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U.S. Department of State Daily Press Briefing #40, 00-05-04

U.S. State Department: Daily Press Briefings Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Department of State Foreign Affairs Network (DOSFAN) at <http://www.state.gov>


858

U.S. Department of State

Daily Press Briefing

I N D E X

Thursday, May 4, 2000

Briefer: Richard Boucher

SIERRA LEONE
1,2	Situation in Sierra Leone / UN Peacekeeping
1-2	Discussion of Expanded Rapid Reaction Force
2-3	Foday Sankoh in Violation of Lome Agreement
DEPARTMENT
3,8	Secretary Albright's Testimony Before the House Intelligence Committee
3-7	"I Love You" Computer Virus / Department's Computer Systems
5	Embassy and Consulate Computer Systems
8-9	Secretary Albright's Statements Yesterday on Security at the Department
SRI LANKA
7	Imposition of Censorship on Media Reporting / Other Measures
	 Related to Government Battle with Tamil Rebels 
7	Sri Lanka's Announcement on Diplomatic Ties with Israel
8	Prospects for Sri Lanka Request for US Assistance
EGYPT/SYRIA / SAUDI ARABIA
9-10	Foreign Ministers' Meeting / Outcome
GREECE
10	Greek Government's Reaction to Department's Annual Terrorism Report
BANGLADESH
10	Removal From the US of Three Individuals Convicted in 1975 Murder
	 of Bangladeshi President Sheikh Mujib 
10-11	President's Recent Travel to South Asia / Canceling of Visit to War
	 Memorial in Savar 
AFRICA
11-12	UN Ambassador Holbrooke's Travel / Meetings
CUBA
12	Travel of Cuban Diplomats to Wye
12-13	Status of Investigation into Altercation at the Cuban Interests
	 Section 
SUDAN
13	Amnesty International's Report on Human Rights Situation in Sudan
RUSSIA
13	Situation in Chechnya / Secretary Albright's Meeting with Foreign
	 Minister Ivanov 
PHILIPPINES
14	Update on Hostage Situation / Terrorist Attacks

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING

DPB #40

THURSDAY, MAY 4, 2000, 12:45 P.M.

(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)

MR. BOUCHER: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I'm pleased to be here. I don't have any announcements today, so I'd be glad to take your questions.

QUESTION: On Sierra Leone, Kofi Annan is saying that the violence there almost certainly will have a ripple effect on peacekeeping throughout the continent. Do you have any observations on that?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't think we're, at this point, prepared to make broad observations. Obviously, the Secretary General's views are very important to us. The issue of peacekeeping generally is one that we are very concerned about, and we always want to make sure it's done right. In this case, we're prepared to consider ways to support the UN and make sure the UN out there can do its job.

QUESTION: Yesterday, you referred to the possible creation of a response force. Could you elaborate on that, and how far have the discussions - consultations - on this gone so far?

MR. BOUCHER: The discussions continue. The question is what the - there is actually a response component to the force that's out there, so the question is how to make that force work well. And the United States is having discussions - they're ongoing - with the United Nations about having an expanded rapid reaction force. And so we're looking at that and we're looking at a range of options about how we might help support that.

QUESTION: Do you have any details about the force that exists there - how large it is and those details?

MR. BOUCHER: No, I don't have those details. I'm sure the United Nations would. Frankly, we think they have taken a courageous and a strong stand in this situation and are doing what they can. But we want to make sure that they are as effective as possible.

QUESTION: Are you talking about expansion in numbers or expansion in responsibilities?

MR. BOUCHER: We have to discuss with the United Nations what's the best way to make them fully capable, you might say.

QUESTION: Is that --

MR. BOUCHER: I don't know if that's going to be numbers, equipment, capabilities. At this point, I can't say.

QUESTION: About helping the UN in Sierra Leone, you said you're considering ways to help it. What exactly are you considering? Are you talking about aircraft or personnel?

MR. BOUCHER: If you've looked at what we've done in the past, we've done a variety of ways. So we're looking at a range of options, ways that we might support. I do want to make clear there is no request for US ground troops. We don't anticipate one, we're not considering one, nor would we think one is necessary.

