State Dept. Daily Press Briefing June 3, 2005
Daily Press Briefing
Sean McCormack, Spokesman
June 3, 2005
Sec. Rice: Farewell to Richard Boucher, former Spokesman;
Introduction of Sean McCormack, Spokesman/ Richard Boucher: Thank You
Trafficking in Persons Report (TIP)/ Ambassador Dobriansky meeting
with Ambassadors/ Sanctions/ Tier 3 allies/ Ambassador Miller
Sec. Rice Attendance at Organization of American States (OAS)
Summit in Ft. Lauderdale/ Aid to Fragile Democracies/
Inter-American Democratic Charter
Sec. Rice Meeting with Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar/
Tsunami Reconstruction/ Violence
Warden Message/ Specific Threat/ Travel Warning/ Security Measures
at Embassy/ Hotels
Killing of Journalist Samir Kassir/ Investigation/ Sec. Meetings
with Zebari and Makabi
SCUD Missile Test/ Weapons of Mass Destruction/ Out of Step with Region
Response to TIP report/ Possibility of Sanctions
Record on International Religious Freedom / Country of Particular
Six Party Talks/ Food Aid
Dep. Sec. Zoellick's Trip/ Kartoum/ Darfur/ African Union Mission/ Security
Prime Minister Tony Blair Meeting with President Bush/ G8 Summit/
Ambassador to Iraq/ Ambassador Khalilzad / Embassy of Baghdad/
Security/ US Support of Iraqi People and Government / Iraqi Process
OAS Summit/ Assistance
Missing American Natalee Hardaway /FBI Assistance
State of Relations / Cyprus
2:15 p.m. EDT
MR. MCCORMACK: Under any circumstance, the Secretary of State is a hard act to follow and, well, for that matter, so is Richard Boucher. So why don't I just jump right into questions. I don't have anything to start with.
QUESTION: I have no questions. I just want to say congratulations on your confirmation and your swearing-in and I hope you have a long
QUESTION: Please speak up, George.
QUESTION: I wanted to congratulate Sean at the outset on his confirmation and his swearing-in and I'm sure we'll have a long and productive and sometimes contentious time together.
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, I very much look forward to working with you and all of your colleagues in the State Department press corps. You serve an important function in our form of government and our way of life and I think it's an example for the entire world, you know, the Spokesman of the State Department standing up here and taking questions from a free and responsible press and trying to provide the best, most timely information that we can. So I look forward to working with you over the coming period.
QUESTION: Ah, flattery.
MR. MCCORMACK: Will it get me everywhere?
QUESTION: I have a question. I realize we've already had a briefing on the trafficking report.
MR. MCCORMACK: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: Have you has the government, the U.S. Government, gotten any reaction from any of the countries that were put in Tier 3 for the first time, notably the Saudis, the Kuwaitis, the UAE, Qatar? Are they dismayed about this? Have they given any strong signals that they're going to try to act fast to do something about it?
MR. MCCORMACK: I'll try to get for you any information that we might have on specific reactions, but in general, I would note that Undersecretary Paula Dobriansky is this afternoon I don't know if she's already met with them or not meeting with about a hundred ambassadors here in Washington to talk about the Trafficking in Persons Report. And included in that number are a number of Tier 3 countries and I would note that we have already had some consultations with some of the countries that appear in Tier 3. Our ambassadors went in and talked to the foreign ministries about the report. I would note that I think Ambassador Miller talked about this, that one country I believe Bolivia has already acted on some of the issues raised by the report.
So if there's anything further with respect to on those four, I'll let you know.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah.
QUESTION: Regarding those four, how serious is the threat of sanction? Does the administration believe that that is a real weapon that can be used? Is it the threat of sanctions that you hope, because of the reputational impact, would have some effect on their behavior? And particularly with the Saudis, since they have gotten worse, not better.
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, if
QUESTION: Worse through this whole process.
