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State Dept. Daily Press Briefing January 17, 2006


Daily Press Briefing
Sean McCormack, Spokesman
Washington, DC
January 17, 2006

INDEX:

KUWAIT
Passing of the Emir of Kuwait, Sheikh Jabir al-Ahmad
al-Jabir
al-Sabah

PAKISTAN
Valuable Ally in the War Against Terror / Greatest Threat to
Pakistan's Future is Terrorists
Demonstrations in Pakistan
Efforts to Assist Pakistanis Affected by Earthquake

DEPARTMENT
Under Secretary Hughes' Efforts to Reshape Public Diplomacy Efforts
Travel by Under Secretary Burns to India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan
Work with Governments in Western Hemisphere on Positive Agenda,
Further Spread of Democracy and Free Trade

CHILE
Congratulations to Chilean President-Elect

BOLIVIA
Inauguration of President Attended by Assistant Secretary Shannon

CHINA
Importance That China Become a Stakeholder in the International
System, Including in South America / Accession to WTO / Expanding
Trade Relationships

IRAN
Concern About Nuclear Weapon Not Limited To Israel, U.S., Single
Country / Destabilizing for Middle East, World / Working for
Diplomatic Solution
All Parties Agree That Iran Needs to Suspect Enrichment Activities
/ EU-3 Has Called for IAEA Emergency Board of Governors Meeting /
UN Security Council Referral / Travel by Under Secretaries Burns
and Joseph / Phone Call by Secretary Rice to British Foreign
Secretary Jack Straw

EGYPT
Query Regarding Visit by Egyptian Trade Mission
Work Closely with Egyptian Government on Issues of Democratic,
Economic Reform
President Bush's Call for Egypt to Lead in Spread of Democracy in Region
Excellent Relationship with Egyptian Government / Issues of
Concern / Recent Election

LIBERIA
Charles Taylor Should Face Tribunal / President Johnson to Work
Hard on Issue

CHINA/TAIWAN
Resignation of Douglas Paal as Director of American Institute in
Taiwan / David Keegan To Serve As Acting Director


TRANSCRIPT:

12:45 p.m. EST


MR. MCCORMACK: Good afternoon, everybody. I have one brief opening statement for you, then we can get right into questions.

Secretary Rice was deeply saddened by the January 15th passing of the Amir of Kuwait, Sheikh Jabir al-Ahmad al-Jabir al-Sabah. The Secretary extends her condolences and deep sympathies to the government and the people of Kuwait. Vice President Cheney will be visiting Kuwait later today to express his condolences to the Amir-designate of Kuwait and to senior Kuwaiti Government officials.

Sheikh Jabir was a steadfast friend of the United States and led his country through its darkest hour during Saddam Hussein's brutal invasion and occupation. A close bond developed between Kuwait and the United States during the 1991 liberation and continues to be just as strong today. Under the Amir's leadership, ties between Kuwait and the United States grew to be deep and robust. Kuwait has been a vital partner in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom and in the global war on terror. The Amir demonstrated his commitment to democratic government by overseeing elections and reestablishing Kuwait's parliament after the 1991 liberation and by succeeding last May in granting full political rights to Kuwaiti women.

The United States will miss Sheikh Jabir's leadership and friendship, while we know that his successors will uphold his proud legacy.

And with that, I'd be happy to take your questions.

QUESTION: Unless there's something on this, could I ask you about Pakistan and what conversations you might be having with the Pakistan Government about these raids? And can you authenticate reports of four terrorists being killed?

MR. MCCORMACK: On this, Barry, I know that these same questions were asked over at the White House. I don't have any particular information to offer on these news reports. I would add only that Pakistan continues to be a valuable ally in the war against terror, that President Musharraf and the United States understand the threat posed by al-Qaida and its affiliates, and it is steadfast in standing with the United States as well as other countries in fighting this global war on terror.

The United States clearly values innocent human life and that is why we're fighting the war on terror, Barry, is because we are acting against those who would take innocent lives in the name of hatred. And I would just say that acts of terror are not justified by any political cause. These are individuals that have tried to assassinate President Musharraf twice, that have -- are responsible for the deaths of many Pakistani citizens. So we will continue to work with President Musharraf and the Pakistani Government in fighting the global war on terror.

