USIS Washington 

24 August 1998


(Terrorist leader must not "rest easy" Richardson says) (510)

By Wendy S. Ross

USIA Staff Writer

Washington -- The United States is working with other governments to
get them to freeze assets belonging to terrorist leader Usama bin
Ladin, the exiled Saudi millionaire responsible for the August 7
bombings at the US embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam.

"This is what the President and Secretary of State are doing, having
other nations, where bin Ladin may have some of his assets, also
freeze them," Bill Richardson, US Ambassador to the United Nations
said August 24 in an interview on ABC's "Good Morning America."

President Clinton August 21 order the US Treasury Department to freeze
all bin Ladin's assets in the United States, "but what is important"
is to get other countries, where bin Ladin may have some of his other
assets, to also freeze them, Richardson said.

Richardson met in April with members of the Afghanistan Taliban
movement and asked them to extradite bin Ladin, who lives in
Afghanistan, but they refused to do so.

"The Taliban promised me that after they said they would not extradite
bin Ladin, that they would contain him, not let him engage in
political activities. That didn't happen ... bin Ladin continued to do
what he was doing so recklessly. I don't know if we can trust the
Taliban to commit themselves. We want to make sure that bin Ladin
knows that he should not rest easy," Richardson said.

Asked why the administration did not go after bin Ladin before last
week, if he was such a threat, Richardson said "this has been a
continuous process. We have been building evidence against bin Ladin.
We have, with other law enforcement agencies internationally, been
trying to squeeze him. This has been a long-range process."

Richardson was also asked to comment on the political situation in
Russia following the August 23 action by Russian President Boris
Yeltsin ousting Prime Minister Sergei Kiriyenko and reinstalling
Viktor Chernomyrdin in that position.

"First of all," the September 1-2 summit in Moscow between Yeltsin and
President Clinton "is on," Richardson said because "we've got a lot of
issues" to discuss with Russia.

"Secondly, our objective is that Russia continue to commit itself to
economic reform, international monetary reform, many other initiatives
that President Yeltsin has been committed to. We're not going to get
involved in internal Russian politics," he said, noting, however, that
President Clinton and Vice President Gore know Chernomyrdin well.

Asked if Yeltsin can survive, Richardson said "sure he can. He always
rallies. You know, there are turbulent periods in any administration,
but he comes back, he rallies, and I think this is another case of
some internal changes that he felt he had to make."

Richardson began his new job as US Energy Secretary August 24, while
continuing in the job as US Ambassador to the UN. President Clinton
has announced he intends to nominate Ambassador Richard Holbrooke to
succeed Richardson at the UN.