MR. MCCORMACK: Right. As you know, and you heard in your briefing today, sanctions, you know, that is one possibility here. But the overall intent of the lives, it's this is meant to foster a dialogue and discussion about this issue. There's a 90-day period in which we will have a dialogue with the countries that are on Tier 3 and the hope is that we can address some of the issues raised by the report and that, as a result of that dialogue, that you actually take effective action in response to some of the issues that are raised by the report.
I mentioned to Arshad one of the countries, Bolivia, has already taken some steps and I think that that is a model for the kind of cooperative dialogue on these kinds of issues that is envisioned not only by the law, but by, you know, our application of the law.
QUESTION: May I follow up?
MR. MCCORMACK: Sure.
QUESTION: How do you weigh the balance of benefits and risks with four countries, in this case, that are key allies in the war on terror and key components of our military operation in that region?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, in any relationship, in any sort of deep, involved relationship like we have with a number of these different countries, including Saudi Arabia and including Qatar, as you mentioned they are allies in the war on terror, as well as others that are in the report oftentimes you have to bring up difficult issues. And as the President has talked about before, as the Secretary has talked about before, we're not going to hesitate to bring up these issues with those countries. It's important that the President believes it's important that we speak out clearly on these issues. This is an important moral issue of our time.
I think Ambassador Miller talked about how this trafficking in persons was the modern-day equivalent of slavery, and both the Secretary and the President are committed to abolishing this. Part of that effort is to speak clearly about the problem in an objective manner using the criteria laid out by the law. The second part to that is to work with these countries to try to address, in a real way, some of these issues and to end the practices that are cited in the report.
Why don't we move back here.
QUESTION: Sean, congratulations and welcome aboard.
MR. MCCORMACK: Thank you very much.
QUESTION: I have a question. On Tuesday, there was a meeting between the Council of Arab Ambassadors in Washington with the Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Mr. Welch, in which they say the Deputy Ambassador was included. Is that an indication that maybe we're heading towards a lowering of diplomatic relations with Syria?
MR. MCCORMACK: I'm not up on that meeting. Let me look into it. And if there's anything that we have to add, we'll get back to you.
MR. MCCORMACK: Okay. Saul.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) the Secretary's with the Sri Lankan Foreign Minister this morning. Can you do a readout from that for us, please?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, if you put it that way. (Laughter.)
Secretary Rice and Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Kadirgamar had a good meeting today. They met this morning up in the Secretary's office. It was the Foreign Minister and just a couple of his aides and the Secretary and a couple of her aides. They talked about bilateral issues of mutual interest, including tsunami reconstruction assistance and the need for arrangements to assure its equitable distribution. The Secretary recognized and applauded Sri Lanka's commitment to democracy.
QUESTION: How about issues of the general war on terrorism, given that they've got their own problems with the Tamils? Is that something that Rice reiterated that she would be giving support to, to the mediating process done by Norway?
MR. MCCORMACK: I don't believe that came up in the meeting, but let me check for you.
QUESTION: But on the you said equitable distribution for the tsunami aid. Do you have a reason to believe that it is being inequitably distributed, the tsunami aid in Sri Lanka?
MR. MCCORMACK: No, we don't. As a matter of fact, the Secretary and the Foreign Minister had a good talk about this. They talked about how we have moved from the immediate relief phase into, really, the reconstruction phase and how the importance of working with all the various groups in establishing the mechanisms with the NGOs and the governments and other foreign governments that are involved in the reconstruction process, and make sure that it's a coordinated process. And I think both of them were comfortable with the progress thus far in making sure that those reconstruction funds are spent in an equitable manner.
QUESTION: Great. So you don't have concerns, for example, that the Tamil population is getting less than its due?
MR. MCCORMACK: I'm not aware of any concerns along those lines.
In the back, Teri.
QUESTION: Change of subject?
MR. MCCORMACK: Sure.
QUESTION: Can you talk about concerns in Indonesia, the Warden Message put out today, and the fact that the missions are remaining open despite the threat to hotels?
