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State Dept. Daily Press Briefing February 28, 2006

State Dept. Daily Press Briefing February 28, 2006

Daily Press Briefing
Adam Ereli, Deputy Spokesman
Washington, DC
February 28, 2006


No Change in Status Quo / Taiwan has Reaffirmed Pledges / National
Unification Council Not Abolished
U.S. Policy Consistent, Based on Taiwan Relations Act
U.S. Has Regular and Ongoing Contacts with Both sides
Both Sides Should Avoid Provocative Steps, Unilateral Actions
U.S. Does Not Support Taiwanese Independence

AU Role in Darfur Important
U.S. Hopes AU Endorses Rehatting of Forces
Update on Situation in Darfur
Broader International Involvement Needed to Stem Violence
National Unity Government, Power Sharing, Disarmament Key to
Darfur Solution
U.S. Determination of Genocide based on Legislation and Domestic

North Korea Accepted U.S. Offer of Briefing on Counterfeiting /
Briefing Will Not Discuss Other Issues
All Parties Have Agreed to Return to Six-Party Talks

U.S. Supports Annan Plan as Basis for Reunification PALESTINIAN
Quartet Expectations for Hamas as a Reliable Partner for Peace:
Recognition of Israel, Renunciation of Violence, Acceptance of
Prior Agreements
Return to U.S. of $50 Million Expected in Due Course
U.S. Supports Humanitarian Aid for Palestinian People / U.S. to
Review Aid Plans with Respect to Hamas Leadership
Iranian Aid offer to Hamas

IAEA Director General's Report to Board of Governors: Iran Not
Cooperating, Continuing with Enrichment Program


12:54 p.m. EST

MR. ERELI: Hello, everybody. I'd be happy to start with your questions.


QUESTION: Yeah. Today the Taiwan authorities actually made official, I guess, their abolition this body regarding guidelines for unification. The Chinese are being very bellicose about this. Does the United States really think that this is business as usual?

MR. ERELI: All of that's news to me. As far as where we were yesterday, is where we are today which is that the Taiwanese have made it clear that this body is not being abolished, that they have reaffirmed their commitment not to take unilateral steps to alter the status quo and to honor the inaugural pledges and to -- as far as we're aware, there's no change to the situation as it was yesterday.

QUESTION: Are you at all concerned just about -- well, the Chinese seem to think that there is a change in the situation? Are you worried about their -- why their aggressive statements are made?

MR. ERELI: The United States is concerned generally about any actions that heighten tension across the straits and that's why we continue to emphasize, number one, our consistent policy with regard to this issue based on the three communiqués in the Taiwan Relations Act, as well as the need for dialogue and call on both sides to take concrete steps in that direction.

QUESTION: Okay. Are there any plans for any contacts with the Taiwan authorities or with the Chinese or anybody on this issue?

MR. ERELI: We have regular, ongoing contacts with both sides on the issue urging them to again refrain from either unilateral acts, reminding them of our position with regard to the importance of dialogue and our preference for an approach that avoids provocative steps or avoids unilateral actions.

QUESTION: Just one last one, if I may, on this. Just on reading the transcript yesterday -- I'm sorry, I wasn't there -- but there seemed to be confusion exactly what the Taiwan authorities have done with the Chinese word and the words that you're using. Is anybody actually reaching out to the Taiwan authorities to try to get clarity from them what their intentions are in this move?

MR. ERELI: I don't think there's confusion on our part. Again, our understanding is that President Chen did not abolish the National Unification Council.

QUESTION: May I follow on the same subject?

MR. ERELI: Mm-hmm, sure.

QUESTION: Even though Chinese President Hu said something yesterday, but I mean, a lot of observers said so far China has reacted relatively calmly.

MR. ERELI: That's not what your colleague said.

QUESTION: Well, I mean, anyway, I'm just wondering what's your interpretation of China's calmness. And also the spokesperson of China's Foreign Ministry pointed out yesterday that the U.S. and China has been communicating on this subject, so my question is: Has this incident actually increased understanding between Beijing and the U.S. when it comes to Taiwan?

