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State Dept. Daily Press Briefing February 6, 2006

State Dept. Daily Press Briefing February 6, 2006

Daily Press Briefing
Sean McCormack, Spokesman
Washington, DC
February 6, 2006

INDEX:

DEPARTMENT
Statement: Cambodia Pardons Opposition Leader
Travel: Secretary Rice to Accompany President Bush to Funeral of
Coretta Scott King

DENMARK
Violence Against Danish Embassy / Burning of Embassy in Damascus
David Welch's Call to Syrian Ambassador
US in Support of Freedom of Press / Call for All Governments to
Lower Tension
Secretary's Dialogue with Danish and Norwegian Foreign Ministers
US Contact with Saudi Arabia on Danish Cartoon Issue
US Condemns Violence Associated with Danish Cartoons
Constant Review of Threat Assessments Against US Embassies

IRAN
Conflicting Statements from Iran
IAEA Board of Governor's Resolution
Iranian Cooperation on IAEA's Additional Protocols
Iranian Government's Opportunity to Reassess Decision-Making
Process
US Information Sharing to IAEA in Iranian Investigation / Heinonen
Interim Report
US Agreement with P-5 Ministerial
IAEA Inspections / Resources
Reports of a Meeting with Iran / Russian Proposal

YEMEN
Escape of 13 Al-Qaida Prisoners in USS Cole Investigation
Query on Request for FBI Assistance

PALESTINIANS
Meeting of Hamas Leaders in Cairo
Requirements of New Palestinian Government from International
Community

VENEZUELA
US Expulsion of Venezuelan Diplomat

GREECE
Reports of Scandal Regarding Prime Minister / Alleged US
Involvement

HAITI
Elections / Preparations for Elections / Voter ID Cards
$30 Million Dollars in US Support of Elections
US Democracy-building Programs

GERMANY
Munich Security Conference / NATO Involvement in Iran


TRANSCRIPT:

12:45 p.m. EST


MR. MCCORMACK: Good afternoon. I have one opening statement for you and then one travel note for you. The first statement is Cambodia pardons of opposition leader and parliamentarian. The United States welcomes the February 5th decision by His Majesty King Norodom Sihamoni to pardon Cambodian opposition leader Sam Rainsy and opposition parliamentarian Cheam Channy. We hope that the King's decision represents movement toward a strengthened democracy in Cambodia. We look forward to the return of Sam Rainsy and the full resumption of the role of the opposition in the political dialogue of Cambodia.

And just one travel note for you. The Secretary tomorrow will be accompanying President Bush down to the funeral of Coretta Scott King.

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

QUESTION: Nothing to ask about your haircut. The violence which is spreading --

MR. MCCORMACK: You doing fashion reviews now, Barry?

QUESTION: No, no. So we're looking for --

MR. MCCORMACK: I would think that that would be a glass house which you would not want to throw stones -- (laughter).

QUESTION: Very well. I don't know if you have anything fresh to say, frankly, about the violence which doesn't seem to stop, and now it's involved all sorts of people who couldn't possibly have anything to do with what happened.

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, we --

QUESTION: A lot of innocent bystanders.

MR. MCCORMACK: We saw some violence occur, sadly, over the weekend which the Danish and Norwegian embassies in Damascus were burned. The Chilean embassy, I think, was damaged also. We saw also in Lebanon, in Beirut, the Danish embassy there burned. Now, I know that the Lebanese Government has expressed regret for that incident. The Minister of Interior, I believe, has resigned in the wake of that incident as well.

We condemn acts of violence related to this issue. Certainly we support peaceful expression, peaceful protest, as that is a fundamental right. But we strongly condemn acts of violence. We put -- the White House put out a statement with regard to Syria, the burning of the embassies in Damascus. I think that speaks for itself.

QUESTION: All right. And is there any special diplomatic approaches involved here? Is there anything you can do quietly through diplomacy to try to reverse this tide?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, we did call in the Syrian Ambassador. David Welch, called in the Syrian Ambassador over the weekend to express our strong protest and condemnation of what happened in Syria. You know, Syria is a country where protests don't just occur spontaneously, certainly not of this sort, and not without the knowledge and support of the government. And to my knowledge, they have not expressed any regret or apology to either of those two governments for what's happened to their embassy.

