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State Dept. Daily Press Briefing April 24, 2006

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


Statement on Continuing Political Crisis in Nepal
Update on Situation

Assistant Secretary Shannon Did Not Contact Venezuelan Government
about Travel to the Country / Contact with Venezuelan Government
Mostly Through Embassy

Visit of President Aliyev to the White House
Concerns with Democratic Development and Rule of Law

Update on Diplomacy on Iran's Nuclear Program / Upcoming Report by
IAEA Director General ElBaradei on Iran's Actions Since UN
Presidential Statement / P5 +1 Meeting / Next Steps
Channel Open to Talk to Iranians Regarding Iraq

Discussions at NATO Meeting / Logistical, Operational Support for
AU Mission and Re-Hatting to a UN Mission / Elaboration of Plans
for NATO Support to Enhance Peace and Security in Darfur

Reports of Hamas Official to Travel to Norway / Quartet Position
on Hamas Clear
Resolution of Contradiction Between Hamas and President Abbas for
Benefit of the Palestinian People

US Supports Those Seeking Return of Japanese Abductees / Working
with Parties

DAS Yamamoto's Travel to Chad / Schedule of Meetings / Purpose is
to Promote Political Dialogue and Democracy


1:02 p.m. EDT

MR. ERELI: Hello, everybody. Welcome to our briefing for today. I'll begin with a statement on Nepal, the continuing political crisis there. We will be putting out the statement after the briefing.

We remain concerned about continuing instability in Nepal. It's clear that the people of Nepal have rejected undemocratic rule. They have accomplished much through what has been essentially a nonviolent protest movement. We call upon Nepal's security forces to show the utmost restraint in responding to demonstrations that are called for tomorrow. We also call upon the King to hand over power to the political parties and for the political parties to shoulder their responsibility and turn the people's demands for democracy and good governance into reality.

QUESTION: You want the King to abdicate.

MR. ERELI: We want the King to transfer power to the political parties.

QUESTION: When people transfer power sometimes (inaudible) is over.

MR. ERELI: That doesn't necessarily -- that doesn't necessarily mean abdicating.

QUESTION: And can you tell me on what basis -- like, for instance, what is the U.S. stake in this -- on what basis is the U.S. so freely giving another country advice on how to run a government?

MR. ERELI: Well, this is a question of responding to what is clearly the people's will. The King has subverted the democratic process. It has been a failure and it's important that the democratic process and democratic -- democracy and the rule of law be restored and that you move from autocratic one-man rule to rule by elected representatives of the people, which is what the political parties are, and their need to move to have permanent elections and a permanent government. But clearly, the status quo is untenable.

QUESTION: All right. And the other point, if can you just try that part of the question. What is the U.S. interest in bringing about a better situation in Nepal? It's a small country. I don't remember us having such an active foreign policy with Nepal. It's not Russia, it's not China or Germany.

MR. ERELI: The United States has been outspoken, ever since the King took over power last year, on the need to respect the constitution, respect the rule of law, respect the rule of the people. That is a principle that applies to Nepal as much as it applies anywhere. And it is a principle that we stand firmly behind when it is challenged. It has been challenged in Nepal. The people have -- the people have acted to assert their sovereignty. The King has recognized that in his speech given on Friday. And finally, let's remember there is a destabilizing Maoist insurgency going on in Nepal that threatens stability, long-term stability in the country. And all Nepalese, I think, have an interest in confronting that insurgency and bringing stability to their country. The King's turning power over to the political parties as consistent with the constitution is the best way to address that insurgency.


QUESTION: Adam, can you tell us about the ordered departure, bring us up to date on Americans who are in Nepal?

MR. ERELI: Today, the State Department ordered all non-emergency U.S. mission personnel and dependents to depart Nepal. This was made out of concern for the safety of the employees and their families we're obviously continuing operations, albeit with reduced staffing. The non-emergency employees and their dependents will begin departing as soon as possible. We've also issued, as you know, a Travel Warning to American citizens in Nepal and we've gotten word to them about the steps that we're taking and advised them of our assessment of the situation.

QUESTION: Do you have an idea how many Americans will be departing or should be departing?

MR. ERELI: We generally don't give out those numbers.

