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State Dept. Daily Press Briefing May 1, 2006


Daily Press Briefing
Sean McCormack, Spokesman
Washington, DC
May 1, 2006

INDEX:

SUDAN
Deputy Secretary Zoellick's Travel to Abuja, Nigeria
Status of Darfur Peace Talks / Remaining Differences
International Efforts Regarding Ongoing Situation in Darfur
Status of Needs Assessment Team
Assistant Secretary Frazer at Save Darfur Rally / Deputy
Secretary's Meeting with Rally Organizers

SOUTH KOREA
Reports Former South Korean President Kim Dae Jung Willing to
Visit North Korea

IRAN
Comments by Iran's UN Ambassador Regarding US Military Threats
Under Secretary Burns and Assistant Secretary Silverberg Travel to
Paris for P-5 +1 Political Directors' Meeting on Iran
Possible UN Security Council Chapter 7 Resolution on Iran
Secretary Rice's Upcoming Travel to New York Next Week for P-5 +1
Dinner and Meeting of the Quartet Members on Israeli-Palestinian
Issues
Calls for Direct US-Iran Talks
Reported Iranian Shelling of Parts of Northern Iraq
Senator Biden's Proposal on Dividing Iraq into Three Separate
Regions

PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY
Secretary Rice's Upcoming Travel to New York Next Week and Quartet
Meeting
Proposal by President Chirac to Create a Special Account at World
Bank to Channel International Aid Funds to Palestinians
Provision of Humanitarian Assistance to the Palestinian People
Secretary Rice's Meeting with Special Envoy Wolfensohn / Prospects
for Successor to Mr. Wolfensohn's Role

JAPAN
US-Japan Security Consultative Meeting
United States-Japan Roadmap for Realignment Implementation

PAKISTAN
Reported Release from Prison of A.Q. Khan Network Member

IRAQ
President Talbani's Remarks Regarding US Officials Present for
Discussions with Iraqi Insurgents


TRANSCRIPT:

2:00 p.m. EDT


MR. MCCORMACK: Okay. I don't have any opening statements, so I'm ready to get into the questions.

QUESTION: Mr. Zoellick, maybe his fifth trip?

MR. MCCORMACK: I haven't tallied it up, but he spends an awful lot of time -- I'm not sure. I can't tell you how many trips he's taken.

QUESTION: Do you have reason to believe that this horrible problem is -- there's some give, there's some prospect of some solution?

MR. MCCORMACK: We hope so. We hope there is, that the parties will come to a solution. I know that the Government of Sudan has accepted the terms of this particular AU proposal. We are hoping that they will, in fact, send back a high government representative in order to engage in any remaining negotiations that might be needed in order to conclude a proposal. Right now, it is down to a few difficult issues, things concerning disarmament of militias, how to integrate formal militias into an armed force and associated issues.

So although we are down to a few issues in this regard, nothing is done until everything is done. And Deputy Secretary Zoellick is going there in hopes to move the process forward, to -- on the ground, bring the parties together and help them resolve any remaining differences. So that's why he decided to take this trip now. In any negotiation, you have to pick your spots, when is the right time to engage on the ground personally and Secretary -- Deputy Secretary Zoellick decided that this was the right moment to try to get this over the goal line.

QUESTION: This may be a softball, but before you came on the scene here, while you were at the other place, you know, the U.S. would complain, basically, that they're basically on their own in applying pressures; some help from the British, but not the kind of support you thought was necessary to get things done. Is there now some -- almost feel like Iran -- is there now some international climate, some international fervor, some energy to this that will help?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, Barry, President Obasanjo has been deeply involved in this. The AU has been deeply involved with this. They have a negotiator on the ground who has been trying to broker an agreement. So there has been a lot of international participation. We have, in the past, had some differences in the Security Council when we were trying to pass resolutions. And we would hope that countries would continue to play a positive role in the Security Council as well as elsewhere. You have NATO that is very much involved in this issue. They have provided logistics and air lift. The Canadian Government, I could point out, has provided armored personnel carriers.

