State Dept. Daily Press Briefing April 14, 2006
Daily Press Briefing
Sean McCormack, Spokesman
April 14, 2006
Allegations that Sudan Is Involved in Violence in Chad / Peaceful
Dialogue to Resolve Differences
Chadian Closure of Border and Breaking of Diplomatic Relations
with the Sudan / Value of Dialogue
Volatile Situation Along the Border / Outgrowth of Violence in
Darfur / Resolution Via Abuja Talks
Reports of Expelling Refugees a Matter of Great Concern / U.S.
Reports of the Closure of the Central African Republic Border /
Neighborly Transparent Relations
U.S. Efforts in Providing Humanitarian Assistance
U.S. Interested in Seeing a Reduction in the Level of Violence /
Best Efforts to Provide Security
U.S. Pushing Sudanese Parties to Continue Implementation of
Comprehensive Peace Agreement
Planning for a UN Force / Re-hatting of AU Force
U.S. at the Forefront of Compelling the International Community to
Pakistan's Long Term Plan for Improving the Lives of Those
Effected by the Earthquake
Purchase of F-16s
Discussions Among the Various Parties on Government Formation /
U.S. and Iraqi Reconstruction Efforts
Other Groups Buying into the Political Process
Outside Influences on Iraqi Political Process
Laws and Regulations that Would Prevent Organizations from Having
Interactions with Hamas
Reaction to Iranian President's Remarks on Israel / Reprehensible
Rhetoric / Grave Concern
Attempt to Divert Attention of the Iranian People to the Terrible
Record of the Regime
International Communities' Efforts to Apply Greater Pressure on
Under Secretary Burns' Travel to Moscow for P-5+1, G-8 Meetings /
Russia's Position Regarding Iran's Nuclear Program
Dr. ElBaradei's Trip to Iran / Phone Call with the Secretary
Expulsion of Czech Diplomat
U.S. Gratified that India Voted with the Majority of Countries at
the IAEA on Iran
Reports of a Concentration Camp in China Where Organs Were
Chinese Treatment of North Korean Refugees / Appointment of Jay
Lefkowitz as Special Envoy
12:46 p.m. EDT
MR. MCCORMACK: Good afternoon. I don't have any opening statements, so I'll be pleased to start with your questions.
QUESTION: Let's go to Chad. What is your reaction to what's happening with Chad and especially to the allegations that the Sudanese are behind this? Is there going to be any move to take this up with the Khartoum Government?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, this is -- we've seen these reports, Peter, and there's a lot of speculation going on about who is aiding, supporting, equipping, arming, instigating these people who have used violence in N'Djamena, as well as in other parts of Chad. Frankly, right now we don't know all the facts. The situation is very murky, so I can't -- confirm for you many of these allegations that Sudan is, in some way, directly responsible for the actions that took place over the past 48 to72 hours in Chad.
What we can say is that if, in fact, such actions were in any way, instigated or provoked or helped by the Government of Sudan, that we would, in fact, find that very disturbing and that the -- it is incumbent upon states in that region to try to reduce the levels of violence. It is incumbent upon the states in that region to use political peaceful dialogue to resolve any differences that may exist between them. So it's a situation that we are watching very closely and that we would encourage all states in the region and all states who have an interest in seeing an improvement in the humanitarian situation and a reduction in the level of violence in general in the region, to use their good offices to ease any tensions that currently exist between Chad and the Government of Sudan.
I've seen the news reports that the Government of Chad has sealed the border and broken diplomatic relations with the Government of Sudan. Our view on that is that more channels of communication are better than fewer; more dialogue is better than less dialogue. And certainly with respect to sealing the border, we would have grave concerns about the potential effect on refugees, the ability to access the refugee camps as well as to provide security for these refugees. So we call upon the Government of Chad to uphold its responsibilities, as outlined by the EU and in international obligations to provide protection for these refugees as well as to provide international access to the refugees, so that we can be assured that they are, in fact, being treated as they should.
