For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
October 15, 2001
Press Briefing by National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, on the APEC Meeting
The James S. Brady Briefing Room
President's Trip to Shanghai for APEC Meeting
Appropriateness for the
President to Attend APEC Meeting
Dr. Rice's Interview with Al Jazeera
Analysts' Evaluation of al Qaeda/bin Laden
Anthrax Situation, Update
Communicating Americans' Efforts to Help Arabs and
Suspicious Mail Received at the White House
Reports of Indian Army Firing Against
1:22 P.M. EDT
DR. RICE: Good afternoon. I'm here to do my traditional
pre-brief of the President's trip. He is, as you know, headed to
Shanghai for a meeting of APEC. And this provides a unique opportunity for
President Bush to meet personally with 20 Pacific Rim leaders, including key
Despite the press of the urgent business that we have in the war against
terrorism, the President feels that this is an extremely important trip and an
extremely important time to take this trip. His objectives are very important
for it. Obviously, he will continue to build the coalition in the war on
terrorism in listing Pacific Rim leaders in his counterterrorism
We've had excellent cooperation from the leaders that he
will meet there, and so this will give him an opportunity to review where we are
and to continue those efforts.
The President also feels strongly -- as you know, it's been a slowing global
economy, and so this is an opportunity to spur, through discussions with key
leaders there, strong economic global recovery and what can be done to do that.
And obviously a part of that is the very important trade agenda that these
leaders share. And, finally, he will have a chance for the long run to
strengthen some of our most important alliances.
He regrets that he will not be able to go on to Beijing, to Tokyo and to Seoul
as had been planned, but he will have bilateral meetings in Shanghai with those
three leaders and with a number of other leaders, as well -- with Singapore,
Malaysia, Peru and Brunai, and also with President Putin of Russia.
Of course, we're going to see our other friends while we're there, as well --
Australia, Philippines, Thailand and the others.
So let me open it up for questions. John.
Q Condi, you said the President wants to go. But is it appropriate for the
President to be leaving on such a long-distance trip at this particular point?
And was there any discussion among his advisors as to whether or not it was
prudent for him to go at this time?
DR. RICE: Well, John, of course, it was discussed. But the President feels very
strongly, as he said to the American people, that we have to go about the
business of doing what makes America strong. And he believes that one of his
most important tasks as President is to work on strengthening our alliances, as
I said, to work on the global economic issues here, to continue to build the
coalition against terrorism. He believes he can do that best by going to APEC.
He will be in constant touch with his advisors here in Washington; in fact,
Secretary Powell, of course, will be with us. And he expects to have frequent
contact with people back here. But he feels it's very important to go ahead and
make this trip.
Q Can I follow up on that and tell us how this trip will help you build your
coalition on terrorism? How much of the trip will be dominated by what's going
on here in the U.S.?
DR. RICE: When the President was first elected, he talked about the importance
of strengthening alliances, of building relationships that you could draw on
when crises came along; that you couldn't simply have relationships in which
you've made the first call when there is a difficult circumstance. And,
fortunately, with all of these leaders, he had built those relationships so that
when September 11th happened he had almost immediate reaction from all of these
Now this will give him an opportunity, face-to-face with some of them, to
continue to talk about what can be done on the war on terrorism. For instance,
with Japan, when Prime Minister Koizumi was here, we talked a lot about the
financial issues, talked a lot about relief efforts. I'm sure he'll want to
continue to talk about those. The Chinese have been very helpful on the
information-sharing side, and we'll want to continue to talk about those
efforts. So it's a whole panoply in what is a very, of course, large-scale and
broad-scale attack on terrorism. And so he'll talk about those issues.
Q If I could follow up, how about with Putin and Chechnya and how that has
DR. RICE: Well, he has a broad agenda, of course, with President Putin. Again,
the President had said that it was time to move beyond the Cold War to a new
relationship with Russia. I think September 11th demonstrated the tremendous
possibilities of that new relationship. We have been in very close discussions
with the Russians; he'll talk with the Russians -- with the Russian President
about the broad agenda, but also, of course, about counterterrorism.
And on Chechnya, the President has been clear that our policies continue to be
concerned about human rights issues, to be concerned about minority rights
issues; but to make certain that we also say to the Chechan leadership that a
political solution is important to this. It is important for legitimate Chechan
leadership to make sure that there are no international terrorists among them.
Q You will be granting an interview, we understand, this afternoon to Al Jazeera.
DR. RICE: That's right.
