25 million figure on it. It's actually been on our web site for a while, too.
So we've all known this was coming. There was a legal matter that the Secretary of State has to make a formal determination and by saying that he had decided to offer up to $25 million to you this morning, you contributed to that process. There is no more legal question about it.
QUESTION: It is true that up until the time that he actually signs off on this, you couldn't have given out up to $25 million; it was up to $5 million, correct?
MR. BOUCHER: We can now. Do you know where he is? (Laughter.)
QUESTION: Where who, where bin Laden is?
MR. BOUCHER: If you can tell me where Usama is, we can start discussing --
QUESTION: Yeah, well, I was holding out for the full 25.
MR. BOUCHER: Well, time to come forward.
QUESTION: No, I'm trying to figure out, before this thing is actually authorized by the Secretary, you can't give out more than --
MR. BOUCHER: It's authorized -- the Secretary of State has to make a determination. Under the US Patriot Act of 2001, which became law on October 26, the Secretary of State can offer or pay a reward greater than $5 million if he determines that a greater amount is necessary to combat terrorism or defend the nation against terrorist acts. That determination he has made because he has told you that he is willing to offer up to $25 million.
QUESTION: What were the delays?
MR. BOUCHER: I think just paperwork.
QUESTION: I'm not asking if there was a delay or not. I'm just trying to figure out if prior to his decision to authorize up to $25 million, was it not the case that even though people were saying you could get up to $25 million, in fact, you could only get up to $5 million? I'm not trying to be obnoxious; I'm just trying to figure out what's going on here.
MR. BOUCHER: If somebody had come forward on September 12th, 13th or 14th and told us how to find Usama bin Laden and the al-Qaida leadership, I think we would have found a way to offer an appropriate reward. We have always known this is where we would go. We've gotten more than 22,000 pieces of information since September 11th through the Rewards for Justice Program. The majority of this has come through e-mail and telephone. We do have information on our website in English, in French, in Arabic and Spanish. Pictures and things like that, including the $25 million figure.
We are working on a broader advertising campaign that we expect to be able to deploy shortly. The Pentagon, as you said, is working on getting the information out in the region. So this amount has been available whether we could actually write a check and, you know, there is a committee that has to review information that comes. They make the determination on the amount based on the relevance of the information, the amount of risk the person took in giving it to us, their cooperation in subsequent things like trials. And so that process could have unfolded and we could have made the appropriate legal determinations at any time. But the money has been there from Congress, the authority is there from Congress by the end of October and the intention was clearly there. So I don't have any problem with people having talked about $25 million before a formal piece of paper is signed.
QUESTION: Can I just follow up on that? Can informants haggle? Is there any kind of negotiation that goes on?
MR. BOUCHER: Let me read to you the process, if I can. The person is nominated for award by a US Government investigating agency and an interagency committee chaired by the Department evaluates the information provided and recommends whether reward should be paid and if so its amount. The recommendation on the size of the award of payment is based on a number of factors, including the value of the information provided, the risk faced by the informant and the degree of the informant's cooperation in an investigation or trial. If the Secretary approves the recommendation, he then consults with the Attorney General. If there is federal criminal jurisdiction, the Attorney General must concur on the payment of the reward. So, basically, you have a government committee that looks at this, decides what kind of reward should be paid and then pays it. I'm not aware of any negotiation involved.
QUESTION: If I could follow up, has this committee already started meeting, considering that you've got all this information?
MR. BOUCHER: No, that would depend on finding not just information but information that leads to the identification, to the arrest, to the capture of al-Qaida leadership or others planning terrorist acts against the United States.
So if that were to happen, we've got 22,000 pieces of information. We pass those to the appropriate investigating agencies, but at this point, nobody has come back and said that we got the information that can lead to the capture. It hasn't happened yet.
QUESTION: Richard, just for clarification, given what you've read, and I didn't realize this before. If there are federal criminal jurisdiction involved, the Attorney General would have to concur with the Secretary's award?
MR. BOUCHER: Yes.
