State Department Noon Briefing


MONDAY, NOVEMBER 6, 2000 - 12:35 P.M.

Q: New subject. Yemen. Today, Yemeni officials say that, not only will
they not let Americans interview suspects; they won't even relay
questions from the Americans to the suspects. Are we still saying
we're getting good cooperation from them?

BOUCHER: I think what we have said is not what you said. What we have
said is that we got good cooperation during the first phase, that we
are in discussions with them on the modalities of how we will
cooperate further in the future. We do need more cooperation, further
cooperation in the next phases of the investigation, and that those
discussions continue. And when they are concluded, I'll tell you - we
will try to tell you more about what exactly is involved.

I have not seen these statements by Yemeni officials. I don't know if
they are on the record or anonymous. But we remain in discussions with
them, with the Yemeni Government, about how to work the arrangements
for the next phase of negotiations.

Q: Can you tell me how those discussions take place? Are they
diplomatic, or is the Pentagon also involved? I mean --

BOUCHER: Well, I'm sure our investigating team is the most involved,
and obviously they have a diplomatic aspect to it. But the important
thing is to have the investigators involved in the process. On the
U.S. side, it is an interagency team that puts together what we need,
and it is probably our Embassy that leads the discussion with the
government itself.

Q: Richard, these talks are going on in Sanaa? Or here, or both

BOUCHER: I actually don't know if it is Sanaa or Aden. It's basically
going on in the field.

Q: Do you have any idea of how long - how much longer this might


Q: Because there were four more arrests today.

BOUCHER: Once again, we continue this process. We're trying to work
out the arrangements. We would hope we would be able to conclude this


Q: Stay on the Taliban? I have some comments by the Taliban officials
over the weekend. They don't seem to be kind of satisfied with what
the Pakistan and U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan told the Taliban
representative to Pakistan during their conversations, and seem to
still think that the United States is going to perhaps strike against
Afghanistan. Some really strong comments over the weekend against what
might happen if they do.


Q: How emphatic is the U.S. that it's not going to strike Afghanistan?
They still seem to be thinking that a U.S. strike is pending.

BOUCHER: I refer you back to what I said last Friday, and I continue
to stick with what I said last Friday, that we have made quite clear
to them what we have made clear in public, that we intend to pursue
this investigation wherever it leads and we intend to take whatever
steps we consider necessary to defend our national interests.

Q: So, the bottom line is basically, "So what?" Is that what you're
saying? They can think whatever they want?

BOUCHER: I didn't say, "what." I said, "So." But yes, more or less,
that's a good paraphrase of what I said.

Q: Let me try one more to follow, Richard, please? Usama bin Laden
again has threatened the United States that if there is a strike, and
also a lot of - thousands of Afghanis are leaving from the fear


Q: What reaction? I mean, they are leaving Afghanistan from the fear
of that the U.S. may strike Afghanistan, and Usama bin Laden has
threatened the United States that if there is a strike then he will
continue killings Americans anywhere in the world.

BOUCHER: I don't want to make light of what is a serious issue in that
there is an organization out there which is organized for the purpose
of terror and which has targeted Americans throughout the world, but
at this stage in regards to the specific investigation of the Cole, we
don't have anything to say yet as far as who might have been
responsible. But we have made quite clear we are going to pursue this
investigation and we are going to take whatever steps we feel are in
our national interest, and that is a very serious matter. And we
intend to do exactly what we said, but at this stage it's premature to
start speculating one way or another on where that might lead us.

(The briefing was concluded at 1:10 P.M.)