Q Can you give us some idea how long it will last, when it will it be aired? I
understand you're taping it. And is this part of a new public diplomacy by the
White House? And will the President do one also?
DR. RICE: Well, I'm going to do Al Jazeera; I believe Secretary Powell did last
week, and there are a number of other officials who will. I'm sorry, I don't
remember the details of how long this will be -- I assume 20-30 minutes -- or
when it will air. But we do think it's important that we get our message out to
Arab publics, and we know that this is a network that is very popular with Arab
I hope to be able to talk to the message that the President has been delivering,
that this is a war on terrorism, a war on evil, this is not a war of
civilizations. The President has enormous respect, and all of us do, for Islam,
for a religion that preaches peace, that would never countenance the violent
deaths of innocent people. And I hope to get that word across. So that's why
we're doing it.
Q And is the President contemplating?
DR. RICE: We have not discussed this with the President. I'm going to do it;
Secretary Powell has done it. We'll see what else happens.
Q You asked the networks last week to use careful consideration before
broadcasting the messages that were coming from al Qaeda and from bin Laden. At
the time you said that you had people who were analyzing these for possibly
secret-coded messages. What have the analysts found in --
DR. RICE: The analysts continue to look at these messages, Campbell, and they
are continuing to see what we can learn from them. The point to the networks --
and let me just say that I think the networks have been very responsible in the
way that they have dealt with this -- my message to them was that it's not to me
to judge news value of something like this, but it is to say that there's a
national security concern about an unedited, 15 or 20-minute spew of
anti-American hatred that ends in a call to go out and kill Americans. And I
think that that was fully understood.
We are still concerned about whether there might be some signaling in here, but
I don't have anything more for you on that yet.
Q Any specific phrases, or anything that you're concerned about that you think
may, in fact, be signaling?
DR. RICE: We're doing the analysis. I can't promise you that we'll be able to
talk about what we think may be there, but I can tell you that I don't have
anything for you right now on that.
Q Could you give us the mechanisms here at the White House that you're taking in
reference to these letters that are coming with anthrax? And, also, could you
update us a little bit more on the situation, since that is under the auspices
of national security?
DR. RICE: Well, in fact, it's under the auspices of Tom Ridge and Homeland
Security. We're in constant contact together about it. Let me just repeat that
there are just, so far still, the two confirmed cases of anthrax; several other
strongly suspected cases. I think it's fair to say that we've had unprecedented
cooperation between the CDC, the FBI, local and state officials to try to deal
with these issues.
There also, of course, is concern about this mail that is coming in, and every
case is being taken very seriously, every case is being examined. I'm not going
to talk about security precautions that we take in any particular place. I think
it really isn't good to broadcast what we do, but just to say that, like
everybody else, we're being very cautious about what we open. The American
people ought to be cautious about what they open. There is absolutely no reason
for panic, but if the American people, anyone is suspicious about a package or
letter, then they should get in touch with officials about it.
Q Does this mean now that the United States will sign the new provisions of a
germ warfare-biological warfare treaty, which you have renounced?
DR. RICE: Helen, I think that anyone who really thinks that the biological
weapons protocol as it is currently drafted would stop the likes of people that
we're worried about right now from getting biological weapons would have to
really think twice. We do not believe that the protocol as it currently exists,
that this protocol serves the interests of the United States or anyone else that
is trying to stop the spread of biological weapons.
We're working with our allies to think about ways that we might strengthen the
regime against these weapons, but inspection continues to be a huge problem
because these are easy to hide. That really has not changed.
Q Can I follow up in terms of, do you see any link, any conspiracy in these
anthrax letters, per se? And do you think it comes from outside the nation here,
or -- and also, we negotiated these provisions that you are now rejecting.
DR. RICE: Helen, there has been concern about this particular protocol for some
time. I don't think that the administration made any secret about the fact that
we don't think that this protocol will contribute to the fight against
biological weapons. It is an issue that we take very seriously and we're working
with our allies on measures that might, but the protocol that is currently out
there we do not think would help.
Now, on the issue of whether these are linked, we do not know. And we are
continuing to investigate and we're continuing to try to put the picture
together. I think, as the Vice President said, obviously one has to be
suspicious that there might be some links here. But all that we can do is to
continue to investigate and continue to try to put the pieces together.
Q On a couple of issues; first to follow up on Helen. Is it your assessment that
an anthrax -- the use of anthrax this way would require state sponsorship of
some degree to get to this level? And then, second, the President last week said
he was amazed at the level of hatred that's in the Arab world, and you just said
it's important to reach the Arab public through this popular means.
DR. RICE: Yes.