Yes, Jonathan.

QUESTION: Can I just follow up on that? I mean, you have -- am I right in saying -- condemned the publication, criticized the publication of the cartoons, but what about free speech and --

MR. MCCORMACK: I'm not sure that that's what was said, Jonathan. I think we've said that we understood why many Muslims found the cartoons offensive. We found -- we talked about the fact that we found, on Friday, the cartoons offensive. But we also spoke out very clearly in support of freedom of the press. As to what appears in newspapers, what is broadcast over the air waves, those are decisions in free countries for a free media to make, for journalists as well as editors to make. So just you can finish your question but I just wanted to make clear what it is that we said on Friday.

QUESTION: I mean, is there anything that you can do to support countries like Denmark that are facing these acts of violence?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, we put -- the White House put out a statement over the weekend talking about our support for the Danish Prime Minister and the statements that he has made on the subject. Secretary Rice has also spoken with the Danish and Norwegian foreign ministers over the weekend in the wake of the attacks on their embassy as well. What we can do is to speak out very clearly in support of freedom of expression, freedom of the press, and urge understanding and tolerance, tolerance not violence. And I think that is what you're hearing from many quarters around the world concerning this issue.

Yes.

QUESTION: To follow up on Barry's question, do you have any other contact with some Arab countries you have good relations with, for an example Saudi Arabia or Kuwait, or do you have any special contact on that?

MR. MCCORMACK: I'm sure that our embassies have been in contact with them on this issue. I don't have anything particular to report. Certainly we have spoken out many, many times, and I think our support for freedom of expression and nonviolent protest is well known. We certainly at this time urge governments to take any steps that they might to lower tensions concerning this issue, all the while recognizing that free speech is an important right. But along with free speech, that type of freedom of expression, comes responsibilities and we would condemn acts of -- any acts of violence that might be associated with this issue.

QUESTION: Can we connect two of the dots there? Have you asked the Saudis, considering their position, their role in the area, the deference paid to them by Muslims generally, or at least Arab Muslims, have you asked the Saudis to lend a hand, to do anything to try to ease tensions?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, we think it's important for all governments -- you point out the Government of Saudi Arabia and there are many other leaders in the region who might take a leadership role in lowering tensions. Certainly the leaders of the Saudi Government might be some individuals who might fulfill that role. There are others -- others in the region who also might fill that role as well.

QUESTION: Are you disappointed that they haven't been doing so?

MR. MCCORMACK: As we said, we would call upon all governments to act in good faith to take steps to lower tensions on this issue. Certainly we have seen that there are some very raw emotions as a result of the publication of these particular cartoons. We -- certainly peaceful protests with respect to expressing a point of view, condemning those -- condemning the cartoons as something that is understandable, it's a right.

But when that turns to violence, that is where the problem lay and we would call upon governments to take steps to lower the tensions and, as I have said, that anytime you do have acts of violence of the sort that we have seen, we will come out and condemn those acts of violence.

Yes, sir.

QUESTION: I'm from TV2 Denmark. Is there any supportive action from the U.S. Government that a staunch ally like the Danes, who have been supporting the U.S. in Iraq and Afghanistan, should expect -- I mean, supportive actions apart from kind words when its embassies are being burned down?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, we have stood shoulder to shoulder with Denmark in the wake of the violence against their embassies. It is a specific responsibility of a host state to provide the protection necessary for those foreign embassy compounds. That's a basic responsibility of any state that agrees to host an embassy. So we have stood shoulder to shoulder with Denmark on that issue.

As I said, Secretary Rice, over the weekend, called to express our thoughts to the Danish Foreign Minister and the fact that we stood with Denmark on this issue. And as I said before, in Lebanon, the Lebanese Government has said that they are taking -- going to take a look at the issue. They have apologized for the issue. The Minister of Interior has resigned. We haven't seen any such actions coming out of Syria, but we are -- the United States continues to appreciate the solidarity of the Danish people in the global fight against terrorism, including -- you mentioned -- in Iraq. They have taken a brave stance and we appreciate it.