So there's been a lot of international participation, Barry. But I think that in terms of dealing with an issue of this complexity and this seriousness, you need the participation and public goodwill of all states who have an interest in seeing that this humanitarian situation -- that this tragedy is corrected.

Sue.

QUESTION: Did the Deputy Secretary go at the invitation of the AU or was it a U.S. approach to go? And secondly, is he going to be meeting Sudanese officials, possibly to -- you know, discuss a UN force? Is that going to come up?

MR. MCCORMACK: We'll try to keep you up to date, Sue. In terms of his meetings, I would say that right now, his primary focus is doing what he can to come to an agreement within a political -- reach a political agreement within the context of the Abuja process. I am sure that he will meet with whomever he feels it is useful and appropriate to meet with to get that agreement over the goal line.

In terms of who first came up with the idea of his going, I know that he was thinking about this last week. I can't tell you whether or not it was an invitation to the AU, but certainly, he has been in close consultation with representatives of the AU, as have other members of the Department. Our Chargé, Cameron Hume, has also been in Abuja, so we have been deeply involved and had a lot of contact with the AU on this.

Peter.

QUESTION: A follow-up to that. Is the mission open-ended? In other words, will he be staying there as long as it takes to try to nail this down or does he have a defined --

MR. MCCORMACK: Deputy Secretary Zoellick is somebody who's results oriented.. And I think that at this point, he is going to -- he's going there to work on the Abuja process to move that along and do what he can and he brings considerable diplomatic skill, as well as some -- as well as a deep knowledge of all the various issues associated with the Abuja political process, as well as Darfur. So at this point, that's where his focus is.

QUESTION: You have a timeline for when he'll come back or it's open-ended right now?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, I won't say open-ended. It means that he's going to be out there for the -- you know, kind of often to the undetermined future. But he is a results oriented person. He is focused now on the Abuja process. I think that he will continue his work out there as long as he thinks it is useful to do so.

QUESTION: And the second thing is that there have been some suggestions that once there is a peace agreement reached, that that might facilitate or might ease the resistance that Khartoum has had to the placement of an enlarged blue-hatted force there. Have you had any discussions or any commitments on that from them?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, that's been their stated -- that's been their stated, I guess you could say, condition related to the deployment of a UN force. We, of course, have urged them to accept this, regardless of whether or not there is, in fact, a political agreement in Abuja. We, of course, have been pushing an agreement in Abuja and would love to see this done at the earliest possible moment. We've already extended the deadline 48 hours, so we'd like to move this forward.

In terms of the UN -- possible UN force, the UN is continuing with their planning. We believe that ultimately it needs -- the current AU force needs to transition into a UN force. And the government in Khartoum has been under some considerable international pressure to accept a UN force. They've had some publicly stated objections saying that they wouldn't accept an international force. Well, I would just point out that, in fact, they already do have an international force in Darfur. So we're going to continue working on that front.

Just to sum up, we're working on multiple fronts here simultaneously: working on the political front in Abuja; the NATO planning process, which is a source of some discussion in Sofia in the Secretary's meetings with her counterparts, continues to be move forward. I think they're actually moving forward now on the actual planning among the military planners about how to offer -- what assistance and how they could deliver that assistance to the AU mission. And then you also are moving forward on the UN front, working on generating the requirements for a possible UN force, a blue-hatted force, as well as putting out calls to various nations who might contribute to such a force. So those are -- moving forward on all of those fronts simultaneously. Obviously, there's interaction among those various things as you move forward on the NATO front, as you move forward on the UN front; that, of course, increases pressure on all the parties in the Abuja process to move forward.

So certainly, as we've always said, moving forward on the political front in Abuja will be key to really coming to a more complete and lasting solution to the situation in Darfur. The humanitarian assistance and the increased security systems are, of course, needed because you have a short-term crisis right now. You have an immediate crisis that confronts the international community. The long-term solution is a political one.

