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U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING Briefer: Philip T. Reeker, Deputy Spokesman THURSDAY, AUGUST 17, 2000, 1:43 P.M. (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED) QUESTION: Do you have any requests from the Russians regarding the sub yet? Where do things stand? MR. REEKER: As I was coming out, my good friend, Admiral Quigley, was briefing at the Pentagon on that very subject and I would refer you generally to the Pentagon as having the most up-to-date information on that. But let me tell you what I did have. Obviously, as Admiral Quigley indicated, we are continuing to follow the situation very closely. This is clearly a great tragedy and we are not going to just look away until we see what happens there. Rescue attempts are reportedly continuing and I understand from the media reports that weather conditions and strong currents and poor visibility at those depths are causing difficulties. I believe some Russian officials have reported the situation as extremely desperate. We are in close contact with the British and Norwegian governments who have informed us that sub rescue efforts are moving toward the area where the submarine, the Kursk, went down. I would want to refer you to those governments for the details of that. I think, as we discussed a bit yesterday, over at the Pentagon, NATO as well as some individual NATO countries, like the UK and Norway, have been in touch with Russia with offers of assistance if the Russians could follow up. We, as we talked earlier in the week, also offered assistance and the President in a phone call with President Putin reiterated our offer of assistance should they need that. I'm not aware at this point that they've taken up specific offers from us. But, as I indicated, I think the UK and Norway were working with them on sending some assets up there. QUESTION: You moved a little bit into the Russian submarine problem which opens the door to other questions, because State seems to be tracking this. You say that the US offered help. Did the US wait for Russia to be open to help before offering help? And was that an approach that the US thinks maybe was not too wise to hold off for days and depend on their own, apparently unsuccessfully, depend on their own facilities. Because everybody else was willing to and I'm sure that the US would have been happy to do what it could, but everybody waited for Russia to say, please help us. Is that true of the US as well? MR. REEKER: If you - maybe you weren't here earlier in the week, Barry, but I think it was Monday when the reports of this accident first came out that we had offered assistance. I believe it was National Security Advisor Berger who in a pre-scheduled phone call with his counterpart Sergei Ivanov, offered help, and at that time, we had thanks and appreciation for our offers. The Russians were looking at what steps might be taken. We've reiterated those offers ourselves through NATO, with allies. And as I indicated, the President of the United States, in his phone call with the President of Russia, also reiterated our concern, and if there was anything we could do to help, we might offer, so that has been out there. (The briefing concluded at 2:08 p.m.)