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State Department Says South Asia Has Become Safe Haven for Terror Networks

Aired May 1, 2000 - 1:05 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: The U.S. State Department says terrorism remains a clear and present danger, but the Middle East is no longer the primary hotbed. In its annual report, the State Department says South Asia is the new safe haven for the world's most fearsome terror networks.

Nevertheless, the department's top-seven list of nations said to sponsor international terrorism is unchanged from years past. The list includes Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, Sudan, and Syria. Pakistan and Afghanistan, though, singled out for special criticism, did not make the list.

And joining us now with more on that is CNN State Department correspondent Andrea Koppel -- Andrea.

ANDREA KOPPEL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Natalie, there is a simple reason why Afghanistan was not No. 8 on that state-sponsor list, and the reason is that the U.S. doesn't recognize the Taliban militia to be the legitimate government in Afghanistan. However, there have been United Nations sanctions in place against Afghanistan since late last year.

With Pakistan, it's a much more delicate situation. On the one hand, the U.S. sees Pakistan as one of its close allies, a key player in curbing violence in Kashmir, which is at its highest pitch in years, and in putting pressure on neighboring Afghanistan to expel Osama bin Laden and to shut down terrorist camps in Afghanistan.

But on the other hand, the U.S. says that Pakistan, the Pakistani government, has close links to some independent extremists, Islamic extremist groups, which are fighting for control of Pakistan. In fact, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said today that the greatest challenge for the U.S. right now is not state sponsorship of terrorism but rather nonstate actors.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MADELEINE ALBRIGHT, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: We're detecting a shift from state funding to private sponsorship in criminal enterprises, such as blackmail, and trafficking in drugs, guns, and even human beings.

(END VIDEO CLIP) KOPPEL: U.S. Officials acknowledged that dealing with some of these independent extremist groups pose a big challenge for them, specifically because there isn't a direct organizational group. These cells are spread out across the world in many instances. And as a result, the U.S. says, it has to rely, in many instances, on governments, on local police in countries around the world.

Reporting live, I'm Andrea Koppel, CNN, at the State Department.

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