QUESTION: What would the range include?

MR. BOUCHER: The kinds of things we've done elsewhere in the past is about all I'll say at this moment.

More on this?

QUESTION: The UN has now scaled down its current death figure, I guess, from seven to four. Obviously, four is still too many - one is too many. And they actually - there isn't any - there are no bodies. Sankoh is denying that he's holding any - or that the RUF is holding anyone hostage, even though the UN disagrees with it.

Is your basic overall reaction still the same, that he is doing this?

MR. BOUCHER: Our basic overall reaction is exactly the same; that he is carrying out acts which are outrageous and criminal, as the UN called them; that he is in violation of the Lome Agreement; the violations could invalidate his amnesty that's provided in the Agreement; the actions that he and his forces have taken need to be reversed immediately.

The international community in the Lome Agreement provided Mr. Sankoh with a second chance for legitimacy and a chance to participate with the international community in peace in Sierra Leone, but his actions of violence and non-compliance risks losing that second chance. So our immediate goal is to secure the release of the hostages to ensure resumption of the implementation of the peace process.

QUESTION: There have been suggestions today that Mr. Sankoh might be - it might be a good idea to try him as a war criminal. Has that been discussed in this building today or yesterday?

MR. BOUCHER: I think the implications of these actions have been discussed. The key point that I'd like to make today is that there was an amnesty attached to the Lome Agreement and he was given a second chance, and any actions that take place after that could invalidate or risk losing that chance.

QUESTION: Is it not correct, then, that this Department is in the process of gathering information that could be used in any kind of war crime --

MR. BOUCHER: I don't want to take this too far along. We're obviously watching the situation very, very closely. This is one thing the UN is working on. We're working on it in New York and in Washington. We are gathering all the information about the situation, but I think at this point we just have to say that it's very clear that the amnesty of the Lome Accords only extends to actions, I think, up to July 7th, 1999; and any actions taken subsequently, such as taking hostages, need to be dealt with separately.

QUESTION: Essentially, it's already been written in some press accounts. Is that an inaccurate way to write it, that the Department is gathering information that could be used in a war crimes tribunal?

MR. BOUCHER: I suppose that's not - I wouldn't say that's an inaccurate way to write it, but I wouldn't lead you any steps beyond that right at this point.

QUESTION: On security, the Secretary will be heading up to the Hill very shortly and facing a likely grilling by the House Intelligence Committee. Yesterday, the head of that Committee, Porter Goss, said that he would suggest, or recommend, that FBI agents or CIA agents - I think it was FBI, CIA and NSA personnel should be placed up here, implying that, if not stating, that State Department can't handle its own security.

Any reaction to such calls?

MR. BOUCHER: I think that's one I'll let the Secretary respond to directly.

QUESTION: We won't get to hear it, Richard.

MR. BOUCHER: I know.

QUESTION: I would just like to know if anyone has sent you an email telling you that they love you today, or if anyone in the Department has received such emails.

MR. BOUCHER: People have received such emails. About 6:30 this morning - actually, before we were notified by the normal - by the system, by the federal notification system, we found this so-called "I Love You" virus in some of our servers, lots of our servers. They immediately took steps to, first, cut ourselves off, cut our - what I'm talking about here is unclassified systems, so systems that interact with the Internet or that get email from outside. Immediately took steps to cut off attachments from coming in, because that's the way the virus spreads, and actually then we shut down the interface so we don't get any messages in from those places.

We are in the process of eradicating the virus. As I said, we found it on a lot of our servers. We're eradicating it. We're getting rid of it. We're destroying it. It has not resulted in any disruptions. It has not denied any service or any capabilities to users. And it did not get into the classified system, which is a wholly separate system that does not touch elsewhere but, in fact, all of us have received notices on the classified system as well to watch out for this and not to open it and not to use it.