MR. MCCORMACK: As you noted, we did issue a Warden Message in Indonesia. This was in response to a credible and specific information that talked about hotels specifically, so we thought this was and is an appropriate step to issue this message. And because it was the information was specific, we decided that it was most appropriate to issue a Warden Message as opposed to making any changes to the Travel Warning at this time.
QUESTION: The Warden Message said that the plans were as of June 1st. Does the fact that you only put the Warden Message out on June 3rd indicate that the threat remains at at least a constant level?
MR. MCCORMACK: I believe that the Warden Message is still operative and I'll check to see if there's any action that we would take to notify people that the actual threat had ended. I don't know the
QUESTION: Yeah, it's unusual just that they would say that two days ago there was this threat and we're notifying you today.
MR. CASEY: Effective as of June 1, meaning ongoing.
MR. MCCORMACK: Sure, let's move around. Peter.
QUESTION: Can we stay on this?
MR. MCCORMACK: Oh, okay.
QUESTION: I don't mean to nitpick, but if you're saying the reason for only doing a Warden Message, not a Travel Warning, is that it was very specific to hotels, wouldn't a Warden Message just go to Americans whom you have contacts with who you know are already in the country and the Travel Warning would be for the people who would be visiting and wanting to go to hotels and therefore might be victims to the targeted hotels?
MR. MCCORMACK: The Embassy, working with the Consular Affairs people back here in Washington, felt, based on the information that they have and which I can't go into any more than I have, this was the most appropriate step to take.
Peter. Any other on this subject?
QUESTION: Just one more. Despite the fact that it seemed very specific, have there been any measures taken by Indonesian local security forces to shore up U.S. missions?
MR. MCCORMACK: In these cases, typically, the embassy does work with the local officials but I'm not aware of any specific measures that they may have taken.
QUESTION: Syria. The killing of the journalist the other day. Do you have any more information on it indicating who might be behind it? And is the United States, as it did in the killing of Hariri, going to be asking for an international or an independent investigation?
MR. MCCORMACK: The Secretary did address this yesterday in her remarks with Minister Zebari and I don't have I really don't have at this point anything to add to those remarks. I don't have any further information on the question of who.
She noted the fact that it would appear that these were efforts by individuals who were attempting to intimidate the population at a time when they're holding elections. At this point, I think that, again, I would reiterate what the Secretary said, and she urged Prime Minister Mikati to follow through in a real way on his pledge to investigate and ultimately hold accountable those responsible for this, for this act.
QUESTION: Is there a point that you might be seeking in independent or outside investigation or you're holding that in abeyance or is that a possibility?
MR. BOUCHER: I think at this point, I would just stick with what the Secretary said.
QUESTION: Also on Syria. Welcome, Sean.
MR. MCCORMACK: Thank you very much.
QUESTION: Do you know if there's been any contact between the Department and Syria either on the killing of Samir Kassir or about the scud missile test by Syria last week? Scott confirmed that the U.S. knew about the test, but has there been any dialogue on that? And then I have a question on a separate subject.
MR. MCCORMACK: Okay. Thanks for the warning. On both of those questions, in terms of contact with the Syrian Government, I'm not aware of any.
On the Syrian missile test, as Scott indicated, we have information that indicates that it did occur. And I would just add that it's one more example of Syria being out of step with what's going on in the rest of the region. You have Lebanon on one side, Iraq on the other, and the populations of those countries are focused on trying to build the institutions political, economic, security that form the foundation for a more free, prosperous country as well as region. So it's just one more example of the fact that they're out of step with what else is going on in the region.
QUESTION: One more on this, okay?
MR. MCCORMACK: Sure.
QUESTION: Do you know anything about whether these missiles or any of the technology related to the missiles were supplied by North Korea?
MR. MCCORMACK: I don't have any information I could share with you on that.
