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State Dept. Daily Press Briefing May 5, 2006


Daily Press Briefing
Sean McCormack, Spokesman
Washington, DC
May 5, 2006

INDEX:

BURMA
Tham Hin Refugee Camp / Karen Burmese Ethnic Minority / Department
of Homeland Security Officials Interviewing / Meeting Criteria for
Possible Resettlement / Clear ID Act of 2005 / Secretary Rice
Exercised Waiver Authority

UNITED KINGDOM
Foreign Secretary Straw Replaced / Secretary Rice's Call to New
Foreign Minister

SUDAN
Talks Continuing / Evolving Situation / Working with Members of
the International Community / Potential Meeting on Darfur / Deputy
Secretary Zoellick Working with AU Negotiators and President
Obasanjo

UNITED NATIONS
Human Rights Council / John Bellinger and Barry Lowenkron Leading
the Delegation to Geneva / U.S. Abides by International
Obligations and by U.S. Law / Council Elections

ISRAEL/PALESINTIANS
Quartet Meeting / Humanitarian Situation / Proposals by the French
and British Governments / Views from Outside Parties/ No Money
Provided to a Terrorist Organization / Hamas-Led Government

DEPARTMENT
Boston College Commencement / Protests of Secretary Rice's Visit

CHINA/TAIWAN
President Chen Shui-bian Transit


TRANSCRIPT:

12:55 p.m. EDT


MR. MCCORMACK: Good afternoon, everybody. How are you? I don't have any opening statements so I'm ready to get right into your questions, wherever you'd like to begin.

QUESTION: What about a waiver that the Secretary probably has signed making thousands of Burmese eligible to emigrate here?

MR. MCCORMACK: Sure. There's a fact sheet that we have either put out or are going to put out.

QUESTION: Not out yet (inaudible).

MR. MCCORMACK: We're going to be putting it out. Let me walk you through this because it's a pretty complicated issue. The context for this: There is a refugee camp along the Thai-Burmese border call the Tham Hin refugee camp. In this refugee camp there are a number of ethnic minorities from Burma. Among these ethnic minorities there's a group of about 9,300 people from the Karen, K-a-r-e-n, ethnic -- Burmese ethnic minority.

So recently, over the past -- I'm not sure exactly when it started, but over a past period of time representatives of the Department of Homeland Security have been going through this refugee camp and interviewing individuals to see whether not they meet the criteria for possible resettlement in the United States as refugees.

Now, in the course of these interviews, the representatives discovered that there were members of the Karen National Union, combatants of the Karen National Union and those who might have provided some "material support" under the law to the Karen National Union.

Now, under the law, the intersection of the Patriot Act and the Clear ID Act of 2005, those who have -- might have provided material support to what, under that act, might be considered a terrorist organization, would not be eligible for possible resettlement in the United States. Now, I distinguish between a foreign terrorist organization and what might be considered a terrorist organization under the Clear ID Act. There are several different tiers of this. It's referred to as a tier three organization.

So that's the overall context for where we stand right now. Now, what the Secretary did was she exercised the waiver authority -- and this is under the Immigration and Nationality Act -- so that certain refugees who might otherwise meet all the criteria for refugee resettlement in the United States could be considered for resettlement in the United States. So this waiver is not a guarantee that individuals might be resettled in the United States, but merely something that allows the Department of Homeland Security to consider them as potentially eligible, even though they might be considered under the law to have provided what I referred to as material support. That's the term under the law.

So that's where we stand now in the process. So to my knowledge, there haven't been any individuals who have actually been designated for resettlement here. And there's one important -- one more important point here, and that is anybody who might be a combatant or a member of the Karen National Union would not be eligible for resettlement in the United States, even under this waiver authority.

QUESTION: Let me see if I understand. I think I do.

MR. MCCORMACK: Okay.

QUESTION: There was a blanket exclusion of all these refugees, whether or not there was evidence that they supported terrorism until now.

MR. MCCORMACK: Not all the refugees in the camp. It's an important distinction because you have a group of -- an ethnic minority -- about -- a little more than 9,000 people. So some subset of them might be considered as potentially providing material support to the Karen National Union. So I'm not saying all of them. I'm just saying some group of them.

QUESTION: So it is a waiver.

MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah. This waiver would potentially affect a subset of that 9,300 people. And so that's -- I just want to draw that distinction between all of the refugees from this ethnic minority and those who -- some subset of them who might otherwise have been automatically excluded because of the Patriot Act or the Clear Idea Act.

QUESTION: Were there people who, all along, have been eligible to resettle here in that group? It sounds like (inaudible) go through the area and made a more discerning distinction between potential terror supporters and just people.

MR. MCCORMACK: Right. Well, you'll have to talk to Homeland Security for exactly where they are in the process, whether or not they were actually individuals who had already met the eligibility --

QUESTION: That's what --

MR. MCCORMACK: Homeland Security would have a better read on that, Barry, for exactly where they stand in the process. So what the waiver does is it opens up a possibility for some subset of those group of people, but it would not include people who are either members or combatants in the Karen National Union.