QUESTION: The White House says that they had to shut down some of their computers for a couple of hours. Did the State Department have to shut down --

MR. BOUCHER: We didn't have to. We found it in time to block ourselves off, and then we got the virus fix and we're going through and eradicating it. So we didn't --

QUESTION: How long did it take, did you say, to correct the problem and get --

MR. BOUCHER: Well, I mean, we've got to get the patch - the fix has got to be run on a lot of servers. But right now we've stopped the problem. It's not doing anything to us and we're in the process of eradicating it.

QUESTION: Did anyone that you know of actually open this thing?

MR. BOUCHER: Anyone that I know of?

QUESTION: Well, I mean, are you aware of anyone in the building who got the email actually opening it and --

MR. BOUCHER: I'm not exactly sure what its status was. It was in a lot of our computers, a lot of our servers in particular, which means it was in a lot of the connected computers, the ones that had the ability to connect. It may have gotten it as email. So we found it, we identified it, we've stopped it, and they're making sure a thorough eradication is being done.

QUESTION: Do you know how many servers?

MR. BOUCHER: A lot.

QUESTION: A lot? I mean, half, three-quarters? I mean, I don't know - what does that mean? How many are there, in the first place?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't have that number for you. I'll try to get it for you, how many there are in the building.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) - laptops?

MR. BOUCHER: Probably not on the laptops.

QUESTION: Because they get passed around.

MR. BOUCHER: (Inaudible.)

QUESTION: A question just to clarify my mind. Does the email have to be opened for it to be in the system, or are you just talking about emails being sent into the system which may or may not have been opened? Do you see what I mean?

MR. BOUCHER: It doesn't make a whole lot of difference because if the email itself is in the server, that means it's going out to some user who may or may not open it. So what we want to do is catch it wherever we find it and eradicate it. Whether it's actually been opened and installed itself on somebody's computer or not, it needs to be eradicated wherever we find it.

Does that make sense?

QUESTION: (Inaudible) -- embassy computers beyond this building?

MR. BOUCHER: We don't have any - I don't have any information on embassy computers, although we have sent out - I mean, by 8:30 this morning we'd stopped it. By 7:30 - I'm sorry, by 6:30 we found it, by 7:30 we had disconnected ourselves and stopped it and notified people within the building, obtained the patch, started to make the eradications, and by 8:30 we sent out a cable to all our embassies overseas to tell them about it and to tell them to watch out for it.

QUESTION: And consulates and -- (inaudible) -- the mission up in New York?

MR. BOUCHER: All our missions, yes.

QUESTION: Presumably, though, I mean, a lot of these embassies would have known about it before 6:30.

MR. BOUCHER: That's possible.

QUESTION: So did they - well, never mind.

MR. BOUCHER: But a lot of their mail comes through our system, and we also have to tell them they're not getting any mail for the moment because we've closed off the gateway. So we're not taking any mail in at this point.

QUESTION: So you're going to, in fact, close down --

MR. BOUCHER: We've shut off our connection with the outside world.

QUESTION: And that's been going on since early today?

MR. BOUCHER: Since early this morning.

QUESTION: Do you know when you're planning to reopen?

MR. BOUCHER: No, I don't. Now, that's unclassified email messages. We have all our classified systems up and running. We have our communications with all our employees. Nobody has lost any capabilities in this except for the capability of getting email through the Internet for the moment.

QUESTION: But isn't there some loss - I realize it's not classified, but your operations are certainly hurt, isn't it, a little bit? I mean, hasn't this had an impact?

MR. BOUCHER: Well, I can't get your emails, Barry. But other than that, no.

QUESTION: No, I mean, doesn't it affect diplomatic business?

MR. BOUCHER: No. People are - our computer guys are spending a lot of time getting rid of it. People are spending time looking for it and making sure we don't have it. So, okay, that takes a little time away from making foreign policy.

QUESTION: People-hours.

MR. BOUCHER: And, at the same time, so the only real capability we've lost is to received unclassified ordinary emails from outside the building, and that will be reinstated as soon as we're inoculated and as soon as the virus is eradicated.

QUESTION: So you would kind of object to the idea of "The State Department Crippled by Love Bug"?