QUESTION: So that anything having to do with al-Qaida and bin Laden, ipso facto, does it follow that the Attorney General will be involved in concurring with --
MR. BOUCHER: I suppose so.
QUESTION: There is federal --
MR. BOUCHER: Yes, they are federal crimes of terrorism and killing the Americans, and things like that. I would assume so.
But remember, Justice Department is part of this whole committee process anyway. They are the people we work with on a day-to-day basis. All this information that we collect through our program is then turned over to the FBI. They are the major investigating agency in this case, and they are ones that would come back and say, the information that you got from confidential informant, whose identity is being protected, number 413, or whatever, was actually what led to the capture and the arrest. If they come back with that, then we'd start talking about rewards.
QUESTION: This has been (inaudible), is it?
MR. BOUCHER: It's actually broader than that. It's directed certainly at getting the al-Qaida leadership and people who are responsible for September 11th, but it's broader than that. It's for anybody who might be carrying out terrorism or planning terrorism against the United States and American citizens.
QUESTION: Are you still as confident as you were last week, given some of the things the Taliban ambassador has been saying, that bin Laden actually is still in Afghanistan?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't have any new news on that. I think Secretary Rumsfeld actually has been addressing the question on a daily basis. I don't think we have any reason to believe that he is somewhere else.
QUESTION: Can you be a little bit more specific --
MR. BOUCHER: Can we go to the back a little bit?
QUESTION: Can you say if in the 22,000 pieces of information you have received, you have received anything valuable that leads to their domestic role, foreign --
MR. BOUCHER: We have not identified any particular information yet that has produced a particular result. As you know, he hasn't been captured.
But certainly, this has all been turned over to the appropriate agencies, and they will get back to us if they find any particularly valuable pieces of information in there that can lead to the capture of terrorists.
I think the point we're at now is not one where one has an evaluation of all the information. This is an enormous investigation going on. This information has become part of the investigation. What eventually produces the result won't be known until we get there.
QUESTION: And on that 22,000, is this since a specific date? Is this in response --
MR. BOUCHER: Since September 11th.
QUESTION: Since the 11th, 22,000? Now, it would seem -- it seems if most of them are coming in by phone calls and e-mail, it would appear that few of these tips are actually coming in from Afghanistan itself, right? Or do you have any idea of breakdown of --
MR. BOUCHER: No, I don't. I don't have a breakdown yet.
QUESTION: Can we move on?
QUESTION: We have to presume that some mail for this program is in the mail that was frozen.
MR. BOUCHER: That's right.
QUESTION: Can you say how the efforts at unfreezing that is coming along?
MR. BOUCHER: I do think that we'll get more information once our mail situation is resolved. But that is in fact beginning to be resolved. So let me give you an update on that.
All the State Department mail rooms that received mail from the Sterling, Virginia, facility have been cleaned, according to the Center for Disease Control's recommended procedures. The facility in Sterling will be cleaned as soon as possible. So we have resumed worldwide distribution of mail that is received from the US Postal Service. The mail that we received from the US Postal Service is irradiated, so it's safe to go into the system.
We sent out our first 37 pouches to 30 overseas posts this morning. So all the mail rooms have been cleaned, except for the one at Sterling. We're doing the manual processing at an alternate facility, so it's not quite as fast as it used to be.
Now, all the mail that was in those mail rooms, except for Sterling, has been bagged and taken to locations where eventually it can be looked at to determine if we have another anthrax letter in our system or not.
As you know, I think the Postal Service has advised that the letter that was forwarded to Senator Leahy's address may have been misrouted and passed through the State Department. The FBI and the Postal Service are looking at that. They may have confirmation today as to whether in fact that letter had passed through our facility at Sterling. But if that letter proves to have gone through there, that offers one possible alternate explanation for how the anthrax got into our mail sorting machines there. So we will be watching that very closely. And, of course, we are working closely with the FBI and the Centers for Disease Control as we go forward on the investigation side of things.
QUESTION: Is what is contained in the pouches all new mail or is there also irradiated mail in there?