MR. ERELI: Well, the United States has a regular and good dialogue with China on a full range of issues, including the issue of Taiwan. So that's, I would say, a regular feature of our bilateral dialogue. And as far as Chinese reaction to these latest moves, I don't have any characterization of that other than to restate for you what our position is, and which I think you know very well, and to reiterate for you that we think it's important that both sides take steps to enhance dialogue and certainly to refrain from unilateral actions.

QUESTION: Have you -- during your conversation with Beijing, have you reassured them that U.S. is framing all those "one China" policy, things like that?

MR. ERELI: In our private discussions we make the same points that I'm making publicly and I think we made clear again our policy that we do not support Taiwanese independence and we oppose unilateral actions.

QUESTION: Change of subject. On Sudan, the AU has postponed its meeting until March the 10th to discuss the re-hatting of a force in Sudan, and this is apparently to allow the Sudanese and others to get there in time. There are some logistical problems. Do you think that they're dragging their feet on getting a re-hatting of the forces and that these are sort of tactics to prevent a new force from taking over for a while, or how -- are you disappointed that there's a delay?

MR. ERELI: The AU clearly has an important role to play in this effort. They are a leader in bringing a degree of peace and stability to Darfur. Although obviously the situation is not satisfactory, that's not, frankly, through any fault of the AU; it's because there continues to be a political conflict that we need to get to the root of. So the question before us is: How do we prevent further escalation of violence? How do we create an environment in Darfur that allows humanitarian needs to be met, that rolls back the violence and that provides an environment that is conducive to a political settlement between the parties to the conflict?

As I said before, the AU has been instrumental in that effort to date and they will continue to be an indispensable partner in the diplomacy and in the ultimate solution. To that end, it's important that the AU meet and discuss and, we would hope, endorse the re-hatting. They've done that already in terms of the AU Peace and Security Council -- that's what it's called, Peace and Security Council. We would -- it was expected that there will be a further formal endorsement of that. We're still looking forward to that.

The question of scheduling, I'd leave it to the AU to comment on. Obviously, from our point of view, the sooner we can move forward on this, the better, because as we keep reiterating, people are dying in Darfur and the need for action is now.

QUESTION: And not only are people dying in Darfur, but in the Chad -- in that region there things are really deteriorating.

MR. ERELI: Yes. And that's been, again, an area of concern for us for some time. The situation in Darfur as a whole is obviously bad. It's particularly bad in western Darfur and that is because there has been -- over the last weeks and even months, there's been an upsurge in violence as a result of increased rebel activity by both Sudanese and Chadian rebels, increasing activities by both Sudanese and Chadian forces, and an increase in banditry and general lawlessness.

So you've got a special case of western Darfur and, frankly, there's plenty of blame to go around for everybody. But as we've seen in the past, the real victims of this are the innocent men, women and children who just want to go about leading their lives in peace and get caught up in senseless and wanton violence. And that's why I think it's an awareness of that situation and the fragility of vulnerable populations that gives added urgency to our efforts.

QUESTION: But today is the last day that the U.S. can push on the -- to get the Security Council to take any -- or to get a resolution through, so --

MR. ERELI: The United States is going to push for this whether it's president of the Security Council or not. This is a priority for the President and it's a priority for the United States to bring peace to Darfur. We used the month of our presidency in the Security Council to move this ball forward as fast as we could and as far as we could. We've made some progress. We've had discussions with NATO. We've introduced elements of a resolution. We've built upon the presidential statement that was done in January. So I think we've made some progress.

Would we have liked to achieve more? Absolutely. We would have liked to see a peacekeeping operation stood up yesterday. But as we've said before, there are a lot of moving parts to this; it's important to bring as many people on board as fully as possible and that's going to take time. Unfortunately, every day that goes by there are more innocent people dying. So as I said, we have a real sense of urgency, which is why we're pushing it with every ounce of resolve.

QUESTION: Adam, you started out by saying there was a degree of peace and stability in Darfur. What's a degree? Like one --

MR. ERELI: I said the AU has brought a degree of peace and stability to Darfur that hadn't been there before they deployed. So that's welcome and the AU is to be commended for their important contribution to ending the kind of large-scale, systematic violence that we saw in 2003 and 2004.