QUESTION: Just one very specific question, the UN Needs Assessment Team, where do we stand on that? I mean, is that --

MR. MCCORMACK: Let me check for you, Peter.

QUESTION: Because I remember you said, I think about three weeks ago, that it was coming in in two weeks, (inaudible), so we haven't heard anything about it.

MR. MCCORMACK: I'll check for you, Peter.

QUESTION: Okay.

MR. MCCORMACK: Sue.

QUESTION: Do you think the timing is right, possibly, for a special envoy on Sudan to be appointed by the President?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, you know, there is always a variety of different ways to come at this issue; certainly, a lot of people have talked about that. Right now, Deputy Secretary Zoellick is the person that is focused on the ground. He is really the point man in terms of our diplomacy. The Secretary also continues to remain deeply engaged on this. Deputy Secretary Zoellick is also working closely with Jendayi Fraser, working with Roger Winter, who is his envoy to the talks, who is really sort of, on a minute-by-minute basis, involved in the issue. So I think Deputy Secretary Zoellick brings with him -- brings to the table decades' worth of diplomatic experience. He's a skilled negotiator. He's a skilled diplomat. So we have, certainly, great faith in the work that he is doing right now on the subject.

Joel.

QUESTION: Yesterday, of course, there was this rally in front of the U.S. Capitol and numerous NGOs, folks, celebrities, politicians. Did Secretary Zoellick already meet with the various NGO organizers from yesterday? What is his assessment?

And also, you've had Governor Corzine of New Jersey in a speech announce that New Jersey was the first state (inaudible) to the federal government, to disinvest in Sudan or any companies -- international companies and firms that have prolonged this misery in the Darfur region. The talks are underway for Abuja this week, but are there other plans? One of the concerns yesterday were with the Russians and the Chinese. They've invested in the Sudan and other sections of Africa and they may be prolonging this misery.

MR. MCCORMACK: Look, Joel, a couple of factual issues. Assistant Secretary Jendayi Frazer actually spoke at this rally. Deputy Secretary Zoellick did meet with the organizers of the rally and he was happy to do so and pleased to do so. This is -- President Bush, when he first came into office back in 2001, put this issue on the international radar screen. He said: What can we do about Sudan? And it is really through the efforts of a number of individuals over the course of the past five years that we have moved the process to the point where we have.

Now, it isn't a solution and there is still an ongoing tragedy in Darfur. But there is the hope of a solution right now. You didn't have that five years ago. What you had was an ongoing civil conflict between the North and the South that had lasted 20-plus years. So while it is still a human tragedy in Darfur, in and around that region, there has been some progress that has been made in terms of improving -- making some improvements to the security situation, in terms of getting humanitarian aid, and then putting this on among the first tier of diplomatic issues in the international community. And that's because of President Bush and the policies of his Administration.

Yes.

QUESTION: On Darfur.

MR. MCCORMACK: Yes.

QUESTION: You said that Zoellick was going to go at the right moment. Is that -- are there indications that this thing can really move, or is this just because of this deadline? I mean, are you getting indications from the rebels, for instance, that they're ready to bargain and --

MR. MCCORMACK: Like I said, he chose the moment. He thinks that there has been some progress that has been made in the political discussions. This is tough stuff. People are going at it hammer and tong, working out language and working out language that represents various ideas and concepts. If you do reach an agreement, then of course you get to the second stage of that, and that is actually implementing it, which brings with it its own set of challenges. But there has been, we have seen some movement over the past week or so in the Abuja process. Like I said, the Government of Sudan has agreed to a text. They are down to several issues, admittedly difficult issues. But he believed that now is the time to take the opportunity to go to Abuja and see if we could come to closure on it.

QUESTION: Another just quick follow-up on the NATO issue. Is the U.S. offering anything specific yet?

