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State Dept. Daily Press Briefing January 20, 2006


Daily Press Briefing
Sean McCormack, Spokesman
Washington, DC
January 20, 2006

INDEX:

IRAN
25th Anniversary of the Release of the Iranian Hostages
Iranian Decision to Withdraw Assets from Europe / Iranian
Isolation
Possible Referral to UN Security Council
IAEA Director General's Report

IRAQ
Preliminary Results Declared by IECI / Election Process Certified
Iraqis Have Demonstrated Ability to Run Transparent Election
Process
Outcome Will Reflect the Will of the Iraqi People
Formation of Iraqi Government / Divisions in Iraqi Society
Kidnapped Journalist Jill Carroll

CUBA
Treasury Department Allows Cuba's Participation in the World
Baseball Classic

JAPAN
Japanese Ban on U.S. Beef
Department of Agriculture to Conduct Investigation
Deputy Secretary Zoellick's Travel to Region
Under Secretary Joseph's Travel to the Region
Japanese Development of the Azadegan Oil Field in Iran

DEPARTMENT
Sentencing of Larry Franklin

BOLIVIA
Morales Inauguration / Future Relationship with the U.S.
Travel of Assistant Secretary Shannon / Possible Meetings

BRAZIL/VENEZUELA
Proposed Sale of Brazilian Aircraft to Venezuela / Venezuela's
Military Build-Up

NIGERIA
Call for Immediate Release of All Individuals Unlawfully Held

SUDAN
U.S. Concerns About Sudan Holding the Rotating Chair of the AU

TAJIKISTAN
Reports That Some Tajik Nationals Are Being Released from GITMO

NORTH KOREA
U.S. Encourages All Parties to Resume Discussions Without
Preconditions
TRANSCRIPT:

12:40 p.m. EST


MR. MCCORMACK: Good afternoon. I have a brief opening statement and then we can get right into your questions.

"Twenty-five years ago today, 52 brave Americans returned to freedom after 444 days of unjust captivity at the hands of Iranian hostage takers. Following the violent takeover of the U.S. Embassy by Iranian militants, an outrageous violation of international law, our citizens suffered psychological torment and physical brutality. On behalf of the Secretary and all their State Department colleagues, I extend our sincere gratitude and admiration to these genuine American heroes and their families."

With that, I'd be pleased to take your questions.

QUESTION: On Iran (inaudible) so we'll open the door.

MR. MCCORMACK: Okay. You weren't going to bring it up otherwise, right, Barry.

QUESTION: Do you have anything to say about the Iranian decision to withdraw its assets from Europe as kind of a hedge against possible sanctions?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, decisions about where the Iranian Government entrusts the assets of the Iranian people is one for that regime to make. I can't speak to what their motivations might be. The decision-making process among those who actually control power in Iran is, shall I say, opaque to those on the outside. I think it is an indication that Iran is further isolating itself from the rest of the world. I don't know what it is that they hope to accomplish by doing this. Again, I can't speak to their particular motivations in doing it.

QUESTION: But won't the -- won't the Europeans lose a point of leverage with the Iranians if they have no Iranian assets to freeze if it comes to that?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, again, George, at this point, the European Union, the EU-3, have tried to use the available levers that they had with Iran to try to get them to engage in serious negotiations. That didn't work. We're now at the -- we now find ourselves at the point where they are headed to the Security Council. We'll see if the added weight of finding themselves before the Security Council provides an incentive for the Iranian regime to engage with the international community in a serious manner on this topic. The international community is unified on this matter. And the Iranian Government continues to isolate themselves and the Iranian people from the rest of the world on it.

QUESTION: I don't know if you dealt with this yesterday, but there's a Russian proposal -- instead of referring to the Council for possible action, have a debate, have a discussion hosted by the Security Council and if necessary that would defer a referral to, I think, March, until the March meeting. Is there something to be said about that idea?

MR. MCCORMACK: I think -- the Secretary spoke to that in the press availability yesterday with Foreign Minister Ban of South Korea. She made it very clear that we, the EU-3 and our partners on the IAEA Board of Governors are looking for coming out of the emergency meeting on February 2nd is referral, referral to the Security Council. And what we are doing right now is engaging in intense diplomatic activity around the world. The Secretary is working the phones. Nick Burns is on the road, along with Bob Joseph, to talk about what those next diplomatic steps might be once we reach the Security Council. But make no mistake about it, we, the EU-3 and others, are firmly behind referral to the Security Council coming out of the February 2nd meeting in Vienna.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

MR. MCCORMACK: I'll let the Russian Government speak to how they're going to vote, when it comes time to vote, in early February. We would certainly encourage them to join what is a growing consensus to send Iran to the Security Council. But ultimately how they -- whether they decide to raise their hand or not is going to be up to them.