QUESTION: There has been some confusion in Denmark about the Friday statement from the State Department. Could you clarify if that statement came down on the side of freedom of speech or on the side of people who have been offended by the cartoons?

MR. MCCORMACK: I don't know if you were at my briefing on Friday, but --

QUESTION: I did.

MR. MCCORMACK: -- I think it was very clear what I said and I'll refer you back to the transcript. Don't have anything to add.

QUESTION: Any chance (inaudible) threats picked up against the United States or U.S. installations that you're going to let us know?

MR. MCCORMACK: Barry, our folks are constantly doing threat assessments against our embassies and they're going to take whatever precautions they deem necessary in order to protect not only the facilities, but also our people stationed abroad.

Teri.

QUESTION: Do you find any --

QUESTION: Wait, can I follow up on that? Sorry, Teri. Just but as a result of the constant reassessment, has there been any action that any U.S. embassies have taken because of threats? I know you wouldn't want to be specific, but can you say that there were some or weren't any?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, I know, for example, on -- with respect to Saturday's events in Damascus, that our embassy took some additional steps in order to protect the facility and also to protect our people who are stationed over there. I don't know what -- if there are any continuing actions that they have taken, Charlie. Obviously, that's one example of when there is a threat, our security people overseas take steps to protect our facilities and protect our people.

QUESTION: I'm just going to ask if you have any comment on the fact that Denmark is actually one of the most open countries in Europe in terms of Muslim immigrants. Do you find any particular misfortune in the fact that it's a country that actually was very welcoming to people of this faith? Does the fact it has such an open immigration policy give Denmark sort of more credibility in not -- in the fact that a country does not wish ill will to the Muslim faith?

MR. MCCORMACK: In terms of how people interpret these cartoons, that is going to be for them to decide in terms of what particular motivations may or may not have been and what their reaction is, is of the cartoons. Certainly Denmark is a country well known for its freedoms and its openness and that's important and we're -- Denmark is a close friend and a close ally of the United States.

Yes.

QUESTION: Should the countries where the cartoons are published apologize for printing them?

MR. MCCORMACK: You know, it's -- in the places that I know of in Europe where these cartoons have been printed and reprinted, these are countries with free media and free press, freedom of the press. The governments in these countries don't control the printing presses. As for the decisions to print these, print the cartoons, print whatever images, whatever words may appear in the media, those who are the decisions of the journalists as well as their editors to make. It's not for the governments to make, certainly not for our government to decide what gets printed in American newspapers or is broadcast over American airwaves.

Yes.

QUESTION: Iran, currently. Is there anything fresh to say about Iran's pursuit of, you would say -- the U.S. would say, nuclear weapons? Post IAEA threats and moves?

MR. MCCORMACK: I don't know if you saw -- there were some votes over -- there was a vote over the weekend.

QUESTION: Yeah.

MR. MCCORMACK: It was --

QUESTION: But now they have responded.

MR. MCCORMACK: They have --

QUESTION: Full speed ahead.

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, they have made a number of different conflicting statements, Barry. And some say that they're going to be proceeding towards full-scale enrichment, they're not going to cooperate vis-à-vis the Additional Protocol and yet they still want to talk to the Russian Government about their proposal. So I think you're seeing a number of different conflicting statements coming out of the Iranian regime. We'll see what the next month or so brings -- a little bit less than a month -- between now and when the IAEA Board of Governors hears from Director General ElBaradei. The Iranian Government can read very clearly what is expected of it from -- by the international community. It's laid out in the IAEA Board of Governors resolution.

I think if you -- if you go through it now, they've actually turned the other direction in terms of at least a declared statement of not cooperating with the IAEA regarding the Additional Protocols. That's one of the things that it calls upon them to do. It calls upon the Iranian Government to suspend their enrichment activities. At least the stated intention of the Iranian Government at this point is to continue with enrichment activities. So they're headed in the other direction from where the world wants to take them. But let's see what the next weeks bring them.

