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State Dept. Daily Press Briefing March 2, 2006

State Dept. Daily Press Briefing March 2, 2006

Daily Press Briefing
Adam Ereli, Deputy Spokesman
Washington, DC
March 2, 2006

INDEX:

PAKISTAN
Statement Regarding Terrorist Attack on U.S. Consulate Karachi / Investigation
Death of Foreign Service Officer David Foy and Local Employee Iftikhar Ahmed

IRAN
Nuclear Program / An Issue Between Iran & the International Community
US Position on Russian Proposal & EU3 Diplomacy / Negotiations
Iran's Noncompliance with Nonproliferation Treaty Regulations /
Referral to UNSC
International Consensus on the Need for Iran to Suspend Enrichment Activity
Security Council Discussions to Follow March 6 Director General's Report

BANGLADESH
Arrest of Jamaat ul Mujahideen Leader Abdur Rahman

CHINA/TAIWAN
Comments Regarding the Status of the National Unification Council

IRAQ
Formation of Government / Importance of Reflecting the Broad
Diversity of Iraq

EGYPT
US-Egypt Bilateral Relationship / Shared Interests / Free Trade
Agreement

PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY
US Position on Hamas

CYPRUS
Deputy Assistant Secretary Bryza's Meeting on Cyprus
US Support for Reunification of the Island Based on the Annan Plan


TRANSCRIPT:

(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)

12:45 p.m. EST


MR. ERELI: Let me begin by drawing to your attention a statement released by the party in New Delhi, which we've put out here as well, by Sean McCormack Department Spokesman:

"Today we mourn the loss of two colleagues from the United States Consulate in Karachi who lost their lives in a terrorist attack on our consulate. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of David Foy, a Foreign Service Officer, and Iftikhar Ahmed, a local employee of the consulate. The condolences of the United States also go out to the families of the innocent bystanders who lost their lives in this brutal attack. There is no cause that justifies terror, and we stand with the people of Pakistan in our common fight against terror. We will do all that we can, working with the Pakistani government, to see that those responsible for this attack face justice for what they have done."

QUESTION: If there's nothing on that could we move along --

MR. ERELI: Apparently, there is.

QUESTION: Is there any indication that the terrorists knew who they were targeting, that there was a U.S. diplomat in the car?

MR. ERELI: Well, the attack is under investigation. Those are just the kind -- those are precisely the kinds of questions that we are looking at in cooperation with the Pakistani authorities. At this point, there's nothing conclusive that we can point to, other than it was a suicide attack that resulted in the death of two employees of the Consulate.

QUESTION: Could I --

QUESTION: I'm sorry. Adam, can you tell us anything more about Mr. Foy? How long had he been a State Department employee?

MR. ERELI: Yes.

QUESTION: Did he have family?

MR. ERELI: Yes.

QUESTION: How long he had been in Karachi?

MR. ERELI: Mr. Foy --

QUESTION: How do you spell it?

MR. ERELI: F-o-y. Joined the State Department on April 20th, 2003. He had been in Karachi since September 26th, 2005. He was a facilities maintenance officer. He is survived by his wife and four daughters.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

QUESTION: Can I move along, please, from this sad event? In Moscow, the senior Iranian negotiator is saying if the talks with Russian fail it will be the U.S.'s fault because you're trying to hale Iran into the U.S. Security Council. Any reaction to - that's if you really want to torpedo the Russian proposal? Do you care to address that?

MR. ERELI: This is not an issue between Iran and the United States; this is an issue between Iran and the international community. What we're talking about is a nuclear program characterized by deception and prevarication and it's something that not only the United States is concerned about, but as is evidenced by the fact that Russia is negotiating -- has a proposal before the Iranians for negotiating, what others are concerned about as well and that the international community, including the United States, are working together in a concerted way to address.

So frankly, if Iran has a problem with the state of affairs and the situation it finds itself in, Iran has only Iran to blame. And if they want to point fingers, they can -- they need more than ten of them to point because there are more than ten parties on the other side of the table that are concerned about what they're doing. There are 56 members of the Board of Governors who have voted a number of resolutions expressing concern about their program and I think that it's time that Iran and the regime of Iran looks itself in the mirror with clarity.

QUESTION: On the Russian, you know, you've said it before but just because it's timely again, on the Russian proposal it has U.S. support, doesn't it?

MR. ERELI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: And the probable logic of this.

MR. ERELI: The logic is very clear.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) the logic of -- by going to the UN you're damaging prospects for an agreement on the proposal?

