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State Dept. Daily Press Briefing February 24, 2006


State Dept. Daily Press Briefing February 24, 2006


Daily Press Briefing
Adam Ereli, Deputy Spokesman
Washington, DC
February 24, 2006

INDEX:

PHILIPPINES
Update on Situation / State of Emergency
US Embassy Issues Warden Message to American Citizens

VENEZUELA
Venezuelan Government's Ordered Reduction in US Carrier Flights

UGANDA
Presidential and Parliamentary Elections Update

SUDAN
Ongoing Crisis in Darfur / Peacekeeping Operation
UN Security Council Draft Resolution

MIDDLE EAST
Secretary Rice's Trip to the Gulf Region / Outcome of Secretary's
Discussions Regarding Hamas and Iran

IRAQ
Responsibility for Golden Mosque Bombing / Sectarian Violence in
Iraq
Discussions with Iraqi Leaders

PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY
Quartet's Approach to Relations with a Future Palestinian
Government
Interim Government Support /Assistance to Palestinian People

UNITED ARAB EMIRATES
Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. (CFIUS) and State
Department Participation in Process
Consultations with Congress on Dubai Ports World Transaction

SAUDI ARABIA
Attack on Saudi Oil Facility


TRANSCRIPT:

1:08 p.m. EST


MR. ERELI: Okay. No statements, so let's begin with your questions.

QUESTION: I guess the State Department has concluded it was an attempted coup in the Philippines after all, right?

MR. ERELI: We'll leave it to the Philippine Government to characterize the actions over the last 24 hours. They're in the best position to give you the facts and details about what happened. We're certainly monitoring it carefully. The Government of the Philippines is continuing its investigation into the matter. Our view is that the constitution of the Philippines and the rule of law must be respected and violence must be rejected. We hope the situation will return to normal. Our embassy has issued a Warden message to American citizens in the Philippines advising them to be prudent about their personal safety at this time.

QUESTION: It doesn't mean stay at home, just be careful.

MR. ERELI: Be careful.

QUESTION: On Venezuela.

QUESTION: One more. You're going to leave it to the Philippine Government to describe it, but what is the embassy telling you?

MR. ERELI: The embassy is reporting what the Government of the Philippines has said -- the actions that the Government of the Philippines has taken and so, that's the information that we're getting from our embassy. And rather than speak for the Philippine Government, I'd rather you contact them and get the information from them.

QUESTION: I guess I should have been more precise. My question is, is the embassy telling you that there was a coup attack or are they not telling you that?

MR. ERELI: I haven't checked exactly what they've told us.

Venezuela.

QUESTION: Venezuela, yes. Do you have any reaction to Venezuela's decision to curb the flights of U.S. carriers and are you planning any retaliatory sort of steps?

MR. ERELI: The Government of Venezuela has notified U.S. carriers serving Venezuela of the Government of Venezuela's intention to reduce flights, effective March 1st. We are in touch with the U.S. air carriers, as well as the Government of Venezuela, to find out more facts and to resolve this matter satisfactorily. We were not notified or consulted about this decision before it was made. We would note that any unilateral action like this would violate the Air Transport Services Agreement between the United States and Venezuela that dates from 1953. So we're working to resolve it and that's where we are at the moment.

QUESTION: Can we take the politeness out of it? It is a unilateral action.

MR. ERELI: It is. Yes, sure.

QUESTION: And it does violate --

MR. ERELI: Well, if it were to go forward, that would be the case. But I think there's every effort being made to see if we can't deal with it in a positive way and prevent it from happening.

QUESTION: And what are your options?

MR. ERELI: Well, the options are to respect the agreement or to violate the agreement. And we're working to get them to respect the agreement because it's unilateral, it's unjustified, it's unwarranted.

QUESTION: The Venezuelans claim that this is retaliation for restrictions on --

MR. ERELI: Yes.

QUESTION: -- some restrictions imposed by the U.S. (Inaudible) which ones?