QUESTION: Maybe an unreported third time. The implication is that Pakistan is alongside you in the war on terror. You must have some sort of a green light to go after terrorists even along the border on the Pakistan side because terrorists don't normally introduce themselves at cocktail parties. You (inaudible) anything about that. Is there at least a -- what should I say? -- an all-encompassing, a (inaudible) until it's revoked authority for the United States to pursue terrorists inside the Pakistan border?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, Barry, first of all, just let me say that our diplomats around the world are deployed in areas such as the Afghan frontier in Provincial Reconstruction Teams. They are deployed along the front lines of this global war on terror. So this idea somehow the U.S. -- perpetuating this idea that somehow the U.S. State Department is only interested in going to cocktail parties, I want to disabuse you of. I know that you know that well, but there are other people out there that might not understand that.

Second of all, Barry, I don't talk about what sort of rules of engagement or operations our military or our government has in the war on terrorism. I can only say -- I will only tell you that Pakistan is a steadfast ally in that war on terrorism and they understand that -- President Musharraf understands that the greatest threat to Pakistan and to Pakistan's democratic and more prosperous future are these terrorists, are al-Qaida, are the Taliban militants that threaten the stability of Pakistan. So we are working very closely with President Musharraf and the Pakistani Government in fighting this war.

Saul.

QUESTION: How is the public diplomacy reaction going? The Administration here has recognized that, in the past, it hasn't been agile enough responding to issues to get the U.S. message out to improve the image. Here was, if you like, a little boiling point where we've got the protests in Pakistan, people -- the Pakistanis complaining about U.S. behavior. What have you done? Can you take us through, since it started, what have you done to help the diplomacy?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, the Secretary yesterday has answered some questions on this very matter -- or day before yesterday on her trip to Liberia. I'm here talking about it today. I can't tell you what the Embassy is doing. I'm sure that they're engaging with the media in Pakistan on this matter.

I understand that there are some who are protesting in Pakistan. Again, I can't speak to the numbers in those protests, but what I can tell you is that in our interactions with Pakistani authorities that we continue to have very good meetings on a variety of topics, including fighting the war on terrorism. So I would emphasize and underline to you that the atmosphere of cooperation and good relations continues throughout all of these meetings.

And as for any questions that arise from the media or others on this matter, we do our best to try to address these concerns. But I would just, again, point out that the greatest threat to the Pakistani people and to a more democratic, more prosperous Pakistan that -- is the terrorists. They are the ones that are threatening the advances that President Musharraf has made in Pakistan over the past several years. So we're going to work with President Musharraf to fight those forces that would try to undermine and stop the progress that has been made in Pakistan.

QUESTION: Can I ask -- can I --

MR. MCCORMACK: I don't know. Saul, do you yield the floor?

QUESTION: Yeah, I'd like to. Well, why not? (Inaudible.)

QUESTION: Sean, can I follow up on that? In any battlefield situation, there is bound to be mistakes. My question is: Is the United States investigating at all to see if this was yet a mistake in targeting or intelligence; and (b) if it has turned out to be a mistake, will you make that public and try to counter this bad publicity you're getting?

MR. MCCORMACK: Peter, I've said it earlier in this briefing and Scott McClellan has said it over at the White House. I don't have any particular information on these news reports. I know the questions that have arisen concerning these news reports, but I just don't have anything for you on it.

Charlie.

QUESTION: Sean, I mean, what about the Karen Hughes operation, Under Secretary Hughes? Are you doing anything to counter the demonstrations that have been spawned by the attack? You don't want to talk about the attack itself. You have this Rapid Response Team. Is anything being done? Is this subject for the --

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, I understand that there are some demonstrations that have occurred in Pakistan. I don't know whether those will continue and, again, I can't speak to how large these demonstrations are. My impression is that they're not of the magnitude that we have seen in the past in Pakistan.

Again, as for the public diplomacy, we try to be as forthcoming as we possibly can in answering questions. Sometimes there are questions for which we can't provide information from the podium. And all we can do in this case is to continue to reach out to the Pakistani people, help them understand what it is that we are doing in fighting the war on terrorism, and also to underline for them what a good friend America is. And that means coming to the aid of the Pakistani people in the time of need.