Saul.

QUESTION: You've already said you have the votes for referral. Do you still think you've got the votes?

MR. MCCORMACK: We do.

QUESTION: Okay. So it sounds like you're saying, look, after Feb. 2, we've got the votes, whatever has happened, we're getting a referral to the Security Council. And so the diplomacy is to try and have that vote as strong as possible, with maybe including Russia, maybe including China. But the other side of it is, irrespective of how they vote, you're going to push for a vote for the referral. You're going to get a referral. Is that what you're saying?

MR. MCCORMACK: We believe we have the votes for a referral at the February 2nd meeting. We believe that that's what we're going to see and we believe the next stop after Vienna is going to be New York.

QUESTION: So it would be nice to have Russia and China onboard, but irrespective of that --

MR. MCCORMACK: Those -- you know, the -- we believe it's important that the world send a unified message to the Iranian Government that their behavior is unacceptable, that they cannot violate with impunity their international obligations. We would hope that all the representatives of the IAEA Board of Governors would vote in the affirmative for a referral. But ultimately that decision is going to be up to those individual governments what course of action they decide to take.

QUESTION: But it sounds like you've taken the decision that you definitely will ask for a vote on -- for a referral?

MR. MCCORMACK: That's our intent. That's been our stated intent for some time.

Jonathan.

QUESTION: Can I change the subject?

QUESTION: I'm sorry, Jonathan. I was going to stay on this.

MR. MCCORMACK: Okay.

QUESTION: I was just wondering with Zoellick going to Asia, if -- how much of his trip is going to focus on the diplomacy regarding Iran? China's made its position clear, so has Japan. But both of them -- Japan to a lesser extent -- have had you know, decent commercial ties with Iran. Is he going to focus on this issue?

MR. MCCORMACK: I expect it will come up. I can't say that it is going to be the focus of his visit. Under Secretary Bob Joseph who was recently in Moscow; I believe he's in Tokyo today and will be traveling to Beijing. He's going to be raising this and other issues with the Japanese and the Chinese as well. I expect -- I'm sure Deputy Secretary Zoellick will be fully prepared to engage on this issue if it does come up. But he has -- he does have separate agenda items.

Anything else on Iran?

QUESTION: No.

MR. MCCORMACK: Okay. Then you.

QUESTION: Can you update us on the Secretary's phone calls with --

MR. MCCORMACK: Nothing -- nothing new to update.

Yes.

QUESTION: Has the U.S. been pressuring or asking Mohamed ElBaradei to hurry up a report that he's preparing on Iran so that it's ready before the February 2nd meeting?

MR. MCCORMACK: We think it would be appropriate and helpful for the board members to hear from Director General ElBaradei concerning the IAEA's efforts to obtain information from the Iranian Government regarding the unanswered questions that Iran has left on the table. We continue to be in discussions with the IAEA, as well as fellow board members on this question and we think it would be helpful. We think it would be appropriate and we would encourage Director General ElBaradei to report in some fashion to the board on where the IAEA stands.

QUESTION: So you don't mind if his formal report is not finished. You just want him to come weigh in on the program?

MR. MCCORMACK: We think it's appropriate to hear from the Director General and we're talking to him about what form that might take.

QUESTION: And is he generally inclined to do so?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, I'll let him speak on his own behalf.

QUESTION: I think he said he's not.

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, we continue to discuss the matter with the Director General.

QUESTION: And the Secretary hasn't spoken with him regarding this --

MR. MCCORMACK: No, no.

QUESTION: Another subject?

MR. MCCORMACK: Okay.

QUESTION: I thought I was going to go first.

MR. MCCORMACK: Oh, Jonathan. Not to be forgotten. Yes.

QUESTION: Iraqi elections. I just wanted, now that the results have been declared, if you can give us --

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, the preliminary results have been declared. The IECI and then the international monitors have come -- well, first of all, the international monitors have come out with a certification of the election process and the IECI, which is the Iraqi group that actually ran the elections, came out with some preliminary results. My understanding is that those results won't be final for maybe a week or two now.

