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Last Updated:3/18/02
Transcript of Q&A with White House spokesman Scott McLellan, March 15, 2002
This was with SCOTT MaCCLELLAN aboard Air Force One en Route Fayetteville, North Carolina this morning:

Q Are you going to be able to aid the Colombian government in their battle against the FARC?

MR. MCCLELLAN: Let me make a couple of points. One, there continue to be ongoing consultations with Congress about the situation in Colombia, as well as our desire to respond more fully to Colombian requests for support in defending democracy. And we are determined to seek new and more explicit legal authorities for State and Department of Defense assistance to Colombia, to support the Colombian government's unified campaign against narcotics trafficking and terrorist activities.

We will continue to adhere to the requirements of the Byrd and Leahy amendments. Those requirements limit -- put limits on U.S. civilian and military personnel in Colombia, and ensure that we're not assisting military units whose members violate human rights.

But terrorist attacks are a serious threat to Colombia's democratic institutions. And we'll continue the review requests from the Colombian government for counterterrorism support.

Q -- how about the cap on troops?

MR. MCCLELLAN: I think we adhere to the Byrd and Leahy requirements, which put -- that's what I just said -- they put limits on U.S. civilian and military personnel in Colombia.

Q Scott, what about the timing? Are we talking this coming week, perhaps, to have something more formal?

MR. MCCLELLAN: Again, that's what I said, they're ongoing consultations with Congress. When there's more announce, then we'll let you guys know.

Q Were your talking points, we are determined to seek new and more explicit authority -- was that the word, "explicit"? Is that what you said?

MR. MCCLELLAN: I said, new and more explicit legal authorities. It will all be in the transcript. But for State, the Department of Defense to assist Colombia and support the Colombian government's campaign against narcotics trafficking and terrorist activities.

Q Scott, is this request for these new authorities, is that considered part of the administration's global war on terrorism?

MR. MCCLELLAN: No.

Q The FARC and the terrorist threat in Colombia is not a global threat?

MR. MCCLELLAN: Terrorism is a threat to the democratic institutions in Colombia. But, no, in response to that question.

Q Will you seek more money, or is there money already in the pipeline, you would just divert it?

MR. MCCLELLAN: As I said, yes, there are ongoing consultations here with Congress.

Q -- seek these new and explicit authorities from Congress, obviously, right?

MR. MCCLELLAN: Yes. That's what we're talking about. We're consulting with Congress now, ongoing consultations and that we are determined to do that.

Q And "authorities" is plural, right?

MR. MCCLELLAN: -- consulting with Congress on it.

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