MR. BOUCHER: Frankly, I would say that's absolutely not true. We've dealt with this very successfully in this case. And we found it here when we turned on the machines, when we looked at the machines in the morning and ran the first checks. They took very quick action to get rid of it. We prevented it from - you know, prevented it from coming in any more and gotten rid of what got in already, and no users have been harmed in this process.

QUESTION: Different subject?

QUESTION: One last one on that one, if I could. Just by way of color, do you know or could you find out if the Secretary received an "I Love You" missive? By way of color.

MR. BOUCHER: I will ask her if she got it. I'm not sure she's looking at the screen that much.

QUESTION: Maybe her assistants could check out her email.

QUESTION: Do you have anything on the arrest in Mexico yesterday, someone connected with the - I'm going to mispronounce this - Arellano-Felix drug cartel?

MR. BOUCHER: No, I think you'll have to check with the Mexicans on that.

QUESTION: Do you have any response to the Draconian measures imposed by the Sri Lankan Government, including censorship of the media - foreign media and local media - in response to the war with the Tamil Tigers?

MR. BOUCHER: I think the answer is that's something I'm going to have to get to. I mean, we're certainly aware of the intensification of the fighting and we have really all supported peaceful process there and a process that's based on the Sri Lankan Government's proposals for constitutional reform and devolution of power. But, no, I don't have any on restrictions that might have been imposed. I'll have to find you something about that.

QUESTION: How about on the fact that the losing - with the situation in Jaffna going downhill rapidly and having failed to secure its military assistance from India, the Sri Lankans announced that they were immediately reestablishing diplomatic ties with Israel?

MR. BOUCHER: Well, we've encouraged the step to have diplomatic ties with Israel for a long time and they have had, in fact, steadily improving ties over many years. So whatever the current situation, we think it's a good step.

QUESTION: Yeah, but don't you see something a little bit kind of transparent about --

MR. BOUCHER: I don't do that sort of interpretive dance and analysis. I'll leave that to you.

QUESTION: No, I'm wondering if this Department notices anything - you know, thinks that it's - you know, if one avenue of getting military aid is cut out, you go to --

MR. BOUCHER: Did they establish relations in order to get military aid from Israel?

QUESTION: Well, I think that's --

MR. BOUCHER: That's a question you're going to have to ask them or Israel. That's not the kind of stuff I'm going to do. We've encouraged the step of having cooperation with Israel. We've encouraged relations with Israel for some time. So it's a good thing that they've done that.

QUESTION: What views do you have on possible military cooperation between Israel and Sri Lanka?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't think that's anything I ought to comment on at this point.

QUESTION: Have the Sri Lankans asked for any US assistance?

MR. BOUCHER: The answer is no. We would certainly consider a request for humanitarian assistance. We have provided them in the past with certain military equipment as well, under careful review of human rights considerations. We've provided some military training in the past under our programs, following the same criteria. But in this situation, we've not been asked to provide any assistance in response to the current fighting.

QUESTION: The meeting I understand the Secretary will be going to this afternoon to talk behind closed doors about security problems, so maybe it's premature. But is there any early feel for how - what has been said here about measures being taken - you know, at the special briefing and all and things that are being said to them? Until this afternoon, has there been any sort of a congressional response? Is it falling - is there understanding? Is there anxiety? Are they concerned? Do they think you're doing a good job?

MR. BOUCHER: I think I was asked earlier about someone that didn't think we were doing a good job, but I think that I'll leave it to the Secretary initially to talk to the Congress and respond to those kind of issues.

I think what is clear from the Secretary's statements yesterday and from what she's doing, including a comprehensive security review and starting to take the steps that can result from that kind of review - and there will be more coming, steps she's taken all along - is that the Secretary is determined to change the way this is done in this building to make sure that we do follow security procedures that are good and that keep us secure, as well as active and effective.

QUESTION: I don't know if you've got a chance to see the security analysis report that we've posted on ABC.com and had on World News Tonight last night.

QUESTION: Try to get one more plug in.

QUESTION: Yeah, one more plug in there.