I also said that they brought a degree of peace and stability, but a degree that is insufficient because, as we all know, the violence continues albeit it at a different level and with a different -- in a different character. But it continues. Vulnerable populations continue to be prey to both rebels and government-sponsored militia. They remain in camps in an unacceptable condition. Humanitarian needs remain great and the pressure on the international community to provide for those humanitarian needs, its resident NGOs, remains great. So we've got to move to the next stage of confronting this violence and of containing it and dealing with it, so that we can have a political solution that will provide the only real satisfactory long-term solution to this crisis.

QUESTION: But is this another repeat of the Rwanda situation where the international community just dragged its feet and dragged its feet and dragged its feet and nothing happened? And hundreds and hundreds of thousands of people died in an incredible genocide. I mean, is this yet another situation where hundreds of thousands of people are going to die with no action?

MR. ERELI: Well, I think -- I'm a little hesitant to make those kinds of direct comparisons because the facts are so different. But clearly, what we have in Sudan is, number one: documentive genocide; number two, continuing scale of violence and death that is unacceptable. What we have in Darfur fortunately, I think, and in large part due to the active diplomacy and leadership of the United States is a recognition of: (a) I think the scale of the problem and; secondly, a intervention -- an international intervention in the Sudan to try to contain it and to try to address vulnerable populations with the result that you see lots of money flowing in there from our part -- for our part, you know, well over $100 million in the international -- I'm sorry -- for the international community a commitment of large amounts of humanitarian assistance, from the African Union, commitment of 7,000 forces. That's significant intervention. It's a significant response and diplomatic pressure on the Government of Sudan.

So the comparison is valid in the sense that you've got large-scale human suffering. I don't think the comparison is valid in the sense that you -- the international community has been alerted to this because we rang the alarm bell, quite frankly, and the international community has been responding in terms of military support, security response, humanitarian response, diplomatic and political response. Has it solved the problem? Absolutely, not. And the facts on the ground, I think, demonstrate that more eloquently than anything we could say. Have we determined, I think, a common approach to finally resolving it in a satisfactory way this crisis? I think so.

But we've got to continue to exercise, I think, a lot of -- exercise a lot of effort and coordination and multilateral diplomacy to bring all the parties together to achieve that objective which is: a broader international involvement to stem the violence; a sustained humanitarian response and; a political settlement between the rebels in the government that will end the fighting. Finally, there's one element we haven't talked about, which we need to speak of, in terms of the crisis in Darfur and you need to understand is relevant to this, which is the implementation of the North-South Peace Agreement and the involvement of -- and the degree to which the creation of a national unity government in Sudan and the power and wealth sharing and autonomy positions of the CPA and the demobilization and disarmament positions of the CPA can serve as a model and springboard for a solution to the problem in Darfur and how by pushing the CPA forward and implementation in the CPA forward, we are helping in the long run to bring about a solution to Darfur.

QUESTION: Just to follow up on the one*. You say that there is documented genocide. My question is why is the United States the only one speaking about genocide and nobody else? Secondly, as the Secretary has said, that genocide is continuing, why do we not see more pressure for sanctions?

MR. ERELI: Well, two points: one, the UN has determined it's crime against humanity; we determine it as genocide, based on our interpretation and domestic policies. As far as additional sanctions go, I think -- you know, we've made the point and I'll continue to make the point -- that whatever you call it, we are doing everything within our power as a government, as a nation, to stop the violence and to help the people of Darfur and to bring peace to this troubled land. And we've done that by supporting Security Council resolutions. We've done it by supporting peacekeeping operations. We've done it by the generosity of the American people to the people of Sudan and we will continue relentlessly until this problem is solved.


QUESTION: Adam, there's finger-pointing especially this week at the end of the month with Ambassador Bolton at the UN and the finger-pointing is toward Russia and China.

MR. ERELI: About what?

QUESTION: About settling* -- they're less than cooperative in settling out this issue and bringing it in a very stringent way to the Security Council. Is this --

MR. ERELI: You're talking about Sudan?

QUESTION: Sudan and Darfur.

MR. ERELI: The issue is not so much with China and Russia. In fact, the issue at this point really -- I wouldn't say there's only specific finger-pointing. We are working to develop a support for an agreement around a resolution. We're still in the early stages of that. Frankly, we need some more inputs from the UN experts who are there in Sudan to do an assessment mission and we look forward to that, but we're not at the stage yet where we're actually are lining up countries' support for a resolution or not. So I think you're a little off on the question.