QUESTION: Round figures, if you've got them.

MR. ERELI: I would say that we will continue to have a strong and capable contingent at the embassy to handle the business that needs to be taken care of whether that involves servicing American citizens or working with the local authorities to deal with the crisis that they confront themselves.

QUESTION: Please, let me try one, I think, very quickly. I guess you're hopeful that this crisis will soon be resolved. Will these people hover in the area or they have -- and I assume you pay their way.

MR. ERELI: Usually, when you take ordered departure its back to the United States.

QUESTION: And that's what you're --

MR. ERELI: And that's where they'll be going.

QUESTION: Okay. Thank you.

QUESTION: Was there any sense that Americans were threatened in particular or were you just concerned about the general chaos?

MR. ERELI: Americans are not the targets of the unrest. The demonstrations are political in nature and it's against the government and the rule of the King. But when you have large scale demonstrations, when those demonstrations have resulted in casualties, as they have over the last week or so, then it's important to advise Americans of the situation and to give them the kind of information that they need to take precautions for their safety.

QUESTION: If you can't tell us how many, of course, might decide to leave, approximately how many Americans are in Nepal?

MR. ERELI: Several hundred, I think is the number that I heard. No, officially --

QUESTION: No, I'm just asking how --

MR. ERELI: -- Americans tourists?

QUESTION: Yeah, how many people.

MR. ERELI: Well, we know they're --

QUESTION: You don't know how many Americans --

MR. ERELI: It's hard to have a definitive number. We know about the number of Americans based on whether they informed the embassy. Not all Americans in Nepal tell us they're there, nor do they have to. But the numbers that we are aware of are in the mid hundreds. Anything else on that?

QUESTION: Not on Nepal.

MR. ERELI: Okay. Barry.

QUESTION: Can I -- this ought to be very brief. Venezuela -- has the Assistant Secretary been in touch with Venezuelan authorities? Is he planning to go there? You know why I ask --

MR. ERELI: Yeah. The answer is --

QUESTION: -- rumors floating around.

MR. ERELI: The answer to both questions is no. There were reports that Assistant Secretary Shannon contacted the Venezuelans about a trip; that's not true. There wasn't any such contact. There are no plans for a trip at this point with Assistant Secretary Shannon to Venezuela. Our dealings with Venezuela and our contacts with Venezuela are mostly through our embassy. There was a Venezuelan official here a couple of weeks ago, met with Assistant Secretary Shannon and other State Department officials, but there's been no recent contact between the government -- from Assistant Secretary Shannon to the government or plans for a visit.

QUESTION: No contact on anything, not just on travel, but no contact, period?

MR. ERELI: Well, we have our normal State Department contacts with --

QUESTION: No, I mean, with him (inaudible)?



QUESTION: Change the subject?

MR. ERELI: Okay.

QUESTION: On Azerbaijan, we have a visit this week of the President of Azerbaijan, Aliyev. He's in the past been very strongly criticized by the Americans for his un-free and unfair elections a couple of years ago when he was elected President. In the recent parliamentary election, it also did not meet international standards. Why is he getting a White House welcome here?

MR. ERELI: It won't surprise you to hear that -- since it is a visit with the President at the White House, I'd refer you to them to provide comment and background on the visit. I would simply say from the point of view of the State Department, our position and our concerns with democracy and the rule of law in Azerbaijan are firm. It remains an important issue for us and it remains a prominent part, a prominent feature of our relationship and our bilateral dialogue. But for details of the visit or comment on the visit, given that it's a presidential visit handled by the White House, I'd refer you to the White House.

QUESTION: Could I --

QUESTION: Can I just ask one question?

QUESTION: Yeah, I'm sorry.

QUESTION: Well, just let me ask you the question this way then. Has President Aliyev done anything since these condemnations by the United States to reverse our opinion of him?

MR. ERELI: To reverse our opinion of him?

QUESTION: Yes, to reverse our opinion of his administration, of his record on human rights.

MR. ERELI: I think our public record on democracy in Azerbaijan is fairly clear and forthright. We have expressed our concerns. We have noted areas that are an issue for us. We continue to work with the Government of Azerbaijan to address those inequities. As far as giving you an assessment to date of where they've come and a progress report, let me see if I can get something from our European experts on it.