MR. BOUCHER: One more plug after that.

QUESTION: Yeah, but have you gotten a chance - there were several different recommendations included in the report, from clamping down on the number of passes issued to limiting, you know, who has access to the building and where - all the different kinds of things you would expect but have now been issued in this report. And I'm wondering if the Secretary has responded, is responding.

MR. BOUCHER: I haven't seen what's on ABCNEWS.com - if I have the website right. There are a variety of steps that will be considered, and the Secretary has asked for a comprehensive report on security. She asked for that in early April and that is being done and will be finished soon. So those final recommendations, as I understand, have not yet gone to the Secretary but she has already directed that certain steps be taken. We've talked about security briefings throughout this building, we've talked about her instruction to make sure that in every employee's report their security consciousness is covered, and that it is rating season for most Foreign Service officers so that will be done.

And just the - I think the emphasis that she has placed on in meetings with employees, with senior staff, with people in the bureaus, she has made quite clear that we're going to change the way we do things with regard to security. And so some of those steps are being taken and more will be taken, as some of these broader things, bigger things, maybe slightly costly things, might be considered.

QUESTION: What's the process of reviewing the report? How many different people will participate?

MR. BOUCHER: There's a broad inter-agency group concerned with security that's looking comprehensively at our entire security situation, and the Secretary met with them. I think they started in March and met with them in early April. And they have been doing the work and she gets periodic sort of updates on ideas and things that come out of that. But the final recommendations, as far as I know, are not yet done for her.

QUESTION: What is the mechanism and follow-up for some of the comments and suggestions that the employees, the State Department employees, were handed - those cards yesterday - and they were to hand them back in? What's the mechanism for the follow-up there?

MR. BOUCHER: I'll have to double-check on that and see if they've decided. We were talking about different ways of getting back to people, either a website or --

QUESTION: Is there going to be a way to kind of contact these people, bring them into the fold for some of those suggestions that they made?

MR. BOUCHER: Yes, they were looking at how we take at least the frequently asked questions get answers back to people so that every idea that was submitted can be considered and responded to in some way.

QUESTION: A change of subject. The foreign ministers of Egypt, Syria and Saudi Arabia got together, after hemming and hawing for some months, about what they would do after an Israeli withdrawal from South Lebanon, decided that the UN should do it. Do you have any comment on that? Do you think that's a sign of progress, a sign that they've perhaps accepted that it's going to happen?

MR. BOUCHER: All I would say is that we, too, have decided that everyone should cooperate with the United Nations in making this happen the way the UN Security Council resolutions have wanted.

QUESTION: Do you welcome their --

MR. BOUCHER: We welcome anybody's cooperation with the United Nations in making this process work smoothly and peacefully.

QUESTION: A new subject. This morning, some of us were talking about Greece with an official, and I'm just wondering if the Greeks responded rather angrily to the comments that were in the terrorism report. I'm wondering, have they made any kind of a demarche or anything like that to complain to the State Department about being called one of the weakest links in anti-terrorism?

MR. BOUCHER: There's two things to say about that. We have heard from the Greek Government in a variety of levels and places about this and, second of all, that we think the report is factual and the report speaks for itself.

QUESTION: Thank you, Richard. This is our Arshad of the Daily Inqilab. A question on Bangladesh. I have made this question out to Jamie Rubin prior to his departure. It's about extradition which the Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, while discussing elaborately with President Clinton during his trip to Dhaka, this was brought up.

And what is the position on that? Is it still under the consideration and purview of the State Department to give it serious thought to take some active action, since before she leaves office or next year, the election?

And number two is that, about the security factors that dissuade the President to cancel some of his trips to Dhaka, does the State Department believe that bin Laden activities persuaded them to take that decision at the last end when everything was scored up and settled?

MR. BOUCHER: I know you asked these questions of Jamie, and Jamie was kind enough to pass the answers along to me before he left. So this is how seamless we are around here and how well he and I can work together.

