Albright Comments on Mideast Turmoil

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE Office of the Spokesman October 12, 2000 PRESS BRIEFING BY SECRETARY OF STATE MADELEINE K. ALBRIGHT Q: Madame Secretary, please, on the ramming of the Navy ship; is there any knowledge, any information of who may have done it? Has anybody claimed responsibility? And in a larger sense, is the U.S. under some sort of calculated attack because of its support for Israel? Is the U.S. at large now being targeted, U.S. citizens and such, because of the stand it has taken in the Middle East conflict? SEC. ALBRIGHT: Well, first of all, let me say that we are in the process of investigating the facts on what happened to the Cole. I had a conversation about an hour ago with the president of Yemen, and they are being very cooperative in the investigative process. The president of Yemen told me that he had been to the hospital to visit the casualties, and obviously he offered his condolences And we will continue to investigate this, and as far as I know, Barry, nobody has claimed anything. And there is -- as I said, if it appears to be an act of terrorism, we will pursue it and hold those accountable. But we have not heard anything more beyond the investigative aspect of this, and we are going to be sending some teams in and doing everything we can. On the second part of the question, I think that there clearly, we have been concerned for some time about what is happening and threats of terrorism. We've talked about that for a long time. It's one of the priority issues of this administration, is to deal with that problem. We have taken a variety of steps to ensure that our diplomats are secure, and the ambassadors on the ground are the ones that are going to be making that decision. I think -- as to how to deal with their own diplomats and the Americans that are in each respective country. I think we're in a very sad and difficult period. We have all spent a great deal of time on the peace process and have believed that it's an important endeavor, and we will continue to do everything we can. The president and I are deeply involved and will continue pursue the peace process. But what has to happen is we have to get the violence to stop. There has to be a cease-fire and there has to be a road back to the negotiating table. Q: Thank you. MR. BOUCHER: Let's go to Barbara. Q: Madame Secretary, I was reading the description of Yemen in our latest terrorist report, and I'm wondering why this country was ever taken off the terrorist list when there are groups like the Islamic Jihad; Hamas has an office there; Palestinian Islamic Jihad -- all of these apparently still have a presence there. Osama bin Laden has a presence there. Why was this country removed or not put back on the list of terrorist-sponsoring states when a country like North Korea, which has no terrorists, as far as I know, is still on the list? SEC. ALBRIGHT: Well, as you know, we're very careful in determining how that list is put together. And there are a variety of considerations in it, and we obviously felt that there was a reason to. But I think that we first have to be very careful here to make an assessment of the facts. And I think it's very important that we know what happened and where it was caused. And we obviously will keep looking at the situation. MR. BOUCHER: Let's go to Andrea. Q: Madame Secretary, I'd like to pick up on Barry's question. Could you please share with us whether or not you have a heightened concern, greater concern, after this latest attack in Yemen, not just about anti-Israeli sentiment within the Arab world, but anti-American sentiment, and whether or not you think it's appropriate to renew that embassy closing that you had initiated last week. SEC. ALBRIGHT: Well, first of all, I really caution you all not to jump to conclusions here. We have, ourselves, been talking about it all morning, and the investigation is going on. And I just think it's important -- you know, it's a great tragedy that four Americans died and that 30 are injured -- I think there are two Yemeni nationals among those -- and it is a great tragedy. And we are obviously doing everything that we can. And as I said, if it does appear -- if it is a terrorist attack, we obviously will take appropriate steps. But I just urge a little bit of caution. On the second point, I think, you know, the answer is yes, obviously, there are demonstrations going on in a variety of places. We are watching everything very carefully. And the -- we are, I believe, taking the responsible action as far as our embassies are concerned. Everybody -- we're all in contact, and people are very watchful. But let me just say this: The United States is not going to stop doing what we have to do. We have responsibilities. We have national interests. We all -- we are operating in a world that is filled with a variety of threats, but that doesn't mean that we can crawl into an ostrich-like mode. We are eagles, and I think that it is very important that the United States stay involved, that we understand the threats. And we will continue to do what we have to do.