This is an opportunity for the Iranian Government to reassess its decision-making process with regard to cooperation with the international community. The international community spoke in a clear voice. You have 27 countries that voted for the referral or report to the Security Council and you had, I think, three countries that stood with Iran, including Venezuela and Cuba. And that's -- you know, Iran has to take a look and see if that's the company it wants to find itself because right now where it finds itself is isolated from the rest of the world. It is up to the Iranian regime to decide whether or not it wants to continue that isolation and even take that isolation further.

QUESTION: Do you see something potentially positive emanating from Tehran or you just kind of hope that the message gets through?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, we -- what we hope and what we've stated all along is that finding itself before the Security Council will have a positive effect on the decision-making processes of the regime and that that change in heart would lead to a desire to engage in a serious manner with the international community and to fulfill the requirements that have been set out before it from the international community. But we'll see. We'll see what happens.

Yes, ma'am.

QUESTION: If, I said "if" they come back to you and said to the international community that they are going to suspend everything and continue to cooperation with the IAEA, can you trust to the Iranian regime?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, it's a good question. At the core of the resolution, I think what underpins the resolution that you saw passed by the IAEA Board of Governors, was the idea that the trust level for -- with the Iranian regime -- between the Iranian regime and the international community has eroded to nearly zero. So what -- we will wait and see what they say and, more importantly, what they do. They have an -- like I said, they have an opportunity. We'll see if they act to take advantage of that opportunity.

Yes.

QUESTION: Regarding this weekend's vote, can you confirm reports in Time Magazine this weekend or this week that said the U.S. won support from other countries, in part, by sharing information about a secret Iranian military nuclear research project called Green Salt?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, what -- I can't confirm any particular pieces of information that we may have shared with the IAEA. It is incumbent upon IAEA Board of Governors members to try to share, to the extent they are able, information that they have that might help the IAEA in its work. And certainly, we, as well as other countries, other members of the Board of Governors, have sought to be as helpful as we possibly can be in the IAEA's investigations. But those investigations are conducted by the IAEA and their inspectors.

And certainly, you have seen from the interim report by Mr. Heinonen that there were real concerns and that there was evidence of ties between Iran's enrichment activities and a military program in which there were real concerns about information that Iran had in its possession about how to mill hemispheres made out of highly enriched uranium. Well, there's only one reason why you do that; it's because you want to build a nuclear weapon.

So those stated concerns by the IAEA are in public. They're a matter of public record. And as a matter of principle, we do what we can to assist the IAEA in its work.

Yes.

QUESTION: But didn't the State Department provide special briefings on information that it had on a laptop?

MR. MCCORMACK: I'm not going to get into any particular information that we may have shared with the IAEA. I will say --

QUESTION: (Inaudible) but did you give these briefings?

MR. MCCORMACK: I will say that we, as did other members of the Board of Governors, worked to try to provide helpful information to the IAEA in making its judgments. The judgments -- I have to emphasize, the judgments that you saw in the interim report were those of the IAEA after their investigation.

QUESTION: Do you think this information helped tip the scale towards, you know, countries voting for referral?

MR. MCCORMACK: You'll have to do a survey of all the individual countries to find out what went into their decision-making process; but at a minimum, I think what you saw was an IAEA Board of Governors that was very concerned about Iran's actions and a bedrock common desire to see that Iran not be able to build a nuclear weapon.

Yes.

QUESTION: With Iran's announcement today that they're going to restart their enrichment, do you regret the month-long waiting period that was built into this vote?

MR. MCCORMACK: No. We talked about this last week in the wake of the agreement that the Secretary arrived at with her other P-5 ministerial colleagues. I think it was a good agreement. We think that it was important that Iran understand very clearly that the -- not only the P-5, but the Board of Governors was sending it a very strong message. Part of that was coming to this agreement that Iran would be reported to the Security Council out of this Board of Governors meeting and we thought it was reasonable to wait those several weeks before the Security Council took action. It gives the Iranian Government an opportunity to assess where it finds itself.

I know we've seen some initial reactions, but let's give this a couple of weeks. We have until March 6th for Iran to consider its actions and to consider the fact and to digest the fact that it now finds itself before the Security Council.