MR. ERELI: I don't know if we accepted that premise. The NPT regulations are very clear that when a state is found in noncompliance or is found to have taken actions inconsistent with their obligations and commitments under the NPT, then that matter is reported to the Security Council, so it's a pretty straightforward proposition. The IAEA Board of Governors has found Iran in noncompliance, and as called for in the statutes, reported the matter to the Security Council. That is as it should be.

On the other side of the ledger, Iran has been offered some very practical and workable -- has been offered a very practical and workable way out of the conundrum that it has created for itself. And that is of the path of negotiation with the EU-3 of which the Russian proposal is a part, and answering IAEA Board of Governors' questions and addressing those concerns. So they haven't done that, and just because they haven't done it, is no reason not to report it to the Security Council. The (inaudible) Security Council, I think, should be seen as a response to -- and a logical response to the concerns of the international community as expressed by the Board of Governors.

QUESTION: One last quick one. Are the Russians keeping the U.S. advised about the proceedings with --

MR. ERELI: Yes. We have close and good contacts with the Russians and the Europeans as we move forward in the diplomacy, as well as the other Board of Governors -- members of the Board of Governors, the Chinese, the Indians and others.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MR. ERELI: Yes, ma'am.

QUESTION: The EU-3 is going to meet with Iran tomorrow. Does the U.S. support this meeting, and in which spirit do you wait for the meeting of the Security Council?

MR. ERELI: The United States is, as you know, supportive of the EU's diplomacy with regard to Iran and with regard to its nuclear program. In fact, we see that diplomacy, as I said earlier, a way out of this conundrum. It had no progress up to a point. As you know, the November -- the Paris Accords of November, 2004, I believe, provided a framework to move forward, a framework that involved Iran's suspension of enrichment activity and commitment to negotiations. And it was on that basis that we were supportive of the diplomacy and of the approach and the negotiations because we thought they could -- or had the promise of leading to objective guarantees that Iran was not going to produce fissile material on its territory and that Iran's nuclear program could not be used for military or hostile purposes.

Unfortunately, Iran walked out of the deal. Iran decided on its own to break its word with the EU-3 that it wouldn't enrich, or that it would suspend enrichment activity, and they walked away from the negotiations. So the EU-3 is left in the situation where, you know, we want to move forward. We have a process underway. Iran's walked away. Not only done that, but they went further, broke the seals, started enrichment activity and now, as the IAEA Director General has reported, is beginning to actually enrich uranium. So now ahead of the Board of Governors meeting, Iran has said that, okay, we're interested in maybe meeting with the EU-3 again to see what we can come up with.

EU-3 has said okay. They've talked to us about it. As we have throughout this process, we're supportive of the EU-3. I think we're working well together, and the Russians, let's see what happens on Friday. But the baseline is the same: Is Iran going to suspend enrichment activity? Is Iran going to return to negotiations? Or is Iran going to continue as we think they have -- continue to stall and prevaricate and extend things in a meaningless way in order to avoid censure.

QUESTION: Excuse me. Can I just try quick?

QUESTION: Because you see in Iran's deck of cards stalling tactics, it's pertinent to ask you if you advise the EU, or agreed with the EU, or expressed an opinion whether the U.S. thinks another round of talks, additional talks, is a good idea?

MR. ERELI: We in the EU-3 and frankly the international community at large are of one mind, and that is that enrichment activity needs to be suspended --

QUESTION: Yeah, I know.

MR. ERELI: -- in this case, re-suspended and serious negotiations entered into. So far, that hasn't taken place. As I said before, if we can do that, great, but we're under no illusions.

QUESTION: So you think this meeting is not working?

MR. ERELI: I didn't say that. It's a diplomacy that the EU-3 has been conducting and continues to conduct and we support with the common objective of, as I said before, re-suspending enrichment activity, a serious return to negotiations with the ultimate objective or with the ultimate goal of providing objective guarantees. That was the initial purpose of this diplomatic undertaking and it remains what it's all about for us.

Yeah.

QUESTION: Let's say tomorrow Iran, the regime of Iran, would tell to the EU-3, 'I'm going to stop right now.' Then what's happened? What will -- any change in your position --

MR. ERELI: Well, that would be a scenario that would be nice to have to deal with, but so far that hasn't happened. I'm not going to speculate about what our response would be. I think we've all been clear, if you're serious about this, you will suspend enrichment activity and you will return to negotiations. That's been the basis for these discussions from the beginning. That's been the basis for these discussions since Iran walked away from the Paris agreement. I would also note that it's not just about suspending enrichment and returning negotiations. Read the Director General's report. Look at the -- it's the Board of Governors. Well, it's not public, but look at what's been said about the Director General's report. Read the Board of Governors resolution on February 4th. There were very clear questions that the Board of Governors put to Iran, and there were very clear calls from the Board of Governors to Iran to take certain actions, that they haven't fulfilled. And it's important that Iran does that, too. So you've got -- with regard to the EU-3 and their diplomacy, these two very important issues, but you've also got a whole body of actions taken by the Board of Governors that Iran has simply ignored that also need to be addressed.