QUESTION: So the Government of Sudan has said that they're going to kick out some of the refugees, which really places them in an even more precarious situation. Do you think it's time for the international community to send and -- intervene and to send people in to help? Of course, this happened in Goma, if you remember, and refugees were being pushed and there was this incredible refugee march. So I know I keep throwing these analogies with Rwanda, but at what point do you intervene? This seems to be getting a lot worse. It's a much worse -- it's a far worse mix, in terms of hostilities, so --
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, clearly, the situation is a volatile one along that border area. We have been quite concerned for some time about the violence in that area and we have been working hard to see what we could do, as well as other members of the international community, to bring down that level of violence to ensure that the refugees are receiving the aid that they need and to try to find a political solution to the differences that exist, that have grown up along that border region. It's an outgrowth of some of what we have seen in Darfur. So the way you're going to resolve that, ultimately, is through a political settlement and political accommodations, so we then try to -- have been trying to urge progress in the Abuja talks, as well as to urge cooperation between the Government of Chad and the Government of Sudan.
Now in terms of these reports of kicking out the refugees, as I said, this is really a matter of very grave concern, not only to us, but the international community. We are, as I speak, working to confirm with the Government of Chad exactly what their stance is on this and to underline, in the strongest possible terms, that such an action would be unacceptable. There are about 250,000 refugees by our last count actually in Chad from the Republic of Congo, as well as Sudan. Government of Chad has certain responsibilities.
Now we understand there is also a responsibility of the international community to help provide assistance to those refugees and that's what we're going to try to do. So what we're trying to urge is a reduction in the temperature of the relations here. Things have heated up to a point where we have seen violence get out of hand and it is incumbent upon all parties to do what they can to provide security, to reduce those levels of violence, as well as to make sure that all international obligations that they have are lived up to.
QUESTION: Are you planning to send more grain or are you diverting aid from anywhere to try and help these people? And also, the Central African Republic has also closed its borders, so what's your message to them with Sudan?
MR. MCCORMACK: Again, it's the same message, that we are urging people to take a step back, to use political dialogue, diplomacy to resolve any differences that may exist. Very clearly, any sort of assistance to end armed incursion is unacceptable behavior. It's unacceptable behavior for a neighbor to act in such a way. What we want to see are neighborly transparent relations. We understand that there are difficulties. The way to resolve those difficulties is through diplomacy and through political dialogue. We are certainly going to try to do our part to see that that happens, but it is also going to take leadership on the part of both countries to see that that happens as well.
QUESTION: Sorry, just one more question. What are the DART teams telling you? (Inaudible) early warning systems in place. I know that that's for famine relief and other things, but the DART teams usually are kind of the first responders. What are they saying in terms of the humanitarian situation on the ground?
MR. MCCORMACK: I haven't gotten a read on that, Sue, but I note the Secretary has asked AID to take a look and make an assessment of the humanitarian situation there and to take any steps that they need to, to make sure that the humanitarian needs are met and that we're doing our part to meet those humanitarian needs. So it's something she personally is watching very closely.
MR. MCCORMACK: Elise.
QUESTION: Also on Darfur, yesterday, Deputy Secretary Zoellick gave a very expanded kind of overview of the situation there at Brookings Institution. And he talked a lot about how the north-south agreement is related, as part of the whole problems in the country, to the situation in Darfur. Is there a reticence on the part of the U.S. to take a tougher line with Khartoum because of fears that it could jeopardize the fragile ceasefire -- peace agreement on the north-south?
MR. MCCORMACK: Look, what we're interested in is seeing results. We're interested in seeing positive results. We want to see a reduction in the level of violence. Sadly, we have seen a spike in the level of violence in various parts of Darfur that, despite the best efforts of the AU as well as the international community to try to provide security so that those levels of violence go down. We are working on the humanitarian front to get results so that people's humanitarian needs are met. And most importantly on the political front, we want to see results. We're pushing as hard as we can on a variety of different fronts with the AU, with the Sudanese Government in the talks in Abuja. We're there. We have people on the ground virtually every single day to try to push that process along.
We're also pushing both parties to continue implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement and Deputy Secretary Zoellick talked about that yesterday. That's important for several reasons: first and foremost, that there's a resolution of the two decades' worth of conflict between groups in the north and the south; that doesn't include all groups in the south but large portions of those populations. So that's important, forming that government of national unity. It's also important, the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, in its successful implementation so that it can serve as a model, as an example for those groups that are now having negotiations in Abuja. So it's quite important for a number of different reasons. And most importantly because ultimately the way you're going to address the situation in Darfur is through political settlement.