But what is clear is that the Iraqis once again have demonstrated that they are fully capable and invested in running a good, clean, transparent election process. We've seen this three times now. There have been -- there were a few problems. The IECI addressed that. I believe there were some ballot boxes that were put aside because of some questions. But both groups came out. The international group and the Iraqi group came out with a finding that regardless of these problems, that the results of the election are going to reflect the will of the Iraqi people. There were no violations so serious that it fundamentally changed the outcome of the election.

Now, in terms of the election -- final election results, we'll see those in a week or two. What we would encourage the Iraqis to do, as they see the basic form of the results of the election starting to take place, is to work together in cross-sectarian, cross-ethnic efforts to think about forming a government. They are going to be charged -- this new parliament is going to be a parliament that is a permanent body that will be in office -- it's envisioned will be in office for four years. They will -- the eyes of Iraq will be upon them. The Iraqi people will be looking to them to form an effective, responsible government that serves the Iraqi people, that responds to their needs, and a government that is responsive to all the Iraqis regardless of ethnic group or religious group.

So we would encourage the various political groups in Iraq to start thinking about what a future government might look like, what that -- you know, what the platform of that government might look like. But again, we are still at the preliminary stage right now.

QUESTION: I'm not asking you to give a verdict on the election because I know you won't do that, but I mean, the fact that it doesn't appear to be that any one party has a majority, do you think it will make it more important that they work together as you say they should and that there is going to have to be a coalition?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, I think under most scenarios that were envisioned, if you just look at the breakdown of population right now and the fact that you still have identity politics in Iraq -- I think we all understand why, that's really a vestige of Saddam Hussein's era where he ruled by dividing and conquering -- that you would have this basic breakdown of results where, by virtue of the system that they have put in place, in terms of the parliament and how the government is formed and the majorities or super-majorities that are needed in order to form the government, that you would -- that that would require the various political groups to work across political lines, to work across ethnic lines, to work across religious group lines.

So from that standpoint, that's positive. That's part of politics. Working together to overcome any differences that you might have through negotiation and compromise. That has been the point of this political process. That's at the root of a democratic parliamentary system.

So we have seen, I think, over the past year or so, the development of a quite lively and vigorous political class in Iraq where you find more and more Iraqis investing in that political class, in that political debate. And that's very encouraging.

Yes.

QUESTION: You encourage them to work together. Does it mean you encourage them to form a coalition government?

MR. MCCORMACK: What particular groupings come together to form a government are entirely up to the Iraqis and to the political parties and to the elected representatives of the Iraqi people. You know, what form the government takes, who's sitting in what seat, what coalitions are formed, what the platform of the government looks like, those are questions for the Iraqis to answer themselves.

We encourage -- we and the rest of the world encourages them to work together, to work across lines, to work across whatever divisions may exist in society. They are there. We've seen it. We see the fact, as I said, that there are still identity politics in Iraq. That's certainly understandable. Over time, you see in democracies those sorts of things gradually start to fade, and more and more you see groups come together around interests and issues.

But again, the Iraqis are still very early on in the development of a democratic political class. But what we have seen over the past year, year and a half, in terms of development of that political class, is truly extraordinary. You know, think back where we were four years ago, five years ago. It's just unimaginable what is happening today. So the Iraqis, when you talk to them, are determined. They are determined to move this political process forward. You have seen that determination manifest itself at the ballot box in the face of threats of physical harm and violence. So we and the rest of the world are sticking with the Iraqi people as they move through this process. But at each point along the line, they are taking more and more responsibility for their own future.

QUESTION: You speak about identity politics, does it mean you don't mention the word "religion", but actually the divisions are religious.

MR. MCCORMACK: Not all of them.

QUESTION: Does that concern you?

MR. MCCORMACK: No, not all the divisions -- you have ethnic groups, you have religious groups and then there are various combinations of across religious lines and within ethnic groups, so there's -- you have quite a bit of intermarriage between religious groups as well. So it's -- I don't think it's quite accurate to say it's -- all the divisions are merely along religious lines.

QUESTION: Not all, but a lot.