QUESTION: One last follow-up on (inaudible) in principle Syria is a sovereign country, should it not test missiles of any kind as long as it's not illegal?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, again, we have long talked about our concerns of Syria's efforts to develop and acquire weapons of mass destruction as well as the means of delivering them. That's you know, that's not a new message. I just think that this type of step is, when you look at the rest of what's going on in the region and the efforts that people are taking to try to develop a more peaceful, a more stable, more harmonious region, it's just a discordant note and that's the reason why I wanted to point that out to you.
QUESTION: New topic?
MR. MCCORMACK: Mm-hmm. Anybody else on Syria?
QUESTION: Can you take a question on whether there's been any contacts today between seems a lot going on in the U.S.-Syria front. Like, if anybody spoke to anybody?
MR. MCCORMACK: Sure, sure.
QUESTION: And Sean, when you said you had indications that the test went ahead, do you have indications that the missile actually went into Turkish territory?
MR. MCCORMACK: That I don't have anything for you on that.
QUESTION: On Saudi Arabia, last September, the U.S. designated Saudi Arabia a Country of Particular Concern about religious freedom. Has there been any decision taken so far to impose sanctions on Saudi Arabia? And I think I'm going to follow up.
MR. MCCORMACK: Oh, I'll raise your follow-up with, "I'll have to get back to you on that." (Laughter.)
I'll have to check on that. I don't have any information on that.
QUESTION: Well, my follow-up may not well, if I could.
MR. MCCORMACK: Okay, sure.
QUESTION: Given that at least we haven't heard of any action taken, how realistic should the threat of sanctions be seen by a country such as Saudi Arabia, given that nothing appears to have happened since last September? I'm sorry, sanctions regarding trafficking in persons
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, again, that is in the law. That's part of the law as a possibility. But the law the spirit of the law also is to emphasize a consultative process. That's why you have this 90-day period. And I expect that we already have had contact with the Saudis on this when we delivered a copy of the report to them and discussed the chapter dealing with them. And I expect that we would have follow-up conversations on the subject as well.
So, again, the emphasis is on a dialogue and trying to solve the problem, as well as on measure we're not trying to single anybody out. These are objective criteria applied evenly across states, so and we use the criteria that are in the law.
QUESTION: May I just follow on that quickly?
MR. MCCORMACK: Sure.
QUESTION: Did the President and the Secretary raise this in Crawford at the most recent meetings?
MR. MCCORMACK: That was before my time, but I'll check for you.
QUESTION: You'll check that?
MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah, sure.
QUESTION: A follow-up?
MR. MCCORMACK: George.
QUESTION: Could you take a question on the status of the religious freedom decision, the deadline for which was in March?
MR. MCCORMACK: I will.
QUESTION: Sean, I believe yesterday there was a report out of Israel that the Israelis plan to build more housing at Maale Adumim. Do you know about that? Have you talked to the Israelis about it? And if it's true, how does it comport with the President's recent discussions with Prime Minister Sharon?
MR. MCCORMACK: I did see some reporting in the news concerning some plans to take down Palestinian houses. Is that what you're referring to?
QUESTION: I think this was more building, just more houses at Maale Adumim. This was
MR. MCCORMACK: That I haven't seen. I haven't seen those reports, so the President was very clear last week when he met with Prime Minister Abbas. He was asked about these types of questions and I'd just refer you back to his remarks.
QUESTION: The North Koreans said this morning that they were pleased to see that President Bush had used the honorific Mister, referring to Kim Jong Il.
MR. MCCORMACK: Right.
QUESTION: And they didn't call him a bloodthirsty beast.
MR. MCCORMACK: Right.
QUESTION: I wonder, is the administration trying to lower the temperature here a year after their departure from the six-party talks? And how, if at all, do you plan to mark the anniversary of that one-year departure?
MR. MCCORMACK: I wouldn't necessarily read anything into the President's remarks besides, you know, exactly what he said. I think he said exactly what he wanted to.