MR. BOUCHER: It is new, irradiated mail.
QUESTION: And irradiated?
MR. BOUCHER: All the old mail has still been set aside because we want to check. As we said before, we may have a letter in our system so we have to check all that old mail and they will be starting that process, I think, tomorrow, checking old mail.
QUESTION: Richard, can you talk --
MR. BOUCHER: Can we go to the back, please?
QUESTION: Yes. Chinese Government has been --
MR. BOUCHER: Okay, we'll stay on the same subject then for a while.
QUESTION: Can you talk a little bit about the kind of frustrations or problems you've had or this building has had because of the frozen mail, like paying bills, et cetera? I understand there have been a couple of problems with late payments.
MR. BOUCHER: Is this official payments or are these personal bills?
QUESTION: No, this is State Department --
MR. BOUCHER: I had not heard of any checks in the mail, so I will have to double check. I'll see about it.
QUESTION: You haven't heard about bureaus getting their phones shut off or --
MR. BOUCHER: No.
QUESTION: People threatening to cut off cell phone service or things like that?
MR. BOUCHER: No. I think we do a lot of electronic payments and even people overseas now do a lot of electronic bill paying through the Internet.
QUESTION: Richard, another mail question. The Pentagon is requiring that all mail be opened, visually inspected, X-rayed and tested for biological and chemical materials. That goes beyond what you're doing, right?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know how they receive their mail, what the routing is. But when we get all the mail we get from the Brentwood facility from the Postal Service, the First Class Mail that comes in, all of that is irradiated. So it's safe before it arrives at anything to do with the State Department. It is trucked out to Ohio, I think, and irradiated. So I think it's probably just different procedures for different places, depending on how they do their business.
QUESTION: Is this going to be the practice from now on?
MR. BOUCHER: What, trucked to Ohio and irradiated? Not necessarily. But somehow --
QUESTION: Are you going to irradiate all mail from this point on?
MR. BOUCHER: Either we or the Postal Service will make sure that everything that goes into our system is safe.
QUESTION: China has been sharing intelligence with the United States in this anti-terrorism campaign. Could you please mention some specific contributions that China can offer in Afghanistan nation building?
MR. BOUCHER: I'm afraid the answer to that right now is, no. As you know, on the process of reconstruction, on the process of supporting the political effort, this is just getting going now. We do expect that all the nations that are interested in Afghanistan and who have worked hard on the situation will continue to work on that. But I can't offer specifics that China might provide.
QUESTION: Are you talking about that with the Chinese Government?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know to what extent we have at this point. I will have to double check. Let me check one thing right if I can. That's what I was checking right now. Yes, China is at the conference this morning. So in terms of participating in the overall process, I think it's clear that China wants to participate. But as far as specifics about what they might contribute, that will be for them to say and to decide down the road.
QUESTION: I'd like to know if you have any statement about the journalists that were killed in Afghanistan. What the idea is, whether it was Taliban or Northern Alliance? Because there seemed to be conflicting -- is there an investigation? Who would be conducting it?
MR. BOUCHER: I think the answer at this point is we don't know a whole lot. We don't know the exact circumstances beyond what's been reported.
It's certainly a tragic incident we very much deplore. We do believe that those who committed these murders need to be identified, need to be found, need to be held responsible. But I don't think I can go beyond that in terms of specifics.
QUESTION: Would it be held responsible by whom, by whatever interim government comes in or --
MR. BOUCHER: I think that all depends on the circumstances and what happens.
QUESTION: Well, right now there isn't anyone to hold them responsible, if they're caught.
MR. BOUCHER: We think they should be held responsible, and whatever government is established, whatever system is established, it will also depend on national jurisdiction for other governments. So I can't define the legal process at this point, but certainly we do think that people that commit murders like this need to be held responsible. And I think the first thing is to see who did it, and what can be done.
QUESTION: Sir, according to the reports, a lot of -- I mean, at first China and Pakistan both were helping the Taliban, and also thousands of Pakistanis were fighting against the United States inside Afghanistan. Now they are fleeing across the border.