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, again, the root of democratic politics is working together to overcome whatever divisions there are. What you have seen, despite the efforts of Zarqawi, the terrorists, the foreign fighters and the hard-core Baathists that are irreconcilable to any political compromise or political process is the Iraqis have clung together. And they have clung around an Iraqi identity, despite the centripetal forces that exist in Iraq. They have come together despite those forces and despite the best efforts of those who might try to exploit those divisions within Iraqi society. So quite the opposite, instead of coming apart or moving apart, you have actually seen Iraqis pull together.

QUESTION: Can I ask you about something else?

MR. MCCORMACK: (Inaudible.) Yeah. Charlie, yeah.

QUESTION: But not the election.

MR. MCCORMACK: Mm-hmm

QUESTION: Can you bring us up to date on Jill Carroll? Do you have any update on the situation of Jill Carroll?

MR. MCCORMACK: I don't -- I don't have any update on the situation, Charlie. Certainly, our thoughts and prayers are with her and her family. We continue to work and make every effort working with the Iraqis, the Iraqi Government and others to see that she is returned safely to her family.

QUESTION: Change of topic?

MR. MCCORMACK: All right. Well, Barry and then Sue.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) take us to the ballgame and tell us what's behind the switcheroo in letting a Cuban team get here to participate in the world baseball tournaments?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, the Treasury Department decided upon a second request to issue -- I don't know exactly what the mechanism was, I think it was a license -- for the --

QUESTION: The necessary paperwork.

MR. MCCORMACK: The necessary paperwork. Well put. For the Cuban baseball team to participate in the world baseball classic, which is going to be held in Puerto Rico. I'd refer you to the Treasury Department for the particulars as to why this application was approved. I think generally speaking, that they had two concerns about an earlier application: one, the delegation that might be traveling with the baseball team and any potential for those individuals to engage in activities not related to the baseball classic, shall we say. And the second one is, and it concerns about, you know, concerns about any potential revenues or monies that might be gained or derived from this baseball classic somehow benefiting the regime. Those concerns were addressed to the satisfaction of the officials at the Treasury Department and therefore they issued the necessary paperwork.

QUESTION: Echoes of ping-pong diplomacy here. Might this lead to a better relationship with Cuba?

MR. MCCORMACK: I wouldn't read into it -- anything into, any more than there's going to be some good baseball games in Puerto Rico.

QUESTION: But they're the best. Yeah.

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, I don't now. We have to see, Barry. That's prejudging the outcome. You have to remember, we don't prejudge outcomes here, Barry.

QUESTION: Those here and those there are pretty --

MR. MCCORMACK: Okay.

Yes.

QUESTION: Do you have any comment on Japan's ban on U.S. beef and do you think that their reaction was fair? And also will this be a topic of discussion with the Deputy Secretary when he is there?

MR. MCCORMACK: On the second, I expect that it will. The Department of Agriculture, the Secretary Johanns has issued a statement on this. And very simply, we take this matter very seriously and regret that this incident occurred. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has committed to conduct a thorough investigation of the matter and provide results to the Government of Japan. Our Department of Agriculture has also committed to work closely with Japanese officials to take appropriate actions to ensure compliance with the terms of our export agreement. And for any additional information, I think the Department of Agriculture will be able to provide more details for you.

QUESTION: Will there be any sort of tit-for-tat, bans the other way?

MR. MCCORMACK: I'm not aware of thinking along that line.

Teri.

QUESTION: I know that this building hasn't been involved in the Larry Franklin case except I'm wondering if now that it's been in the works so long, has the State Department been able to ascertain whether any damage was done with the revelations by Larry Franklin, as he's just been sentenced?

MR. MCCORMACK: In terms of that matter, I believe it is still an ongoing criminal matter. I'm not going to have any comment on it.

As for any assessments of the type that you have talked about, I'm not aware of any particular assessments that have been taking place, Teri. They may well have. I'll check with the appropriate individuals to see if there's anything that we can share with you.

QUESTION: I think his sentencing -- isn't that the last phase of the investigation as far as he personally is -- dealing with his personal --

MR. MCCORMACK: I hadn't seen that he had actually been sentenced.

QUESTION: It just happened.

MR. MCCORMACK: I hadn't see that.

QUESTION: But if there's anything --

MR. MCCORMACK: If there's anything we can share pertaining to the question you asked, any sort of "damage assessments," I'll let you know.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MR. MCCORMACK: Libby.