MR. MCCORMACK: I know the military planners are looking at what might be done in terms of headquarters support, logistics, airlift and other kinds of support. I don't know that we have determined exactly at this point what portion of that or what particular role U.S. forces might play in it, but it is a question that I know DOD is actively looking at in concert with other members of NATO.

Yes, ma'am.

QUESTION: Yes, South Korea. The former President of South Korea, Kim Dae Jung, is willing to visit North Korea next month. Do you think his visit will be helpful to United States and South Korea? What is your opinion on that?

MR. MCCORMACK: I haven't seen mention of this. Certainly we have in the past encouraged contacts between North Korea and South Korea in the hopes of, one, moving the six-party process forward. I know that South Korea also has issues that it works with North Korea as well, and that's something that we have always encouraged.

Teri.

QUESTION: Change of subject?

MR. MCCORMACK: Okay.

QUESTION: Iran.

MR. MCCORMACK: Iran.

QUESTION: A couple of things. Iran's UN Ambassador has asked the United Nations to tell the U.S. to stop making military threats against Iran. I don't know if you've seen that.

MR. MCCORMACK: No, I hadn't seen that.

QUESTION: Also, over the weekend, Secretary of State Rice said that the U.S.. would consider ways outside the United Nations to pressure Iran, and since you've often said that the U.S. is basically sanctioned out, what was she -- what kind of things was she suggesting?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, a couple things. One, I hadn't seen the comments from the Ambassador. I think that just judging by what you've given me right there, it sounds like another effort to distract the international community from what is at issue here. And what is at issue is Iran's behavior, continuing pursuit of a nuclear weapon under cover of a civilian nuclear program. We're now and I suspect that you are seeing these diversionary tactics sort of increase in sort of the rapidity of their coming out as well as their specific nature, just because it's getting very, very uncomfortable for them up in New York.

Right now we have -- just to walk through the timeline a little bit with you, Under Secretary Nick Burns is going to be traveling to Paris along with Kristin Silverberg, who's our Assistance Secretary for International Organization Affairs, is going to be leaving tonight. They're going to have some meetings tomorrow and I believe into the next day, with their counterparts from the so-called P-5+1. And they're going to be talking about a number of different issues related to Iran. The larger issue is about how to get -- how to bring about a change in Iran's behavior.

They're also going to be discussing, I would expect, specific language of a UN Security Council Resolution -- Chapter 7 resolution, which would compel Iran to meet the demands of the international community, I would expect that such a resolution would reflect what has been requested of them in a UN Security Council presidential statement which, in turn, reflected the demands of the IAEA Board of Governors. But there is a qualitative difference between a presidential statement and a Chapter 7 resolution. Chapter 7 resolution has the force of international law. It is -- it compels a state to comply with what is outlined in that resolution. So they're going to be talking about that, both in Paris and I would expect, up in New York. There's specific texts that they're going to look at.

And then a week from tomorrow, Secretary Rice is going to be in New York. She's going to have a couple of meetings. One, she's going to have a Quartet meeting which deals with Israeli-Palestinian issues. Then she's going to have a P-5 +1 dinner among -- with her counterparts up in New York. And again, this is an opportunity to discuss Iran, sort of, the wider issues, the way forward. It's a follow up to the meeting that took place in Berlin. And so that's sort of the timeline now that we're working on. I can't predict for you exactly when the Security Council would take up voting on a particular resolution. But as you can see, that process is moving forward. I think we are now at the point of looking at specific text. So that's moving forward. And as it moves forward, I would expect that life in the international community for the Iranian regime is becoming more and more difficult. They are now faced with a chapter -- the prospect of a Chapter 7 resolution; certainly, not a place where they wanted to be. So that's a long way of answering your first question.

QUESTION: But you didn't answer the question about what was she suggesting the U.S. might do, outside of this process.

MARCIA: Well, in terms of (inaudible) on the Security Council and you rightly point out that in terms of sanctions ourselves, we're sanctioned out. We're virtually sanctioned out. I think we're down to pistachios and rugs, in terms of commodities. There are other states that are considering what they might do individually or as groups of states.