MR. ERELI: We're really talking about apples and oranges. What the Venezuelan Government has said publicly is that this is a reaction to limitation by the Federal Aviation Administration in 1995 of Venezuelan flights to the United States for safety reasons. And at that time the FAA determined that Venezuelan civil aviation oversight was not in compliance with international standards. So if it's a safety issue, if this action is being taken by the Venezuelan Government on the basis of safety issues, which is why the FAA took action against -- with respect to Venezuelan flights in 1995, that's one thing. But until now, that argument has not been made.

QUESTION: Can I just go back to the options question again, because we know what their options are. What are the U.S. options if they do, in fact, go ahead with that? Is it referral to a panel, is it --

MR. ERELI: I couldn't tell you. I don't know what the technical next steps would be. Our focus for the moment is trying to avoid a situation where we have to take those kinds of steps.

QUESTION: Do you see this as a political campaign by the Venezuelan Government against the U.S. and U.S. business interests?

MR. ERELI: I'll deal with the facts before us. The facts are that we have an agreement, that the proposed action is a violation of that agreement and what we want to do is to work to respect international covenants.

Yeah.

QUESTION: Change the subject? Uganda.

MR. ERELI: Yes.

QUESTION: We've had presidential elections there. The opposition is claiming foul. There's a possibility of post-election violence. What is your reaction to this?

MR. ERELI: There have been elections in Uganda for the president and parliament. Uganda's electoral commission today announced provisional results that are based on a percentage of national votes counted. Observer reports indicate no incidence of violence during the elections. There have been reports of administrative and procedural irregularities by observers, as well as other claims of irregularities by the opposition. And those claims need to be investigated. They need to be investigated and reported on in a transparent manner, so that the final results are seen as credible by all Ugandans.

QUESTION: At this point, would you evaluate the elections as free and fair or are you --

MR. ERELI: I would evaluate them as I just said. They took place free of violence. There are limited observations of irregularities. There are charges of fraud by opposition. Those charges need to be investigated.

QUESTION: What about the run-up to the election? You know, there's been a lot of reports or complaints that it was not a level playing field in the campaign. Do you share this?

MR. ERELI: Well, I think we've been fairly clear about how we view the period preceding the elections. Number one, there were incidents of violence during the campaign period, which we expressed disappointment and concern about. We also noted previously that actions taken against Dr. Besigye, who is the leading opposition candidate, were cause for concern and urged that actions against him -- or in his case, follow the rule of law and not be grounds for charges of harassment against the opposition.

QUESTION: So, just one last thing. To sum up, the United States' position is you're waiting to see the results of these investigations into the irregularities before making a judgment on what kind of election it was?

MR. ERELI: I would say we're at a preliminary stage. Let's see how the vote count goes and the results of the investigation are. Based on what we've seen so far, it was an election relatively free of violence and with limited observations of irregularities.

QUESTION: Do you have any guidance on the Lord's Resistance Army operating in northern Uganda for 20 years and, by the way, is -- there are as many displaced in northern Uganda as there are in Darfur.

MR. ERELI: Right, right, right.

QUESTION: If you don't have any guidance --

MR. ERELI: Well, we've spoken to the issue before and the presence of the Lord's Resistance Army is a matter of deep concern for all those who support peace and human rights in the region. I mean, these forces are destabilizing and horrific in their treatment of innocent civilians. This is a position that is shared by us and the Government of Uganda and most of Uganda's neighbors. It is an issue that we raise in our travels throughout the region -- in Sudan, in Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa to try to develop a concerted effort to squeeze these guys and prevent them from having safe haven. They are a scourge, they are a threat and they need to be -- I think we all recognize the need to deal with them effectively.

QUESTION: Would you take the question of what resources, if any, are being used to achieve those ends?

MR. ERELI: Sure.

QUESTION: I have a question regarding Darfur.