Q Why isn't the President doing Al Jazeera then? And what will he and you do to
meet that challenge?
DR. RICE: Let's not go to whether he is or is not. At this point, he is not.
There's nothing scheduled at this point. Look, there is a lot of propaganda
about America and America's goals that is out there. And we recognize that we
have to do a better job of countering that propaganda. I think that if the
people in the Arab world were able to see the pictures of these American women,
Christians and Jews, carrying women who take the veil to do their shopping so
that they wouldn't have to be fearful, I think that if word can get out that the
President has asked that American children do something for Afghan children, I
think that if the word can get out to remind people that America has gone --
used force to save the lives of Muslims against Serbs in Kosovo, or to save the
lives of Muslims in Kuwait or in Bosnia, that these are messages that need to
I would caution who -- the notion that all of the Arab world hates us, though.
These demonstrations are still thousands of people in countries where there are
millions of people. And I think that there's a deep wellspring of respect and,
indeed, Americans are liked. So we need to tap into that. There are clearly
extremists who hate America, but we need to tap into, I think, the broad
populations of these countries that have reason to admire and to like Americans.
Q And then on state sponsorship?
DR. RICE: We don't know enough, I think, about these incidents yet to answer
what kind of resources people would have had to have.
Q The weaponized answer?
DR. RICE: I don't think we know very -- oh, to weaponize anthrax?
Q Of the samples that have been taken so far, any evidence that they are weaponized forms of anthrax?
DR. RICE: I think we don't have any evidence of that at this point; but we're
continuing to investigate.
Q Condi, on two of the Asian leaders you'll be meeting. First, in the
Philippines there was discussion that at some point we might send in trainers,
special forces, something like that as sort of the first new front that you
would open up here. Can you tell us a little bit about that?
And for China, the Chinese leadership has already been talking, equating
terrorists with separatists -- Falun Gong, Tibet, hinted Taiwan. Is the
President prepared to address this and what is he going to say?
DR. RICE: It is clearly our job, David, to make certain that we continue to draw
a line in all of our discussions between legitimate dissent or legitimate
movements for the rights of minorities and the fact that there may be
international terrorists in various parts of the world. We've done that in the
situation in Chechnya; we would do that in our discussions with the Chinese.
But we really do believe that people understand that there is a global network
out there, an international network that has cells in so many countries that we
really have to sit down with the leaders of those countries and determine how we
can get them out. And that leads me to the Philippines. That story I think does
not represent the level of thinking in the administration about any such thing.
But what we do want to do, though, is to work with every government in which
there is a substantial al Qaeda presence to figure out a strategy for rooting it
out. Because it's like cutting out a cancer now in 60-plus countries. You've got
to get to these cells and root them out and disrupt them before they strike
again. And we will certainly have that discussion with the Philippine --
Q But you're not planning to send American personnel to the Philippines --
DR. RICE: I'm not going to comment on what we might do. But we will certainly
have this discussion with the Philippine leadership on how we can address the al
Qaeda threat, which clearly is there in the Philippines.
Q On a day when suspicious mail got to the Senate, has there been any
suspicious mail here? Any cause for concern at the White House?
DR. RICE: I really can't comment. Not that I know of. Not that I know of.
Q Your interview with Al Jazeera, last week you asked U.S. broadcast outlets to
be cautious, not to broadcast full statements, propaganda by Osama bin Laden.
And Al Jazeera does this regularly. And it's seen in the U.S. over satellite
networks. Have you made a request of the satellite network, will you make a
request to Al Jazeera not to allow, not to disseminate this hate?
DR. RICE: My understanding is that Al Jazeera, of its own accord, has adopted
some guidelines on how it might use these tapes. Let me be very clear on what it
was that we were discussing. When you have these unedited tapes that are
pre-taped, shipped some place, for 15, 20 minutes, with no commentary, you know,
I think news organizations would be suspicious or skeptical of doing that with
And to do it with groups that are known terrorists, known killers who sit and
use that tape then to incite people to go out and kill Americans, that was the
discussion that we had. It's not an effort to keep information from anybody,
it's just the nature of that particular vehicle.
Q And the satellite channels that rebroadcast Al Jazeera, did you make the
request of them --
DR. RICE: We've not talked to the satellite channels, we've felt that we could
deal with this principally in the way that we have.
Q Dr. Rice, given all the focus on coalition-building and the events on
September 11th, is there still an appetite in your shop with Gary Edson and with
others, is there still an appetite for the economic and trade issues that would
normally dominate an APEC conference? Or aren't they just going to disappear?
