State Department Noon Briefing, October 18, 2000
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 18, 2000 1:45 P.M.
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
Q: Ambassador Bodine was telling reporters last night that there has
been some significant developments in the Cole investigation. Do you
know what they are? Can you shed light on that?
MR. REEKER: I don't think I can add much. I mean, I have seen
transcripts. I have seen Ambassador Bodine, our Ambassador in Yemen,
on some of the television shows discussing this. As my colleague,
Admiral Quigley at the Pentagon said yesterday, we're not going to
comment specifically on aspects of the criminal investigation while it
is under way, and I'm not going to speculate certainly on the big
question of who may have been responsible for the explosion. That is
obviously what the investigation wants to pinpoint.
I can say -- and I think this reflects, or is reflected very much by
what Ambassador Bodine has said -- that the investigation into the
explosion of the USS Cole is proceeding very well, with continued good
full cooperation by the Government of Yemen. The interagency team that
was dispatched to Yemen last Thursday when this event took place
remains on the ground -- or, in fact, on ships in some cases -- in
Aden. It includes investigators and medical technicians,
communications experts, and certainly a robust force protection
I think we may have talked a little bit at the end of the week about
the Foreign Emergency Support Team, or FEST, which is the State-led
interagency group of experts that can be deployed rapidly -- in this
case was deployed rapidly to Yemen -- to assist US and host nation
authorities in a wide range of specialized skills not normally
available on the scene, and particularly in the aftermath of a
possible terrorist incident.
So we have been working very closely with the Yemenis, have
appreciated that coordination and the support that they have been
providing us. Obviously, as other departments have noted, senior
officials are being kept apprised of this, and so I'm just not in a
position to go into any more details of the investigation.
Q: Well, can you at least say whether you got some solid leads yet, or
are you still at square one?
MR. REEKER: Again, I think I have to say that the investigation has
moved forward very quickly. This is less than a week since this tragic
incident occurred. But I'm just not going to be able to get into
day-by-day readouts of this. It wouldn't be appropriate or prudent. It
is an ongoing criminal investigation. The FBI obviously will have the
lead of that criminal investigation, and we will certainly be paying
close attention and watching for what information does emerge when it
is determined that that information is appropriate to provide
Q: Did the Secretary discuss the investigation? Apparently there has
been some -- I know you don't want to go into the investigation, but
there has been some claims that some of the people that could be
responsible are of Saudi descent. And has the Secretary talked about
the investigation during her meetings in Saudi Arabia?
MR. REEKER: I'm just -- I am not aware. She did, as we discussed, have
meetings in Saudi Arabia. I just don't have anything beyond some of
the press reports I have seen suggesting these things. I have no
details on that.
In terms of the Secretary's meetings in Saudi Arabia, she arrived
there yesterday and met with King Fahd, coming directly from Sharm
el-Sheikh. Later then in the evening, she had meetings with the Saudi
Crown Prince and the Foreign Minister. And then this morning, she met
with Syrian President Bashar Asad for about two hours and 15 minutes,
I am told, before she and her party departed to return to Washington.
(The briefing was concluded at 2:35 p.m.)