State Dept. Daily Press Briefing July 6, 2005
State Dept. Daily Press Briefing July 6, 2005
Sean McCormack, Spokesman
July 6, 2005
Statement on Burundi Elections
Statement on the Signing of the Declaration of Principles for the
Resolution of the Sudanese Conflict in Darfur / Commitment to Ceasefire
Deputy Secretary Zoellick Travel to Sudan, Jordan and Egypt
Isfahan Facility / Role of IAEA / Paris Agreement
Kidnapping of Egyptian Ambassador / Secretary Rice's Discussion
with the Egyptian Foreign Minister
Detention of Cyrus Kar
Ambassador Reis' Discussions with Sali Berisha / Awaiting Election Results
Condemnation of Acts of Terrorism / Investigation by Turkish Authorities
Syrian National Council / Freedom of Expression Without Fear of
Harassment or Violence
Call to Release Aung San Suu Kyi
Special Envoy James Wolfensohn / Funds Available in Support of
Palestinians / Assisting Israel with Economic Aspects of Gaza Withdrawal
12:45 p.m. EDT
MR. MCCORMACK: Good afternoon. I'd like to open with a couple of brief statements and we can get into questions. First, on -- and we'll put out paper on both of these so you'll have the full text of them electronically, as well as in hard copy.
The first is on Burundi elections. The United States congratulates the people of Burundi for the peaceful, orderly and dignified exercise of their democratic right to vote in July 4th legislative elections. We congratulate the Government of Burundi and the Independent National Electoral Commission for technically-sound elections carried out in an atmosphere of peace and security. We commend and appreciate the United Nations and other donors for their ongoing support of the electoral process.
The second is with regard to the signing of the Declaration of Principles on Darfur. The United States congratulates the parties on their signing of the Declaration of Principles for the Resolution of the Sudanese Conflict in Darfur. We welcome the agreement of the Government of Sudan, Sudan Liberation Movement and the Justice Equality Movement to the Declaration's 17 points that now provide a framework for negotiations on wealth and power sharing as part of the Darfur political settlement. We urge the parties to undertake these negotiations quickly in order to achieve peace and reconciliation in Darfur.
We also commend the African Union for the pivotal role it played in successfully mediating the talks. And also would note that the United States' observer team, headed by retired Ambassador John Yates, deserves recognition for the role that they played in supporting the efforts to achieve these Principles. We believe the Principles should serve as a basis for further good faith political dialogue between the parties. And as we have repeated pointed out, the crisis in Darfur and implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement are interrelated issues. Taken together, the Declaration of Principles and the planned July 9th installation of the Presidency of the Government of National Unity constitutes significant progress toward the goal of achieving peace throughout Sudan. The July 8-9 visit of Deputy Secretary Zoellick underscores the continuing commitment of the United States to support these efforts.
With that, I am pleased to take your questions.
QUESTION: Is there a provision for a ceasefire between the parties?
MR. MCCORMACK: There is, in this, George, a set of 17 Principles. They have committed to a ceasefire. And what is important now is they have this framework and this Declaration of Principles that they actually start filling in the details of this. And we urge the parties to abide by the principles which they have signed and then keep up the momentum so as to start to work on some of the tough issues ahead. This is a preliminary step, it's a positive step, but there's a lot of work left to do.
QUESTION: Can we change to Iran?
MR. MCCORMACK: Sure.
QUESTION: Today, Iran has said that it's asked the IAEA to allow it to break some seals at the Isfahan facility -- that's the Iranian conversion facility. Is that something that -- and that would -- the Isfahan plant is covered by the EU-3 agreement
MR. MCCORMACK: Right.
QUESTION: Is this something that you would allow? You think the IAEA can allow?
MR. MCCORMACK: Saul, I hadn't seen those particular statements before I came out. Inasmuch as an action would contravene the Paris agreement, we have -- I think the EU-3 as the negotiating partners would have to speak out specifically on that since they are the other parties to the agreement. But the IAEA is part of the agreement in that they have to -- they would oversee its verification. I think that any contravention of that Paris agreement would be a step backwards, not a step forward. But again, I haven't seen those specific reports, so I --
QUESTION: Oh, Okay. So you haven't specifically seen --
MR. MCCORMACK: I'm not saying --
QUESTION: It would be --
MR. MCCORMACK: All right. I'm just saying, it -- as a matter of principle, contravention of that agreement would be a step backwards. But, again, I hadn't seen these statements before we came out. And there would have to be an assessment of -- by the parties to the agreement, including the IAEA, as to whether that would be a contravention of the agreement. We made very clear, as the Secretary did yesterday, that conversion and enrichment facility -- activities -- would not be allowed under the Paris agreement and are specifically forbidden.
MR. MCCORMACK: Anything else on this?
MR. MCCORMACK: Sure.
QUESTION: The controversy over the reports about the resignation of a key negotiator in the talks. Have you heard from Iran?
MR. MCCORMACK: It's up to the Iranians who they send to sit across the table from the EU-3.
QUESTION: Also, can we just -- is there any update on the Ahmadinejad investigation? Anything more to say on -- anything new to say on the look into the background of the new President?
MR. MCCORMACK: Nothing for you today. No updates for you today. Tammy.
QUESTION: Regarding the abduction of the Egyptian diplomat, the -- al-Qaida in Iraq, as you know, has claimed responsibility for it and they're threatening to kill him now. Had the Egyptians responded to Secretary Rice's offer of assistance?