Are we -- what are we doing about that, and what is the future of those -- because they are still --
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not quite sure I understand the question. Who is fleeing across the border? And which border?
QUESTION: Okay. First of all, according to the reports, China and Pakistan both were helping underground or behind the scenes Taliban -- they were helping the Taliban. Two, Pakistan is crossed the border, fighting against the United States, into Afghanistan. Now they are fleeing Afghanistan back to Pakistan. And now they are grouping back where they came from; now they are coming back there. So what is the future of this? How can we protect in the future?
MR. BOUCHER: You're talking about Pakistanis coming back across? Is that the idea?
QUESTION: That's right.
MR. BOUCHER: I think the general answer to the question of the Pakistani border is that this has been an issue of concern to us. We are certainly in close contact with the Pakistani Government about the border, and trying to ensure that people don't cross and cause trouble, and escape justice.
There are these reports that Taliban fighters might be trying to cross, and this is something that we are working on with Pakistani leaders. Pakistan has increased its security forces along the border, particularly in some of the remote areas. I mean, we do remember, there's something like 1,500 miles a border between Afghanistan and Pakistan. It's very rugged and inhospitable terrain. But we have cooperated with Pakistan on these subjects in the past. It's part of our counter-narcotics program, for example, where we have worked with them in a variety of ways, including improving control along their borders. We have authorized provided $73 million in assistance to support specifically Pakistan's security efforts along the Afghan border.
And so these are areas that we are working on and we will continue to work on. And we do believe that Pakistan is committed to prevent entry by Taliban fighters from Afghanistan, and that they are taking a lot of measures to that end.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) Indian officials said when they were here that these Talibans, after the US war in Afghanistan is over, they are fleeing now across the border into Kashmir to fight in -- to India --
MR. BOUCHER: I don't have any information on that.
QUESTION: Richard, can I just get a clarification of just one -- that question. Has the State Department ever received any information that the Chinese have supported the Taliban?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't think we've ever said anything like that, frankly.
QUESTION: I mean, is there any reason? Okay.
MR. BOUCHER: I mean, everything the Chinese are doing is to oppose terrorism coming out of Afghanistan. They have done that for many years, in a variety of ways. And certainly, their position in the current circumstances has been quite clear.
QUESTION: Richard, a big chunk of that $73 million for the border security was for big-ticket items, like helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft. Do you know if that stuff's actually arrived there yet?
MR. BOUCHER: I'll have to check.
QUESTION: Yes. Can we turn to the Secretary's speech from yesterday? Are we going to get a chance, perhaps, to have an off-the-record with Ambassador Burns and Zinni, Assistant Secretary Burns and Zinni, before they go out?
And secondly, what is the difference between the Burns-Zinni and the Tenet-Burns mission that went off earlier in the spring? Is there really any difference? Dennis Ross has said that there is nothing new in the Secretary's speech. But a lot of other people disagree with him. But, nevertheless, would you comment on that?
MR. BOUCHER: I'd love -- no. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: I didn't expect you to.
MR. BOUCHER: First of all is whether you guys will have an opportunity to talk to Assistant Secretary Burns and General Zinni before they go out. We'll have to check. I think the fact that it's Thanksgiving week might make that difficult.
The second question is sort of what are they doing. What they're doing, as the Secretary said to you outside, is to work in these particular circumstances that we have right now, on achieving a cease-fire and achieving non-belligerency and achieving implementation of the steps that were understood by Tenet and recommended by the Mitchell Committee to stop the violence, ease the restrictions, build confidence, get back to talks.
So what they are doing is to deal with the present circumstance, try to get us moving down that road.
QUESTION: Richard, on that, do you have a more precise arrival time for them in the region? Or departure time for them, as to when they're going to either leave or get to the region?
MR. BOUCHER: No.
QUESTION: Is it still this weekend?
MR. BOUCHER: This weekend.
QUESTION: Because some people are saying -- out there, some people are saying Monday. I know that's -- I'm quibbling, but -- and the other thing is, does General Zinni, does he envision having any kind of staff, or is he kind of just going to be a lone wolf?