QUESTION: Well, the same question. What is our stake? I mean, I realize you can't exclude -- the Chinese visit comes to mind -- you can't exclude important countries from sending their leaders to this country. But you do hold your nose and refuse to -- you refused to have Yasser Arafat here. That would be an extreme example, but are you holding your nose in having the head of Azerbaijan come here, or is there some overwhelming strategic reason to (inaudible) access to the President?

MR. ERELI: Again, I'll leave it to the White House to talk about this particular visit and the scheduling and those related questions. What's clear, and I think should be no surprise to any of us, is that Azerbaijan is an important country in the region as well as to the United States. There are a number of significant interests in our relationship with Azerbaijan: human rights most definitely, democratic development most definitely, energy security, stability in the region, the fight against terror. And we pursue all of these in parallel while at the same time sticking to our principles and not sacrificing expediency for principle. And that's the approach that guides us in our relationship with Azerbaijan and in our relationship with other countries where you have a multiplicity of interests and the need to pursue all of them in concert.

QUESTION: Just to formulate the question -- I'd like to formulate it a different way because without tying it to this particular visit, the question is: Have you noticed any progress on democracy, human rights?

MR. ERELI: Yeah, and that's what I said I would contact our European experts and get you a to-date update on in terms of what steps Azerbaijan has taken in response to our express concerns about democratic development and our assessment of the situation there.


QUESTION: Can we change the subject to Iran?

MR. ERELI: Mm-hmm, sure.

QUESTION: There are Russian news agency reports sourced to the Kremlin today that show Moscow taking a pretty hard line saying that Russia opposes Iran acquiring the technical know-how to become a nuclear power. Do you have a reaction to that?

MR. ERELI: I've seen those reports. I'm not -- I haven't seen exactly what's been said. But clearly I think what it underscores, the reports underscore, is what we've been saying for some time, that there is a growing international consensus that Iran's nuclear program is inconsistent with its professed commitment to peaceful use of nuclear energy, that it has been flagrant in its refusal to abide by calls of the IAEA and the UN Security Council to suspend enrichment and return to negotiations, and that as a result the international community, as represented in the near term by the P5 + Germany is going to look at ways that it can effectively respond to an Iranian regime that seems hell-bent on defying the international community and pursuing a nuclear program that is of growing concern.

To review the bidding, we are looking forward to a report by the Director General, ElBaradei, at the end of this week on Iran's actions since the presidential statement at the end of March, the UN Security Council presidential statement. We expect -- we certainly expect that to be a negative report given that the presidential statement called on Iran to suspend enrichment activity and return to negotiations and Iran's answer has been to announce that it has completed a 164-centrifuge cascade and produced enriched uranium.

There is a P5+1 meeting scheduled May 2nd to review not only the Director General's report but to consider the next steps that we should take in response to what we expect to be a negative report. And then, obviously building on that, we will be developing a Security Council strategy as well as a strategy for dealing with Iran's defiance in other ways.

QUESTION: Saturday morning story surfaced where an Iranian official, I think a delegate to the IAEA -- I may be wrong about that -- showed new interest, says there's basically a deal for joint enrichment -- here we go again -- which seemed to have been deep-sixed by the Iranians just a couple of weeks earlier.

MR. ERELI: Right.

QUESTION: What is the U.S. handle on this? Is that still a live proposition? Have you heard from the Russians that they're entertaining -- the Iranians are entertaining the idea still?

MR. ERELI: I think all of us involved on this issue, the EU3, the Russians, the Chinese and the other members of the P5 and the IAEA Board of Governors also have grown pretty skeptical of repeated Iranian statements that there's a deal with Russia. Because as you say, one day they'll say there's a deal and then the other day they'll say there's no deal and the next day they'll say there is a deal but it's only on these terms.

The bottom line is this, that all of our efforts to address Iran's nuclear program are premised on the agreement or on the common view, that Iran shouldn't have an enrichment capability in Iran because they would use enriched uranium and develop a nuclear weapon. So any aspect of fuel cycle, whether it be plutonium reprocessing or uranium enrichment, has to be outside of Iran and that's what the Russian proposal on uranium enrichment is. So every time, you know, Iran says, oh, we'll accept the Russian proposal, you always see this qualification -- you always see the qualification that part of it has to be on Iranian territory. So there's not been a consistent message from Iran. The only consistent -- on that score -- the only consistent message from Iran has been that they refuse to give up enrichment and that they refuse to negotiate with the Europeans, which is what the Security Council called on them to do, what the Board of Governors called on them to do and which the international community will hold them to account on.