QUESTION: There's no thought of curtailing that period, given that it seems like their -- what they -- their digestion shows is that they're moving ahead more quickly?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, we made an agreement with the other members of the P-5 and we intend to abide by it.

QUESTION: Can I try (inaudible) question?

MR. MCCORMACK: Sure.

QUESTION: In dealing with the magazine, you speak of individual countries, including the U.S., being available to help the IAEA. That raises, in my mind, the question -- maybe that's just natural, but is the IAEA sufficiently informed about what Iran is up to, to satisfy the Bush Administration as it proceeds? You got a meeting coming up. Do they know what Iran is up to or do they need a little help?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, the IAEA has its own resources and that takes the form of the personnel it has that does the inspections, that does their own groundwork or legwork with respect to the particular cases, in this case, Iran. I know that they have devoted significant resources to the issue.

That said, member states also have at their disposal significant resources that may help the IAEA in its work. I think what you saw in this last report from the IAEA was a report that painted a disturbing and troubling picture that made the connection between Iran's enrichment activities and a weapons program. This is something that we have talked about for quite some time, but this interim report is a public manifestation of what is a growing level of concern and also understanding among the international community as to what Iran is really up to in its nuclear program.

Yes.

QUESTION: Can I just ask you a quick question on that? The Russians, as I understand, were going to have a meeting with the Iranians about their proposal. Are you aware -- is that meeting still going ahead this -- later this month? And also, has the United States set out its parameters for supporting the Russian proposal and what exactly are they?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, as for whether the meeting is going to go forward, that's -- I'm not sure I know that the Russians are still prepared to talk to them about this issue. I don't know if the Iranians will go forward with it or not. I don't know. And whether -- and even whether they have a meeting, it would be a productive meeting, I don't know. In the past, they have not been. The Iranians have tacked back and forth, all the while heading towards one point, and that is their continued desire to perform enrichment. As for what's required of Iran, it's very clear. It's in the minimum standards are set forward in the IAEA resolution that was passed out of the Board of Governors meeting and Russia voted for that resolution.

QUESTION: To clarify on Russian proposal --

MR. MCCORMACK: Yes.

QUESTION: What's the latest on where Iran is? I know there's conflicting reports. You know, they were thinking about it and not thinking about it.

MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah. You'll have to check with the Iranians where they stand on the Russian proposal.

QUESTION: Okay.

QUESTION: Just give them a call.

(Laughter.)

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, you might want to ask at their daily press briefing. I don't know if they have one of those.

Yeah.

QUESTION: Secretary Rice mentioned a few times that right now regarding the Iran nuclear activities, we are in the new phase of diplomacy. Secretary Rumsfeld talked with an economic newspaper yesterday at Germany and I quote, he said: "All option, including military, is on the table." I'm asking are you seeing any contribution between these two statements?

MR. MCCORMACK: No. I think he was asked that question. I haven't -- I have seen various news reports out of various interviews or interventions that he may have done in Germany and I know that he was asked that question, so it's reporters asking well, you know, are military options are on the table. And what at least I saw, he restated what both the President and Secretary Rice have said all along and said that those options -- you never have the President take any option off the table. That's just -- that's -- you don't want an American President to take options off the table. But as Secretary Rice has stated very clearly, it's not on the agenda now. We are working a diplomatic route.

QUESTION: Change of subject?

MR. MCCORMACK: I don't know. Anything else on Iran?

QUESTION: Anything else from the conference with Deputy Secretary Zoellick? Any other statement about Iran and the Americans' commitments after the security conference?

MR. MCCORMACK: I didn't -- I haven't seen anything else coming from the Deputy Secretary.

Yes.

QUESTION: On the jailbreak in Yemen. What are you concerns about these 13 al-Qaida guys on the run again?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, it's a real source of concern. We are disappointed that this was able to happen, that these people managed to escape from prison. They are some dangerous people who have broken out of the prison. I know the Yemeni officials are seized with the matter, that they are working very hard to track down these individuals, one of whom was deeply involved in the planning to bomb the USS Cole. And certainly we think it is important that the Yemeni Government make every effort to recapture these individuals, and certainly if we are able to provide any assistance in doing that, we will. But the main party responsible for the recapture is the Yemeni Government.