Our efforts to assist the Pakistani people in the wake of the terrible earthquake that the Pakistani people suffered are ongoing. Those efforts are ongoing. We continue to engage with the CEOs that Karen Hughes went with over to Pakistan. While they were in Pakistan, they pledged to raise money on behalf of the Pakistani people for relief and reconstruction. The world has come together to pledge assistance and money for the Pakistani people as they work to get their lives together in the affected areas.

So those are the things that we continue to do, Charlie. We continue to talk about America as a good friend and ally and that comes -- that is true in many different respects, whether that is working with Pakistani forces to address the terror threats that threaten not only the United States but the Pakistani people as well, all the way to helping the Pakistani people in their time of need. So that's what we're going to continue to be doing.

QUESTION: What about the families of the innocent people who were killed? Even if some al-Qaida people were there, even if you don't want to talk about the incident itself, obviously some innocents were killed. Are you doing anything to address that?

MR. MCCORMACK: Charlie, I have seen the same news reports you have seen. I can't speak to the particulars or the facts concerning what we have seen in the news reports on television. Concerning these -- the particulars of these incidents, these news reports, I just don't have anything further to add.

QUESTION: A follow-up on that, please. But the Pakistani Prime Minister himself has said that this raid is -- I think the term he used was inadmissible. I mean, do you deny that there is a certain amount of chagrin within the Pakistani Government over this issue?

MR. MCCORMACK: Peter, I don't have anything else for you on this.

QUESTION: Has the Secretary --

QUESTION: I had a follow-up on this. Or maybe I won't be --

MR. MCCORMACK: Please.

QUESTION: The response -- the public diplomacy response doesn't appear to be that robust. Now, I understand that you're saying you don't have all the details of what the Embassy did, but the Secretary on another continent, perhaps in another time zone, off-camera making comments and then most other people from the podium saying, well, we can't really talk about this, it doesn't give the impression that you're on a counteroffensive. The image in Pakistan over this issue is being tainted and we had been led to believe that now Under Secretary Hughes had organized these crisis response teams, that we're going to react really quickly and it wouldn't just be reactive, it would be proactive. But all that you're outlining doesn't seem to make it to that level. Is it because you think the protests actually aren't that big a deal, that this isn't that big a problem, so you haven't needed to activate such a response?

MR. MCCORMACK: Karen Hughes has worked very hard in the Department to work on reshaping the bureaucratic structures in our public diplomacy efforts. She has worked to help change the attitude, as you have talked about, with respect to public diplomacy, and our people engaged in public diplomacy are very active around the world, including in Pakistan. And certainly, we react as we believe is appropriate with respect to different situations. With respect to this situation, again, I've gone over and over again. I don't have anything to add with respect to the particulars of these news reports.

Libby.

QUESTION: It wasn't the judgment of the State Department that these -- I think Saul said this, but that these protests weren't to the magnitude where we needed to have a huge counteroffensive?

MR. MCCORMACK: Again, I have -- again, I have addressed the issue as best I can.

QUESTION: Am I right, isn't Under Secretary Burns supposed to be out there pretty soon?

MR. MCCORMACK: He's going to -- he's on his way to India, I know. I think he's going to Sri Lanka as well. I think he's going to be stopping in Pakistan.

QUESTION: That would be high-level contact. The Secretary hasn't been on the phone, that you know of?

MR. MCCORMACK: No, no.

QUESTION: Okay. I thought Pakistan was a sure stop. If it isn't, could you --

MR. MCCORMACK: I believe it is. I just don't have a schedule in front of me, Barry.

QUESTION: Sure.

MR. MCCORMACK: I believe that that's right. Yeah.

QUESTION: Just as a point of information, can I ask, has the United States Government received an official protest from the Pakistani Government on this incident?

MR. MCCORMACK: I'm not aware of one.

Elise.

QUESTION: New topic?

MR. MCCORMACK: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: I have some questions about Latin America, specifically if you could reiterate what the U.S. policy is towards the growing leftist movement in Latin America. Does that concern you in any way?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, you've heard the Secretary say many times -- many, many times over -- that we are ready to work with any democratically elected government regardless of where they fit on the political spectrum, whether that's left of center, right down the middle or right of center. So we congratulate the new Chilean President on her -- President-elect on her recent election. We look forward to working with her. And as for the other elections in the hemisphere, for instance, in Bolivia, Assistant Secretary Shannon attended[1] the inauguration of the President of Bolivia. Our ambassador's met with the President of Bolivia.