QUESTION: Sean, Mr. Hamid (inaudible) and his attack on news media person in Pakistan --
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, we have some more questions on this.
QUESTION: I'm sorry.
MR. MCCORMACK: So let's stay with this and we'll get back to you.
QUESTION: Just a follow up on Elise's question, though.
MR. MCCORMACK: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: The question remains whether or not this gives Khartoum a veto power over what is going to be happening in Darfur in terms of an international force which, as we know, Khartoum is dragging its feet. Do they have a veto power to prevent the international community from intervening in what has been considered one of the world's worst humanitarian crises?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, Deputy Secretary Zoellick, I think talked about that yesterday and the Government in Khartoum is under a great deal of pressure on a variety of different fronts to allow for these expanded international forces on its territory. I point out that it already does have an international force on its territory: the AU mission. So they're hearing from their counterparts in the AU, they're hearing from the full spectrum of the international community that this is important. The UN is on track with its planning. We want to see that planning move forward. The AU has agreed in principle that this re-hatting of the AU mission should occur, so that is the basis on which we are proceeding and we are taking every opportunity that we can to make it clear to the Government of Sudan that this needs to happen.
Deputy Secretary Zoellick had a meeting with President Konare of Mali. He, again, sent this message: It's important that the Government of Sudan hear this message as strongly as possible, as often as possible from others in the region. We have seen a great willingness on the part of the countries in the region on the part of the African Union to find a solution within themselves to this problem. Certainly, the international community, as we have demonstrated over and over again, is willing to help in that and do everything that we can. But I think that it's very important that the countries in the region, as well as the AU, have sought to find a solution and to come up with their own solutions to the problems that exist there.
QUESTION: Just one more follow-up on this. Are you making any active attempts to find out what is Sudan's role in Chad? Are you in contact with the Khartoum Government on this ? And if you do confirm that there is a role, what actions would you envision?
MR. MCCORMACK: We have a variety of means to try to look into these reports, Peter, and you can be assured that is a source of -- that these are questions in which we have a great interest in finding an answer. At this point, I can't give you an answer. We don't have any definitive conclusions. As I said, the situation is somewhat murky. So at this point, I can't provide a definitive conclusion for you. I've made our views clear on if, in fact, something -- these reports were, in fact, verified, they would be a matter of grave concern. So we continue to look into them and I --
QUESTION: Any direct contacts with Bashir?
MR. MCCORMACK: I'm not aware of any at this point.
QUESTION: Do you think it's time to start setting deadlines for the Khartoum Government to accept a UN force so that this can really push ahead? Because Chad's president has set a deadline for -- he says that if the Darfur conflict isn't settled by June, then -- you know, (inaudible).
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, you know the Secretary's view on deadlines. So that's my view too, not surprisingly. Look, we're pushing very hard on this. I think the United States has been at the forefront of not only bringing this matter to the attention of the international community, which is a first step, but actually compelling the international community to act. We are seeing that action. Would we like to see things move more quickly? Would we have -- liked to have seen things move more quickly? Yes; I think that was evident when we were president -- we held the presidency at the Security Council and tried to move the Security Council forward.
This is part of multilateral diplomacy. It might not move as quickly as we would like, but it is moving forward and be assured that we are going to remain focused on moving it forward. This is a subject in which the Secretary has a great interest, which the Deputy Secretary has a great interest, and most importantly, a subject in which the President has a great interest.
QUESTION: Anything new on government formation in Iraq, weekend --
MR. MCCORMACK: I'll come back to you. We have to -- I promised Goyal we would go to his question before we come back to you.
QUESTION: Thank you, Sean. I was saying that Mr. Hamid Mahmood, the media tycoon in Pakistan, has a group of (inaudible) newspapers. And now he is in town and what he's -- first of all, he will wait then for the U.S. for their help in earthquake victims -- first that U.S. came out. At the same time, he said that more money is needed because people still have no food and shelters and money he said is not being spent on those people in need.
And -- but also this week, the National Assembly of Pakistan passed a resolution to buy F-16s. So he is also against the flow of arms to Pakistan. So what I'm asking is, where the money is coming from for F-16s, but not for the victims of earthquake who are dying and now, more are dying. Hundreds of thousands have died already.