In terms of the anniversary, I'm not aware of any particular plans other than to, once again, urge the North Koreans to do once again, to do what we've said: return back to the six-party talks to engage with the other five parties in a constructive manner to work towards the goal of a denuclearized Korean Peninsula.
QUESTION: Have you heard anything back via the New York channel or have you had any contacts at all via the New York channel since the last ones?
MR. MCCORMACK: No, no. Any other on that?
QUESTION: North Korea.
MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah.
QUESTION: You didn't read anything into the bloodthirsty beast comments?
MR. MCCORMACK: We've seen these kind of statements out of the North Koreans before.
QUESTION: Continuing on that subject, apparently Secretary Rumsfeld said on his flight to Singapore that the U.S. is reviewing policy toward North Korea. Can you expound on this at all?
MR. MCCORMACK: Let me take a look at his remarks first. I haven't seen I haven't had a chance to look at his remarks.
QUESTION: Okay. And even if you dismiss the North Korean I mean, the kind of rhetorical nastiness that we've heard before, every time this happens does it concern you that we really aren't getting anywhere in terms of having a dialogue at least publicly?
MR. MCCORMACK: You know, this is rather we're looking for actions, so I wouldn't necessarily read anything into it.
QUESTION: Within the last number of weeks, there have been massive protests here in Washington as well as protests of the Sudanese Embassy, and Deputy Secretary Zoellick has just been to Sudan. What progress has he made with the Khartoum central government? And also do you have any plans to work with the logistics groups putting together this Live Aid concert Live Eight Concert for debt and relief from poverty in Africa?
MR. MCCORMACK: On the second part of your question, I don't have anything.
QUESTION: It's days prior to the G-8 Summit.
MR. MCCORMACK: Right. I'm not aware of any plans in that regard. Deputy Secretary Zoellick is actually right now in Khartoum. I think he's scheduled to have some meetings there shortly, if not already. He flew into Sudan today. He visited a refugee camp in Darfur. He also met with tribal officials. He met with AU officials there as well. And I think I would just say that he's working the issue. He is working on the security aspects of Darfur, working and talking to the AU mission on the ground.
And one of the reports that he got back from the head of the AU mission in the area that he was visiting with responsibilities for security was that in areas where the AU was deployed, they actually had seen a reduction in violence. And he also had an opportunity to meet with Jan Prank while he was on the ground in Darfur. And both of them had a good discussion and one of the things that came out of it was, I think, both of them were pleased with the increased flow of food to that part of the to Darfur.
So it's a complex, difficult issue. I think the fact that this is Deputy Secretary Zoellick's second trip there, Secretary Powell has visited there, the President has spoken out about it, the Secretary has spoken out about it, is an indication of our commitment to try to resolve the tough issues that you see there in Darfur in Sudan and Darfur.
Yes. Same topic? Okay.
QUESTION: Yes. Is there any likely change to the in the way Deputy Zoellick will conduct those talks in light of what the President terming what's happening in Sudan in Darfur as a genocide?
MR. MCCORMACK: No, I don't think there will be any change. No.
QUESTION: Can I follow up on the G-8?
MR. MCCORMACK: Sure.
QUESTION: Tony Blair is coming to Washington to try to raise support for his initiative, which includes writing off debt relief and doubling aid, but the U.S. really made clear it won't sign up to some of these proposals. I was wondering if you think there is a danger here that the U.S. will be seen as party-poopers at the G-8. Also, will you be offering, sort of, real alternatives to what the Brits are putting forward?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, Prime Minister Blair is going to be coming here and he's going to be meeting with the President. That's the reason for his coming here so I'm going to defer any questions about that visit to my colleagues at the White House.