QUESTION: President Ahmadi-Nejad also says that now he doesn't see there's any need for talks with the U.S. about what's happening in Iraq since the new Iraqi Prime Minister has now been designated. Is that the same way you feel?

MR. ERELI: I hadn't seen those comments. I think, you know, we have this channel open to us to talk to the Iranians on Iraq. I expect that it'll be used when necessary and appropriate. I don't want to get into speculations about timing, but I can tell you that, again, it will deal with Iran's actions in Iraq. We'll see. If the Iranians feel there's a use for it, if the Iranians want to engage, we'll do it. I would note we've had these kinds of conversations before in Afghanistan, so it's not a radical departure from past practice.

QUESTION: So the bottom line is you still think there are things you need to discuss with Iran or you'd like to discuss with Iran about their behavior in Iraq.

MR. ERELI: Yeah. There are still issues on the table to be presented.

QUESTION: The Secretary is going to visit Greece tomorrow.

QUESTION: Can we stay on Iran? Sorry.

MR. ERELI: Sure. Saul, we'll get back to you.

QUESTION: What about -- what is your understanding of whether Iran did or did not, has or has not, threatened to quit the NPT?

MR. ERELI: I don't have anything definitive on it. I've seen the reports. Frankly, they've been reported to -- the IAEA Board of Governors reported them to the Security Council because of their noncompliance with their safeguards obligations. I don't want to speculate on what Iran is going to do. I can tell you what -- and you know very well what the international community has called on them to do and so far they've refused to do it.

QUESTION: But by mentioning that they were reported for their noncompliance, are you saying that there's not really any reason for them to stay in, since (inaudible)?

MR. ERELI: No, of course not. I'm not saying that at all. I'm saying that their record of performance as a responsible member of the NPT is not very good. Does that mean they should withdraw from the NPT? Of course, not. They should, to the contrary, endeavor and take every action to be a member in good standing with the NPT, because why, that's the way Iran can, frankly, be an accepted member of the international community, rather than isolate itself, which all its action to date have done. And actions which go against the NPT only serve the purpose of isolating them further.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) to put you through this drill more than three times a week, but some of us had a session with the head of Germany's international relations committee this morning. He said, "It wouldn't be a bad idea. Be patient about Iran." "It wouldn't be a bad idea" was his phrase to have a Board of Governors take another look at the situation. So I have to keep sort of a clock on this, I think. Should the Administration change its mind about wanting action by the Security Council following the report from ElBaradei? The U.S. posture remains a report is due on the 28th --

MR. ERELI: Right.

QUESTION: -- and the Council should take up what to do about Iran?

MR. ERELI: Right.

QUESTION: You're not looking for more IAEA --

MR. ERELI: Well, the IAEA -- first of all, the Director General will report both to the IAEA and to the Security Council so -- and the work of the Security Council, as stated in the presidential statement of March 28th, is to support and reinforce the role of the IAEA in answering the outstanding questions about Iran's nuclear program and in ensuring Iranian compliance with its safeguards obligations. So there is obviously a symbiotic relationship between what actions the Security Council is taking and the role of the IAEA. So the way we look at it is both are working in concert towards a common goal, which is to uphold the integrity of the UN system and to reinforce the power and authority of those institutions to deal with a threat to the international community.

QUESTION: And your position has been action is necessary to accomplish that goal.

MR. ERELI: Right, right.

QUESTION: You're not -- well, you know, I don't want to grill you here, but the Administration --

MR. ERELI: That's why I'm here, sir.

QUESTION: Well, you're not backing off from maybe we'll have another turn at looking at maybe a travel curb imposed by the Dominican Republic and, you know, a trade sanction imposed by Belize. You're still looking for the Security Council to weigh sanctions again --

MR. ERELI: Sanctions are -- sir, as Under Secretary Burns told you on Friday and the Secretary has said, sanctions are very much an issue of discussion among all of us in a variety of contexts, both multilateral within the UN as well as outside the UN if the UN can't decide to take action.