QUESTION: This is what the news reports have been saying.

MR. ERELI: I haven't seen those.

QUESTION: Also, is there a question too, of commercial contracts because there apparently are oil and there are other resources in that western section in Darfur -- it may not necessarily be water -- and other countries are trying to get in there to either mine minerals and/or to export some of that oil?

MR. ERELI: This is first and foremost a humanitarian issue and a political issue, and that's what is motivating our diplomacy.

QUESTION: Have you gotten Khartoum to agree yet to allow in the re-hatted force or is that still --

MR. ERELI: We've seen what the -- some officials from Khartoum have said. As I mentioned earlier, we think there is momentum underway that will, I think, inevitably lead to a resolution of this issue.


QUESTION: Can you explain that further?

MR. ERELI: No, I explained it pretty lengthily. The fact is this: There is -- there have been a number of steps taken towards re-hatting. We expect those steps to accelerate and we -- obviously, Sudan will face a choice. We think that, you know, once faced with that choice, it'll be clear to them that their interest lies in cooperating with the international community rather than confronting it.


QUESTION: On North Korea. The United States and North Korea are to meet next month on March to discuss counterfeit issues by North Korea. Does it mean the United States opened the door for direct talk with North Korea on all other issues?

MR. ERELI: No, it means that we offered North Korea a briefing on provisions of U.S. law dealing with illicit financial transactions and explaining why we took steps against Banco Delta Asia and North Korea has agreed to receive such a briefing. That's the scope of the -- that would be the scope of the meeting. It's not a meeting to discuss denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, which is the purview of the six-party process. That is a process that we are eager to restart with a new round of talks at the third round. All parties agreed to come back, return soon to discuss an implementation of the agreement of principles. We still are looking forward to and working to bring about a resumption of those talks. But it's not going to be the subject of discussion in the March briefing.

QUESTION: Do you have any information about last week CIA team and Korean CIA team meeting?

MR. ERELI: No, I hadn't heard that.


QUESTION: North Korea's Foreign Ministry spokesman says that such illegal dealings as money laundering and counterfeiting laws have nothing in common with the policy of the DPRK and urged U.S. to lift the financial sanctions. And also North Korean Foreign Minister Paek Nam Sun said also U.S. delegation were sort of conspiracy designed to overthrow the regime in North Korea. What's your response on that?

MR. ERELI: Well, the United States took the steps it took in order to apply U.S. law regarding illicit financial transactions. The provisions of that law are clear. This is not targeted against any one regime; it's targeted against illicit activity when we have evidence of that activity. And our briefing next week will provide us an opportunity to present to the North Koreans why we did what we did and the basis for those actions.


QUESTION: On Cyprus. Mr. Ereli, today the President of the Republic of Cyprus Tassos Papadopoulos and the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan are meeting in Geneva for another try to find a solution to the Cyprus problem for the reunification of the island. Any comment?

MR. ERELI: The United States, as you know, supports the Annan plan as a basis for reunification. We regret that the referendum did not pass. We believe the Annan plan remains the best basis for reunification and we urge all sides to engage seriously to discuss ways that they can achieve that goal on the basis of the Annan plan.

QUESTION: During a telephone conversation with a colleague of yours in the European Bureau you mentioned yesterday about the EU check of $165 million for the Turkish Cypriots. I was told by the official that a lot of conditions attach on the check and it is under consideration. May we know which conditions you have under consideration and also --

MR. ERELI: No, it's a EU check to -- it's an EU check, right?


MR. ERELI: So ask the EU.

QUESTION: No, but because you have under consideration.

MR. ERELI: No, I don't have anything more to add on that.

QUESTION: And a Greek Cypriot bishop from Cyprus is delivering a major speech in the Library of Congress this coming Thursday, and did you request a meeting with him since the church is playing a crucial role in Cyprus from the political --

MR. ERELI: I'm not aware that we did.

QUESTION: And the last one. According to Anatolia News Agency, the same official (inaudible) the Turkish Government, Turkish security force in the occupied area of Cyprus have arrested four Israeli citizens who are going to appear before Turkish military court to face criminal charges. Do you have anything on that?