QUESTION: Have we specifically offered to send troops? I know the FBI was so -- was involved in the early parts of the Cole investigation. Are their FBI teams back in Yemen for this reason?

MR. MCCORMACK: Not that I'm aware of. I know that we haven't received any specific requests yet from the Yemenis. If we do, we'll be ready to help out.

QUESTION: Did you recommend they make a request like that?

MR. MCCORMACK: That's going to be up to the them. I would assume that they feel a real responsibility to recapture these people who escaped from one of their jails.

Barry.

QUESTION: Sorry, it's a little esoteric, but if you have it, do you know why the Bush Administration changed its view from 2002 to recently so far as a group called the International Lesbian and Gay Association's request to be a permanent member of some UN panel?

MR. MCCORMACK: We'll see if we can get you something on that, Barry.

QUESTION: Would you because --

MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah.

QUESTION: -- we have queries -- questions on it.

MR. MCCORMACK: Indeed. We'll try to get you something on it.

Yes.

QUESTION: Another subject? Hamas leaders from the Palestinian territories and also from abroad are meeting today in Cairo and they are trying to decide on the formation of their government and they made known that they will be ready to enter PLO, which would mean that de facto they would recognize Israel because PLO recognizes Israel. Would it be a way out for you? Would it be a positive decision?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, we and the international community have laid out very clearly what would be required of any new Palestinian government in order to have any sort of relationship with the international community. Those requirements are laid out very clearly in the most recent Quartet statement I know that you saw. So we will see what Hamas decides to do, to see if they meet the requirements of the international community.

QUESTION: Do you see that kind of signals, positive signals or?

MR. MCCORMACK: Again, the requirements are there. They have decisions to make. They have decisions to make whether or not they are going to meet those requirements.

Yes, ma'am.

QUESTION: On Venezuela. On Friday you recognize that the expulsion of the Venezuelan diplomatic was a reaction for John Correa. And you even said there was no tit for tat with Venezuela. But at the same time --

MR. MCCORMACK: I said we don't want to -- we don't like to get into tit-for-tat games, but we felt compelled to respond to Venezuela's action.

QUESTION: Correct. The day before the expulsion, the diplomatic -- U.S. Ambassador to Venezuela Brownfield said that the reaction is going -- it was going to be serious, strong and asymmetric. That mean there is going to be more retaliation, reaction like that or more expulsion on the Venezuelan Embassy?

MR. MCCORMACK: We don't at this point have any other actions planned vis-à-vis further expulsions at this point.

Yes, sir. Lambros.

QUESTION: On Kosovo.

MR. MCCORMACK: Yes.

QUESTION: Last Friday, you stated on Kosovo, "But certainly progress on the political front will change vis-à-vis the military deployment there," including the 1,800 U.S. forces. But on December 6th during a press conference here in Washington with the presence of the Albanian Minister of Defense, I asked the Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, "If the Kosovar Albanians, as they are claiming in the recent days, will try to unite Kosovo with Albania, or to grab piece of land of Serbia or of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, do you have contingency plans to prevent such an action in order to keep the stability in the Balkans and to keep your pledge, no change in borders, no partition, no instability?"

Secretary Rumsfeld answered, "That's a question that really should be answered by our Department of Statement." Therefore, I'm wondering what is your response.

MR. MCCORMACK: I have to admit I didn't -- you know, didn't get all of your question. So why don't we do this: We'll take your question and we'll get you a response to it.

QUESTION: And a follow-up? Any comment on the response by the Albanian Minister of Defense, who said that the Kosovar Albanians in those talks are seeking only independence, peace, stability, prosperity, and the pursuit of happiness in the Balkans?

MR. MCCORMACK: I haven't seen his remarks. We'll -- if there's anything we have to offer in response, I'll --

QUESTION: It's on the same -- okay.

MR. MCCORMACK: Yes, sir.

QUESTION: Mr. McCormack, as you know maybe, there is a major scandal in Greece that -- a (inaudible) scandal of the phones of the prime minister. Do you have any comment on this?