MR. MCCORMACK: Look, Goyal. You can ask the Government of Pakistan about their budget priorities, but we know that they are -- they have devoted a great deal of resources to this very issue, the -- not only immediate relief for the victims of these earthquakes, but also looking at a long-term plan for rebuilding these areas and improving life for people in those areas. We heard -- the Secretary heard that just a few days after the earthquake happened when she flew to Pakistan and met with President Musharraf and his team there.
As for the other question regarding F-16s, you can ask the Government of Pakistan about that.
QUESTION: Can I have one more, please?
MR. MCCORMACK: No. We're going to move on, Goyal.
MR. MCCORMACK: No, we're going to move on.
QUESTION: On Iraq.
MR. MCCORMACK: Yes.
QUESTION: Been some more movement back and forth among the Shiite groups this week. What is your current view of whether they're making any progress? And despite your caveat a moment ago about deadlines, is it getting to be time for someone in the United States to say, "Do this by a date certain?"
MR. MCCORMACK: Our ambassador on the ground is in close contact with the various parties who are engaged in these discussions. At this point, I can't provide you an overall update. I think they're in a better position, the parties on the ground, the Iraqi Government, those involved in the discussions are in a better place to give you an update on where they stand with the talks. I know there's an intention to convene in the parliament next week.
Certainly, the Secretary is getting updates. It's politics. There's a lot of politics going on in Iraq, but -- and as the Secretary said during her trip there, it's time to move on with the process of government formation. We have seen some progress just during her trip when they presented her with a government platform, with a -- they also presented her with their plan for how the various components of the government would actually work together. It's very important in a young democracy to have those things.
So now they're working out who's going to be sitting in which chairs, who's going to be leading the government. It's a matter of intense discussion at this point. I don't have any updates or any particular points that I would make with regard to that, but I think the Secretary's message that she sent to the political leaders of Iraq still stands today.
QUESTION: So do you think her trip was a success?
MR. MCCORMACK: We think her trip was important in making the views of the United States, as well as the United Kingdom, clear to the political leaders in Iraq. As a result of that trip, as I mentioned, there was some progress. There was some forward movement. Ultimately, they're going to make their own decisions about who is leading the government, who's going to be leading the various ministries. I think what the Secretary's trip did was to provide some impetus to that process.
As she said during the trip, she had good conversations with the Iraqi political leaders that she did have a sense that the pieces were starting to fall into place. It takes -- you know, this takes some time. We are urging the Iraqi political leaders to move forward, but -- and we believe that they are intent upon forming a government of national unity and we are confident that they will succeed in that.
QUESTION: Can I follow up?
MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah.
QUESTION: The Secretary also said during her trip that she thought that the formation of a government for a movement on the political process was going to be the key factor in helping the sectarian violence calm down and -- you know, it would stop. However, the sectarian violence is continuing and now there are reports about Shia and Sunni having to leave their villages because of fears of retribution from other ethnic groups -- you know, the Shia against the Sunni, the Sunni against the Shia, living in tent villages throughout the country. How much is this complicating -- you know, the reconstruction of what you're trying to do? How much is the stalling of the political process helping -- stopping you from moving ahead -- reconstruction --
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, our -- you know, our activities with regard to reconstruction continue. I think everybody understands, and it's very clear, we've seen the report and we've talked about it. And the fact that when you do have the level of violence in Iraq which we do see, some reconstruction activities are much more difficult to pursue, but there is a great deal of progress that has been made on the reconstruction front. There's a lot of capacity that is being built up.
Now the task is to continue to build up that capacity and the Iraqis are going to have an increasingly significant role in doing that in the months and years to come. But taking that capacity and connecting it to the people, making sure that people have sort of the last -- are able to have the electrical lines run from the transmission stations to their homes. So a lot of what you see is an issue of the last-mile problem, making sure that that increased generating capacity actually gets to the people. It's important and we, as well as others, are going to be working on that.
I would point out on the reconstruction front, as you've heard from the Secretary before, that the state of the Iraqi infrastructure was much more decrepit than, I think, anybody had expected prior to 2003. So there was a long way to come in terms of the Iraqi infrastructure. Saddam Hussein had failed to invest in that infrastructure. The people who lost out as a result were the Iraqi people. So we are working with the Iraqis, working with our international partners to do as much as we possibly can to build up the Iraqi infrastructure.
