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State Dept. Daily Press Briefing July 1, 2005

State Dept. Daily Press Briefing July 1, 2005

Daily Press Briefing
Sean McCormack, Spokesman
Washington, DC
July 1, 2005

INDEX:

DEPARTMENT
Secretary Rice to Deliver Opening Remarks at Organization for
Security and Cooperation in Europe Parliamentary Assembly
Ambassador Khalilzad Health

ZIMBABWE
Slum Demolitions / UN Special Envoy Investigation / U.S.
Allocation to International Organization for Migration Program

NORTH KOREA
State Department Officials Joseph DeTrani and James Foster at
National Committee on American Foreign Policy Conference / Contact
Mr. DeTrani and Li Gun in Context of Seminar
Six-Party Talks / Proposal to North Koreans

MISCELLANEOUS
U.S. Efforts to Freeze Assets of Those Engaged in Spread of
Weapons of Mass Destruction

IRAN
President-elect Ahmadinejad Possible Role in Hostage Crisis


TRANSCRIPT:

12:35 p.m. EDT

MR. MCCORMACK: Good afternoon.

QUESTION: Good afternoon.

MR. MCCORMACK: Happy Friday afternoon before a three-day weekend. I have a couple of things that I would like to start with and then we'll get into questions.

First of all, I'd like to -- I know that we put out a media note on this but draw your attention to the fact that the Secretary will be delivering opening remarks at the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe -- OSCE -- Parliamentary Assembly. It's their 14th annual session. And the theme of the gathering this year is 30 years since Helsinki, the challenges ahead. The Secretary's remarks will be topical. They begin at 2:30.

The second --

QUESTION: Is there going to be advanced text for the OSCE?

MR. MCCORMACK: We're not going to put out advanced text, no. The second, with regard to Zimbabwe, the continuing clearance of so-called slums. Yesterday, at least three people were killed when police demolished the squatters' camp on the outskirts of Harare. Two of the casualties reportedly were children. This is, again, when the Secretary was in London, the same type of incident occurred. There have been other deaths as a result of the slum demolitions, but we don't, at this point, have firm numbers.

Last Sunday, UN Special Envoy Anna Tibaijuka arrived to investigate the situation. She and her team had visited demolished areas and had met with President Mugabe and other Government of Zimbabwe officials. She is preparing a report for the UN based on her investigation and her initial findings have not yet been released. The United States has engaged with the United Nations, the African Union, South Africa and other donors to address the situation. We have pressed for an immediate end to the slum demolitions. You heard from the G-8 ministers on this topic as well. So it is something that has high-level attention. And we have also allocated an additional $750,000 to the International Organization for Migration Program, which works with displaced persons in Zimbabwe.

I would add that the Government of Zimbabwe must respect the rule of law and address the country's serious governance problems if it wants to reverse the sad course that that country is currently on.

And lastly, I have -- I will endeavor to keep you updated on events with respect to North Korea. Yesterday, there was some interest in an update on any contacts that might have occurred between the U.S. Ambassador DeTrani and Li Gun. The U.S. Special Envoy for Six-Party Talks Joseph DeTrani and our Korean Affairs Director Jim Foster are attending the conference in New York. Today is the last day of the conference; it began yesterday. It's being hosted by the National Committee on American Foreign Policy on issues relating to the Korean Peninsula.

We are -- all the members of the six-party talks are still waiting to hear from North Korea, a date when they will return to the six-party talks and engage in those talks in a constructive manner. At these sorts of conferences, which are organized independently, there is a natural exchange among all the intendees during the conference presentations and discussions. And you're giving each of the participants' opportunities to express their views on resolving the nuclear issue.

Yesterday, in the context of the seminar, there was a contact between Mr. DeTrani and Mr. Li Gun -- this was not a negotiation. You know, again, we will see whether North Korea responds to the overtures of others, such as the South Koreans. They've recently had meetings with the North Koreas, as well as the urging of all the other members of the six-party talks, to return to those talks and engage in a constructive manner. I would just end by saying that the proper venue to resolve substantive issues related to North Korea's nuclear program is in the six-party talks.

QUESTION: Did the North Koreans give any indication, as North Korea did in the last known New York Channel contact that North Korea, in some way is interested in resuming the negotiations?

MR. MCCORMACK: Barry, as for what we and all the other members of the six-party talks are waiting to hear, is a date when North Korea will return to the six-party talks and for them to return to those talks and engage in a constructive manner. And beyond that I don't have any further characterization of the contact.