As for the G-8 summit, the Secretary will be is deeply engaged in this issue, as is the President, working on issues related to development around the world. You know, the President, since he has come in, I think, has made an unprecedented commitment not only to taking steps and devoting resources to alleviating poverty but also to fighting the scourge of AIDS and other disease. So and, you know, this is also a President that has, I think, met, I daresay met with more African leaders than any other President in recent memory. So we are deeply committed to the cause of poverty alleviation as well as helping populations around the world, and in particular in Africa, try to realize a better life.
Why don't we move over here.
QUESTION: Can we go back to North Korea for a minute?
MR. MCCORMACK: Sure.
QUESTION: First off, congratulations on your appointment.
MR. MCCORMACK: Thank you very much. I like the way these questions all begin with that.
QUESTION: Are you aware of any reports that China has told North Korea that it will cut off food aid to North Korea if they test a nuclear bomb?
MR. MCCORMACK: No.
QUESTION: Just to follow up on that, has the U.S. Government yet made any decision on whether it will provide additional food aid to North Korea in response to the 2005 appeal?
MR. MCCORMACK: I believe the decision on that is still pending and we have made donations in the past two years and going back as well of 50,000 metric tons and 100,000 metric tons. But as for the current decision, that's still pending.
Mr. John Karl.
QUESTION: Yeah, Sean, I'm sure you saw Foreign Minister Zebari's comments in The Washington Post and elsewhere basically saying he thinks the U.S. needs to be more involved in the political process in Iraq. I'm wondering your reaction to that. And also, where are we on a U.S. Ambassador to Iraq? I mean, it's been quite some time since Negroponte left. Is there a concern to such an important post go unfilled for so long?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, Ambassador Khalilzad has been nominated by the President to fill Ambassador Negroponte's spot in Baghdad. He looks forward to a Senate hearing, which is going to happen next week on June 7th. And we would hope and urge a speedy confirmation process for him so he can get out to Embassy Baghdad and work with the great men and women of the State Department and other U.S. Government agencies that are working closely with the Iraqi Government on building political institutions, economic institutions, legal institutions and working on the security issue as well.
I think that, you know, if you look back at the series of meetings that we have, including the one yesterday between Dr. Rice and Minister Zebari, it's evident that our commitment to assisting the Iraqi people and building those institutions, as well as helping on the political process wherever we can, is really unquestionable. We have literally there are hundreds of contacts every single day between U.S. officials and Iraqi officials on a whole variety of issues.
But and it's clear this is an Iraqi process. This is part of their process of moving beyond the dark era of Saddam Hussein and writing a constitution that embodies the values that we see in the TAL and that reflect their culture, tradition and society.
So we are prepared and do stand ready to assist the Iraqis as they move through this constitution writing process. But at its core, certainly, this is an Iraqi process. If there are any adjustments in the level of effort or level of interaction that we need to make with the Iraqis, certainly we'll talk to them about it.
Any other on that topic?
QUESTION: Just one quick one, speaking about embassies. I might have missed this but has there been an announcement on an Ambassador to Kabul to replace Mr. Khalilzad?
MR. MCCORMACK: That I have to check on. I'm not let me check on that for you.
QUESTION: Can you preview the administration's objectives at the OAS this weekend and early next week and specifically, whether or not Secretary or the President propose to and are looking maybe to create a committee to monitor the progress towards democracy in some of these countries?
MR. MCCORMACK: The Secretary is going to be traveling down to the OAS summit in Ft. Lauderdale. She's going to be leaving Sunday and many of you are going to coming with us. She looks forward to her meetings at the summit. As you know, the President will be speaking there as well.
I think we look at this summit as really a part of a transformational moment for the Organization of American States. We have a new dynamic Secretary General, a former cabinet minister, Minister Insulza, who has a vision for promoting democracy and reinforcing democracy in the region. I think that we support and we looking forward to not only meeting with him but meeting with all the member-states for a discussion on the importance of reinforcing democracies and the freedoms that the people of the hemisphere enjoy.