DR. RICE: No, we're not going to let them disappear. The President feels very
strongly that he has a responsibility to -- you know that he's thought a lot
about the American economy -- well, the American economy can't be considered in
isolation from the global economy. And, certainly, the issues of global economic
growth, the kinds of discussions that we might have, for instance with Japan,
the importance of trade to global economic growth -- the President is very
devoted to that agenda.
He's going to be talking with people today about trade promotion authority. He
really feels very strongly that that's an agenda that's got to keep going
because, ultimately, stability and the kind of, if you will, quarantine against
some of this will come from a stronger, more prosperous world.
Q If I'm asked about Japan's role in this international coalition, Deputy
Secretary of State Richard Armacost told the Japanese officials to, "show the
flag," meaning the Japanese government should be involved fully in this campaign
Now, Dr. Rice, have you seen the Japanese flag in this coalition, especially
when Prime Minister Koizumi decided to send self-defense forces to provide
logistical support for the U.S. military? And how important is Japan's action in
this campaign in developing long-term strategic relationship between Japan and
the United States?
DR. RICE: Yes, we are gratified by the response that we've gotten from Japan on
the military side, where we recognize that there are important limitations that
Japan imposes on itself, in terms of its constitutional responsibilities, and
that's fine. But Japan has found very important ways to help with logistical
support, with all kinds of support for the military effort. And we're really
gratified by that.
We know that Prime Minister Koizumi has rallied his own nation to support this
Japanese role. And we believe that it will have a long-term benefit to stability
and peace in the Asia-Pacific.
Q You see the Japanese flag, don't you?
DR. RICE: Well, the Japanese flag is alive and well in this coalition. I can't
say that I know where it's showing, but I can tell you that it's extremely
important. We're very pleased with the response.
Q Dr. Rice, when you talk about the need for communication with the Arab world
in terms of American goals and American culture, when the President goes to the APEC meeting, he would have an opportunity to try to
recruit some of these
leaders from that part of the world into that sort of message campaign. Will he
do that? Is that one of his goals?
DR. RICE: It's an excellent point. It's an excellent point, because among the
APEC leaders, of course, are leaders of important Muslim countries. And we do
think that the President is -- that it's important to enlist Muslim leaders not
just in the Middle East, but from around the world, to understand that this is
clearly not a war of religions, not a war with the Muslim world.
These leaders understand the threat of terrorism perhaps even better than we
Americans do. They know that terrorists are after the stability of their
countries as well, these extremists. And so we believe we have common cause with
them and that we can work toward a common understanding.
Q And how --
DR. RICE: I think it will be broad. He'll talk all about this. But as you know,
he's already talked with Ms. Megawati, President Megawati of Indonesia, he's
been on the phone with Mahathir in Malaysia. He's had a lot of contacts in this
Q I just wanted to explore -- forgive me if you've already addressed this -- on
a potential link to bin Laden and these anthrax cases so far. The President, in
a way that was significant, said that there is some possible link, there's no
hard evidence, but a possible link. Can you explain what leads him, you, others,
to believe that link may exist?
DR. RICE: It's simply at this point to not rule it out. Secondly, just
circumstantially one has to worry that there may be some sort of link because of
the timing here. There isn't any hard evidence of a link of any kind, but we
don't want to be blind to that link; it would be hard to be blind to that link,
given what happened on September 11th, but there isn't any hard evidence at this
Q Can I just ask, following when the President was asked in the Rose Garden, if
you have anything to say about reports of the Indian army firing against
Pakistani positions across the cease-fire line? And then I have another --
DR. RICE: We've just seen the reports of this. As you know, Secretary Powell is
actually in Islamabad and he's there with the express purpose, both in Islamabad
and in Delhi, to talk with and to counsel with the leaders of Pakistan and India
on the importance of stability in the zone of control, importance of not having
a flair up in Kashmir.
I can tell you that there were quite a few phone calls over the weekend -- a
weekend ago, not this past weekend, but the weekend before -- concerning this
issue. As we got ready to get ready for military action, the President talked to
Prime Minister Vajpayee. He, of course, talked to President Musharraf. Colin
Powell also talked to both. I talked to my counterparts. There's been a lot of
back-and-forth. I think we'll have to go and see what's actually happening here;
the reports are pretty preliminary. But there is a lot of diplomatic
infrastructure in place to try to damp this down.
Q Can I follow up?
DR. RICE: Sorry, the President is about to speak. I do not want to get in his
way. Thanks a lot.
1:47 P.M. EDT