MR. ERELI: No, I know nothing about it.


QUESTION: It's now been announced by Russia that Sergey Lavrov, the Foreign Minister, will be hosting and welcoming Hamas to Moscow. Does this bother you? Does it give them a little bit more of a heralded reception than you'd prefer?

MR. ERELI: Well, as we've said from the beginning, the Quartet made its views clear in its statement of January 31st about what was expected of any reliable partner for peace, and in discussions with the Russians and others it's been -- I think we're all on the same page in terms of what the message to Hamas needs to be.

QUESTION: They didn't bother you at all that Lavrov would be --

MR. ERELI: They're going to -- they're going to make their sovereign decisions. We think it's important that if one does meet with Hamas officials, then one deliver a strong, firm message that the only way forward is to recognize Israel, to accept agreements entered into by the Palestinians and to renounce violence.


QUESTION: Yeah. There is a publication, a Lebanese publication reported recently that during their visit that Secretary Rice requested the extradition of several suspected terrorists and a Marine corporal who had deserted. Can you comment on that and has there been a response from Lebanon on that?

MR. ERELI: Well, first of all, we don't have an extradition treaty with Lebanon. Second of all, you know, I saw that report about Corporal --

QUESTION: Hassoun.

MR. ERELI: -- Hassoun. I'd note that this is a question of military justice. I'd refer you to DoD for the facts on that case. I'd say that as a general proposition, it's the position of the United States that unlawful fugitives from justice should be returned to the United States -- should return to the United States to face their accusers.

QUESTION: But there's been -- has there been a formal request made and has Lebanon responded to that?

MR. ERELI: I don't have anything on that for you.

QUESTION: Okay. And how did Hassoun end up -- well, if he did end up in this group of terrorists, why --

MR. ERELI: That's why I'd refer you to DoD. He's a military guy.

QUESTION: All right.

MR. ERELI: Yeah.

QUESTION: Over the weekend, The New York Times Magazine ran a piece on the former, sort of, the spokesmen abroad who used to make rounds at the State Department, too, I recall.

MR. ERELI: This is the Taliban spokesman. Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Yeah. What did I say? Oh, did I not say Taliban? Yeah, the Taliban guy Rahmatullah. And I was just wondering if there are any -- were there any restrictions on his visa or how does -- I mean, the Taliban -- I don't think it was -- Afghanistan wasn't a country, but I think they must have been an FTO, right?

MR. ERELI: Right. Let me check on the sort of consular regulations and how they're applied in this case and what we can say about it.

QUESTION: You don't --

MR. ERELI: I don't know off the top of my head what, you know, when he applied, what his status was when he applied, what the application was for, et cetera, et cetera. And so there are classifications based on what position a person has, what the status of his -- what his status is in a country, where he's going and what he wants to do, et cetera. So let me see what I can get for you in terms of all of that and --

QUESTION: Can you be an ex-member of the Taliban? I mean, I guess you could, but most of them were --

MR. ERELI: I don't know.

QUESTION: -- at Guantanamo.

MR. ERELI: Again, I'll have to see what I can get you and what I can tell you about his individual case, which a lot of these are records that are obviously confidential. But I'll see what I can tell you about what -- again, what the decision was, what the basis for the decision was.

QUESTION: Two longstanding questions. The $50 million, have you got it back? Have you gained it back from the Palestinian --

MR. ERELI: Sure, sure. Go ahead.

QUESTION: I was just starting to talk, Barry.

QUESTION: Well, it's okay.

QUESTION: I mean, did you -- there are a lot of Taliban members or officials that you put in Guantanamo. Others were considered a national security risk, not allowed to come to this country. Do you see all Taliban as part and parcel of the same threat? I mean --

MR. ERELI: I would say this. Every case is different. I don't know the facts in this case. Let me check the facts and get back to you.

QUESTION: The $50 million.

MR. ERELI: Yes, the $50 million. You asked this question yesterday. I don't have an update. We've asked for it back. We've been -- the Palestinian Authority has said that they are going to return it. The modalities for that are being worked out. We don't have it yet, but we expect to have it in due course.

QUESTION: And the business of an announcement as to U.S. aid to Palestinians, the humanitarian presumably.