MR. ERELI: Okay. Let's go to Darfur, since --

QUESTION: I just want to know whether the United States is considering having kind of days for NATO or for United States within the south of Sudan? I know Darfur file was a very important file. Secretary Rice discussed the issue --

MR. ERELI: Yeah. You're asking, I think, a question about sort of planning and operational logistics. And the short answer is we're really not there yet. Whatever the United States does in Sudan is going to be part of a multilateral international approach to the ongoing crisis in Darfur. We are not in this acting unilaterally, although, I would say that we are taking a strong leadership role in the international community to push for concrete and effective action to respond to the humanitarian suffering and political unrest in the part of Sudan. What form that international intervention is going to take, I think the outlines are fairly clear at this point, but only the outlines and not a lot of the detail. The forum that we're pushing for is a UN peacekeeping operation to -- for all of Sudan that would combine both the UN forces currently in the south with rehatting the AU forces in Darfur as part of a broader UN operation and that that would involve the participation, first and foremost, of the AU, as well as others with -- from within the UN family. Who does what and where is part of the, I guess, detail that still -- details that still need to be worked out.

QUESTION: May I follow up, sir?

MR. ERELI: Yes, sure.

QUESTION: Some African countries are calling for the -- that there is a must that the Sudanese Government to accept as a host the presence of the foreign countries into their land -- on the Sudanese land. How far will you accept this? And also about Darfur, the resolution or the draft resolution of the Security Council, how did it go? How far did it go?

MR. ERELI: Well, on the draft resolution, as we said yesterday or the day before -- I don't remember -- we have -- Ambassador Bolton has introduced elements of a draft resolution at the Security Council last week. We chaired an experts-level meeting yesterday regarding Sudan, so discussion of those elements is continuing. We certainly look forward to putting forward a resolution for rehatting the AU mission as part of a broader and larger UN operation, as I said.

As far as the question of foreign forces in Sudan go, I'd say, you know, they're already there and Sudan has accepted the AU force and that is a, I think, an important and noteworthy precedent for future action. And I would also note that the AU force has worked well and effectively in Sudan to date. And it gives us, I think, a firm foundation on which to build a UN force that will be -- of which a large and important part will be based on the AU contribution.

QUESTION: Yeah. But now there will be foreign forces.

MR. ERELI: There are now already.

QUESTION: They are AU forces.

MR. ERELI: And they will continue to be AU forces, as part of the plan.

QUESTION: Is your interest there only for -- on humanitarian support for the Darfur people or also have another interest like -- as you know, there are uranium area -- a very rich uranium area and the oil, too.

MR. ERELI: Yeah. I think that the motivations of the United States and the international community, including and especially the African Union are very clear. It's to bring peace to Darfur. It is a noble and positive mission that we believe all nations of goodwill should embrace.

Yes.

QUESTION: Yes. Adam, Secretary of State before she left for her Middle East trip --

QUESTION: I just wanted to ask one more on Sudan. It seems unlikely that the resolution's going to go through this month. Some members of the expert group were feeling that you should wait until the AU meeting in March before any decisions are taken because you would be sort of privy to anything the AU force comes up with. Do you think you pushed a little bit too hard here and jumped the gun a little bit? Wouldn't it have been better just to have waited until the AU had come up with its own request before pushing this --

MR. ERELI: In discussing our diplomacy with regard to Sudan, I've always tried to -- we've always tried to present to you a picture of a lot of different moving parts which are interconnected. On the one hand, you've got a -- you start with a presidential statement from January 12th, which was over a month ago, expressing support for this idea and setting up a assessment -- UN assessment mission. You've also got already an AU endorsement of the rehatting by the Peace and Security Council of the African Union. And then you begin sort of fleshing out what that might entail by introducing elements of the resolution, so these are all parts of a whole and you can't stop one until others reach a certain stage. You've got to move them all forward. So yes, it's important to begin work on a resolution. Yes, it's important to get the AU to endorse the idea and the basic answer to your question is, you can walk and chew gum at the same time. It's not precipitating things. It's not pushing things. We think you can -- you should be working them all consecutively, basically, in order not to lose too much time.