We are ready to work with governments throughout the hemisphere on a positive agenda that is based on the further spread of democracy, on good governance and of the spread of free trade. Those are our principles that we -- that form the foundation of our policy for the hemisphere. We're willing to work with governments across the political spectrum in the hemisphere on that agenda.

And what is important, regardless of whether you're left of center or right of center in your political orientation, is how you govern. Once politicians are elected, they need to govern in a democratic manner. That is for us what is most important in working with these governments. And those governments that adhere to the principles of democracy, that govern in a democratic manner, that reflect the will of their people for a better way of life, the governments that work to bring prosperity to those people through expanding trade opportunities, expanding business opportunities, are governments with which we are going to have much more a set of common interests and those relationships are going to be broader and deeper.

Now, of course, that doesn't mean for those countries where the intersection of interests is not as great that we're not going to work with them. Of course, we are. We will, of course, try to underline with them the importance of good governance, the expansion of democracy and the expansion of free trade. But the decisions about how they govern are going to be up to them. We're not dictating a program to the countries of the region or the governments of the region. How they govern is going to be up to them and we hope reflects the will of the people who elected them.

So we're fully prepared and I would expect that we will work very well with the President-elect of Chile.

QUESTION: Do you see this as a kind of anti -- do you see the -- you don't see the growing leftist movement as kind of an anti-U.S. movement in response to claims that the U.S. neglected the region in the first administration?

MR. MCCORMACK: No, not at all. You know, I'm not a political historian of the region, but I think that it is fair to say, if you go back through history, go back through the history of any particular region in terms of democracy, you're going to see cycles, political cycles, whether those are sub-country-specific, country-specific or they're a bit wider throughout a region. So you're going to see political cycles come and go.

But what is important to us is, again, as I said, not whether this is a so-called leftist government or a right-of-center government but it's a democratic government that governs democratically. That is what's important. The Secretary has outlined this. The President has talked about this. He talked about it at the Mar del Plata. So this is the foundation of our policy for the hemisphere. It's a positive agenda and we look forward to working with all democratically elected governments throughout the hemisphere.

QUESTION: One more. Does it concern you that China has a growing influence and is strengthening ties with countries in the region, specifically ones that you have a more antagonistic relationship with?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, we have -- with respect to the Chinese, we have emphasized the importance that China become a stakeholder in the international system. They have acceded to the WTO. They are expanding their trade relationships throughout the world, whether that's in South America or Africa or Europe.

What we encourage is good, transparent, respectful relationships between countries, whether that's between China and countries in South America and Latin America or anywhere else. So that's what we would expect. We hope that China acts as a responsible stakeholder in its relationships around the world, and that includes in South America.

QUESTION: Not too long ago and over a long stretch of time, people standing where you are standing would say with great pride that every country in the hemisphere is democratic with the exception of Cuba. I haven't heard this in a while, and if I understand what you're saying, I think you're saying some of these countries have to prove that they're democratic.

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, there's a difference between elections, Barry, and governing democratically. You know, just because you have an election does not necessarily meet the threshold for whether or not you're governing democratically. That is what -- that is then our emphasis, as you go back to the Monterrey consensus, way back in the first administration, talking about these very principles: the principles of good governance, of transparency, of fighting corruption.

So that's where our emphasis is. We have -- there has been a shift, Barry, where we have, throughout the hemisphere, seen democratic elections throughout the hemisphere, which is not something you could say 20 years ago. You can say that now. Our emphasis now in working with these governments in the region is to go the next step, and that is working on those principles of good governance, fighting corruption, transparency, freedom of the press, freedom of speech, and all of those things that we understand and know here as the underpinnings of free, democratic societies.

Janine.

QUESTION: New subject?

MR. MCCORMACK: Sure.

QUESTION: Do you have any comments on Acting Premier Ehud Olmert's comments today saying that Israel can't live with an Iranian nuclear bomb?

