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Press Statement by James B. Foley, Deputy Spokesman
February 1, 2000

Caspian: Erroneous Press Story

On January 23, an organization identified as WorldCom News published a report alleging that United States Ambassador to the European Union Richard L. Morningstar told an audience at Columbia University on January 21 that the United States Government may need to revise its strategy with respect to the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline in the Caspian Sea region. The article carries several direct quotes attributed to Ambassador Morningstar.

The story is baseless. As Ambassador Morningstar noted in a January 28, 2000 press release from the U.S. Mission to the European Union in Brussels, he was not in New York during the week the alleged comments were made, did not make a speech at Columbia University or anywhere else in New York, and does not agree with the comments attributed to him. We therefore conclude that the article is an intentional fabrication. We understand that Columbia University has posted a similar denial on its webpage.

It remains the policy of the United States to work collaboratively with the relevant companies and countries of the Caspian Sea region to realize the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan main export pipeline for oil as expeditiously as possible, with a target completion date of 2004.

[end of document]

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