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State Dept. Daily Press Briefing October 17, 2005

State Dept. Daily Press Briefing October 17, 2005

Daily Press Briefing
Sean McCormack, Spokesman
Washington, DC
October 17, 2005

INDEX:

DEPARTMENT
Announcement of Secretary Rice's Travel to Ottawa, Canada

IRAQ
Update on Iraqi Election / Violence / Insurgency and Violent
Attacks Upcoming Trial of Saddam Hussein / Issue of Security

ARGENTINA
Latin American Summit / General Discussions for US

CUBA
US Position / Cuba's Record on Human Rights and Democratic Reforms
/ Cuban Extradition Case

SOUTH KOREA/CHINA
Visit of Japanese Foreign Minister to Shrine / Concerns Over History

ISRAEL/PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY
Terrorist Attacks in West Bank / Roadmap Obligations / Dialogue
Encouraged by US

MISCELLANEOUS
Query on Valerie Plame Investigation
White House Announcement of President Bush's Travel to APEC Summit
/ Query on Meeting with Japanese Prime Minister

TRANSCRIPT:

Yes.

QUESTION: I want to follow up. Whenever the Japanese Prime Minister visit the Yasukuni Shrine, then the Chinese Government or South Korean Government complain to Japanese Government very much, I guess because they are afraid of revival of Japanese militarism. Is the U.S. Government concerned about revival of Japanese militarism?

MR. MCCORMACK: Again, I think that I'll leave it to other countries to describe the particular reasons for their concern. I think that we -- it's well known, the history. We understand the basis for these concerns. And I'd leave it to others to describe what in particular those are.

I think that we all share an interest in good relations among the countries of the region and that we would hope that in light of that that they could work through any concerns that they might have through dialogue, through negotiation, through respectful dialogue.

QUESTION: This year is the 60 years anniversary of the end of the World War II. Also, ten years ago, the 50 years anniversary of the end of the World War II. Both times, the Japanese Government issued a statement in which they expressed their condolence and apology for our brutality before the World War II or during the World War II and then expressed also our self-examination. Do you appreciate this statement or do you think it's not enough?

MR. MCCORMACK: I think that I'm going to stick with the answer that I've given you as well as the previous questioner.

QUESTION: I'm sorry. One more follow-up on that, Sean. In trying to maintain this dialogue about the past history, do you think it's incumbent upon the Japanese Government to avoid provocative acts which that might be interpreted as being, visiting the shrine?

MR. MCCORMACK: I don't have anything further to say on this.

Yes, sir.

QUESTION: Sean, do you have any comment on the escalation in the West Bank and on Israeli decision to freeze its contacts with the Palestinian Authority?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, I think, first of all, we -- with regard to the recent terrorist attacks on the West Bank, we condemn those attacks. We urge the Palestinian government to continue to meet their roadmap obligations in not only fighting to stop terror attacks but dismantle those terrorist networks that are responsible for these attacks. More needs to be done to stop these kinds of attacks.

We are going to continue to work in close consultation with both sides to increase cooperation and contact between the two sides on security matters. General Ward has talked to both sides regarding this incident. He has urged both sides to try to maintain an atmosphere of calm to encourage dialogue between the two sides.

We think that it is important in terms of continuing to provide for an atmosphere where the Israelis and the Palestinians can work through any differences they have to work through difficult issues; that action is important, that dialogue is important and that contact is important. And we would hope that all sides take into account the potential ramifications of whatever steps that they do take and keep their eye on the ultimate objective which we all know and all sides share of two states living together side by side in peace and security.

QUESTION: Can you speak specifically to the fact that they seem to be limiting crossing between the West Bank and Israel? And it seems like they've kind of cracked down on some of the easings that have been taking place.

MR. MCCORMACK: Right, right. Again, I think that we understand and support Israel's right to defend itself. But at the same time, we urge them to, in whatever steps they might take, to consider the ramifications of their actions on the ultimate goal and restate the fact that all sides have responsibilities in this regard. The Israeli -- we would ask the Israeli Government and we have asked the Israeli Government, as you know, in the past, to take steps to ease the daily plight of the Palestinian people. And I would reiterate, as I just said, and on the Palestinian side, they have an obligation to fight terror, they have an obligation to dismantle terrorist networks. And it is important to see action and that's what we are working with both sides on.

QUESTION: Don't you think the Israelis consider the ramifications when they tighten the screws like this? I mean, the U.S.'s suggestion is certainly not novel. I'm sure you consider the consequences you bomb parts of Iraq and kill 39 civilians. I'm sure you're not going out to kill civilians, which is a little more deadly than interfering with crossing a boundary.

MR. MCCORMACK: Right.

QUESTION: But you have an objective and your objective is clear; to which you plan to cripple the insurgents. It's become a throwaway line, Sean. I don't mean to be argumentative. But is the Administration suggesting that Israel doesn't consider the impact on civilians when it does these things?