MR. MCCORMACK: I think that we all -- I haven't seen those comments, Janine. But the concerns about Iran's nuclear weapon are not limited to Israel, the United States or any single country. We have seen that. Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon is -- would be a destabilizing event for the Middle East region, as well as the rest of the world. That is why we and others are working so hard on a diplomatic solution to see that Iran does not -- is not able to master the critical technologies that would allow it to obtain a nuclear weapon, the material for a nuclear weapon and a nuclear weapon.

QUESTION: Do you expect this to come up tomorrow at the Secretary's meeting with Shimon Peres -- the Iranian issue?

MR. MCCORMACK: I expect that if it -- that she'll be ready to talk about it if it does.

QUESTION: Could I try --

MR. MCCORMACK: Let's move around a little bit, Barry.

Yes.

QUESTION: What is your reading of the meeting yesterday of the EU-3 and Russia, China, and you -- and the U.S.? Are you satisfied with your outcome?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, I think we're satisfied in the respect that all the parties agree that Iran's behavior has crossed the line and that they need to suspend their enrichment activities, that they cannot be allowed to obtain and master that technology and that technique. As for -- and the EU-3 has called for an IAEA emergency Board of Governors meeting on February 2nd or 3rd. We support that and we'll see what happens at the Board of Governors meeting.

Now, with respect to the referral to the Security Council and what that referral says and once you get to the Security Council what happens there, those are going to be matters for further discussion. I think you should view this meeting here as an informal meeting, yet the beginning of this new diplomatic phase, a more intensive diplomatic phase in addressing the issue of Iran's referral to the Security Council.

QUESTION: But Germany said that the discussions were difficult. Apparently, UK said that there was no consensus. So they are not that --

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, I'm not sure they said no consensus. I think that what they pointed to was there are still some discussions, follow-up discussions, that need to be had concerning the step going from the IAEA to the Security Council. Again, we believe that we have the votes for referral to the Security Council and we believe that that is the action the IAEA is going to take when they meet in February.

QUESTION: The Russians --

MR. MCCORMACK: Again, whether or not the Russians vote with the rest of the world is up to them. That I will refer you to Russian officials and Chinese officials or any other particular country about how they may vote at the IAEA Board of Governors meeting. But this is -- we do know that Russian officials are quite concerned about Iranian behavior. They have put out a proposal to the Iranians about how to address the issue of having a civilian -- a peaceful civilian nuclear capability that the Iranians say they want, while also meeting the just demands of the international community for objective guarantees so that the international community can be comfortable that Iran will not develop those critical pathway technologies that would allow it to obtain a nuclear weapon.

So I would only say that over the coming days and weeks, you're going to see a lot of discussion. There's going to be a lot of intensive diplomacy that occurs between now and that meeting. Under Secretary Burns is going to be continuing on to India as well as Sri Lanka, two members of the IAEA Board of Governors. Under Secretary Bob Joseph is in Vienna today for consultations with representatives from fellow board member countries. He is going to be also going on to Moscow and Tokyo as well. He may have some additional stops. We'll try to keep you updated on those.

So that's part -- those are also part of the efforts. The Secretary, I would expect, is going to be working the phones on this issue. So stay tuned. There is going to be a lot of activity between now and the beginning of February on this issue.

Peter.

QUESTION: Can I follow up? Mohamed ElBaradei held a secret meeting -- well, held a meeting with the Iranian negotiator over the weekend and it was obvious they're trying to lobby to head off action in the United Nations Security Council. The question is: Does the United States feel it would be inappropriate at this time for anybody to have talks with the Iranians until it goes to the Security Council or is that a process that could --

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, of course, you want to try to continue to encourage the Iranians to engage in a diplomatic solution to this issue. That's the goal of this exercise. That's what we are trying to achieve. The problem is that the Iranians want to have it both ways. They want to, on one hand, say, well, we're going to continue our enrichment activities so we can get better at it and eventually build a nuclear weapon; while on the other hand, yes, we will continue -- we would like to have some discussions with you about how not to do that. Well, that doesn't seem to me to be a very good deal. Those things, as a matter of fact, are mutually exclusive.

You have to, in order to convey some sense of good faith in this, which they have not to date with their obfuscation, their hiding of the program, their refusal to answer the IAEA's questions, their refusal to engage the EU-3 in good faith in their negotiations -- and we just -- we haven't seen. So again, we all agree, and we all agree coming out of this London meeting, that Iran has to end its enrichment activities. They have to suspend their enrichment activities and that's -- thus far, we have not seen the Iranians willing to do that. As a matter of fact, they went the other way just last week. They broke the seals after saying that they would.