MR. ERELI: Right.

QUESTION: Is that in the offing somewhere?

MR. ERELI: I don't know if I'd say an announcement is in the offing. We have stated quite clearly our policy of supporting the humanitarian needs of the Palestinian people. We will execute that policy by looking at our assistance programs and determining how we can move forward to both be responsive to the humanitarian needs of the Palestinian people while at the same time recognizing the limitations of what we can do with respect to a Foreign Terrorist Organization that is in the government of the Palestinian Authority.

QUESTION: Initially when the review was announced, it was said that within a week or two the results of the review would be made public. Are you now saying that the way the world will find out what the U.S. has decided to do is by looking for people carrying U.S. checks or something?

MR. ERELI: No, I think that clearly what we've gotten and what we're doing is trying to develop a set of criteria about, you know, what's humanitarian, what falls outside the scope of that activity and what are the facts on the ground that -- what are the facts on the ground and how do they relate to the criteria we've established? If you look at that, it's very hard to foresee a situation where we're going to be making a big announcement one day that says, okay now, everything that we're doing, it falls on this side of the line or that side of the line, because it is an iterative process, it's an evolutionary process, it's related to what are the facts on the ground, which are changing.

So the process of the review is well underway. There are meetings and discussions and work being done to assess what we're doing now, how that relates to criteria we're establishing and what are the implications for future activity based on events that haven't yet taken place. So that's why I would discourage you from expecting some big announcement at some point in time. We will be, obviously, making funding decisions and you will hear about funding decisions, I would expect, on different occasions as those occasions are being -- as those decisions are being made. But that's the way I would describe the process and that's the way I would -- that's what I would look for in the future is discrete funding decisions announced publicly based -- you know, based on facts on the ground as they exist.

QUESTION: Program by program?

MR. ERELI: Yeah.

QUESTION: All right. Well, we didn't start this. I mean, we're just bystanders. You guys announced a review. You said the results will be -- nobody expected an item by item, I don't think, announcement. Expected a general statement of principles and the Secretary has pretty much stated the principles already which one newspaper we discovered the other morning. But I think that what we were expecting was -- and I guess we're wrong now, you've changed your mind --

MR. ERELI: No, I don't think --

QUESTION: -- is some general statement about -- I don't care. I have no stake in this. I just, you know, keep --

MR. ERELI: I think you're over-interpreting.

QUESTION: I'm interpreting the announcement?

MR. ERELI: I think you're over-interpreting. And what we've done -- we've done what we said we were going to do, which is take a good look at what our programs are, what are criteria for assistance is, what the restrictions of U.S. law are, what our policy objectives are, and to come to some conclusion about what kind of activity, what kind of programs are -- meet our benchmarks, are consistent with our policy and what activities are outside of that.

And as events on the ground evolve, we will be making decisions on that basis. And there is not one specific endpoint in that process. It is continuous. So where we were two and a half -- where we are now is significantly farther along than we were two and a half weeks ago. But don't look for a definitive announcement at a specific point in time, nor did we ever say there was going to be one.

QUESTION: I think you did, but I'd have to check the record. But don't expect either, are you saying, sort of a price tag like the European Union just issued?

MR. ERELI: You know, Barry, at this point I don't want to give you false expectations, which you seem to have.

QUESTION: You think I'm wrong, eh? You don't think we were led to believe that a review was underway and within a week or two the results of the review would be disclosed?

MR. ERELI: Well, I really don't want to argue the point. I think I've made --

QUESTION: Adam, you said, "We have done what we said we were going to do." Does that mean you've finished reviewing it?

MR. ERELI: No, we've said we're going to --

QUESTION: Oh, do what --

MR. ERELI: We've said we're going to -- we've said we'd undertake a review. We have undertaken a review.


MR. ERELI: That review continues and there are different phases of the review. We have moved along in the phase where we're saying, okay, what is humanitarian, what is political. Have we finished that? No. But we've moved along in that and we will apply that criteria to projects and assistance based on facts on the ground which are still evolving.

QUESTION: Okay. So you haven't --

QUESTION: You said projects.

MR. ERELI: And assistance.