Because what we need to keep in mind, as we are working the diplomacy, is that there are people that are dying in Darfur every day, so it's hard to -- you know, on the one hand, you asked the question, why don't you wait? And on one hand, if you wait, people say, "Why are you waiting when people are dying." So, our position is, let's move quickly, but also, let's do it deliberately so that we get it right and we get the international support we need, so that this mission can be effective, so that lives can be saved, so that we can bring a true, lasting, comprehensive peace to Darfur, and so that people can get out of the camps, back to their homes, and Sudan can be at peace and whole for the benefit of the Sudanese.

Yes.

QUESTION: New question. Adam, before the Secretary left for her trip to the Middle East, she was very, very explicit that two of the biggest chapters in the trip to the Middle East would be Hamas and Iran. Now that the trip is over and they're on the way home, she has not gotten any guarantee from any country out there that they would even review aid to Hamas and at a meeting of the Gulf Corporation Counsel, they got no explicit criticism of Iran in a communiqué.

MR. ERELI: Yeah.

QUESTION: Would you say that this is somewhat of a disappointment?

MR. ERELI: Oh, I'm just -- I would disagree completely with your characterization of the trip. I think that, again, if you look at what the Secretary has said in her different public appearances during this trip, there was, number one, a recognition by Egypt, by Saudi Arabia, by the GCC that there's only one acceptable solution to the plight of the Palestinians and the conflict with the Israelis and that is a negotiated solution based on a mutual respect and recognition and the creation of a Palestinian state. And to have that, you cannot -- and to create that and to arrive at that, you cannot have a partner that espouses terror and doesn't recognize Israel. That's noteworthy, that's significant, that provides a common -- a shared framework and shared basis on which to coordinate action to produce that outcome. We agree on the outcome and we agree on the principles that need to be followed. I think that's significant, that's noteworthy, that's positive.

On the question of Iran, you know, I wasn't in the meeting, so I really can't speak to the specifics of what was discussed, but my reading of the GCC statement -- statement of GCC is that there is serious concern about what Iran is doing and in our discussions with the countries of the region, you never hear the idea that "Oh, Iranians' actions aren't threatening," or "don't concern us at all" and "you guys are overstating the case." That's not something that's part of the discussions.

QUESTION: You said there was a specific mention of Iran in the communiqué?

MR. ERELI: Well, there's a specific mention. I'll have to look at it more carefully, but I recall seeing a specific mention of threats to peace and stability in the Gulf.

QUESTION: But there's no mention, Iran did not --

MR. ERELI: I don't -- fine, whether you specifically mention Iran or not, those of us who follow the issue and follow the region, it's pretty clear what they're talking about.

QUESTION: Okay. Let me just focus -- since you disagree completely with my characterization -- let me try to break that down just a little bit about the Hamas thing. In terms of one of the things that she told us, to the Arab journalists roundtable (inaudible) before she left that one of the things that she would be discussing is the idea that these Arab countries would not be making up any shortfall in assistance if the West has to cut off assistance -- she didn't prejudge that. I don't see anybody out there that she discussed with that was agreeing to the possibility of even reviewing assistance to a government led by Hamas if they did not renounce --

MR. ERELI: Well, that's -- read the transcript. The Foreign Minister of Egypt said we need to -- and what he said was very consistent with the Quartet statement, that we need -- we are going to judge what we do based on what Hamas does and that what Hamas needs to do is renounce terror, recognize Israel, and accept agreements that have already been negotiated. So, I think there's much more and much greater convergence of views than you're suggesting.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

(Laughter.)

MR. ERELI: Okay, yes.

QUESTION: Some readings of Secretary Rice's comments on the plane have her concluding that al-Qaida was responsible for the bombings of the mosque. Do you have any sense that that's what she meant to convey?

MR. ERELI: I don't have any such suggestion, no.

QUESTION: You don't?

MR. ERELI: No.

QUESTION: Do you still have no idea --

MR. ERELI: I think what's clear to everybody, and the President has stated this very explicitly today, is that the people who bombed the mosque are the same terrorists that have been trying to sow sectarian strife in Iraq for some time. Zarqawi has made that a very explicitly stated objective of his campaign.