MR. MCCORMACK: We are -- again, Secretary Rice spoke with the Egyptian Foreign Minister yesterday -- we remain in consultation with Egyptian officials regarding this situation and we stand with them in calling for this diplomat's release, immediately and unharmed. With respect, I think you'll understand this given the kind of situation which we find before us, that I'm not going to offer any further comment beyond what I have.
Yes, moving our way back.
QUESTION: A belated congratulations to you.
MR. MCCORMACK: Thank you.
QUESTION: For your position. The defense of human rights and freedom in the Middle East is very high on the American agenda in the Middle East. I've got to address this question to you and see your reaction, and many people are waiting to see your reaction, concerning the human rights of the Golan Heights people. A father, his young kids, girls and boys, are defending their land, their farm today at the gate of their farm where they have been kicked out. Their farm was given to a high intelligence officer, Israeli officer. And they are determined, even if they die at the gate, that they're going to defend it. So this is a violation of human rights or Geneva Convention for civilians and their occupation and this is just part of what's going on in their daily life on the human rights violations against the Golan Heights people by the Israelis authorities. Could you please address this human rights subject when it comes to the people and their occupation in the Golan Heights?
MR. MCCORMACK: You know, I don't have any facts that I can use to address your question at the moment.
QUESTION: On Albania, any comment on the national elections in Albania since the Albanian leader Sali Berisha during the press conference today claimed victory and said that he received even a congratulatory telephone call from your Ambassador to Tirana, Mr. Ries, on behalf of the U.S. Government?
MR. MCCORMACK: Ambassador Ries did talk with Mr. Berisha but did not offer congratulations -- did not offer congratulations -- since we are still awaiting the election -- the electoral process to play out, the vote-counting process to play out.
QUESTION: On Turkey, according to reports, a bomb blast on Turkish terrain killed five passengers today due to the explosives planted in the railroad tracks. Similar attacks have taken place against another two Turkish trains, as it was reported by Washington Post the other day. I'm wondering if you have to say anything on that incidence.
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, first of all, we condemn all acts of terrorisms and our thoughts and prayers go out to the families of the victims and those who were injured in these attacks. I understand that in these particular cases the Turkish authorities are investing the incident and I would refer you to them for any details.
QUESTION: And one on the Balkans. Do you have anything on the Srebrenica explosives issue found the other day?
MR. MCCORMACK: We have no comment on un-detonated bombs that were found -- that were found in the area that you're referring to and I would refer you to the Bosnian authorities.
QUESTION: There's been a -- there's a story about Cyrus Kar, the Iranian-American filmmaker who's been detained in Iraq. Has the U.S. Embassy reached out to him, since he is under coalition detention, as an American citizen or have his family been in touch with the Embassy there and are we comfortable that he's receiving due process?
MR. MCCORMACK: We'll try to get you some information on that.
QUESTION: The Syrian opposition held a press conference today in Washington announcing the establishing of the Syrian National Council. Will the State Department recognize this council? Will you deal with them?
MR. MCCORMACK: I'm not familiar with this group, but certainly we have -- the President, the Secretary and we have made it very clear that we stand for the right of individuals anywhere, no matter where they are, Syria or anyplace else, to speak out freely, as the President refers to the "town square test," without fear of harassment or violence. So, and part of that process is the formation of civil society groups, as the Secretary has talked about. But with respect to this particular group, I don't have any information for you and therefore couldn't offer any comment on the question that you've asked.
QUESTION: Sean, the head of the South Korean Foreign Ministry's Nuclear Task Force is coming to Washington later on this week. Do you have any information about his meeting any State Department officials?
MR. MCCORMACK: I'd have to look into that for you.
MR. MCCORMACK: Yes, back here.
QUESTION: Sean, the Burmese junta has released a large number of political prisoners, including, apparently, a close aide to Aung San Suu Kyi, who is the longest-serving prisoner, or political prisoner. I wonder if you had any response to that.
MR. MCCORMACK: I had not seen the reports of the release of these individuals. With respect to Aung San Suu Kyi, we have made very clear what our views are: She needs to be released. We have -- we marked her 60th birthday with a number of messages coming out of the White House and the State Department.
QUESTION: If you come up with something?
MR. MCCORMACK: If we have anything, we'll share that with you.
QUESTION: Do you have any response to reports -- and we've heard things like this before -- that an Israeli delegation would be arriving next week to ask the U.S. for several hundreds of millions of dollars to help finance the Gaza pullout?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, Jim Wolfensohn is at the G-8 now and he is working with international partners with respect to the economic side of the Gaza withdrawal and support for the Palestinians. He is going to be also traveling back to the region. We ourselves have made funds available to the -- in support of the Palestinian people. That's been previously reported. And we'll continue to work with the international community to focus their efforts and their support for ensuring that the withdrawal from Gaza is successful and takes place within the principles that the Secretary outlined when she was in Jerusalem, and part of that is talking about international support for the Palestinian people post-withdrawal.
QUESTION: But any range on what the U.S. share might be?
MR. MCCORMACK: Again, we've stated what the funds that we have already made available and I don't have any update to that at this point.
QUESTION: Just a follow-up on that, Sean. Am I mistaken? I thought Wolfensohn's mandate was to aid the Palestinians, as you've suggested, but not to -- does it also including aiding the Israelis in a financial way?
MR. MCCORMACK: I was referring to the Palestinians.
QUESTION: But I asked about the --
MR. MCCORMACK: The Israelis. With regard to that, I'll have to look into it for you, Teri.
QUESTION: Okay. Well --
MR. MCCORMACK: If there is a delegation here and the facts surrounding such a visit.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MR. MCCORMACK: Thank you.
(The briefing was concluded at 1:00 p.m.)