QUESTION: I know what assistance is and humanitarian is. So still under discussion, still being entertained, is assistance to the Palestinian infrastructure? Or is that different from a project?

MR. ERELI: I would say there are projects that assist Palestinian infrastructure. Those projects are going to be assessed based on the criteria of humanitarian, political, of the above the bar/below the bar.

QUESTION: And this somehow will be different from what's been going on?

MR. ERELI: Obviously, as we've made clear, we're not going to give money to a Foreign Terrorist Organization and that's -- that injunction is going to apply to everything we do in the Palestinian Authority and everything we do with the Palestinian Authority is going to be evaluated on that basis. That evaluation is continuing.



QUESTION: The political leader of Hamas announced that Iran is promising to contribute 250 million to make up for any cuts by the U.S. and the European Union.

MR. ERELI: And your question is? What do I think about it?

QUESTION: What's your reaction?

MR. ERELI: Again, our position, I think, is pretty clear. Hamas has a choice to make. It is a choice to basically which foot it wants to lead with. Does it want to lead with the political foot or does it want to lead with a terrorism foot? If it wants to have its feet planted on the side of politics, then it needs to renounce terror, it needs to recognize Israel and it needs to accept agreements entered into by the Palestinians. If it wants to put its feet in the camp of terror, fine, take 250 million from the world's leading sponsor of terrorism. That would send a pretty clear signal. Our view is and our hope is, and I think our diplomacy, is geared towards getting Hamas to make the right choice to take its foot out of the camp of terror and put them both firmly in the camp of peace and negotiation and I think respectability in the international community.

QUESTION: But where did the money come from? Did you take it in -- will the U.S. take it into account, so far as measuring its own contributions?

MR. ERELI: Even -- I don't know. I don't understand your hypothetical.

QUESTION: What if it comes from despicable sources -- sources that you don't like? It's money and presumably it will help the Palestinian government. Does that ease -- not that you like it -- but does that ease the issue as far as the U.S.'s role in being of help is concerned?

MR. ERELI: I'm not following you.

QUESTION: He's saying -- like, you're saying, okay, good, this is -- the EU has given this much, Iran has given this much --

QUESTION: A pay raise tomorrow, okay? If Hamas wins the lottery and getting huge checks from countries who would -- you don't particularly like and would rather they didn't deal -- didn't have anything -- any meddling role in the area. Doesn't that count against -- doesn't it mean you have the west to think about so far as helping the Palestinians?

MR. ERELI: You know, I really can't -- I just -- it's too speculative a question. I think the best way to understand this is the United States, the Quartet are clear: Assistance to the Palestinian Authority needs to be measured against that government's commitment to basic principles: renunciation of terrorism; recognition of Israel; and acceptance of agreements that the Palestinians have entered into. That's what we are -- that's what we're going to do, that's what we look to the international community to do. And the goal of all that is to, should there be a Hamas-led government, the goal of all that is to move Hamas in a direction that is positive, as opposed to negative. Positive meaning take those steps that make it a reliable partner for peace, so that we can all go about -- move on to the real business at hand, which is negotiating a Palestinian state.

QUESTION: Adam, how can you really blame them for turning or expect them to turn down $250 million when they don't have enough money to pay salaries now? Even if there is a political will to change to evolve, it's not going to happen overnight and in the meantime, they're broke.

MR. ERELI: This is the conundrum of governing is that -- you know, it's one thing to be in the political opposition, it's another thing to be in elected office. And when you're in elected office, you are elected to govern responsibly and you have to make decisions and you have to be held accountable to your people.

QUESTION: And you have to pay salaries.

MR. ERELI: And the fact of the matter is you've got responsibilities: salaries in running a government is one of them. Well, also renouncing terror is one of them. So the decisions you have on all these counts have consequences and what we're saying is we're not going to fund a terrorist organization. We want to help the Palestinian people. We're going to continue to find ways to help the Palestinian people, no matter what Hamas decides. If they decide -- if they don't change their policy on terror, we'll find ways to fund the humanitarian needs of the Palestinian people without giving money to Hamas. If they -- we would hope they'd choose to renounce terror and to recognize Israel and that would mean that they go down a different path. But as we keep getting back to it, the choice is Hamas's.