So, what's clear to us and more importantly, what's clear to the Iraqis is that this is a provocation by extremists that do not represent the vast majority of the Iraqis and that they are confronting this provocation with the same resolve and civic spirit that they have demonstrated over the course of the last three years. They are uniting, they are denouncing violence, and they are calling for peace and reconciliation and that is something to be lauded.

QUESTION: But you're not suggesting that they're either domestic -- that they're Iraqi extremists or foreign extremists?

MR. ERELI: I'm not in a position to detail for you who did this and how it was done. I think one thing that the Iraqis have been -- made very clear and that we've made very clear is that we are all dedicated to the proposition of finding out who is responsible for this and for holding them to account. And I would note that Prime Minister Jafari has announced steps -- concrete steps to achieve that and I just -- I wouldn't want to prejudge the conclusions of those efforts before they're done.

QUESTION: Adam, two days ago, Jim Jeffrey told the wires that al-Qaida was the number one suspect in this bombing. Is that no longer operative?

MR. ERELI: No, I don't -- again, I don't have any information to take issue with what Jim Jeffrey said or to steer you in one direction or another with regard -- you know, with regard to other statements. I think they're -- you know, what they're telling you is based on information they have; great, no reason to doubt it. All I'm saying is that there's an investigation going on. The Iraqis are committed, the international community is committed to finding out who did this and making them pay for their crime and we're going to help them do that.

Yes.

QUESTION: How concerned are you that this sectarian -- this sort of rise in sectarian tensions is going to spill over into neighboring countries? And are you speaking to neighboring countries to try and sort of plan ahead for what could be even more violence in Iraq? And is it time to talk to Iran about this?

MR. ERELI: No plans or discussions that I'm aware of with regard to discussions with Iran. As far as spillover effect, I think our -- everybody's focus has been very firmly on supporting the Iraqi people as they respond to this provocation and deal with, frankly, their grief.

As far as our conversations with other countries go, as I said yesterday, we have been reaching out to Iraq's neighbors and countries with influence in Iraq to encourage a joint approach in response to this act -- this horrible act of terror, a joint approach that emphasizes, obviously, condemnation, a call for calm, and a promotion of national unity.

QUESTION: Can I pick up on the -- you gave quite a rosy picture yesterday of Iraq and I just wondered, bearing in mind, the political situation and the concerns about the Sunnis. What efforts are being made to re-engage them in the political process and where are we at with that?

MR. ERELI: Well, the political, as I said yesterday, the political process is moving forward. I'm not sure -- I don't think anything I said was intended to sugar coat what is a difficult period and a trying time for Iraq. But I think what we've seen, both now and over the course of the past three years, is that when faced with adversity and faced with challenges, Iraqis time and again, rise to those challenges and prove themselves to be determined, committed and capable of achieving the goals that they have set for themselves. And I don't expect it to be any different in this case. As far as the specific question you get -- you asked about where we are in the political process, there's every indication that the Iraqis are moving forward in their efforts to form a government of national unity. Discussions are continuing. The work goes on. Obviously, there's been an impact by this event, but it's -- that's to be expected and I wouldn't overstate the case. As I said, discussions are continuing and the work goes on. And sooner or later, they're going to get there.

QUESTION: Are the Sunnis participating in these discussions?

MR. ERELI: I would refer you to Ambassador Khalilzad's briefing today in which he said Sunnis and the tawafog group are continuing their discussions with a number of different groups involved in the process -- the Kurds, the Iraqi Alliance. They have suspended them, I think, with the United Iraqi Alliance. But again, efforts underway to restart those parts of the talks, so it's a -- again, as in anything with Iraq, it's not a black and white picture. And the bottom line is that the process continues and that despite difficulties and despite provocations and despite attempts by a few to subvert the will of the many, the Iraqis are, once again, proving themselves to be dedicated defenders of democracy.

Yes, Teri.

QUESTION: Change of subject. Do you support the suggestions by Javier Solana that funding now go through -- go directly to Abbas -- that funding to the Palestinians go directly to Abbas?

