24 August 1998
(Terrorist leader must not "rest easy" Richardson says) (510) By Wendy S. Ross USIA Staff Writer Washington -- The United States is working with other governments to get them to freeze assets belonging to terrorist leader Usama bin Ladin, the exiled Saudi millionaire responsible for the August 7 bombings at the US embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam. "This is what the President and Secretary of State are doing, having other nations, where bin Ladin may have some of his assets, also freeze them," Bill Richardson, US Ambassador to the United Nations said August 24 in an interview on ABC's "Good Morning America." President Clinton August 21 order the US Treasury Department to freeze all bin Ladin's assets in the United States, "but what is important" is to get other countries, where bin Ladin may have some of his other assets, to also freeze them, Richardson said. Richardson met in April with members of the Afghanistan Taliban movement and asked them to extradite bin Ladin, who lives in Afghanistan, but they refused to do so. "The Taliban promised me that after they said they would not extradite bin Ladin, that they would contain him, not let him engage in political activities. That didn't happen ... bin Ladin continued to do what he was doing so recklessly. I don't know if we can trust the Taliban to commit themselves. We want to make sure that bin Ladin knows that he should not rest easy," Richardson said. Asked why the administration did not go after bin Ladin before last week, if he was such a threat, Richardson said "this has been a continuous process. We have been building evidence against bin Ladin. We have, with other law enforcement agencies internationally, been trying to squeeze him. This has been a long-range process." Richardson was also asked to comment on the political situation in Russia following the August 23 action by Russian President Boris Yeltsin ousting Prime Minister Sergei Kiriyenko and reinstalling Viktor Chernomyrdin in that position. "First of all," the September 1-2 summit in Moscow between Yeltsin and President Clinton "is on," Richardson said because "we've got a lot of issues" to discuss with Russia. "Secondly, our objective is that Russia continue to commit itself to economic reform, international monetary reform, many other initiatives that President Yeltsin has been committed to. We're not going to get involved in internal Russian politics," he said, noting, however, that President Clinton and Vice President Gore know Chernomyrdin well. Asked if Yeltsin can survive, Richardson said "sure he can. He always rallies. You know, there are turbulent periods in any administration, but he comes back, he rallies, and I think this is another case of some internal changes that he felt he had to make." Richardson began his new job as US Energy Secretary August 24, while continuing in the job as US Ambassador to the UN. President Clinton has announced he intends to nominate Ambassador Richard Holbrooke to succeed Richardson at the UN.