QUESTION: Just one more quick one on Iran. Back to Russia. Are those comments out of Moscow anything different than what you've been hearing? Did you see -- haven't you always believed that Russia supported adamantly preventing Iran from getting knowledge on a complete fuel cycle? Or why do you think --

MR. ERELI: Russia has always been -- I shouldn't say always, but for the past several years, Russia has been very firmly with the program in terms of seeing Iran's nuclear program as unsettling and being firm in taking action to prevent Iran from getting the capability to develop a nuclear weapon, which is the whole idea behind the fuel take-back agreement on Bushehr.

QUESTION: So what's your read on why they're saying something today as if it's -- as if it's a new position?

MR. ERELI: Who says it's -- that's not -- they're reiterating what has been a common position. You're characterizing it as something new. I don't know if I'd agree with that.

QUESTION: I actually think it's old. That's why I was asking. I don't know, it was big headlines this morning.

MR. ERELI: Yeah, there's sometimes not a direct connection between headlines and news, but -- yes.

QUESTION: Back to the German lawmaker's comments. I wonder if you can say that in your government-to-government discussions with Germany you're hearing the suggestion that the United States should have direct talks with Iran over the nuclear issue.

MR. ERELI: There have been public statements about that but, frankly, our -- I think our common position is that the EU3 framework is currently the most viable way to deal with this and the one that we continue to support.

QUESTION: They're not saying there's anything wrong with the frame -- they're not saying there's anything wrong with the framework. They're saying -- well, apart from -- well, my friend here just said, they also said the U.S. should be at the table. And you've said this many times. Fischer has said it, Hagel has said it, Lugar has said. So it's not a weird idea.

MR. ERELI: I didn't say it was.

QUESTION: No, I know you didn't. You can do that with the framework. Can the U.S. join the framework?

MR. ERELI: That's not an issue under active discussion.


MR. ERELI: Yeah.

QUESTION: Change of subject?

MR. ERELI: Let's go (inaudible) question back here.

QUESTION: Yeah, the Secretary is --

MR. ERELI: Which I probably can't answer.

QUESTION: The Secretary is visiting Greece tomorrow, and according to some information from Athens, in her program there is no meeting with the opposition leader George Papandreou. Since it's a tradition for U.S. cabinet members to when they visit Greece to meet the opposition leader, and it happened with the current Prime Minister as an opposition leader, is there any way to learn why this decision, if it's true, and is there some reason that there is a problem with the opposition party?

MR. ERELI: Okay, why don't I just stop you. I don't know if it's true or not. I haven't seen the Secretary's schedule for her visit to Athens tomorrow; and (b) for decisions regarding her schedule and her program, you should ask your colleagues in Athens to ask our people with her.

QUESTION: Nevertheless, can I ask you if there are any additions to her three countries?

MR. ERELI: I don't have anything to report on that.

QUESTION: Will there be an unannounced, incredibly exciting, secret visit?

MR. ERELI: The schedule as I know it is what has been announced.

QUESTION: Oh, I know what's been announced.

QUESTION: Same trip, different subject. The Secretary will be going on to Sofia for a meeting of NATO.


QUESTION: Okay, so you confirm that. At NATO, we understand that Sudan will be discussed and Darfur will be discussed. There have been many reports about possible proposals that the U.S. could make, the last one that NATO might send several hundred advisors to back up the AU. There have been other formulations there. Is the United States carrying any specific proposal that they would like to see discussed (inaudible)?

MR. ERELI: Well, this has been a subject of active discussion and coordination with NATO, the United States, the UN, and the AU for some time. And I think the discussions were in Sofia will be a continuation of what's already been worked on, which are very much along the lines of what you mention in your question, Peter. A logistical operational support for both the AU mission currently there as well as a re-hatting to a UN mission.

QUESTION: Let me just follow up on that, please. What I was referring to was a New York Post report talking about several hundred advisors to the AU, which is more than logistical support. So I haven't --

MR. ERELI: Not really.


MR. ERELI: Not really. The distinction to make is between sort of armed troops and operational and logistical support that doesn't mean combatants.