QUESTION: Just for clarification, even if the hypothetical that were stated, and Iran says, yes, we'll do it; yes, we'll stop, yes, we'll meet on a certain date, am I correct that you would still want this to go to the Security Council?

MR. ERELI: Well, it's already --

QUESTION: It's already there.

MR. ERELI: It was decided on February 4th that the issue is to be reported to the Security Council, and that the discussions in the Security Council would take place after reviewing the Director General's report on March 6th.

QUESTION: So what you're saying is it will come up.

MR. ERELI: We expect it to come up at the Security Council after March 6th.

QUESTION: Regardless of what happens at the meeting on the 6th?

MR. ERELI: Yes.

QUESTION: Thank you, Adam. This is Arshad of Daily Inquilab. A question on Bangladesh. In a dramatic sweep, the law enforcement agency in Bangladesh captured the mastermind terrorist Shaikh Abdur Rahman of the Jamaat ul Mujahideen. What is the reaction of the State Department? And as a follow-up, will the United States continue to assistant Bangladesh in its fight against terror and extremists? Thank you. I would look forward to your kind comment.

MR. ERELI: The United States applauds the arrest by Bangladeshi security forces of Abdur Rahman, the leader of the Jamaat ul Mujahideen in Bangladesh. His capture is an important step in confronting extremism in Bangladesh. The United States and Bangladesh work closely together in the fight against terror. This arrest is a sign of the fruits of that cooperation I think. We will continue to work with Bangladesh to address the threat of extremism and to strengthen counterterrorism cooperation. Both our countries have suffered at the hands of terrorists and we have a shared interest in continuing this cooperation.

QUESTION: Oh, let someone have a chance here.

QUESTION: Sorry. I have one question about Taiwan. After the U.S. expressed a certain level of relief or a satisfaction about Taiwan's authority, not abolishing the Unification Council. Some officials in Taiwan stated that there's no difference between abolish and cease to function. The reality is the Council is terminated and President Chen hardly made any compromise. He still did what he said he would do. So is there any gap between the U.S. understanding and Taiwanese understanding about the wording in the final outcome?

MR. ERELI: No. There's no -- there shouldn't be any gap or difference of opinion here. President Chen's assurances were quite clear that the NUC had not been abolished. We've seen the reports of comments attributed to other party officials. We've been informed by the Taiwanese that these officials have been misquoted and the reports are not accurate. And it is our understanding from the authorities in Taiwan that the action they took on February 27th was deliberately designed not to change the status quo, and that was made clear in a statement by President Chen and that -- We have every confidence and assurance that President Chen -- the statements made by President Chen are reflective of his policy and his party's policy.

QUESTION: And have you reached out then to express your displeasure about his cabinet members or officials to have a statement like that?

MR. ERELI: We think that the statements and assurances of the president are -- as I said, reflect the policy and position of the government and those in the president's party.

QUESTION: Iraq. A couple of things about al-Jaafari. He cancelled a meeting, an important political meeting today and there's a strong bloc of Kurds and some other secular forces organized to try to keep him from being prime minister. Do you have anything to say about either of those things?

MR. ERELI: Not really. The process of forming their government continues. It's -- there's a political give and take going on. It's -- as in any democratic system, there's a -- it's a rough and tumble process so that's what we're seeing. I'd leave it to Iraqis to describe the ins and outs of their negotiations and their dealings.

What we care about and what we're working toward is an outcome that results in a government that reflects all -- that includes all of Iraq's political tendencies and communities so that it is truly reflective of the broad diversity that is Iraq.

QUESTION: I don't hear any note of disappointment. I mean, when -- in trying to rebut notions that Iraq is slipping into civil war, the Administration jumped on the fact that political talks are in prospect, as evidence that they are trying to move ahead. And now the prime minister, who's not a small figure, has suspended -- had decided not to have these talks, at least for now. Is this a setback?

MR. ERELI: I don't know that that's accurate.

QUESTION: Well, I'm just (inaudible) --

MR. ERELI: Yeah, okay. The talks are continuing. Negotiations between parties and groupings continue. Whether an individual or a specific group participate in one session of talks or another is not the indicator of where the process is going, so much as tactical maneuvering that is characteristic of a broader dynamic.

QUESTION: Okay.