MR. BOUCHER: He is going to be supported by the Near East Bureau. So when he is in Washington, he'll have office and people helping him here. When he is in the region, I'm sure people from our embassies and consulates will be assigned to help him out. So he will be supported.
Does he have other people hired -- is hired the right word for somebody who is not paid? -- does he have people specifically assigned to support him? I'll have to check, if they're like full-time people that have been assigned to do that.
QUESTION: Do you know the answer, or you say he's still not paid as now a full-time -- is he now a full-time?
MR. BOUCHER: No, he works a certain number of days a year, is the understanding of some of these deals. And so obviously he is going to be out in the region a lot. He'll work, I'm sure, more than eight hours a day when he's out there doing this. But some of the time, when he's back in the States, he might not necessarily be coming in to the State Department every day. So he'll have some time to himself again.
QUESTION: So "part-time unpaid? Is still the correct designation?
MR. BOUCHER: Part-time unpaid is still correct. But I don't want to imply he's only working four hours a day. He's going to go out and work very intensively on getting us started down this process, and he'll be back and forth, but spending the bulk of his time in the region.
QUESTION: He is not shelling out for his own plane tickets, though, is he?
MR. BOUCHER: No, I'm sure we pay his expenses.
QUESTION: Where is he going to be based when he's in the region?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know yet.
QUESTION: I'm just trying to figure out -- if it is possible that he is going to be supported by various people, either from here or in the region, particularly if they're in the region, why should this not be seen as the beginning of a US observer team, something that -- our third-party observer team, something that the Israelis have protested against in the past?
MR. BOUCHER: Because it's different.
QUESTION: How so?
MR. BOUCHER: I mean, the idea of observers were people who were able to move around on the ground and go to locations where difficulties were being encountered.
QUESTION: Isn't that what he's going to be doing?
MR. BOUCHER: He's not going to be standing on a street corner watching for things to happen. He is going to be working with the parties to try to get some movement towards a cease-fire, non-belligerency. He's going to be working with the commissions that are established. You've seen the announcement from Prime Minister Sharon. You've seen the Palestinians say that they look forward to doing something similar.
So he'll be working with the parties to try to help them implement these steps that have been agreed do, start going down this road that leads back to talks.
QUESTION: Richard, if there's a peace in the Middle East, the agreement between Palestine and Israel, terrorism will be diminished or like Usama bin Laden said in the past, that the reason he is attacking Americans is because there is no peace in the Middle East. Do you think terrorism will go away?
MR. BOUCHER: No. We think that we have to fight the war on terrorism. We have made quite clear that Usama bin Laden discovered the Palestinians after he started carrying out his attacks, and not before. The Palestinians have made quite clear they don't want to see their cause hijacked by terrorism. There are people that have to be gotten. The al-Qaida network has to be ripped up if we're going to stop terrorism, as well as other terrorists. And we don't think that solving the Middle East is going to make terrorism go away.
On the other hand, we think solving the Middle East, working on the Middle East, reducing the tensions, getting back to peace talks is a very, very important issue of its own. And it takes away some of the excuse that people use for violence. But stopping the violence in the Middle East and getting back to talks is an important aspect of our diplomacy.
QUESTION: One of the new aspects that was unveiled in the speech was the US working with other countries on redeveloping the ravaged Palestinian economy. Current US policy is that the only support we give to the Palestinians -- we don't support the Palestinian Authority; we only support NGOs. So my question is, are we now -- or rather, is the State Department now considering giving money directly to the Palestinian Authority?
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not aware of any change in our policy. As you know, we support nongovernmental organizations, we support UN organizations and others who do work in Palestinian areas. And certainly, endorsing development in those areas and the rebuilding of a Palestinian economy doesn't necessarily mean we change the way we route the money. So I don't have anything new in that regard.
QUESTION: So there's not under any consideration now doing what the European Union does, which is bankrolling the Palestinian Authority?
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not aware of any change in our policy. I'll just stop at that at this point.