So at this point, I don't think that we see anything that indicates the Iranians are willing to engage in a serious diplomatic process that would lead to the solution that I talked about: the international community having objective guarantees that it would not -- that it could not obtain a nuclear weapon. That's why we're headed to the Security Council right now because of Iran's refusal to do that. The onus is on the Iranians. It's not on the EU-3 or the United States or anybody else to come up with some other neat proposal for them to consider. This is -- it is on the Iranians now to take actions as the Secretary -- you heard from the Secretary last week.

QUESTION: Just a follow-up to be clear on that. So the Iranians are seeking negotiations at this point. Is it your position that there should not be --

MR. MCCORMACK: I'm not sure that they're seeking negotiations.

QUESTION: Well, they're asking the Brits and the Brits said it would be --

MR. MCCORMACK: But this is -- look, this is -- you know, what they're engaged in is firing up a lot of chaff. They've started up their diplomatic fog machine here.

QUESTION: So my question is, short of any specific show of good faith by the Iranians, is the position maybe there should not be substantial negotiations until they make that gesture; as you said, the ball is in their court?

MR. MCCORMACK: Again, they haven't done anything to indicate that they are ready to negotiate or engage in a diplomatic process in good faith. The EU-3 called their effort as having been at a dead end because of the Iranians. So the onus is on the Iranians. We'll see what they do. We are going to continue with our -- working in concert with our international partners on this issue on the diplomatic track. And like I said before, we're headed to the Security Council.

QUESTION: Entirely different subject.

MR. MCCORMACK: Is there any more on this?

QUESTION: Still on Iran.

MR. MCCORMACK: Okay. Saul has Iran and we'll come back.

QUESTION: You said it was more likely than ever that there would be a Security Council referral. Since then, have the chances gone up, down?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, that was before the EU-3 came out with their pronouncement that their negotiating process had come to an end. Right now we have -- what are the facts we have before us? We have now an IAEA emergency Board of Governors meeting at the beginning of February in a couple of weeks. And we believe at that point, there will be a vote for a referral to the Security Council. Iran has already been found in noncompliance with its NPT, Nonproliferation Treaty, obligations. And we would expect the next step after the Board of Governors meeting would be, next stop, New York.

QUESTION: One more. As far as you know, have the Iranians said that they will reconsider the Russian proposal? I know that there were some reports of that.

MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah. Talk is cheap. Yeah, they've -- again, we've seen a lot of -- you know, we've seen a lot of talk from the Iranians. Again, this is sort of what I refer to as their diplomatic fog machine that they're starting up.

Yes, Barry.

QUESTION: Let me try this quickly. There are reports in California -- I don't know if you're aware of them -- that in the last nine years or so some 200 or more Mexican military people have crossed into the U.S.?

MR. MCCORMACK: Haven't seen those reports, Barry.

QUESTION: I was just going to ask you if the U.S. has talked to the Mexican Government. This would be a Homeland Security issue, but diplomacy would belong here. So has the U.S. talked to the Mexican Government about such reports?

MR. MCCORMACK: I'll have to check into that for you, Barry.

QUESTION: Can I have another one on Iran, if I could? A quick fact check.

MR. MCCORMACK: Sure.

QUESTION: You said that the Secretary's going to be hitting the phones. With whom has she spoken to?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, there was -- she talked to -- I'll refer to the -- let's see, over the weekend -- let me get you a full list. Let me get you a full list on this.

QUESTION: Okay. What about since the EU met? Has she talked to anybody today specifically on Iran issue?

MR. MCCORMACK: She talked to Foreign Secretary Straw this morning.

Okay. Anything else on Iran?

MR. MCCORMACK: Okay, Saul.

QUESTION: Change of subject.

MR. MCCORMACK: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Thank you. Can you confirm The Washington Post editorial that there was a trade mission from Egypt deliberately dis-invited to send the Egyptian Government a message that they're not making enough progress towards democracy?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, in terms of trade missions, the United States Trade Representative is the authority that would meet with foreign trade delegations and they would govern the --scheduling those visits, so I think that they're probably the most appropriate place in the government to ask those questions about timing, the particular timing of any delegation's visit.