MR. ERELI: Yeah. I've seen press reports of -- on the subject. I haven't seen exactly what Mr. Solana said, so for specifics I'd refer you to him. What I think the important point is that the Quartet has an agreed-upon approach to the issue of peace between the Palestinians and Israelis and to the issue of relations with a future Palestinian government. That approach is, I think, clearly laid out in the Quartet statement of January 30th and this --

QUESTION: No, it does not review their funding. It does --

MR. ERELI: And there's nothing -- frankly, there's nothing that we've seen or indicated -- that we've seen that indicates any departure from that agreed-upon approach.

QUESTION: Well, it doesn't say what each member of the Quartet would provide with regard to funding.

MR. ERELI: It says the future assistance to any new government would be reviewed by donors --

QUESTION: Exactly.

MR. ERELI: -- against that government's commitment to the principles of nonviolence and recognition of Israel and acceptance of previous agreements. That remains the view of all the members of the Quartet and there's nothing that anybody said that, I think, calls into question our unanimity of views on that score.

QUESTION: Right. But if you give it directly to Abbas, he would be -- he would still be the head of the government.

MR. ERELI: President Abbas is the -- well, again, I don't know what the EU is proposing. I've seen those press reports. There is -- you know, we're all looking for ways we can support the interim government of the Palestinian Authority, as it bridges this period between the elections and between the new government. Once a new government comes in, we are all going to be looking at what makes sense in terms of supporting the humanitarian needs of the Palestinian people which we all want to do and in which we're all committed to doing. And at the same time, not supporting groups that advocate the destruction of another state and practice terror. And those are the guidelines that we're all very much committed to and continuing to follow.

QUESTION: Do you agree with the Egyptian suggestion that Hamas needs more time? Are you ready to give Hamas more time to consider these demands?

MR. ERELI: We've made it clear that Hamas has a choice that it has been elected democratically and now that it must -- and now having been elected democratically it must govern responsibly. "Responsibly" means not practicing terror, recognizing Israel and accepting its existence and, accepting previous agreements. That is a choice that Hamas must make. And if -- and we are going to do everything we can to work with our partners in the international community, including Egypt, to get it to make the right choice.

Yes.

QUESTION: Will you need more time?

MR. ERELI: I don't know what "more time" means. The time is now.

Yeah.

QUESTION: Dubai Ports World postponement of its involvement in U.S. port security. Did anyone in the U.S. Government talk to anyone in Dubai or at the United Arab Emirates and say it would be in your best interest to postpone this deal?

MR. ERELI: I can't speak for anybody in the U.S. Government. I can say that the State Department as part of our participation in the CFIUS process, contributed to those deliberations and provided the information that we are required to do under the law in -- for a full review of this deal and that, as a result of that process and our contribution and our participation, it was determined that this -- that there was no reason that this deal should not go through on national security grounds.

Yes.

QUESTION: How effective do you think the postponement will be?

MR. ERELI: I'll leave it to others to comment on the process. I think the point the Secretary made and the President has made is that this is -- due diligence has been done and it's a good deal.

QUESTION: What are the ramifications, if I could ask, if the deal was killed?

MR. ERELI: That's not something that we are looking -- that's not something that we're expecting or -- proposition that we're considering.

QUESTION: Okay. And lastly, the United Arab Emirates gave $100 million to Katrina victims shortly before the deal was sealed. Is there any sense of a quid pro quo?

MR. ERELI: Absolutely none.

QUESTION: Egypt.

MR. ERELI: Yes.

QUESTION: Could you talk a little bit about what's going on up on Capitol Hill, how many people are going to be briefing up there, how many members of Congress have asked for briefings and is there any reaction to the proposal in the works that would require Congress to approve this deal?

MR. ERELI: I don't have any comment for you on the last question. On the who from State is going to the Hill, there are briefings today for staff members of committees, as well as members' offices, and officials from the Near Eastern Bureau are participating in those. I expect there'll be -- continue to be briefings next week and we'll obviously be providing -- be ready to provide whatever officials Congress feels are necessary to address their questions.