QUESTION: Can I ask about the meeting with Joschka Fischer this morning? I know you can't talk about specific deployments by the Germans, but they do have -- their parliament does have this peculiar situation where any deployments have to be approved. Can you tell us whether the Minister and Secretary Powell discussed specific ideas for things Germany can do now that it's past this hurdle in its parliament for deploying troops?
MR. BOUCHER: The Secretary certainly welcomed the contributions that Germany has made and is willing to make in this regard. They didn't talk about specific military deployments. That's a military matter that is not discussed at the State Department. So that kind of planning would be done elsewhere.
QUESTION: Did they talk about humanitarian deployments? Searching the --
MR. BOUCHER: No, they didn't discuss specific military deployments of one kind or another. It's just not what we do over here.
QUESTION: Our meetings today with the Mexicans on migration and other issues. And they are certainly winding up. Do you have anything?
MR. BOUCHER: I've been here with you instead of asking people what happened at those discussions. I guess I'd describe them as expert-level or slightly higher, assistant secretary-level, I believe, discussions with the Mexicans again today on immigration issues, focusing, I think, on the overall issues of border security, and immigration generally. And I'll see if I can get you a readout of those talks once they're done.
QUESTION: With the -- a television station just going on air in Kabul a day ago, not many people having television sets, how is the PR campaign going to be waged? And do you expect, within Afghanistan, that to be a commercial-type enterprise, or do you expect it to be maybe a part of what the government takes over? And how are you making arrangements?
MR. BOUCHER: I would say that as we've looked at what we can do to help people in Afghanistan understand what's going on, we've looked especially to radio, because most people in Afghanistan do get their news, do listen to the radio. And so we've tried to make programming available, whether it's the international broadcasters. I'm not actually sure what's gone on at this point inside Afghanistan, but we're trying to make information available as much as we can to any broadcasters that are starting up again in Afghanistan.
QUESTION: Richard, recognizing this is Thanksgiving week, and also that the clock is ticking very rapidly towards the end of the Iraq sanctions, what's going on, if anything, this week? And also, is anything planned for next week? I assume that something is planned for next week, if it's not for this week. What's the update on that?
MR. BOUCHER: Well, let me first of all make clear the United States remains very firmly committed to rebuilding a Security Council consensus on Iraq, around a new approach that precisely targets controls to prevent the Iraqi regime from rearming, particularly with weapons of mass destruction, and to further improve the humanitarian conditions of the Iraqi people.
We believe that the draft resolution, which the United Kingdom presented, contains the elements that will most effectively implement this approach. We are continuing to work with other members of the Security Council to achieve a resolution that will implement this improved system.
Russia, as you know, is the only Security Council member that is not yet in agreement with this new approach. We remain in close consultations with Russia, aimed at reaching an agreement for the Security Council action as soon as possible.
The Secretary has discussed this issue with Foreign Minister Ivanov. We have had consultations at different levels with the Russians. We had a British team here about a week ago to talk to them in more detail, and obviously a lot of these consultations now are taking place at the United Nations. And we will continue to work in the United Nations as the deadline of November 30th approaches.
QUESTION: But you don't have anything specific this week?
MR. BOUCHER: No, I don't -- these are sort of ongoing consultations and discussions in New York. The Secretary has talked to Foreign Minister Ivanov every couple days. In many of those conversations, the subject has arisen. So it's an ongoing topic of discussion with other governments. We all know where we want to go to by the end of the month, and we keep trying to get there.
QUESTION: Are you -- sort of related -- are you contemplating calling again through the UN once again that Saddam accept weapons inspectors?
MR. BOUCHER: That's a standing requirement of the United Nations resolutions, and we always call upon Saddam and on the Iraqi regime to meet the requirements of the UN resolutions.
QUESTION: Are you thinking about re-upping it in some way, or changing it around, making it stronger?
MR. BOUCHER: It's as strong as it can be. It's a clear requirement of the Security Council; he needs to comply.
QUESTION: Thank you.
(The briefing was concluded at 1:50 p.m. EST.)
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