I would say only that we have been working closely with the Egyptian Government on the issues of democratic and economic reform. We have been trying to encourage democratic and economic reforms. We have seen some progress in those areas. We have been working with them on -- in the area of trade. Just last year, we worked with the Egyptian Government and the Israeli Government to set up a QIZ. It's a trade zone that has been quite successful.

So we will continue to engage the Egyptian Government on issues of economic reform and of trade and, of course, on the political front, we will as well. So we are going to be addressing this whole series of issues across our relationship with Egypt that's a very broad and deep relationship that we have with them, and I would expect the discussions about democratic and economic reform, as well as our trade ties with the Egyptian Government, including a free trade agreement, will continue.

QUESTION: Can I follow up on --

QUESTION: While the USTR has been -- is obviously the point of call for the specific trade issue, this building has been the main point regarding pushing the democracy agenda with Egypt. So I wonder, is a part of the reporting true that the Bush Administration is dissatisfied with where they -- how far along they are on the democratic path and therefore taken a decision to send a signal that you're not doing it right, whether it was through dis-inviting them in a trade mission or some other way?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, after the most recent round of elections, you know that we expressed our serious concern about Egypt's commitment to democratic reform. We think that democratic reforms, economic reforms go hand in hand, as we talked about a little bit earlier, concerning this hemisphere. We believe that these things are interlocked: democratic reforms, good governance, going hand in hand with the expansion of economic opportunities and the expansion of trade are very important to the freedom agenda that the President has outlined in his First Inaugural.

So we're going to be working with Egypt on that whole range of issues. We believe that economic reforms are important. We believe that democratic reform -- continuing democratic reforms are very important. We expressed some serious concerns about -- in the wake of the results of the last election, some of the things that we saw, about reforms on the democratic front. So we'll continue -- certainly continue our dialogue with the Egyptian Government on these issues and we'll keep you updated on how discussions with respect to our free trade agreement progress.

QUESTION: Well, can I follow up? At the same time, when the President and the Secretary talked in the beginning about the democracy agenda and that U.S. relationships are going to be governed with countries depending on their commitment to kind of democracy, rule of law, human rights and things like that, are we seeing a decision by the Administration to put that policy in effect? Is Egypt at the point now where its relationship is -- where the relationship with the U.S. is, at this point, being affected because of its lack of commitment to some of these reforms that you've (inaudible)?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, when the President and the Secretary talked about -- and have talked about the freedom agenda, what they have -- and the President specifically mentioned Egypt in the Second Inaugural Address. He called upon the Egyptian Government to lead in the spread of democracy in the region, just as they led the way in negotiating a peace with Israel.

Also part of that Inaugural, and the Secretary has subsequently spoken about this as well, is the idea that in order to have the best possible relationship that you can with the United States, to have the broadest, deepest relationship with the United States, that's going to depend on this intersection of interests. Of course, we're going to continue to have a good, broad and deep relationship with Egypt. The trajectory of that relationship, of course, will depend upon the continuing intersection of interests between the United States and Egypt.

I expect that the trajectory is going to remain on a good course. Are there issues? Sure, and we've talked to the Egyptian Government about that. In order to -- so it gets back to the basic principle. In order to realize the best possible relationship with the United States, then we would expect that the Egyptian Government would continue along the pathway to democratic and economic reform. We have seen steps towards that goal. They have made promises in that regard. President Mubarak has talked about, during his presidential campaign, changes that he promised to make and we would hope that President Mubarak follows through on the promises that he made in his election campaign. So we'll see how these events unfold.

Again, we have an excellent relationship with Egypt. We have a number of mutual interests. We have a great interest in the advance of the democratic and economic reform efforts in Egypt, and those discussions and that focus will certainly continue in the months and years ahead.

QUESTION: Right. But to go on what you just said, is it right now with Egypt the broadest and deepest it could be based on its actions in terms of this trajectory of commitment to democratic reform?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, again, I think that there are always issues that we can work on. We talked about our serious concerns regarding the recent election. While Egypt has made great strides on the front of opening up the political process in Egypt to other parties, there is still a long way to go and we're going to work with them on that. Ultimately, these are decisions that are going to have to be made by the Egyptian Government and the Egyptian people; we can't dictate this -- dictate changes to them. They themselves are going to have to make those decisions. We can encourage change, but ultimately they are the ones that are going to have to make these decisions.