Certainly, there are other states -- I just use the example of the EU because they have talked about it in public. They have a number of different possible diplomatic levers at their disposal. And I know that based on their public comments, they have looked at these. And the point here is not to try to punish the Iranian people, but it is to try to compel a change in behavior among the Iranian regime. So states are looking at various diplomatic levers that they might have at their disposal, including sanctions, travel restrictions, asset freezes.

So there are a number of different levers that are available to members of the international community. Likeminded states can look at what actions they might take. That doesn't preclude action within the Security Council. As you can see, we're continuing to work on a Security Council Resolution, a Chapter 7 resolution. But again, that doesn't stop you from also thinking about what other measures you might be taking.

In terms of the United States on the sanctions, part of that is it's pretty limited. And also in terms of travel restrictions, it's also very limited in terms of the government official's ability to travel here to the United States already.

QUESTION: Can I follow up on that?

MR. MCCORMACK: Peter.

QUESTION: On the specific text you were talking about -- two questions. One is that, can you say who they were prepared by? I mean, we understood, I think, a couple weeks ago that the French and the British were working on the text.

MR. MCCORMACK: I think that this was a text originally proposed by the Europeans.

QUESTION: By the Europeans. Okay. And the second thing is that the nature of these texts, do these texts include specific mentions of specific sanctions or is this just an advance step before that to say --

MR. MCCORMACK: I wouldn't expect it.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) or something.

MR. MCCORMACK: I wouldn't expect at this point, Peter, that the first resolution, first Chapter 7 resolution you see on this would include sanctions. And I think that, again, what it is intended to do is to compel Iranian behavior -- to put down the marker -- have the international community, specifically the Security Council put down a marker. The Iranian regime is now compelled by the force of international law to comply with the demands of the IAEA and the presidential statement.

Yes.

QUESTION: About more and more voices calling the U.S. Administration to speak directly to the Iranians, Denise Ross today in the Washington Post (inaudible) to even think about it.

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, at this point, we have not seen good faith on the part of the Iranian regime in the discussions which it has had with other international partners: the EU-3, the Russians. Every step along the way, they've gamed the process in order to get more time to move forward on their nuclear program. And the international community has now said that it has had enough of that kind of behavior and that we are going to do everything that we can, acting as a group of nations, building a larger consensus, a larger and larger consensus to try to compel a change in the Iranian behavior as a group. So that's where we're focused right now. That is where we are focusing our efforts right now. It's where the international community is focusing its efforts as well.

What the specific resolution will demand, we'll see. But I think certainly, a couple of guides would be the IAEA Board of Governors statement, as well as the UN Security Council presidential statement, which demands certain things of Iran, one of which is a suspension of all enrichment-related activities, as well -- among other things. So what has to happen now, because Iran has eroded the trust with members of the international community, they need to build up that trust. They need to reestablish that trust, or whatever trust existed prior to this, and take steps to suspend their enrichment program and to heed the call of the international community and to engage, in a serious way, in negotiations.

There are a lot of -- there were very attractive offers out there on the table from the EU-3 as well as the Russians and the Iranians have rejected them out of hand. And I'm not sure that the Iranian people know what was put on the table for them. You hear a lot of talk about the Iranian regime using the nuclear issue as a point of national pride. Well, I'm not sure that they're leaving out the second half of the sentence there in terms of what might be possible. They always talk about the fact that Iran has the right to civilian nuclear power. Well, nobody disputes that; they do have a right to it. But because of Iranian behavior over the past two decades, the international community has said there will be conditions on your having civilian nuclear power, because you have tried to obtain a nuclear weapon with your, supposedly, civilian nuclear research.

And in exchange for those objective guarantees, which would reassure the international community that you're not engaged in research on the nuclear weapon, there are certain steps the international community is willing to take. But I don't think the Iranian -- I'm not sure the Iranian people have heard any of that, because certainly, they -- and they certainly haven't heard it from the Iranian regime.