QUESTION: There are reports on al-Qaida websites that Zawahiri may have a new tape. I'm just wondering if you've heard anything like that.

MR. MCCORMACK: No, no.

George.

QUESTION: The clock is ticking on the Bolivian inauguration on Sunday, where you -- looks like another anti-American leader is going to take office. Do you have any observations on the path that you would like to see Morales take?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, we would encourage President -- still President-elect Morales to engage with our diplomats, with our officials, to work on issues that are of mutual concern. One area that we have worked together very well in the past has been on the issue of -- in our anti-narcotics efforts. We hope that that cooperation continues, cooperation on other issues would continue.

Ultimately, the person -- President Morales -- is going to have to decide what policies he will put forward on behalf of his government and the Bolivian people. He is going to do what he thinks is right for Bolivia and Bolivia's future. And based on the policies that he decides to pursue, we'll make an assessment of what kind of relationship the United States and Bolivia will have.

We hope for a positive, good relationship. I'm sure that there may be some differences of opinion. Differences of opinion exist in every relationship. But we would hope that where there are differences we could work through them in a transparent, respectful manner. So certainly we stand ready to engage with the new Bolivian Government and we'll see what policies President Morales decides to pursue once he is faced with the challenges of governing; and based on that, we'll see what kind of relationship the United States and Bolivia will enjoy.

QUESTION: Does he have a meeting set up with Tom Shannon?

MR. MCCORMACK: I'll have to get an update for you. Assistant Secretary Shannon is going to lead our delegation down there. I know that he -- the President-elect did have a meeting with our Ambassador down there several weeks ago. I'll check to see if he is going to be meeting with Tom.

Yes, ma'am.

QUESTION: I'm J.J. with NHK. I have a couple more questions on the beef ban. I know that Deputy Secretary Zoellick previously planned on discussing beef trade during his trip Sunday and Monday with Japanese officials. Can you tell me how it will affect his message and what he'll say to the Japanese people?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, this is an event that just occurred today. I expect that he will be ready to engage the Japanese Government based on this changed set of facts. But the basic message -- the basic message continues. We believe that imports of U.S. beef are good for Japan and good for the United States, and if there are any bumps in the road like we just had today, we're going to work through them. The USDA has committed to working with Japanese officials on this matter. We take the matter very seriously. And I expect that Deputy Secretary Zoellick will be fully prepared to discuss the issue concerning continued U.S. beef imports into Japan as well as any particulars of this case.

QUESTION: Also, aside from the damage re-imposing the ban does to the U.S. market, it's a huge blow to the Japanese trust that Americans could let this happen. What is your --

MR. MCCORMACK: Well again, let's get to the facts first, and the USDA is going to be working with the Japanese officials, so let's not jump to any conclusions right now.

Yes, ma'am.

QUESTION: It's about the deal of Brazilian aircrafts (inaudible) to Venezuela. President Lula said yesterday that he won't accept American intervention and that he tried to convince President Bush to approve the deal, and yesterday Amorim said that the restrictions are not justified as Venezuela is not under sanctions. Is the U.S. going to block the sale?

MR. MCCORMACK: Again, we have been in discussions with Brazilian officials regarding this matter and we continue to talk to them about it. But we -- I would just say that in the past, and for example, I'll use the example of a proposed sale of some Spanish armaments to Venezuela, that we have had concerns about those sales. Those concerns center around a military -- what we would consider an outsized military buildup in Venezuela. The Chavez government has chosen to activate its reserves and also to build up what I could only describe as what is a planned million-person civilian militia.

In addition to this, fueled by revenues coming from increased oil prices, there has been a -- the Venezuelan Government has talked about a buying spree for military equipment. And all this planned buying spree is really outsized, in the analysis, I believe, of many, to Venezuela's defense needs.

So we have expressed those concerns in the past. We expressed those concerns to the Spanish Government as well as to the Brazilian Government.

QUESTION: It's exactly the same situation, the same kind of airplanes and exactly the same situation?

MR. MCCORMACK: I don't think the proposed -- the two proposed sales, I think, are for different kinds -- different kinds of equipment. I think the Spanish sale involved some maritime patrol, armed maritime patrol sea craft and then some airplanes as well. And on the Brazilian sale, it has to do with the Super Tucano aircraft.

