28 August 2002

U.S. Says Iran Should Not Offer Safe Haven for Terrorists

Boucher comments on news reports of al Qaeda in Iran

Department of State spokesman Richard Boucher said August 28 that Iran should not offer safe haven for terrorists.

At the State Department briefing in Washington, Boucher responded to news stories claiming senior al Qaeda members were being sheltered in Iran.

Boucher made clear that the U.S. is willing to cooperate with Iran when it is in the national interest to do so, but he also emphasized that no nation, including Iran, should shelter terrorists.

Following is an excerpt of Boucherís remarks on Iran:

QUESTION: Richard, anything on a report that Iran may be sheltering al-Qaida, senior al-Qaida people?

MR. BOUCHER: These sort of reports have come up from time to time. In fact, I think we ourselves have talked about them. We have certainly made clear our views about Iran's behavior in any number of areas in terms of its opposition to Middle East peace, its ties with terrorist groups, its human rights record and a number of other areas. So, but we've also made clear we're willing to cooperate with Iran when it's in our interest to do so. And we at times criticize — the Secretary, I remember, criticized some of the actions that they had taken with regard to Western Afghanistan and people coming out of there.

I guess so what I would say, I think I remember fairly recently that Secretary Rumsfeld said there was some presence of al-Qaida members who had made their way into Afghanistan. What is clear to us from a policy point of view is, as the President has made absolutely clear, that no nation should be offering any harbor or safe haven for terrorists, and we would expect Iran not to offer any safe haven.

QUESTION: Do you have anything specific on these individuals that were mentioned in the report?

MR. BOUCHER: No, I wouldn't be able to get into any details about what we may or may not know through intelligence.

QUESTION: Nor whether Iran is or isn't sheltering, just saying that they shouldn't?

MR. BOUCHER: Yeah, and I'd have to say what the policy point of view is. I'm not able to go farther than that.

QUESTION: But you'd agree with Rumsfeld?

MR. BOUCHER: I'd agree with Rumsfeld that, yes, there have been al-Qaida members who have made their way into Iran and that our view is that Iran should not provide any safe haven.

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