Let me address first the question of extradition. I think you know that when he was in Bangladesh, President Clinton told the Prime Minister that we were seeking removal from the United States of the three individuals that were convicted in the 1975 murder of Bangladeshi President Sheikh Mujib. That case is still being adjudicated at this point, so we don't have a final outcome.

The President also proposed that the United States and Bangladesh negotiate an extradition treaty to handle such matters in the future, and we have had discussions between the State Department and the Embassy of Bangladesh here, preliminary discussions about such a treaty.

On the security question, I'm afraid I really don't have much more of an explanation than the one we were able to provide at the time. We had specific information that traveling to the village was not advisable, and I can't - I just can't go into details as to why we had to make that call. We certainly deeply regret that the President wasn't able to visit the memorial. His words of tribute were read, and we think those are quite a good tribute to Bangladesh's independence struggle and his profound respect for those who gave their lives in that fight.

QUESTION: Just to follow up on that, maybe you will take this question. On the global terrorism, I find on South Asia between India and Pakistan, Kashmir has been a bone of contention for over 50 years. And is there any possibility of a dramatic change in the State Department's policy towards South Asia following the well-publicized Kashmir issue? Now it is almost becoming a global issue. Will that be of any rendition to what we have been doing earlier?

MR. BOUCHER: Well, the issues and the situation there obviously have been of concern to us for some time, but I really think it was - the policy was quite clearly explained and articulated during the President's visit by the President and others. And that's where we are now.

QUESTION: So you don't see any change?

MR. BOUCHER: No change since a month ago. I mean, we're not going to change our policy every month. We're going to try to do what we can.

QUESTION: Well, you never change your policies.

MR. BOUCHER: We only admit that ten years after the fact. (Laughter.) But we're certainly not going to change it after last month's presidential visit. We've made quite clear what our concerns are and what our desires to see a settlement on.

QUESTION: No rendition at this point of time?

MR. BOUCHER: If I have to stand up every day and say we haven't changed our policy on this, that, and the other, it's going to get tiring for all of us. But, no, we haven't changed our policy since the President visited South Asia about a month ago. Maybe it was a little more.

QUESTION: Has Richard Holbrooke been in to see Laurent Kabila yet? And if so, do you have a readout on that?

MR. BOUCHER: He is in Kinshasa. I don't know if he's been in yet. Let me just check on what I have for the latest. But I think the last time I was able to talk about this with people who know, he had arrived. They've just arrived in Kinshasa. His goal, the goal of the mission, of the Security Council countries, is to advance the peace process in the Congo. They'll focus on the UN role and, in particular, on the conditions necessary for full deployment of the UN military liaison mission in the Congo.

They'll also travel to regional capitals to discuss the situation in the Congo, so they'll finish their trip on May 8th.

QUESTION: Do you know which regional capitals?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't think I have a full list here, no.

QUESTION: Did they meet yet, do you know?

MR. BOUCHER: I'm afraid he's a little far away and I can't follow him from here minute by minute, so I don't have any precise details of whether he's started a meeting or finished a meeting or said anything.

QUESTION: Is he planning to meet any of Kabila's opponents or neighboring countries which --

MR. BOUCHER: Again, I'm not keeping his schedule. I don't think I can do that for you. You might check with our mission to the UN on his schedule. They may have it.

QUESTION: Here's another one of your favorites. On Cuba, first, has anything changed on the Cuba issue or the diplomatic note issue? And, secondly, there are complaints - surprisingly - coming from the Miami community that the State Department is allowing too many Cuban diplomats the exception or the allowance to go out to Wye, the Wye River Plantation, and see Elian.

Can you give us an idea of how many of these requests you get, how many you accept or deny, and what the rationale is behind who gets to go and who doesn't?

MR. BOUCHER: I think the rationale is the same rationale that we have used in the case of visas: to do what's appropriate for the child in this situation. We don't want to be - well, we want to do what's appropriate for the child and the father in this situation.

We have approved a limited travel, limited number of travel permissions to Wye for purposes of visiting the family there. We've also approved travel for, as you know, for some children and their accompanying adults from the Cuban Interests Section to visit with the Gonzalez family last weekend. So those were an additional group of people to play with, you might say. But I don't have specific numbers for you.