The theme, if you will, of the summit is delivering the benefits of democracy. So what does that mean? That means working for a more prosperous, safer and more free hemisphere. So we're going to talk about a variety of different mechanisms that the OAS as well as the member-states can look at to, perhaps, come to the assistance of those, as Secretary Rice has referred to, as those fragile democracies, those democracies where there are tensions, that are having difficulties. I think there have been a couple in the news.
So we're going to talk about that. I think we're open to talking about mechanisms, but I don't think I'm going to prejudge those conversations, other than to say that Secretary Rice looks forward to her meetings with her counterparts as well as Secretary General Insulza.
QUESTION: What kind of an OAS role does the U.S. support in Bolivia at the moment, which, as you said, is, well, is one of the countries in the news?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, you know, again, I think that Bolivia is going to be, I'm sure, a topic of discussion down in Ft. Lauderdale. There have been to my knowledge, there haven't been any requests from the Bolivian Government for assistance. I think that, as I said, it would be a topic for discussion and that we ourselves are open to any variety of mechanisms in terms of general assistance to those fragile democracies in the region. But with respect to Bolivia, I don't have anything to share with you.
QUESTION: Rather than requesting assistance, what they've done is the Foreign Ministry issued a statement rejecting OAS mediation, which they have interpreted as what Richard was saying the other day. And because they don't want mediation by the OAS, is that something that the U.S. would also rule out?
MR. MCCORMACK: Again, I don't you know, I don't want to rule anything in or rule anything out at this point. What I'd prefer to do is what I prefer to do is actually let the discussions down there in Florida take place.
QUESTION: You won't rule it out. That seems to imply that it doesn't matter what the Bolivians think they need, they're saying we don't want mediation, they're saying, well, let the rest of us talk about it.
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, they themselves are going to be part of the conversation as well down in Florida. So what I'd prefer to do, if I could, is just let those conversations take place first.
QUESTION: Just to follow on the issue of these mechanisms, is the U.S. going to make any proposals for specific mechanisms?
MR. MCCORMACK: We are going to be talking about the Inter-American Democratic Charter and many different parties have talked about the Inter-American Democratic Charter, ways that that could be strengthened to look at that as one possible mechanism which we can talk about these issues. At this point, I don't have anything any particular proposals to share with you. I think that, again, we're going to be looking forward to a good discussion with the fellow OAS members down there in Ft. Lauderdale.
QUESTION: Can you say anything about an American woman, an 18-year-old teen missing in Aruba? She's from Alabama. Her family believes that she's kidnapped. Have there been any discussions with authorities in Aruba or the Dutch Government?
MR. MCCORMACK: What I can share with you is that the Department learned on Tuesday, June 1st, that an American citizen was missing in Aruba. The citizen's name is Natalee Holloway and she was last seen on Monday night, I think, on May 31st. Natalee's family have arrived in Aruba and a consular officer from Curacao is in Aruba at this time and is in contact with the family. And we are making sure that we provide all possible assistance to the family and local authorities and would also note that the FBI is also on hand and cooperating with local authorities in the search effort. And beyond that, I can't really offer anything else, due to Privacy Act considerations.
Why don't we go in the back. Yes.
QUESTION: Mr. McCormack.
MR. MCCORMACK: Yes.
QUESTION: Congratulation and every success.
MR. MCCORMACK: Thank you very much.
QUESTION: Since you are new from the White House here to the State Department, how do you assess the Greek-U.S. relations and the prospects for a solution to the Cyprus problem?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, the U.S.
QUESTION: Welcome to the State Department.
MR. MCCORMACK: What's that?
QUESTION: Welcome to the State Department.
MR. MCCORMACK: I notice a little difference here.
In terms of U.S.-Greek relations, you know, the state of our relations is excellent. As for the issue of Cyprus, I think that this question comes up frequently in this room and I don't, at this point, don't have anything to add beyond what my esteemed predecessor has talked about on the topic recently.
Thank you very much.
(The briefing was concluded at 2:50 p.m.)
DPB # 95
Released on June 3, 2005