QUESTION: Secretary Rice -- Minister Amorim said yesterday that Secretary Rice said she was looking to it. Do you know when she'll have an answer?

MR. MCCORMACK: We'll keep the Brazilian Government updated on that and then we'll try to do the same with you, as best we can.

In the back. A new -- yes, sir. Yep, that's you. You're up.

QUESTION: You mentioned that the Under Secretary Robert Joseph is visiting Tokyo.

MR. MCCORMACK: Yes.

QUESTION: Do you have any more information on that, like who he's going to meet with and what the main purpose is?

MR. MCCORMACK: I don't. He's going to certainly be talking about Iran as well as other issues of mutual concern. I don't have a list of who -- with whom he's going to meet.

QUESTION: And Japanese Government is trying to develop the oil field in Azadegan, Iran, and what is the U.S. position on this matter? Do you have any concern?

MR. MCCORMACK: We have previously talked to the Japanese Government about this issue. It has been a source of discussion for us for some time and I expect that it will continue to be. I don't have anything particular to share with you at this point.

QUESTION: Do you have anything on an American held hostage in Nigeria? His health is very bad. They're threatening to kill the other three who are not American if he dies. I know you don't get involved in discussions that could be construed as negotiating, but apparently this guy's situation is really, really bad and there's even a suggestion his boss could take his place, something strange like that.

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, this is -- well, the first point is we call for the immediate release of all the individuals that are being unlawfully held. This is a situation that we are monitoring very closely and that our Consulate General in Lagos is working directly with Nigerian authorities as well as with two companies involved, Tidex and Royal Dutch Shell, in order to secure the release of the individual in question.

QUESTION: That's -- oh, wait. That's the end of your sentence?

MR. MCCORMACK: That's it. I know, I think I had a noun and a verb and everything else in there.

QUESTION: Sorry, I was still waiting. But is there anything that the U.S. has been able to do in terms of trying to get him medical care? I think it's a blood pressure problem.

MR. MCCORMACK: We're doing everything we can to secure his release. But let me just point out that he is being unlawfully held, so we would call on everybody who's being unlawfully held -- him as well as others -- to be released immediately. So we're doing everything we can, working with the companies involved as well as the Nigerian Government, to see that he's released.

QUESTION: Has there been any access so far that you know of or any way to pass medicine to him?

MR. MCCORMACK: This is all the information I have for you on it.

Yes.

QUESTION: Sudan seems quite confident it's going to take over the rotating chair of the AU. Do you have any comment on that, because Jendayi Frazer said last week that it appeared to be a conflict of interest for them to take over, especially with all the activities going on in Darfur?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, I think there are certain contradictions in the idea of Sudan holding the chair of the AU while there is an AU mission in Sudan designed to help protect Sudanese citizens, in part, from the Government of Sudan. So there is a certain contradiction in that.

Now, how that contradiction is resolved is ultimately going to be up to the AU. They decide upon who is going to take the chair as well as who hosts the meeting. Sudan, I understand, is up to be chair and host. Whether or not the AU decides that it is appropriate for the Sudanese Government to take the chair of the AU, that is going to be up to the AU.

QUESTION: Do you think it's appropriate?

MR. MCCORMACK: I think I decided that there's a contradiction in those actions that I believe the AU might want to address, but it's going to be up to them to address.

QUESTION: So have you been speaking to the South Africans in particular about this?

MR. MCCORMACK: The topic did come up when Secretary Rice had a meeting with Foreign Minister Zuma.

QUESTION: But lately, in the last few days?

MR. MCCORMACK: In terms of other diplomatic contact, I'm not sure. But I know it has been something that's been on our agenda. We've talked to other AU members about.

Dave.

QUESTION: Sean, there's a report that some Tajik nationals are being sent home from Guantanamo. Do you have anything on that?

MR. MCCORMACK: I'll check.

QUESTION: Okay.

MR. MCCORMACK: One more. We've got more. It's Friday.

QUESTION: One quick question regarding the six-party talks. There's a report, China, (inaudible) China proposed to all member countries to resume sometime early February. Is this correct?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, if the date is in early February, we'll be ready and well be there, but I don't -- I'm not aware of any formal agreement among all the six parties to that date. We would encourage, in particular, North Korea to resume the discussions without precondition.

That's it.

(The briefing was concluded at 1:14 p.m.)

DPB # 11

Released on January 20, 2006

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