QUESTION: I don't know if you're prepared to get into this kind of detail, but it's not clear to me -- your description of the first resolution is not carrying sanctions.

MR. MCCORMACK: Right.

QUESTION: But what was said here often in the last few weeks, it will be more than a presidential statement.

MR. MCCORMACK: Right.

QUESTION: It would be more serious or more powerful.

MR. MCCORMACK: Right.

QUESTION: I'm lost. Because it sounds like something like the presidential statement -- hey, you're obliged to do this, this and this. You're not -- there's no punitive angle to it. So how is that different from putting them on notice? Because they have been put on notice God knows how many times?

MR. MCCORMACK: Right. Well, that's a little bit -- It's what I was talking about with Teri and Sylvie. And that is, there's a qualitative difference between a presidential statement from the Security Council and a Chapter 7 resolution. A presidential statement is a -- I guess you could describe it as a request from the international community. It is not backed up by the force of international law. A Chapter 7 resolution does have the force of international law. A state who is a member of the United Nations is compelled to comply with Chapter 7 resolutions. So that's the difference there.

QUESTION: But what's the threat if they don't comply?

MR. MCCORMACK: That there would be further diplomatic actions, that there's the --

QUESTION: More Chapter 7 resolutions?

MR. MCCORMACK: That there's the potential for a whole array of actions, either in the UN or by individual states or like-minded states to apply other diplomatic pressures. We talked about a few of those possibilities in terms of sanctions, asset freezes and travel restrictions.

Yeah.

QUESTION: We've heard many times about the behavior of the Iranian regime. But in this particular case, are you referring to the supporting of terrorism, as -- when you're not talking only about the nuclear issue?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, we do talk about the whole array of behaviors. We do talk about their support for terrorism. We've referred to them as the central bankers of terror in the world, the most significant state sponsors of terror in the world. I think the record bears that out. And their treatment of their own citizens in terms of human rights is deplorable and they're going in the wrong direction. They're going in the opposite direction from where the rest of the Middle East is heading. So, our focus on the nuclear issue should be in no way interpreted as a diminution in our interest in seeing a change of behavior on other fronts as well.

Yeah, Sylvie.

QUESTION: You said that next week, there will be a Quartet meeting.

MR. MCCORMACK: Yes.

QUESTION: Is it something you think -- will it be the occasion to give an answer to the proposal of President Chirac on creating a special account for the Palestinians in the World Bank?

MR. MCCORMACK: I'm sure if somebody wants to raise that issue, that people will be prepared to discuss it. I'm not aware of any formal proposal that's on the table in that regard. Certainly, if somebody wants to bring it up, I'm sure people will hear it out. But what we believe the focus should be is on providing humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian people, as we and others have done, and we have actually increased our levels of humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian people and then also confronting a Hamas-led government with the hard choices of governing. And the London Quartet statement lays out for them what it is that is required of them in order to have a different kind of -- potentially a different kind of relationship with the rest of the world.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) the creation of a special accounts?

MR. MCCORMACK: I haven't seen any proposal, so I can't react to something that is not on the table or written down.

Yes. Yes, sir.

QUESTION: I'd like to ask about the Japan-U.S. Security Consultative --

QUESTION: Just one more, just a follow-up.

MR. MCCORMACK: Okay, we'll come back to you sir. He has the same subject.

QUESTION: Okay, yeah.

QUESTION: Okay. So you don't have a specific reaction to the Chirac proposal. I know that a lot of the deliberations have been over how far the definition of humanitarian extends in terms of what you're going to do. My question is this, is that you've got 160,000 Palestinian servants who are not going to be paid in a couple of weeks unless you get money. Now, is this considered by the United States a primary concern to get those people paid?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, again, the reason why they might not get paid is because you have a Hamas-led government that advocates the use of terror. A great example of it is when -- a most recent suicide bombing in Israel. They had a chance to condemn it. The condoned it instead. So that's the reason why potentially people might not get paid. It's not the -- it's not because of the international community or their behaviors. It is because of the chosen behaviors of a Hamas-led government to advocate violence and the killing of innocents as opposed to seeking a pathway to peace.

