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Last Updated:11/8/01
Excerpts from Briefing by State Department Spokesman Philip Reeker, November 7, 2001
President Pastrana is going to meet with President Bush this weekend in New York. What does the U.S. government expect about this meeting?

MR. REEKER: Well, again, I think I'll leave it for the White House to describe any meetings that the president is going to have. Obviously in New York, at the U.N. General Assembly meeting, there'll be an opportunity to meet with a number of heads of state. The secretary of State will also have a number of meetings there with President Bush and some on his own, thorough Monday.

As you know, we work very closely with President Pastrana, supporting his Plan Colombia, supporting his efforts to make positive change in Colombia and working together to counter the narcotics trafficking, which affects our country, as well. So Plan Colombia and our support for that I think is well known.

Our broader Andean Regional Initiative is also something we've also discussed at length -- how we want to continue with funding and joint projects with President Pastrana's government -- to support not just the counter-narcotics efforts, but for the whole region.

So I think we'll have an important meeting there. As you know, Secretary Powell was on his way to Colombia when the September 11th events took place, so he came back to Washington. But I know that at some point, he would like to make a trip to Colombia again.

Q We can expect any changes between the relationship between Colombia and the United States, when you see that the peace talks is not very well. (Inaudible) -- giving any response about what the Colombian government is doing?

MR. REEKER: Well, our relationship with the government of President Pastrana is particularly strong, as I just indicated. And I think that will continue in that way. We have joint interests. We've applauded President Pastrana's efforts at consolidating democracy, fighting narco-trafficking. As far as the FARC and other organizations, the ELN and also the AUC -- you're well aware that they are designated under our law as foreign terrorist organizations. And so that has implications in terms of the way we treat those organizations and people tied to them.

And we will continue to look at those as we fight terrorism all over the world. So I think it's quite clear how we view those organizations. And certainly our support for President Pastrana and his policies is well known.

MODERATOR: The first is from Reynaldo Trombeta (sp) from El Nacional. Foreign Minister Davila said last Monday that the relationship between the U.S. and Venezuela is normal. Do you agree, and are there any areas you would cite that could possibly improve -- make for improved relations between Venezuela and the United States?

And a second question, Ambassador Frank Taylor stated here in the U.S. that Islamic terrorist groups are operating in Venezuela. Have you received the desired cooperation from the Venezuelan government in -- to pursue these terrorists and bring them to justice?

MR. REEKER: Let me take your second question first. I'm not familiar with exactly what Ambassador Taylor has said about foreign terrorist groups operating in Venezuela. As we've said many times, al Qaeda and so many other terrorist groups have vast networks that expand to many, many countries around the globe. That's why this is truly a global campaign against terrorism, why in some ways we've described it as the civilized world all coming together to fight this, because its reach is indeed global and affects all of us.

Some of the effects can be seen most directly, like September 11th and the attacks on the United States. But we have to be wary of those threats everywhere and watch that.

We're letting every country describe their own contributions to the campaign against terrorism. There are so many different areas where they can contribute. Some countries are offering military support for the very focused military action that's being taken in Afghanistan. Other countries are working in law enforcement cooperation. We've seen something over -- near 40 countries that have made arrests of members of al Qaeda and other terrorist groups in recent days and weeks. We've got literally hundreds of countries that are involved in the seizing of assets of terrorist groups, the sealing off of bank accounts, cutting off of funding, which is a very important aspect, and President Bush has highlighted much of that today. In terms of the broader U.S.-Venezuela relationship, both countries have an interest in maintaining our historic, productive, cooperative relationship, which I think is very important to us. We have been concerned, as you know, about the state of our bilateral relationship with Venezuela, and we were concerned enough that we asked our ambassador -- our ambassador to Venezuela, Donna Hrinak, to come back to Washington for some consultations, so we could get her views and discuss some of the concerns that we've had with the relationship. Of course, once those consultations are over and the ambassador's also completed participating in a regional chiefs of mission conference -- it's being held yesterday and today -- she will return to Caracas. She's going to meet with a number of officials here, and we'll be able to discuss various aspects of our relationship with Venezuela.

I will note that over the weekend, President Chavez asserted that he did not, as it was quoted to me, have the slightest intention of damaging relations with the U.S., in terms of some of the comments that we had seen earlier. And so, as I said, while we continue having an interest in maintaining our strong, solid relationship, we'll just remind everyone that the war against international terrorism is an issue of fundamental importance to the United States, and we've been very clear and unequivocal on that subject, and we expect the same of those that have joined us in this struggle. And Venezuela, as part of the Rio Pact, as part of the OAS, has joined us in condemning the terrorist attacks; as part of the U.N. General Assembly, in recognizing that the United States has been attacked, that we're acting in self-defense.

And we take that very seriously, and we'll continue to talk to Venezuela as we talk to so many other countries about that and other aspects of our relationship.

Q This is Nestor Iqeda (ph) from AP. And as you know, the Department of State has listed 28 terrorist -- international terrorist groups. And one of those groups is in Peru, Shining Path.

The Peruvian vice president has said today that the country would be ready to receive any kind of help from the U.S. to fight Shining Path in Peru, except troops. Have you been talking about that possibility with --

MR. REEKER: I am not familiar with the specifics on that. Indeed -- and you have our list of foreign terrorist organizations, as designated under our law. They were redesignated, in fact, just a couple of weeks ago, I think, and we can easily get you that list. I don't know of any particular discussions with the Peruvians on that.

However, I'll remind you that the campaign against terrorism, fighting terrorism, is not simply about military troops. There's a tendency to focus on that. If you'll look at what we've been doing over a period of many years, in terms of trying to combat terrorism -- our law, our designations, the sanctions, the financial steps that are taken -- there's a lot that can be done in terms of intelligence and information sharing, in terms of cooperation at the law enforcement level, the financial steps that we discuss, diplomatic efforts that can be taken to isolate these terrorists, to cut them off.

And the secretary has said by working as a coalition -- and the coalition takes many different forms, and people in the coalition will have different tasks at different times -- we have a multiplier effect in using each of these tools.

And so I'm sure, in our bilateral relationship with Peru and our discussion broadly about terrorism, we will cooperate and share information on those things, because we've been quite clear -- and certainly in designating certain organizations as foreign terrorist organizations -- that our campaign focuses on al Qaeda right now and the Taliban regime that protects them, but that we will be going after terrorists worldwide, because our goal is to return to a time when we can live in security without the threat of these criminals who perpetrate these types of murders and other crimes against civilians. That is these terrorists, and there are many groups of them everywhere.

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