MR. ERELI: Yes.

QUESTION: Egypt said today that talks on a free trade agreement with the U.S. shouldn't be linked with political criteria.

MR. ERELI: Yeah. Yeah.

QUESTION: And it seems to be a blow to the American policy of diplomacy in the Middle East a few days after a visit of Secretary Rice.

MR. ERELI: Well, this is an issue that was addressed publicly during the visit and --

QUESTION: Today is --

MR. ERELI: I know. In terms of what we have to say about the issue I don't think there's anything more to add to what was said publicly during the visit, which is that free trade, economic reform, expanding opportunity and growth and development is obviously in both our interests. We have a -- I think a vibrant dialogue and relationship on that score with Egypt, and obviously free trade agreement is on the agenda. And it's really a question of timing and that's what was said during the visit. That remains our view.

QUESTION: Right. Can I follow up?

MR. ERELI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: But when you say it's a question of timing, is it a time -- schedule timing or is it because democracy in Egypt is not where you want it to be in order for this type of free trade and economic growth to take place? I mean, what is it about the timing?

MR. ERELI: We'll move ahead as appropriate. I'm not making any specific linkages right now. All I'm saying is that as we move forward, free trade agreement, and the discussion about a free trade agreement, are very much in the cards, but this precise timing of it, I don't have a -- I don't think we've worked all that out yet.

QUESTION: Well, I'm just trying to flesh you out on why is the timing not right? I mean, what is it about the timing that doesn't make it right? It's not the right time of the year, you don't have officials who can be there?

MR. ERELI: You know, again, that's as much as I can give you right now.

QUESTION: They're making a charge that -- they're making a charge that you're making this about their democracy and it's a political thing about your agenda in the Middle East.

MR. ERELI: I'd put it this way, I'd put it this way. Egypt is a strategic ally of the United States. Egypt and the United States have shared interests across a broad range of issues: economic, security, political, and obviously democratic development, and counterterrorism. We are going to continue working closely with Egypt to move forward on all fronts in a mutual reinforcing way. Obviously free trade is a big part of that, because we want to expand economic opportunity and growth. But to talk about specific timing, I just don't have that level of detail for you.

QUESTION: Something else, please. Hamas sees the Russians tomorrow and there's a report from Jerusalem that South Africa, according to Hamas leader, South Africa will entertain Hamas -- Hamas delegations as well on the eve of the Russian meeting and the possibility of their going to South Africa. So is this the way to -- you would have, I guess, they're called -- they're a friendly countries -- friendly to the United States. Is this the way you would have friendly countries deal with a terror group?

MR. ERELI: I think we've made it clear that --

QUESTION: -- allegedly --

MR. ERELI: -- obviously the United States is not going to deal with Hamas. It's a terror group. Every country is free to make its own decisions about what it -- who it meets with and who it doesn't meet with. Our position is that if you are going to meet with a terrorist group, you should make it clear to them that their way of doing business is unacceptable, that they are -- their philosophy is contrary to the norms of the civilized world, and that they should get with the program.

Yes.

QUESTION: On Cyprus. May we hear the result of yesterday talks here in the State Department how the Cyprus issue between Deputy Assistant Secretary Matt Bryza and the UN Deputy Secretary General for Political Affairs, Ibrahim Gambari, who is in charge for the new Cyprus talks?

MR. ERELI: Right. There had -- Deputy Assistant Secretary Bryza and the visiting official had a good meeting. They reviewed the situation in Cyprus, and we certainly reiterated our view that we support reunification of the island based on the Annan plan, and we are supportive of efforts by the parties to resume that effort in earnest now.

QUESTION: One more question. It was reported extensively in (inaudible) today actually that the UN and the U.S. are discussing a plan based on which they will propose a referendum to the occupied area of Cyprus with the presence of international observers in order to ask first the Turkish Cypriots where they would like to belong specifically to the Republic of Cyprus or to the so-called "TRNC." And then the UN can proceed to draft the new plan, keeping the consideration, the resulting referendum and the Turkish proposal of January 24, 2006 presented by the Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul. Do you have any comment on that?

MR. ERELI: I don't. I haven't seen that report. I think as you know, the UN is in the lead on this. We look to the UN and the Secretary General's Special Representative to work with the communities of the island to generate their ideas about how on the basis of the Annan plan, they can work up something that is acceptable to everybody and that would pass in a referendum. We continue to be supportive of that effort. To the extent that we can help move it forward, we'll do so. But as far as that specific report goes, I don't have anything for you on it.

Thanks.

(The briefing was concluded at 1:12 p.m.)

DPB # 35

Released on March 2, 2006

ENDS


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