QUESTION: Yeah, but -- I mean, just to follow up, I mean, as Teri said, it's going to take a long time. And they're not -- I mean -- no, they want to be, yes, a government has to be a responsible international partner, but their accountability is to the Palestinian people and not to the United States. And so you know, what does it matter where they get their money from, if they're delivering the goods and services that they were democratically elected to provide for the people?

MR. ERELI: I don't know how to make it any more simple. Hamas is obviously accountable to the Palestinian people. The Palestinian people elected Hamas with certain expectations. It is our view that those expectations did not include waging a campaign of terror against Israel. Hamas needs to clarify the situation: Are they a terrorist organization or are they a reliable peace partner? You can't be both. One or the other. And your decision, Hamas, is going to have consequences for you internationally and for the Palestinian people as well. So we look to them to make the right choice and to make the choice based on obviously what the Palestinian people want. And what do the Palestinian people want? They don't want war with Israel. They don't want continued violence. They want peace and they want a state of their own.

QUESTION: So why --

MR. ERELI: And the way to do that -- the way to do that is to recognize Israel, renounce terror and negotiate based on previous agreements. And if they do that, great, we've got a way forward. If they don't do that, the United States is not going to just roll over and accommodate a terrorist organization.

QUESTION: Okay, but why -- if you say that, I mean, say that the Palestinian people elected -- let me follow up -- if you say the Palestinian people elected Hamas because they want peace, because they want certain things, why can't you trust the Palestinian people to not re-elect Hamas, if they don't do those things and --

MR. ERELI: And in the meantime, we will base our actions on what choices Hamas makes, as an elected government.

QUESTION: A very quick one. There are a lot of estimates floating along -- floating around. How much longevity can be expected of the Palestinian Authority? Two weeks, three weeks?

MR. ERELI: Oh, another -- it's another speculative question.

QUESTION: Well, Wolfensohn, you know, he's having anxiety. I wonder if what the view is here, how long can they hang in there, do you think?

MR. ERELI: Choice is Hamas's.

QUESTION: No, no, no, but this is --

MR. ERELI: The interim government? As I said yesterday, we will continue working with the international community to ensure that the interim government of the Palestinian Authority has the resources it needs to continue functioning.

QUESTION: Now, we have another briefing in a few minutes and I'd love to give my colleagues and the wire services a chance to file.

QUESTION: Yes, let's go. Bye-bye.

QUESTION: It's all right. They can file later.

QUESTION: You want to keep going?

QUESTION: It can keep.

QUESTION: Yeah? Anybody got a question about --

MR. ERELI: Anybody want to ask about Iran?

QUESTION: What about Iran?

QUESTION: Have you seen the reports? Is that what you want? Ding, ding, ding.

QUESTION: You want to hit them again?

MR. ERELI: Well, let me just say we have seen the report -- the Director General's report to the Board of Governors on Iran. I think that that report makes -- confirms what we've been saying for a long time, that basically Iran is not cooperating with the international community. Iran continues to move forward with an enrichment program and that there remain serious and significant unanswered questions about the relationship of that program to military activity. So I think it clearly shows why the international community is concerned. On February 4th, the international community asked -- the Board of Governors asked Iran to take certain steps. It clearly has not done that and it will form a useful basis for discussion in our meetings at the Security Council.

I think we've done Cyprus. That's it.

QUESTION: Barry, I'm sorry.

MR. ERELI: Yeah, one more.

QUESTION: I'm sorry. I got to turn to the lifestyle portion of our briefing. What has prompted the Secretary of State to film a fitness video that's going to be aired this week?

MR. ERELI: It's not a fitness video.

QUESTION: It's not?

MR. ERELI: Again, she did a --

QUESTION: A workout video?

MR. ERELI: -- a news story wanted to do a news -- outlet wanted her to do a story on her exercise routine and that's what we did.

QUESTION: But she's filmed working out, right? Pumping up --

MR. ERELI: You mean like Dean Acheson and John Foster.

MR. ERELI: Yeah. She's an active -- active Secretary of State.

QUESTION: Does this signal more muscular diplomacy?

MR. ERELI: (Laughter.) Muscular and agile. Okay. Thank you.

(The briefing was concluded at 1:42 p.m.)

DPB # 33

Released on February 28, 2006


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