MR. MCCORMACK: Barry, as I said, and you know, again, I'm not going to buy into your parallel between these two places. But first of all -- so that's first.

Second, you know, I stated very clearly that we understand Israel's right to defend itself. We certainly understand, as victims ourselves of terrorist attacks, that it is an important duty and responsibility of any government to protects its own people.

QUESTION: Right.

MR. MCCORMACK: But there is also -- you know, understanding that, there is a -- you know, from our point of view, there is a political process underway here in which both the Israeli Government and the Palestinian Authority are involved. And certainly in our view, in terms of the prospects for long-term peace, long-term stability and long-term security for the Israeli people as well as the Palestinian people, that those differences should be resolved through a political process. And all we are saying is that in taking steps to defend itself, as is its right, that Israel consider the ramifications of those steps in terms of the long-term goals.

Yes, Teri.

QUESTION: Could you -- you mentioned General Ward talked to them. I mean, has he had official meetings or is he just through his regular channels talking to them? He's talked to them since the coordination was called off, since security coordination was called off?

MR. MCCORMACK: I'll get the specific dates, but he is in constant contact with them.

QUESTION: Would you, while you're doing that, and maybe you know the answer -- is he in the area or is he back here, and how much longer is he on duty there?

MR. MCCORMACK: I will get you the specific dates. In terms of his length of tour, Charlie, it is coming up. The end of his tour is coming up this fall. And in terms of his follow-on, we'll try to keep you up to date on that. I think all sides agree that it's important that function that was created for General Ward and sort of the -- his modus operandi, I think, is one that all sides think is important and useful, so we're going to continue them.

In terms of his presence in the region, let me double-check. I believe he is in the region, but let me double-check for you on that.

Yes, Sue.

QUESTION: Change of subject?

MR. MCCORMACK: Okay. Anything else on this? Joel, do you have anything else on that?

QUESTION: Change of subject.

QUESTION: Change the subject, yeah.

MR. MCCORMACK: All right. And we'll come back to you. All right.

QUESTION: During her interviews yesterday with Fox and NBC, the Secretary indicated that she had been cooperating with the investigators -- investigation into the Valerie Plame affair. I just wondered, has she spoken and been quizzed directly by the grand jury? If so, when? And are there any plans for her to hold further -- to meet again with the grand jury, if indeed this is the case?

MR. MCCORMACK: Right. I'll reiterate what the Secretary said yesterday. She has -- she cooperated fully with the investigation and she cooperated in all ways that were asked of her. I don't think it's appropriate for me to comment any further concerning an ongoing investigation.

QUESTION: But did she meet with the grand jury? I have to ask that once more.

MR. MCCORMACK: Again, I don't have anything to add to my answer.

QUESTION: Did other officials from the Department go before the Grand Jury or cooperate -- as you're putting it, cooperate -- with the grand jury? Have other members like you or Jim Wilkinson or anybody else in the immediate circle been called?

MR. MCCORMACK: I think that all members of the Administration -- the President made very clear that all members of the Administration that were asked to cooperate with the investigation cooperate with the investigation. And I would leave it to those running the investigation to describe what kind of cooperation they have received from members of the Administration.

QUESTION: I have another question.

MR. MCCORMACK: Yes.

QUESTION: Not on this. Change of subject. Can you say anything about a dispute -- or a row, as Sue and others would say -- in London over traffic fines on embassy staff driving into the center of London? Apparently, there's a big fight because they're being charged a congestion tax and the U.S. Government doesn't feel it should be taxed like this and they're running up big debts. Could you check?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, I will have to check on that one. I would just add that, just having returned from London, our motorcade was not pulled over or asked to pay a tax. I'll check for you on that.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) how many pounds you guys got away with?

MR. MCCORMACK: We'll check for you on that.

QUESTION: Thanks. I mean, it seems to be in the same vein as the sort of traffic tickets in New York kind of issue.

MR. MCCORMACK: Right. Well, like I said, we'll check for you.

QUESTION: Thanks.

MR. MCCORMACK: Yes, Joel.

QUESTION: Sean, the Chinese are working a deal with Australia on mining uranium and obviously it's for export to China. Have you spoken to either government and are you assured that this would just not be exported and then enriched?

MR. MCCORMACK: Right. I'm not aware of those reports. I haven't seen them, Joel.

Okay. Yes, ma'am.

QUESTION: All right.

MR. MCCORMACK: Okay. Yes, ma'am.

QUESTION: Sorry. When President Bush meets with Prime Minister Koizumi next month, what do you think will be the main topic of discussions?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, I think that that's -- certainly, there is a White House announcement today about the President's travel to the upcoming APEC summit. I will leave it to the White House to describe what will be on the agenda of the President's meetings there.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MR. MCCORMACK: Okay. Thanks.

(The briefing was concluded at 12:45 p.m.)

DPB#177

ENDS


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