QUESTION: Nothing has changed on the other issues?

MR. BOUCHER: On the other issues, no, the other visa issues with the playmates, they're still here for two weeks.

QUESTION: The altercation?

MR. BOUCHER: The Interests Section - we don't have anything new on the altercation at the Interests Section. On April 18th, we called in the Deputy Principal Officer of the Interests Section, presented him with a note, and asked him to explain, but they have not replied. At this point, we are awaiting the report from the Metropolitan Police Department which is investigating the case and which has jurisdiction over the matter, and then we will handle the matter in accordance with our guidelines.

QUESTION: Can you tell us a little bit more about this permission? When they ask for permission to visit, is that just for one day? I remember Jamie saying I think that they don't - they're aren't allowed to stay overnight.

MR. BOUCHER: They can ask for whatever they want. In most cases, I think we have discussed this with them and granted permission only for daytime visits.

QUESTION: Any time they want to revisit, they have to ask again? It's not a series of visits that are approved?

MR. BOUCHER: I'd have to check on what the exact rules are. I'm not sure I can say that categorically. But we've discussed this with the Cuban Interests Section. We have issued a limited number of permissions and most - and, again, I can't say all, I'm not sure - but most of those permissions have been only to go down in the daytime.

QUESTION: Yesterday, Amnesty International released a report highly critical of the human rights situation in Sudan. I was wondering if the State Department has any comment on human rights in Sudan.

MR. BOUCHER: I would say we had a very extensive comment on human rights in Sudan in our Annual Human Rights Report, and I would refer you to that.

QUESTION: The Russian Defense Minister today said there was no chance Moscow would hold talks with Chechen leader Maskhadov unless he agrees to Russia's terms. That obviously is nothing new; either is the continued fighting. But we haven't heard any US comment in several days. Can you just - how concerned is the US that the situation --

MR. BOUCHER: There have been a whole lot of statements back and forth as to whether they were going to have discussions and what sort of discussions they might have. I think the key point that we have been emphasizing over and over again to them directly and in our public comment is that there is no military solution to this conflict; that, to settle it for everybody's good, it has to be done politically; and that, immediately, the next step they really ought to take is what the UN Human Rights Commission in Geneva, the vote there - they've passed a resolution - what that resolution recommends, which is having a commission that can investigate fairly and fully based on international standards and practices what's going on there.

QUESTION: We actually did hear something new. If you'll recall last week, Secretary Albright said she was sure that Foreign Minister Ivanov agreed with her that there was no military solution to this. She said that in their joint availability.

Can you tell us later what she might have heard that made her think that he agreed with her, since we now have statements that they're not considering that so quickly?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't want to mix everything up, but as far as what the Secretary said, I mean, she told you the truth about her discussions with Ivanov. I don't have anything to add to that, no.

QUESTION: So she believed he agreed with her that there was no military solution?

MR. BOUCHER: She talked to him, and that's what she said he said; he agreed with her.

QUESTION: Interesting.

QUESTION: I don't expect any - do you have anything new to say about the situation in the Philippines with the hostage situation? If you don't --

MR. BOUCHER: I can tell you quite a bit about what's going on.

QUESTION: No, I think we all know what's going on. I mean in terms of US reaction, if it's anything new.

MR. BOUCHER: Well, let me preface a little bit. What we do know, what we understand from the Philippine authorities, is there are 4 hostages who have died during rescue attempts, there's 15 who have been freed, and there are 10 that are still in the hands of terrorists. And the Philippine security forces are in pursuit of the kidnappers.

There is another group being held, the 21 hostages taken from Malaysia, and there are, we understand, negotiations going on between the Philippine Government and the group that belongs to the Abu Sayyaf organization. We don't have any other information on that.

We do support the efforts of the Philippine Government to resolve these situations. We have obviously condemned the acts of the terrorists and we think that they are responsible for any deaths of innocent hostages in their custody.

(The briefing was concluded at 1:20 P.M.)


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