QUESTION: Well, the last time they had, it was said here that they had expressed -- they registered their interest in the negotiations and you've been waiting ever since for them to be a little more forthcoming about it. I'm just curious if that interest was restated yesterday or if there was no conversation along those lines and, indeed, you're still waiting as you have been for quite some time?

MR. MCCORMACK: I think we're still waiting for a date for the talks, Barry, and beyond that I don't have any additional characterization of the contact.

QUESTION: Sean, I'm a bit perplexed by your answer, frankly. Was this a shaking of hands? Was this a hello, how are you? Was this a question and answer? I mean, you've made it clear it's not a negotiation, okay. But why can't you tell us what kind of exchange it was? Was it social?

MR. MCCORMACK: Right. Again, this is -- I'm not going to try and go beyond this in trying to characterize it. In the context of conferences, it is natural -- and we've all been to conferences, there are opportunities for exchange and participants to see one another and that was, in fact, the case yesterday. As I said, there was a contact. I'm not going to characterize it beyond that. I have said -- what we and the other members of the six-party talks continue to wait to hear from the North Koreans is a date when they will return to the talks. That is what matters and also, what matters is that they return to the talks and engage in a constructive manner.

Yes.

QUESTION: To effectively prevent the spreading of weapons of mass destructions, U.S. has frozen North Korean assets in the United States. Will this measure adversely affect to the coming six-party talks, which is under discussion?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, again, in the six-party talks, there is before the North Koreans, a proposal, what we believe is a constructive proposal there, for them to engage and discuss and it offers an essential choice for North Korea to choose continuing on the pathway in which they find themselves or continuing on a pathway which helps to resolve some of the issues that they say are before them. It would -- it provides them the opportunity for the respect that they say that they want and the aid that they say that they need.

As for the United States, we and our allies around the world are engaged in efforts to prevent the spread of weapons of mass destruction. We recently, just the other day, the President talked about efforts to freeze the assets of those entities that might be associated with the spread of weapons of mass destruction, the illicit trafficking in either the technology or know-how or the actual weapons themselves.

So that is a separate and ongoing effort and that is something the President has talked about often, something the Secretary has talked about often and is a focus of our efforts around the world along with fighting terrorism. So those efforts will continue freezing, looking for -- to cut off the finances for those organizations or entities which might be engaged in this type of practice.

The Proliferation Security Initiative, again, has, I think, more than 60 countries in it now participating in efforts to stop the spread of WMD. So those are separate efforts and we do have the six-party talks and again, we hope and urge the North Koreans to return to those talks and engage in a constructive manner.

Yes.

QUESTION: Do you happen to know -- excuse me, whether this national committee that I've never heard of -- National Committee on American Foreign Policy, was its focus, over these two days, Korea's nuclear program?

MR. MCCORMACK: You know, Barry, I don't --

QUESTION: Or was it a broader thing?

MR. MCCORMACK: It said -- the description I have of the conference, and you might check with the organizers, is issues relating to the Korean Peninsula.

QUESTION: Oh.

MR. MCCORMACK: So from this description, I take it that it's wider than that, but for a definitive word on exactly what was on the program, I would check with the organizers. I think Professor Zagoria.

QUESTION: Because it would be hard to imagine that the two people the U.S. uses to talk to the North Koreans attended the conference without the expectation that they would be talking to the North Koreans about their program unless, you know, they wear many hats and are experts on all sorts of subjects in security.

MR. MCCORMACK: Right.

QUESTION: A good way to pursue this, I suppose, would be asking, did any other State Department officials go to the conference that you know of?

MR. MCCORMACK: I am only aware of Mr. DeTrani and Mr. Foster being at the --

QUESTION: Well, it sounds like you want to look for them to talk to them.

MR. MCCORMACK: Right.

QUESTION: But that's just a guess.

MR. MCCORMACK: Yes, back here.

QUESTION: Well, just -- my question was similar to Charlie, you know, about the nature of the contact. Was it in the room with everybody else?

MR. MCCORMACK: I don't have any further details for you on that. Anything else on this topic? Teri.

QUESTION: Sean, given the interest in this and that you knew we would be asking so much about it, why don't you have anything else on it?

MR. MCCORMACK: Again, I have endeavored to -- that's why I opened up the briefing with this, because I wanted -- I made a commitment to you to try to update you in as timely a fashion as I possibly could with the best possible information that I am able to make available to you. This is the description of the contact that I have right now and beyond that, I can't offer anything else.