MR. MCCORMACK: I think it's a matter for the Greek Government to take up.

QUESTION: There are accusations that there is American involvement.

MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah, I know. I've seen a lot of these reports, but I think it's really a matter for the Greek Government to handle.

Yes.

QUESTION: Haiti is voting tomorrow for a new president. Do you have any thoughts on that?

MR. MCCORMACK: It's an important day for the Haitian people. At this point, the election preparations have been put in place. We ourselves have offered $30 million in support of these elections. The preparations, as I said, are there. Public transportation will be available on election day. A public information campaign has informed voters of their voting center locations and voting process. It's really now up to the Haitian people to take the opportunity that has been put before them by these elections. They have an opportunity to, through the ballot box, choose who will lead them and to close the book on this last chapter in Haiti's history.

My understanding is that -- just as a factual matter for you, George -- that about 92 percent of the voter ID cards have been distributed. They're going to continue to be distributed throughout today. And that for those who weren't able to get for whatever reason their voter ID card, that they'll be able to vote with their registration slips. So as long as they have that, they'll be able to vote. The idea here is to allow as many people as possible who expressed a desire to participate in the process to participate in the process and not allow any logistical hurdles to get in the way of that.

QUESTION: About $30 million -- has that money been spent? And if so, what's it been spent on?

MR. MCCORMACK: The $30 million has already been spent. It's been spent in a variety of different ways, voter awareness, helping the -- build the registration process. It's also been used, I believe, in helping build awareness among those participating in the political process, how to do that, how to build political parties, how to campaign. It's very similar to what we have done around the world in other places where those institutions underpin democracy or a democratic electoral process aren't -- either aren't there or they're not very strong.

QUESTION: Have they gone to political parties as --

MR. MCCORMACK: What's that?

QUESTION: Has any of that money gone to certain political parties or is it just nonpartisan and it's gone to -- just to help the infrastructure of voting?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, in terms -- I'll go back and check. But you know, our principle under which we operate is that we're not going to try to put our finger on the scale of any particular political party. All of our democracy-building programs are designed to help people build for them -- build themselves political parties and civic organizations. How they do that is up to them. What we try to do is give people advice in how to do those things.

Yes.

QUESTION: Going back to the Munich security conference, any reaction on the part of the State Department on suggestions from Senators McCain and Lieberman that NATO should be involved in possible military actions in Iran?

MR. MCCORMACK: We have made our views very clearly known where we stand with respect to the diplomatic process that is currently unfolding.

Yes.

QUESTION: On Cyprus, since Deputy Assistant Secretary Matt Bryza is in Europe, could you please check for us if he's going to visit Cyprus, a trip that has been postponed last week for unknown reasons?

MR. MCCORMACK: I don't know. I didn't bring his travel schedule with me.

QUESTION: But can you check if he is going to?

MR. MCCORMACK: Sure.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

MR. MCCORMACK: I don't know. I don't keep track of Matt on a daily basis.

(The briefing was concluded at 1:22 p.m.)

DPB #20


Released on February 6, 2006

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The coverage of international news seems almost entirely dependent on a random selection of whatever some overseas news agency happens to be carrying overnight... Here are a few interesting international stories that have largely flown beneath the radar this past week. More>>

Amnesty/Human Rights Watch: Appalling Abuse, Neglect Of Refugees On Nauru

Refugees and asylum seekers on Nauru, most of whom have been held there for three years, routinely face neglect by health workers and other service providers who have been hired by the Australian government, as well as frequent unpunished assaults by local Nauruans. More>>

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Other Australian Detention

Gordon Campbell: On The Censorship Havoc In South Africa’s State Broadcaster

Demands have included an order to staff that there should be no further negative news about the country’s President Jacob Zuma, and SABC camera operators responsible for choosing camera angles that have allegedly made the President ‘look shorter’ were to be retrained... More>>

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Gordon Campbell: On A Bad Week For Malcolm Turnbull, And The Queen

Malcolm Turnbull’s immediate goal – mere survival – is still within his grasp... In every other respect though, this election has been a total disaster for the Liberals. More>>

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