Yes, sir. In the back.

QUESTION: On Cyprus. It seems you have an illegal direct trade with the northern Turkish-occupied territory of Cyprus and maybe with the British. May we have the list of those American companies which are doing business with the Turkish Cypriots via the government of the Department of State and also what kind of products are using?

MR. ERELI: I don't know. It's not -- the U.S. Government does not regulate commercial transaction so -- on this issue. So we're not the source for that kind of information.

QUESTION: But who is doing that unilaterally because it's an illegal area?

MR. ERELI: It's not -- commercial transactions with the northern part of Cyprus are not illegal by any definition that I'm aware of.

QUESTION: So it's legal in your opinion?

MR. ERELI: Yeah.

QUESTION: And then, in your opinion, why you don't recognize (inaudible), the Turkish-occupied area of Cyprus since you do recognize this area de facto as you said right now, they legal -- the legal airports and seaports for the direct trade in order to ease the isolation as you said many, many times, otherwise (inaudible) foreign policy (inaudible) the nucleus of this issue?

MR. ERELI: The nucleus is that our policy and recognition hasn't changed. We've got questions in the back. I'm sorry, yes, ma'am? Okay.

QUESTION: Do you have any information regarding Deputy Secretary Zoellick's meeting with (inaudible) from Korea?

MR. ERELI: I don't have anything now. I'll see what I can get for you.

Yes, ma'am.

QUESTION: Adam, do you have an update on the attempted terrorist attack in Saudi Arabia on the oil refineries? And apparently, the terrorists were gunned down. Can you tell us -- do they know where they came from and does Saudi feel like they have everything under control?

MR. ERELI: I would refer you to a statement by the Saudi Ministry of Petroleum that they issued a short while ago for details about the attack, since it was an attack carried out in Saudi Arabia, on a Saudi facility, and dealt with by the Saudi Government. And so, they're really the best to address for facts and details concerning the attack.

>From the U.S. perspective, the Ambassador called the Foreign Minister and obviously, reiterated America's strong support for Saudi Arabia as they confront the same terrorist threat that we all face and that targets nations of laws and civilized behavior. And we pledged our -- whatever assistance and support to the Saudis to help them confront -- continue confronting that threat. But again, for details on the attack, I would refer to the Saudis.

Yes, ma'am.

QUESTION: I would like to go back to Darfur. In contingency planning, can you be more specific? Are you talking about -- you know, excuse me -- trips on the ground, enforcing a no-fly zone?

MR. ERELI: No, I can't be more specific, simply because those details have not been worked out. That's the purpose of the assessment team that went out there. It's a subject of ongoing discussions with our partners in NATO, with the AU, with the UN, and within the U.S. Government. I think what's clear, from the U.S. perspective, is we've been committed to supporting, in a material way, peace efforts in Darfur to date and that commitment will certainly continue in the future.

Last question.

QUESTION: Armenia.

MR. ERELI: Uh-huh.

QUESTION: Armenian -- a Washington Post article called "PBS panel with Armenian genocide broadcasting defense, inclusion of denials of most things by Turks," was published concerning a panel discussion that is scheduled to be broadcast on April 17th, a week before the Armenian (inaudible) by commemoration of the Armenian genocide.

The panel discussion will air after a one-hour documentary called "The Armenian Genocide" at 6:00 to promote a two-side review with the denials of the Armenian genocide.

What is the position of the U.S. Government on this issue?

MR. ERELI: This is a TV show?

QUESTION: Yes.

MR. ERELI: It's a TV show. Thank you.

QUESTION: So? And the answer is?

MR. ERELI: You can watch whatever you want to watch.

(The briefing was concluded at 1:49 p.m.)

ENDS


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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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Gordon Campbell: On Bidding Bye Bye To Boris

Boris Johnson’s exit from the contest for Conservative Party leadership supports the conspiracy theory that he never really expected the “Leave” option to win the referendum – and he has no intention now of picking up the poisoned chalice that managing the outcome will entail... More>>

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