QUESTION: Let me ask you another question, please.

MR. MCCORMACK: Sure.

QUESTION: Did the two American -- whatever, delegates, did they report back on their conversations and indeed, do they intend or have they seen the North Koreans again today?

MR. MCCORMACK: As for today, I don't have any update for you and the conference is continuing and they do, I understand, call back to Washington.

Joel.

QUESTION: Sean, concerning your other opening statement about Zimbabwe --

MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah, is there anything else on this before we move on? Yeah, go ahead.

QUESTION: Do you know when they met?

MR. MCCORMACK: I don't have that. I wasn't able to get that for you. Yeah, go ahead.

QUESTION: All right. Sean, concerning your opening statement on Zimbabwe, there are another 10,000 that have been displaced in an area called Porta Farm this morning in Zimbabwe. And the World Food Program has said that Zimbabwe now has been plunged only second in relation to feeding its population to North Korea. Do you have any comments concerning that?

MR. MCCORMACK: I'm not familiar with those figures, so I hesitate to comment on having seen them.

Jenny.

QUESTION: Do you have an update on Ambassador Khalilzad?

MR. MCCORMACK: Yes. He I believe that our press office spoke to some of you last night. He has been briefly hospitalized with a respiratory ailment. He's under the observation and treatment of a doctor and he looks forward to getting to Baghdad, getting well and getting out to Baghdad as soon as possible.

QUESTION: So he's still in the hospital?

MR. MCCORMACK: Yes.

QUESTION: Where is he? Which country, even?

MR. MCCORMACK: He's in the United States.

QUESTION: Okay. He's presented his credentials, right?

MR. MCCORMACK: He did. What happened was, he actually presented his credentials in Baghdad. He was sworn in, in Baghdad, and then flew to Brussels. He flew to, I believe, the Brussels conference.

QUESTION: Okay. So how can you say he has briefly been admitted to the hospital? Do you know when he's coming out?

MR. MCCORMACK: I don't. I don't have an update for you on that. I said he has been hospitalized, yes.

QUESTION: What was the thing -- he was supposed to -- what was going to happen here yesterday with him?

MR. MCCORMACK: It was a formal swearing in, a formal public swearing in ceremony. He had a private swearing in ceremony so he could --

QUESTION: But he's officially an ambassador?

MR. MCCORMACK: He is officially sworn in. This was a ceremonial -- a public ceremony where the Secretary was going to take the opportunity to honor him and she looks forward to doing that, if possible, in the future.

QUESTION: Did you say why he was --

MR. MCCORMACK: Respiratory problem.

QUESTION: Ailment?

MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah.

QUESTION: Okay. And any idea of when he will be leaving hospital?

MR. MCCORMACK: I don't have an update for you, so we'll try to keep you updated as best we can on that.

QUESTION: Okay. And he was admitted yesterday?

MR. MCCORMACK: I believe it was, yes, it was yesterday, yes.

Okay. All right, okay, Teri.

QUESTION: Do you have anything further to tell us about our question -- the question on Iran and on the President? Is there -- has there been any clarification of our questions on whether or not he was involved in the hostage --

MR. MCCORMACK: No, we're still working on that, still working to obtain the facts.

QUESTION: Do you have any other information you can give us today on how you're going about that?

MR. MCCORMACK: It's along the same lines as I described yesterday. People are searching through all the information at their disposal, searching through files, reaching out. I expect that we will reach out to talk to people who were actually there, who were hostages. I don't believe that has happened yet, but I know that there is the intention to do so. So it's still the information collection process, the intelligence community is involved in this as well.

QUESTION: They've been talking to the press quite a bit. Why would the government have not yet contacted them and not yet --

MR. MCCORMACK: I don't have the details. I know the intent is there.

Yes, Joel.

QUESTION: Has the Secretary spoken to the Indian Government in any way? Apparently, there is a Muslim seminary in India which is 150 years old and that seminary has basically inspired the Taliban in Afghanistan and they're involved now with another rape-style case with a fatwa rather, in Sharia court. Is there any discussion with them concerning these independent Muslim type of --

MR. MCCORMACK: I'm not sure I see all the connections there, Joel. I don't think so.

Janine.

QUESTION: Do you have any update if there's been any contacts or discussions the Secretary's had about John Bolton heading into the weekend?

MR. MCCORMACK: No, I have no update for you on that.

All right. Thank you.

QUESTION: Have a good weekend.

(This briefing was concluded at 12:50 p.m.)

DPB #113

ENDS


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