I hear a lot of talk from the Hamas-led government about -- they have this phrase, you know, "dignity, not dollars." Well, frankly, again, just a diversionary tactic. Because what is the biggest obstacle and the biggest stumbling block in the way of the Palestinian people potentially realizing a state of their own in which their children can go to school and not worry about -- not worry about threat of violence, in which the Palestinian people can open up businesses and have reasonable expectation that they may prosper in the future, is this Hamas-led government, because they are the ones that are standing between the Palestinian people and a potential state and a peaceful solution. So you see a lot of rhetoric coming out of this Hamas-led government but it's only designed to divert attention from what the real issue is. And the real issue is you have a government in place that advocates the killing of innocent civilians in order to achieve a -- allegedly achieve a political cause. There's no political cause that is justified by the use of terror. And I think that is certainly the view of the United States and I think that is a widely held view of the international community.

QUESTION: So paying the salaries of the civil servants does not, in your definition, fall within the purview of what you were saying, this enlarged definition of humanitarian aid?

MR. MCCORMACK: Peter, you know, again, if somebody wants to bring up the issue and talk about it, I'm sure that people will listen and hear them out. But the only point I'm trying to make is that if people don't get paid in the Palestinian -- if the Palestinian Authority civil servants aren't getting paid or don't get paid, that is not because of the actions of the international community. That is because of the actions, the tactics and the platform of a Hamas-led government that advocates terror.

QUESTION: Thank you. I'd like to ask about the U.S.-Japan Security Consultative Committee this morning.

MR. MCCORMACK: Yes.

QUESTION: The Secretary Rice has met with Japanese Foreign Minister Aso Taro and the Japanese Minister of Defense Agency Nukaga and of course with Secretary Rumsfeld. And they released some joint statement and implementation report, and in that, United States 8,000 Marines from Okinawa to Guam and that U.S. will spend $4 billion for the relocation to Guam cost. And so I want to ask about that from your viewpoint, both of security issue and the budget viewpoint, what did benefit for U.S. this alliance?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, I think there's mutual benefits to this. This is part of the fabric of our alliance with Japan. We have a mutual interest in security in the region. This is an alliance that goes back decades, and this is just a new phase of that. Where the troops happen to be stationed is something that is -- and the changes in where the troops are going to be stationed, the costs that are borne and by whom they are borne, is something that came about as mutual agreement and we believe it's mutually beneficial for the United States as well as Japan.

Joel.

QUESTION: Sean, returning to an earlier question, Friday I asked a question during the terrorism portion of the annual terrorism report about the inequity in various countries' judicial systems, and apparently today the Pakistani Government has let out from prison one of the key officials that was working -- he's apparently second in the A.Q. Khan network that has shipped many of these nuclear technologies off to both Iran and to Libya. And you were talking about international regulations earlier in an earlier statement in this press briefing. Have you spoken to the Pakistani government in regard to this? Is he the only person that's been released from prison?

MR. MCCORMACK: I'll check into it for you, Joel.

Teri.

QUESTION: Over the weekend, there were reports out of Baghdad that Jalal Talabani met with some insurgent groups and that U.S. -- he said U.S. officials were present. Can you tell us if those were embassy officials?

MR. MCCORMACK: I'll check for you, Teri. I know that our people, from time to time, have had meetings with people who they say -- who know people who are involved in the insurgency. That's just part of the overall political process and political changeover in Iraq. We're trying to -- and the Iraqis really have the lead in this, but what we're trying to do is to bring in those people into the political process who may not be involved in the political process. There are always going to be some who are not reconcilable to a national unity government or a democratic -- a peaceful democratic Iraq. Those people, you have to deal with in a different way, and the Iraqi security forces, as well as the multinational forces, have dealt with them and will deal with them.