Now, you talked about sectarian violence and its relationship to Iraqi politics. We do believe that a formation of a national unity government that is truly a government that governs on behalf of all Iraqis will, over the long run, bring down the level of violence, whether that's from the so-called insurgency or as a result of -- or because of violence between various sects. We have witnessed, certainly at the political leadership level, that at every opportunity that they have had to actually come apart, to fly apart, that they have actually pulled together. We saw it in the wake of the Samarra mosque bombing.
Now when you get down to the individual neighborhood ground level, certainly I've seen the reports of the tensions. I think we've read some stories that are disturbing about some of the violence that has occurred. But we have also seen progress in terms of other groups buying into the political process. I would mention the Sunnis. I think that what the Secretary witnessed on this trip, as opposed to her last trip, was a Sunni political leadership that had invested much more in the political process, so that is hopeful.
I'm not trying to undersell the challenges that the Iraqis face, the multinational coalition faces in Iraq, but ultimately there is progress being made. And ultimately a national unity government is an important building block for Iraq's democratic future.
QUESTION: Two questions. Can you say that Iran is preventing the formation of a national unity government in Iraq?
MR. MCCORMACK: Samir, the political issues that exist between the Iraqis are, I think, obviously for them to work out. In terms of outside influence, what we would expect from the Iranians is good neighborly relations, not meddling in the affairs of the Iraqi people and I think there's a strong sense of Iraqi national identity that would resist attempts to do that. So in terms of your question about whether the Iranians are preventing formation of government, I don't have any particular information at my disposal that would indicate that. I think that what we see right now is a political process evolving and a political class among the Iraqis that's developing.
QUESTION: One more thing. There's a report on Arab satellite TVs now that the Iraqi security forces "a big corporation of smuggling oil from Iraq to Syria." Did you see this?
MR. MCCORMACK: I don't have any information for you on that, Samir.
QUESTION: Change subject?
MR. MCCORMACK: Anything else on Iraq? Okay, you got it.
QUESTION: Do you have anything on a U.S. Government move today that bars Americans from doing business with a Hamas-led Palestinian Government? Reports came just as we came in. It's a Treasury thing, but I didn't know if you had anything more on that.
MR. MCCORMACK: That prevents U.S. --
QUESTION: That the Treasury --
QUESTION: -- prevents Americans from doing business with --
QUESTION: The Treasury --
MR. MCCORMACK: I haven't seen that. I know that the Treasury has been working on licenses that would allow NGOs to continue with their humanitarian work. As for this particular news report, I haven't seen it. Clearly there are laws and regulations that would prevent individuals, groups as well as the U.S. Government, from having interactions with Hamas or making any material -- or providing any material support to a terrorist organization, which is how we classify Hamas.
QUESTION: On Iran, a number of things to ask. First, have you seen the remarks by President Ahmadi-Nejad today about Israel and about Zionism and the Holocaust?
MR. MCCORMACK: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: And what is your reaction to those remarks?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, it's more reprehensible rhetoric from the President of Iran. This is the kind of rhetoric, I think, that has only added to the fears and concerns of the international community as it relates to Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons. This is -- if you think about it, you have the elected head of state calling for the annihilation of another state. That is not only, as I said, reprehensible but a source of grave concern for the entire international community. And I think that the other thing that this rhetoric does is it is an attempt to divert the attention of the Iranian people from the terrible record of this regime in terms of human rights, the terrible record of this regime in terms of the backsliding of democracy in Iran. It's an attempt to divert attention from a stagnating economy.
So I expect that this kind of rhetoric is only going to add to the concerns of the international community as we, in the coming weeks, grapple with this question of how to apply greater pressure to this regime to get them to change their behavior and to not allow them to develop nuclear weapons under the cover of a peaceful nuclear program.
Under Secretary Burns is going to be traveling to Moscow. He's going to have meetings of the P-5+1, as well as the G-8. These meetings are intended to start to tee up decisions for ministers and capitals about diplomatic next steps, real actions that the Security Council and that the UN can take to increase the pressure on the Iranian regime to get them to change their behavior. There are a number of different levers at the disposal of the international community. Those would include asset freezes, resolutions, Chapter 7 resolutions. It would include, potentially, sanctions. It would potentially include restrictions on the ability of some members of that regime to travel.