QUESTION: Well, my question remains is that if you don't have any proposals, specific proposals that's being put on the table, the question is why not?

MR. ERELI: Well --

QUESTION: Let me just finish. Because we had several months ago President Bush already said very clearly, he wanted NATO to "take the lead." He was very clear he wanted NATO to get involved. So far, what we have is we have a lot of talk about doing things in Darfur, but we don't have any progress on any specific proposal.

MR. ERELI: Actually I wouldn't say that. There's been a lot of detailed discussion going on with NATO, with the AU, as I said before, with the United States, about the shape and form and composition and role and mission of a NATO involvement in Darfur. And when the Secretary goes to Sofia she'll be able to continue to move those discussions along. Rather than bring any specific proposal, the way I would look at is basically continuing elaboration of plans for NATO support, for multilateral efforts to enhance peace and security in Darfur.

QUESTION: Do you expect any concrete measure to come out of the meeting as a result of --

MR. ERELI: I don't know that I'd say that.

QUESTION: On the same -- Bulgaria? Is the Secretary going to sign a defense cooperation agreement, and if so, what will be covered in that agreement?

MR. ERELI: I'll refer you to the party for, again, the Secretary's schedule and what she's going to do there.


QUESTION: Change of subject. Hamas, in general. Jan Eliasson, who's currently the UNGA President, said that it's fine for countries to invite individuals who are members of Hamas to their countries because it's the group that's considered terrorists. He said this in reference to Norway inviting some Hamas leaders there. Does that differ from -- I mean, I know it differs from U.S. policy, but do you think that's going to be a problem?

MR. ERELI: Well, I don't -- I've seen the reports about a Hamas official going to Norway. I don't know that that's actually been finalized yet. So number one, let's see what actually happens with respect to that visit. Number two, I think the Quartet and others have made it clear that Hamas and its representatives are members of a foreign terrorist organization that have a history of killing innocent civilians. And that we as an international community and those of us who oppose terror should take every opportunity to make it clear to Hamas and its sympathizers and those who support it in any way, that that kind of behavior, those kinds of policies are unacceptable. And that if we are to find a way forward in alleviating the plight of the Palestinian people, then all of us, but most particularly Hamas, needs to clearly renounce terror, recognize Israel and accept agreements that the Palestinian Authorities have entered into.

QUESTION: The Norwegians says that the U.S. representatives, I presume from the embassy, went and stated their views on this and basically asked them not to invite them. Is that why you don't know whether it's final yet? You don't know the effects of your diplomacy?

MR. ERELI: I'll leave it to the Norwegians to say whether Hamas is definitely coming or not.

QUESTION: Can you say that --

MR. ERELI: I don't have any comment on diplomatic conversations.


QUESTION: With respect to this in Gaza --

MR. ERELI: I'm sorry, do you --

QUESTION: Yeah. On the (inaudible), which is two things. Just to follow up on Teri's because we have reports from Oslo saying the U.S. asked them not to meet with these people.

MR. ERELI: Yeah. Okay.

QUESTION: You don't want to confirm that?

MR. ERELI: I don't.

QUESTION: Okay, fine. So the second question is is that: If they do meet with these people, as they are scheduled to do on May 15th -- and we have two names -- is this going to have any consequence for relations with -- or any diplomatic fallout?

MR. ERELI: First of all, I don't want to speculate, as I said, what the Norwegian Government may or may not want to do.

QUESTION: Right. Okay.

MR. ERELI: As I answered to the earlier question, countries -- and governments of those countries -- are going to make their own decisions about contacts to have with Hamas. We've made our position very clear. I think the Quartet has made its position very clear. There are others who have met with Hamas, or members of Hamas, and we've always said the same thing. We're not going to do it. We think they're a terrorist organization. If you're going to do it, it's important that you send a clear and unmistakable message to Hamas that their policies are unacceptable, they're at variance with the norms of behavior that the international community finds acceptable and that the only way forward for you and for your people is through renunciation of violence, peaceful -- embracing of peace and peaceful negotiations, recognition of Israel, and accepting agreements that have been completed between the Palestinians and Israel.

