State Dept. Noon Briefing, November 13, 2000

BRIEFER: Philip T. Reeker, Deputy Spokesman
MONDAY, NOVEMBER 13, 2000 1:45 P.M.

Q: On a new subject? On the Cole investigation, how close is the
memorandum of understanding between the two countries for the
remainder of the investigation? How close are we to that agreement,
and would you still characterize the cooperation of the Yemeni
Government as good?

MR. REEKER: I don't think I can specifically give you a better
characterization of close or where. We continue to work closely with
the government of Yemen, and their cooperation has been good. I think
we have discussed that at length. Richard talked about that. We are
pleased that they have been forthcoming in sharing information and
closely coordinating with our investigation. We continue to work on
improving several remaining areas of cooperation, and we hope to
resolve that soon. But I just don't have anything more specific for

Obviously we, the Department of State, our Embassy in Sanaa, Yemen,
the Justice Department, the FBI, continue to work very closely
together on the investigation into the bombing of the USS Cole, which
took place on October 12th. We all have the same primary goal, which
is seeing that those responsible are brought to justice. And that is
what we are focused on.

Q: Can I follow up? There were some reports over the weekend that the
Ambassador in Yemen, while unsatisfied with the level of cooperation
from the Yemeni Government, obviously the FBI is very concerned that
we are not able to interview the witnesses, that the State Department
is urging to just basically take what we can get in terms of
cooperation in the fear that we will upset the Yemeni Government for
any type of help.

Q: I read the same reports, as I am sure everybody did, and I just
don't have any specific comments on our interagency process, other
than to say that we and the FBI and every other part of our team that
is involved in this - and the Yemenis - our objective is to bring
the perpetrators to justice, and that is what the investigation is
about. That is what our interagency process is about. And working on
an investigation, as I said, some of the modalities of cooperation we
are still working on. I don't have anything new to tell you since what
Ambassador Boucher discussed last week, but we do hope to resolve some
of those things soon.

Q: Well, could you expand on the areas where you are continuing to
improve on the level of cooperation?

MR. REEKER: I can't.

Q: Getting back to just the US side of it, is it unreasonable for one
to make the assumption that there have been some disagreements within
the US team as this interagency probe goes forward?

MR. REEKER: I just don't have an ability to read out what happens in
the dynamics of the team, other than that overall, the team - let me
finish - that we, the FBI, the interagency process as a whole, all of
the components of that, have the same objective, and that is bringing
the perpetrators to justice. We each bring different specializations
and skills to that. That is what an interagency process is all about,
and we are working very closely on that and obviously working closely
with the Yemenis.

And right now, as I said, we are pleased that they have been
forthcoming in sharing information and closely coordinating with the
investigation, and we are going to continue to work on improving some
of the areas where we need to work out some additional modalities. We
hope to resolve those soon, and we will keep on this.

Q: But you are talking about the US and the Yemenis. What I am talking
about is the State Department and the FBI and the --

MR. REEKER: I think that was included in the first part of my
statement, Matt, that we work extremely closely with the FBI, the
Justice Department, the Department here.

Q: But surely you are not trying to say that you guys go through this
without every disagreeing on anything?

MR. REEKER: I can't speak for the people participating in the team
that is part of the investigation. It is an interagency process. A lot
of specialization is required. Each agency brings specific things to
that process and work very closely together - all of them with the
very same goal, and that is to conclude this investigation, to bring
the perpetrators to justice. And that is exactly where we stand now.

Q: On this same thing, on this report that bin Laden says he has
nothing to do with it, can you say anything about that?

MR. REEKER: I just don't have any particular comment on any of those
issues of the attack. Obviously that is what the investigation is all
about, and we need to let the investigation continue.

Q: What is holding up the memorandum of understanding between the two
countries? For the past several weeks, you have been saying that they
are very close, very close. So what is it?

MR. REEKER: I don't have any specifics from the - the details to
describe that, other than to say that we are pleased that the Yemenis
have been forthcoming in sharing information, in closely coordinating
with us. Their cooperation has been good, and we are continuing on
working to improve some remaining areas of cooperation, but I just
can't get into any specific details.

(The briefing was concluded at 2:25 P.M.)