So these are all levers that are at the disposal of the international community. I expect, certainly, that sanctions would be a topic of discussion at the G-8 political directors' meeting. So I think that when they do bring up this topic of how to deal with the Iranian nuclear program, that this kind of rhetoric, which we can only assume represents the true policy intentions of the Iranian regime, will provide impetus for the international community to act in a strong, diplomatic manner with respect to Iran and to force them, through diplomatic leverage, to change their behavior.
QUESTION: Your willingness to speculate and specify some of the things that could be discussed at G-8 and P-5+1 and to talk about some of the "real actions" that could be taken -- your willingness to talk in those terms today, is that a function of those remarks or -- because I haven't seen you so willing to talk about what the range of response might be or what should be discussed, specifically, sanctions would be a topic of discussion, that sort of thing.
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, there are a couple of things. I wouldn't say it's directly related to those remarks. The Secretary, in the past, has talked in these terms and I think that as we get closer to the meeting and we develop the agenda and specific issue areas that we would like to look at, it's just -- it's a matter of timing as we get closer to the meeting. I think it's only natural that we start talking about the things that certainly, we would like to raise at these meetings, so I'm just trying to give you an insight into our approach to these meetings, how these meetings fit into the overall timeline.
The IAEA is scheduled to provide a report about Iran's activities on the 28th of April. I would expect that shortly thereafter, the beginning of May, that the Security Council will take up that report, as well as take up the question of what actions the UN is going to take. So that's sort of the progression over the coming weeks that we see.
QUESTION: Before my NBC colleague asks a brilliant question or two, I wanted to just finish with two more. Have you seen reports, too, that there's supposed to be a new round of talks involving the Chinese, the Iranians, and the Russians?
MR. MCCORMACK: I haven't seen that, no.
QUESTION: Okay. And my last question is about some remarks that the Russian Ambassador to the UN, Mr. Denisov, made earlier this week, in which he said there is no reason for punitive actions against Iran. He said there is no evidence of noncompliance with the nonproliferation regime. That's a verbatim quote; "There is no evidence of noncompliance with the nonproliferation regime." How can you regard Russia as a useful interlocutor or ally in these discussions if they do not see any evidence of noncompliance with the nonproliferation regime by Iran?
MR. MCCORMACK: Before responding to those remarks, I'd like to see what else he said around that, so -- I haven't seen that, so I can't provide a specific response to those particular remarks. But with regard to Russia, Russia doesn't want to see Iran have a nuclear weapon any more than the United States or Europe or the Chinese or any other state -- responsible state around the world. They're concerned about it, too. They put an offer on the table with the Iranians, how to meet the Iranian concerns while providing objective guarantees that they weren't going to try to pursue -- that they couldn't pursue a nuclear weapon under the cover of a civilian nuclear program.
So the Russians are very concerned about this and they're treating it in a serious manner. Have we had tactical differences on how to -- what specific steps to take? Yeah, we've talked about that, but the strategic objective remains the same. And I would expect, over the coming weeks, that we're going to have serious discussions with the Russians, as well as others, about what specific steps to take. I talked about a few of the areas that certainly, we are going to look into raising. I would expect the Russians would have their own points of view and we'll see what they have to say in Moscow and take it from there.
QUESTION: I only wanted to know, had the Secretary heard from Dr. ElBaradei yet after his trip?
MR. MCCORMACK: Yes, she did talk to him, talked to him about an hour ago, and it was about a five to 10-minute conversation. Dr. ElBaradei gave a brief readout of his meetings and I -- you know, I don't want to get into too many of the details of the phone call, because I want to let him speak on his own behalf. I believe that he either has or will issue a statement about what he heard and saw in Iran.
But just in brief summary, the phone call -- Dr. ElBaradei did reaffirm that he sent a strong, clear message to the Iranian regime that it needs to comply with the just demands of the IAEA Board of Governors, which was outlined in the resolution that was passed.
QUESTION: He didn't seem too optimistic when he left there, I mean --
MR. MCCORMACK: I didn't get the impression that he heard anything new from the Iranians.
QUESTION: Did he confirm or was he able to verify this latest claim by the Iranians to have enriched uranium on a small scale?
MR. MCCORMACK: I don't think the IAEA has done that yet. I know that they plan to do an assessment of that. I don't think it's been completed, but I'm going to let them speak for themselves at that point. We, as a member of the Board of Governors, will get that assessment. I'd be happy, at the appropriate moment, to share what we know about it.