Joel.

QUESTION: Yesterday, following Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf's inauguration in Liberia, how critical is it now to move Charles Taylor to trial and is this viewed by the Administration as unfinished business?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, the Secretary talked a little bit about this with reporters on the plane ride over. You know we believe that Charles Taylor should end up before a tribunal for what he has done and we know that President Johnson is going to be working very hard on this issue. She understands the importance of coming to closure on what was a very dark period in Liberia's history. And I expect that she is going to be consulting with other interested parties on this matter, the President of Nigeria as well as others. So we look forward to working with her and other parties in the region to see that Charles Taylor faces justice for what he has done.

Yes, sir.

QUESTION: Two questions for South America. I just wanted to know what the stand of the State Department is on the DEA corruption allegations.

MR. MCCORMACK: I'm sorry, I'm not aware of what you're talking about.

QUESTION: Okay.

MR. MCCORMACK: We can talk afterwards and see if we can get something for you.

QUESTION: Okay, and another question? If there any stand on the Department of State on drug -- Rodrigo Alvarez turning himself in Miami?

MR. MCCORMACK: 0 for 2. We'll have to follow up with you. Yeah. Good questions. I just don't have the information here.

Yes, ma'am.

QUESTION: It's about South America as well. On Thursday, Presidents of Argentina and Venezuela are going to meet with President Lula in Brazil. Some analysts say that this meeting of three Latin presidents is seen of concern by the U.S. Others say that it is -- that U.S. could see Brazil as a mediator in the region. Is Brazil a mediator in the region for the U.S.?

MR. MCCORMACK: No. We work very well with each of those governments individually. President Bush has a great relationship with President Lula. He has a great deal of respect for President Lula. The Secretary has a terrific working relationship with her counterpart, Foreign Minister Amorim. So again, this idea that somehow the world is divided into left and right is not how we approach it.

You know, political scientists may look at it that way, but what we're focusing on is not the political platform of any particular candidate, but how it is -- how the election unfolds that elects those people and how they govern. Do they govern democratically? Do they adhere to the principles of democracy? Do they adhere in governing in a manner consistent with their constitution? Do they promote expansion of free trade or do they promote greater prosperity for their own people?

That's how we look at it. We're not looking at it as left or right or the fact that somebody has to mediate in between a right-of-center government and a left-of-center government; not at all. We've made it very clear, over and over again -- the Secretary has talked about this -- that we're ready and open and certainly willing to work with democratically elected governments from across the political spectrum.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) what's the evaluation in the region? How are they acting -- these governments?

MR. MCCORMACK: How are they acting?

QUESTION: Yeah.

MR. MCCORMACK: I don't have any particular information on this meeting or the agenda for this meeting. I think the question is better put to them -- the agenda of their meeting. We have great relationships with each of those three governments independent of one another and I expect those to continue, inasmuch -- let me add -- inasmuch as those governments share the commitment to the promotion of democracy and good governance throughout the hemisphere, then certainly we support that agenda. But you know, I can't speak to what in particular they're going to be talking about.

QUESTION: Do you have an update on the sales from -- Brazilian aircraft to Venezuela?

MR. MCCORMACK: No. No update for you.

Yes, sir. This gentleman right here, right in the middle. Yes, you. Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: American Institute in Taipei -- in Taiwan -- and Taipei office director, Mr. Doug Paal, has announced his resignation. I wonder do you have anything on who is going to take over and when? And secondly, do you have any comment on his -- I mean, Dr. Paal's performance?

MR. MCCORMACK: He did a great job. He did an outstanding job. He was there for three and half years and we thank him very much for his service. We don't have the name of his successor for you at this point. The Deputy Director David Keegan will serve as the acting director of the American Institute in Taiwan until a new director is named and arrives in Taipei.

Okay.

(The briefing was concluded at 1:34 p.m.)

DPB # 9

------------- -----

[1] " Assistant Secretary Shannon will attend the inauguration of the President of Bolivia."

ENDS


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