State Department Noon Briefing, September 20, 2000
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 20, 2000
Briefer: Richard Boucher, Spokesman
Q: Can you confirm that the Iranian Foreign Minister, Mr. Kharazi, was
allowed to travel inside the US territory, outside the UN perimeter in
New York, to attend a conference in L.A. today and in Boston a few
MR. BOUCHER: Yes. We have facilitated contacts by a number of Iranian
officials over the past few years in the United States, aimed at
fostering dialogue, allowing people-to-people discussions between the
US and Iran. The trip by the Foreign Minister is consistent with this
policy, and my understanding is he is going to Boston and around the
US, mostly on college campuses.
Q: And L.A.?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't have L.A. listed here, but my understanding is
L.A., and I'm not sure where else.
Q: But, I mean, you facilitate it? I mean, can you elaborate a little
bit? I mean, you see no problem with the Foreign Minister of Iran
speaking on campuses - several campuses, evidently? There's no ban on
that, is there?
MR. BOUCHER: It's consistent with our people-to-people exchanges, with
our desire to foster a dialogue between the United States and Iranian
people, and so this is completely consistent with what we are doing.
Whether we have to annotate his visa to permit the travel or not, I
would have to check.
Q: Iran. Iranian terrorism, right? You keep saying - and we have no
reason not to believe you - if you ever have a real conversation with
him, that will be one of the things you'll make a point of. But you
also seem to detect some moderate trends in Iran at the same time. Has
this moderation, which not everybody perceives but the State
Department says it is the basis for, has that in any affected their
support for terrorism? Are they toning that down, as far as you know?
MR. BOUCHER: The positive signs that we have seen in Iran - the
election, the support for reform, the movement of changes, overall
evolution of the society - these we've seen as positive trends, which
we want to try to reciprocate in the people-to-people fashion. The
serious issues that divide us remain serious. I'm not sure I can give
you sort of a barometer of ups and downs in the support for terrorism,
but they continue to support groups that engage in terrorism, and we
make that clear every year when we do our terrorism report. That's the
most recent sort of update on where they stand.
I'm not aware of any - I wouldn't characterize the situation as having
changed significantly since we did our last terrorism report.
Q: All right. Because two years ago, before this process began,
American officials, Administration officials, called Iran the chief
sponsor of terrorism in the Middle East. Now, if they're now only the
co-chief sponsor, that would be an improvement.
MR. BOUCHER: Barry, I will refer you to this year's terrorism report
and tell you that I'm not aware that anything has changed since this
year's terrorism report.
Q: On the Iran meeting, do you know if he is the most senior Iranian
official who has been given the permission to -- (inaudible)?
MR. BOUCHER: Permission to travel in the US? I'll have to check on
that. I'll have to see.