QUESTION: A new topic?
QUESTION: Sean, just one more.
MR. MCCORMACK: Sure.
QUESTION: Where was ElBaradei when the call went through?
MR. MCCORMACK: I don't know.
QUESTION: The Cuban Foreign Minister said today that they were expelling a Czech diplomat, calling him a spy for the United States. Do you have any response?
MR. MCCORMACK: Haven't heard of those reports.
QUESTION: Does the United States have a Czech diplomat working as a spy in Cuba?
MR. MCCORMACK: Mr. Lambros, you have a question? (Laughter.)
MR. MCCORMACK: Goyal.
MR. MCCORMACK: Do you have a question or Mr. Lambros, you have a question?
QUESTION: Yeah, one.
MR. MCCORMACK: Okay, you're up.
QUESTION: Okay. On Turkey. Mr. McCormack, a Turkey governor stated to the press before yesterday, "Unfortunately, PKK has stumbled into (inaudible) used by the U.S. Government for its own interest, perhaps Western does it to strengthen Israeli position. Every day some forces in Turkey tried to get an agenda. The question of existing of two nations in Turkey. We must (inaudible) the question. The nation has (inaudible) or who work for the state of Turks." Similar statement, Mr. McCormack, about the unity of Turkey made the other day by the President of the Republic of Turkey Ahmet Sezer in Istanbul. Any comment on that, since they criticized the U.S. Government?
MR. MCCORMACK: Are you asking a question about whether or not we support the unity of Turkey?
QUESTION: No. I'm asking --
MR. MCCORMACK: The answer to that question is yes.
QUESTION: But you just -- can I follow up?
MR. MCCORMACK: Goyal.
QUESTION: Sean, my question is that when the Secretary was testifying on the Capitol Hill before the senators on India and U.S. nuclear deal, some senator brought the issue of India-Iran relations. My question is that: Don't those senators get the clear message that India has voted twice against Iran on nuclear deal -- nuclear issue? And also, India is with the United States and European Union as far as Iran's nuclear weapons are concerned.
MR. MCCORMACK: Certainly, we're very -- we're quite gratified that India did vote with a majority of countries in the IAEA.
QUESTION: Mr. McCormack --
MR. MCCORMACK: One more.
QUESTION: Do you have anything about --
MR. MCCORMACK: Yes, ma'am.
MR. MCCORMACK: No, no. Go ahead.
QUESTION: If you have anything about a reported concentration camp where followers of Falun Gong practitioner were jailed and their organs harvested even when they are alive in China. And I know Beijing denied it and according to your AP report, the U.S. --
MR. MCCORMACK: My AP report? (Laughter.)
QUESTION: There are some U.S. embassy or consular official went to that site and was given a tour of the hospital. And other than that, I just wonder what else have the U.S. Government done in terms of the investigation of this report.
MR. MCCORMACK: Don't have any information for you on that.
QUESTION: Could you take the question then. There are a lot of reports out there about this supposed concentration camp --
MR. MCCORMACK: If we have anything on it, Elise, I would be happy to share it with you.
QUESTION: Mr. McCormack, on (inaudible) and (inaudible).
MR. MCCORMACK: No. Mr. Lambros, no.
QUESTION: I have one.
MR. MCCORMACK: Okay. One quick one.
QUESTION: Yes. Human right issues. Recently, the Chinese Government has deported North Korean defectors in China by force to North Korea. It's a violation of human rights by the Chinese Government. What would be the response by the U.S. Government and what particular plan does the U.S. have to improve that desperate human right conditions in North Korea?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, the issue of North Korean refugees is something that we do raise with the Chinese Government. The Chinese Government has certain responsibilities with respect to refugees. We talk to the Chinese Government about those responsibilities. I just have to say it's a topic of continuing discussion. Certainly, we are quite concerned with the humanitarian plight of the North Korean people. It's something in which the Secretary and as well as the President has a deep interest.
I think one indication of that deep interest and that deep concern is the appointment of Jay Lefkowitz. He is a special envoy that deals specifically with that issue. So Jay, I know, has had a lot of discussions in the region on this issue and we're going to continue working with the Chinese as well as the relevant international organizations and other countries with an interest in the issue.
(The briefing was concluded at 1:27 p.m.)
DPB # 62
Released on April 14, 2006