QUESTION: Are you going to ask for any clarification on these Eliasson remarks because he's not just the UNGA President, he's also the Swedish Foreign Minister and Sweden is a member of the EU, but therefore, a member of the Quartet?

MR. ERELI: I haven't seen the remarks.

QUESTION: Well, are you interested in them? Are you going to check them out? Is it a problem?

MR. ERELI: Teri, I think I've explained to you what our position is on this.


QUESTION: Adam, aside from attacking Israel, it appears that the Hamas are attacking members of Fattah and they've appointed a new Hamas security official and it seems that this is undermining what President Abbas wants and they've had an actual shoot-out in the Health Ministry. How -- is it possible to put more substantial power into Fattah or to President Abbas or is this just going to be undermined?

MR. ERELI: Well, there's clearly a contradiction at work here and it's one that we've spoken to before. The contradiction is between an elected government that has a policy of supporting terror and using violence to achieve political ends. And we are seeing that policy put into action through the appointment of known terrorists into positions of responsibility in the security establishment.

Then on the other hand, you've got an elected President of the Palestinian people who has firmly -- who has committed himself firmly to a condemnation of terror, to the settlement of Israel -- of the Palestinians' differences with Israel through negotiation to create a Palestinian state, and who has espoused a policy of one authority, one gun, and one law.

And what we're seeing in these incidents is, I think, the two -- that contradiction working itself out, or the ramifications of that contradiction in daily life in the Palestinian territories. What we would look for is, as we've said before, is a resolution of that contradiction for the benefit of the Palestinian people because, frankly, the Palestinians deserve -- the Palestinian people deserve a government and, I think, want a government that achieves their national aspirations through dialogue and through negotiations and as a responsible partner for peace. I think the Palestinian people have known enough violence and struggle that they look to their elected leadership to take a different course, and that's what our policies and our efforts are designed to achieve.

QUESTION: On Taiwan, do you have any information regarding President Chen and Premier Hsieh's transit in the States next month?

MR. ERELI: I don't. I don't.

QUESTION: Did you get the application already?

MR. ERELI: I'm not aware that any decision has been made on any possible request.

QUESTION: Can you confirm that New York is one of the stops that you are --

MR. ERELI: No, I can't.

QUESTION: Okay, thank you.


QUESTION: On North Korea, the families of the Japanese victims of North Korean abductions, they're in Washington this week and they'll be testifying before Congress. And how will the U.S. Government try to help to resolve this issue?

MR. ERELI: The United States has, I think, publicly and in every way possible sought to support those who are seeking the return of abductees and we'll obviously continue to do that, continue to work with the parties concerned to help in any way that we can.

QUESTION: A quick one. Do you have anything on the Yamamoto mission in N'djamena?

MR. ERELI: Sure. Don, our Deputy Assistant Secretary for African Affairs, is in N'djamena today. He arrived late yesterday in Chad. He will be meeting today and tomorrow with a number of government officials, members of the opposition and civil society representatives. The purpose of his meeting -- or his trip and his meetings, as we've discussed before, is to promote a political dialogue in order to help the people and Government of Sudan -- sorry, Chad, to resolve their differences and to promote democracy. This is not a mediation mission, as has been reported, but rather an opportunity for the U.S. Government to make its views known and to help -- and to do what it can to promote a peaceful resolution of differences.

QUESTION: One of obviously the (inaudible), he's also trying to promote a resolution of this dispute between the World Bank and Chad. Is there any word on the substance of those talks or the progress?

MR. ERELI: My understanding is that Mr. Yamamoto is not scheduled to meet with representatives of the World Bank on his trip.

QUESTION: So he's not there to try to help resolve this dispute? Because that has been purported to be one of his major --

MR. ERELI: Yeah, that is not the focus of his trip.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MR. ERELI: Well, let's do a couple more. Michel.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.) Do you have anything new on General Dayton mission in the Palestinian territories?

MR. ERELI: I don't.

QUESTION: Is he still there?

MR. ERELI: Let me check and see if I can get you anything.

Yes, ma'am.

QUESTION: On the base realignment agreement reached by Secretary Rumsfeld and Japanese Defense Minister Nukaga, are there plans for a 2+2 meeting coming up?

MR. ERELI: Are there plans for a 2+2 meeting?

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

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

# # #


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