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This transcript is produced from the teletext subtitles that are generated live for Newsnight. It has been checked against the programme as broadcast, however Newsnight can accept no responsibility for any factual inaccuracies. We will be happy to correct serious errors.

State Department spokesman Ambassador Boucher 3/10/01

AMBASSADOR RICHARD BOUCHER:
US DEPARTMENT OF STATE
I think we've seen quite a strong commitment from them as well as from others in the region. The most important thing about this coalition is that we're obviously together in this with our allies, but there are a great number of Muslim countries, countries in central Asia and the Persian Gulf, in the Middle East that are with us as well and they understand that terrorism is a threat to us all. So it's a very strong coalition. There are obviously a lot of things we have to do and Secretary Rumsfeld is helping in that work.

JEREMY PAXMAN:
Is he showing them the evidence on which you base your suspicions that Bin Laden was behind this attack?

BOUCHER:
We've done a lot of briefing through our ambassadors this week. We've sent out information for our ambassadors to share with foreign governments. Most of that ground work has been done by our embassies. To the extent that it comes up, he will be able to share what he knows.

PAXMAN:
How can a country like Saudi Arabia have any doubts?

BOUCHER:
I think that's a good question, because many countries have been conducting their own investigations. Many countries have been rolling up networks, finding operatives and looking into the circumstances of this attack. You've seen many people, including your own Prime Minister, Mr Blair, who said that they themselves have reached this conclusion that al-Qaida was involved.

PAXMAN:
The Saudis say they don't want you to use their air bases for attacks. Would you like to be able to use them?

BOUCHER:
You are asking theoretical questions. What has happened with the Saudis is we've worked through a number of issues with them. We have been able to get resolution and a positive response on all the issues that we asked them about. To this point, whatever we have asked, they have been able to agree to, so things are going quite well.

PAXMAN:
So you haven't asked them if you can use the air bases for attacks?

BOUCHER:
We have tried to avoid specifying who we have asked to do what at which point, but the co-operation with the Saudis has been excellent. There will be more things to do in the future and I'm sure it will continue to be excellent.

PAXMAN:
In an ideal world, would you like to be able to use those air bases?

BOUCHER:
You are asking me to speculate or to say what individual countries might be asked to do. It will be up to individual governments and countries to say what they're able to do. We will work with everybody and where we need to ask for something, we'll ask, and in this case we've gotten everything we've asked for.

PAXMAN:
How long ago was this trip of Mr Rumsfeld's organised?

BOUCHER:
Frankly, I don't know because I'm over here at the State Department, and he's travelling from the Defence Department so I'm not really responsible for the trip.

PAXMAN:
It is clear that in many of these countries in the region, the question of some sort of peace settlement between Israel and the Palestinians is important, yes?

BOUCHER:
Yes, it is. It's something that they care about and we know that. Since this administration began, we have said we want to look at the whole region. We understood these issues were matters of importance to many of our partners in other areas. That's true in this case as well. We were working very hard on the Middle East peace process before September 11th and we are continuing to work very hard on the Middle East peace process.

PAXMAN:
Why isn't Mr Rumsfeld going to Israel then?

BOUCHER:
He's not the diplomat who handles the Middle East peace process. He's working on his issues in the place where he needs to handle them.

PAXMAN:
From where you sit as a diplomat, when Israel says it is fighting a war against terrorism, do you agree?

BOUCHER:
We know there has been terrorism against Israel, and we work closely with Israel, who's a good friend and partner, to try to help them.

PAXMAN:
Does it seem to you a war against terrorism?

BOUCHER:
They've suffered from violence or terrorism. What we've done in the region is try to make it possible for Israelis and Palestinians to be able to lead peaceful safe lives. That's what they all want in the region. We've done everything we can to try to help them get it.

PAXMAN:
So when the Israelis say to you, please extend this war against terror to include Hamas and Islamic Jihad, you are disposed to go along with them, are you?

BOUCHER:
Hamas and Islamic Jihad, and Hezbollah for that matter, are all on our list of terrorist organisations. They are all subject to various restrictions and sanctions of various kinds from the USA. These are groups that we recognise as terrorist groups and we do what we can against them.

PAXMAN:
Was the response of the Israelis to the latest outrage in Israel, involving the use of tanks, was that proportionate and appropriate?

BOUCHER:
I think we are troubled by the violence. It's very important both sides exercise restraint. It's very important that the Palestinian side prevent attacks, that they arrest people who might be planning and conducting attacks, so that we don't see these kind of incidents and provocations.

PAXMAN:
How concerned are you about the possible impact upon the coalition of continuing violence in Israel and the occupied territories?

BOUCHER:
The continuation of violence in the occupied territories is of concern. We don't want violence there. People should not have to live this way. Palestinians should be able to see the restrictions on their movement removed. Israelis should be able to live safely. We've made it quite clear that these are important in their own right and they are important for us to continue pursuing.

PAXMAN:
They are important in their own right and they are particularly important in the diplomatic context in which we find ourselves, aren't they?

BOUCHER:
There is a relationship between all these issues and many of the people we're working with in the coalition want to know that we continue to care about resolving the issues between Israelis and Palestinians. We are continuing to do that work, because it's important.

PAXMAN:
Why isn't Israel an appropriate member of the coalition?

BOUCHER:
Around the world there are many countries fighting terrorism. This particular situation, where we're going first and foremost after the al-Qaida organisation, we need a great many countries to act in different ways and to each do their part. Some countries will give rhetorical support, some countries will act on finance, some will act on network, and some may be acting militarily. So a great many governments and countries are involved in this. It's a coalition with a small "c", not a big "c". It's not an organisation. It's countries acting together to fight a threat to us all.


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