But the idea here is, when we have the formation -- on the occasion of the formation of a national unity government is to try to bring as many people into that political process as possible; Sunnis being the primary object of interest here right now, because you have already had the Shia and the Kurds invested in this process for some time and it's met with some success. Certainly, there's much, much greater Sunni participation in this political process than you saw a year and a half ago.

And the Secretary saw this when she was just there last week and met with political leaders from across the spectrum in Iraq. I think the President talked about how this is a potential turning point for the Iraqi people and it's one that I know the prime minister-designate is very interested in capitalizing on. And it will be largely up to the Iraqis to see if they can capitalize on this moment of a national unity government.

We are going to do everything that we can to mobilize support among ourselves as well as other members of the international community to help them succeed in that goal, as they build institutions that Iraqis can -- in which the Iraqi people can invest their trust and know that those institutions are going to work on behalf of them. But in order to do that, you have to, again, try to bring people into the political process. And I know the Iraqis are in the lead in that process. Certainly, we do whatever we can to help that process along.

Sue.

QUESTION: There's been some reports that the Iranians have been shelling parts of northern Iraq. I just wondered whether you had any details on this and if this was going to be something you might discuss when you finally do have discussions with the Iranians over Iraq.

MR. MCCORMACK: I don't have any details for you, Sue. But if, in fact, those reports are true, I would expect that the Iraqi Government would have something to say to the Iranian Government about that. You know, good neighbors don't shell one another. So again, I don't have the details for you, but I would expect that if, in fact, those are accurate reports, then the Iraqis would have something to say about it.

QUESTION: Any movement on talks with Iran?

MR. MCCORMACK: Nothing to report.

QUESTION: About Iraq?

MR. MCCORMACK: Not yet, nothing to report.

Libby.

QUESTION: What do you make of Senator Biden's suggestion today in the New York Times about dividing Iraq into three separate regions with, you know, a centrally located government in Baghdad?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, it's certainly not what is called for in UN Security Council Resolution 1546, which calls for the territorial integrity of Iraq. And I guess most importantly, it certainly is not something that the Iraqi people or their political leaders have demonstrated any support for. In fact, what they are looking for is something 180 degrees opposite of that. They're actually looking for a government of national unity to come together to govern all Iraqis and to have an Iraqi identity first, as opposed to having an ethnic or religious identity first.

So I know that that's what was on the mind of Prime Minister-designate Maliki when he met with Secretary Rice and Secretary Rumsfeld. He had a very strong sense that it was important to develop an Iraqi national identity. So, you know, I think the Iraqi people are actually headed 180 degrees away from the idea you just talked about.

Michel.

QUESTION: I just have a quick question on Hamas again, since we're not -- it doesn't seem that we'll be able to ask questions upstairs. Wolfensohn is --

MR. MCCORMACK: I wouldn't count on that.

QUESTION: Huh?

MR. MCCORMACK: I wouldn't count on that.

QUESTION: Right now it says "no Q&A" so I'm trying to be careful.

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

QUESTION: Okay. Well, then I can save my question for up there. But I'm wondering if the U.S. has any position on whether or not Wolfensohn should be replaced? Is there a new role for a new envoy?

MR. MCCORMACK: I think it's going to be -- in terms of his particular role, he was brought on to help with the economic portions of a Gaza disengagement process, and certainly, our view is that process has been a success. And as for Mr. Wolfensohn, I'll let Secretary Rice speak to his record and his achievements in working with members of the international community to make that withdrawal a success. I would expect that he would maintain an interest in the topic and certainly, we would want to keep channels open to him, drawing on his advice and expertise.

In terms of the particular role, at this point, I think it's something that we'll have to take a look at. There's no -- right now, no immediate successor to Mr. Wolfensohn in that role, but it's certainly a topic that we will keep an eye on.

Thanks.

(The briefing was concluded at 2:38 p.m.)

DPB # 72

Released on May 1, 2006

ENDS


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