QUESTION: Is there some nuance about whether -- last question -- whether that group, you said may be considered -- is it fair enough to say it's designated as a terrorist group?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, it's -- under -- there are various different classifications, as you know Barry, foreign terrorist organizations being something completely separate. But under this law, the Clear ID Act of 2005, is a very expansive definition of what might constitute a terrorist group and that group, the Karen National Union, would fall under that designation.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MR. MCCORMACK: Anything else on this?

QUESTION: When was the waiver issued?

MR. MCCORMACK: She signed the waiver on Wednesday.

Okay. Anything else on this issue?

Okay, Libby.

QUESTION: Any reaction to Jack Straw no longer being the Foreign Secretary?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, Secretary Rice called Foreign Secretary Straw this morning and it was, from her perspective, I think a bittersweet call. She -- they're -- especially in their particular relationship there is a -- there are two parts to this relationship. There is the professional relationship, and she has been -- had no better or closer colleague than Jack Straw in working through some of the most demanding foreign policy issues that have faced us over the past decades.

And then there's the second part, and that is their personal friendship. And I think you've seen that is evident in a number of different ways: in public in Birmingham as well as in Liverpool and Blackburn when they were able to exchange those visits. So she looks forward to that friendship extending out over the years and certainly she and Foreign Secretary Straw will have numerous occasions over the years to come to keep up that friendship. And she will certainly, on the first part of that relationship, miss him as a colleague.

She also spoke this morning with Mr. Straw's successor and they had a good discussion and the Secretary really looks forward to working with her. There are a lot of tough issues on the agenda, but there are no closer allies than the U.S. and the UK in facing up to these issues that are before us.

QUESTION: Could you say, unlike the departure of his predecessor, who sharply disagreed with the policy on Iraq, the support that the Blair government was giving the United States, could you say that this has nothing to do with the policy on Iran or any other difficult issue?

MR. MCCORMACK: In terms of the message itself --

QUESTION: I know you can't --

MR. MCCORMACK: Okay, you know, I mean, that's an issue for somebody else to --

QUESTION: Well, but --

MR. MCCORMACK: From our perspective, there's been no better or closer working relationship on a whole host of issues, including Iran, with Foreign Secretary Straw as well as the UK.

QUESTION: So it's not a defection?

MR. MCCORMACK: I certainly wouldn't use that term.

QUESTION: Does she view time spent with him, you know, which was unusual in Alabama and Blackburn, as time well spent now that he's no longer there?

MR. MCCORMACK: Absolutely. Yeah, absolutely. Like I said, they were colleagues but they also developed a great friendship. And you know, those visits only served to deepen the friendship, not only with Foreign Secretary Straw but with his wife, Alice. And we very much enjoyed those trips and those visits. And we look forward to an equally good and close working relationship with his successor.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.) (Laughter.)

MR. MCCORMACK: We'll take the idea under consideration. All right.

Teri.

QUESTION: Can we talk about Darfur, please?

MR. MCCORMACK: Sure.

QUESTION: And update us on any progress -- well, the progress we know about and whether he is doing better in getting more rebel parties to sign on?

MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah. The situation now is still -- I guess the way to put it is still evolving. Deputy Secretary Zoellick has talked to some of the media in Abuja. And right now, it -- you know, what we hope is that this is a good and hopeful day for the people of Sudan and the people of Darfur. It -- you know, the news reports coming out of Abuja have the Government of Sudan and then the main rebel -- main faction of the rebel groups under the leadership of Minni Minawi agreeing on an accord. The talks are still continuing and I think that there is still some consideration on the part of at least one of the other rebel groups led by Abdulwahid whether or not they're going to sign on to the accord. So that's where we stand right now. I think it's still an evolving situation but a potentially very hopeful day for the people of Darfur.

Now I just have to caution that even if there is an agreement, an agreement on paper, there will be a need to implement that agreement. And it's going to require as much, if not more, work on the part of the parties involved and the international community to see an agreement implemented. And we will be right there to work with members of international community to see that it is implemented. But first we have to get signatures on the piece of paper. At this point, I'm not aware that we have that quite yet.

QUESTION: And what happens if only one party signs on? Is the deal invalid or do you try to move forward with --

MR. MCCORMACK: No, I think you continue to move forward. I think that you -- again, we're getting into the realm of "ifs" here. But if that is, in fact, the case, you continue working the political process, so you -- there's no substitute for a political accommodation, a political settlement in order to ultimately resolve the grave humanitarian and security issues that exist there. You address those in their own right. But ultimately, you're not going to solve the issues in Darfur with -- absent that political agreement.

Sue.

QUESTION: Is this going to be under discussion with both the Quartet and the P-5? And how far are you getting in terms of finding troops and others to implement this agreement?

MR. MCCORMACK: In terms of P-5, it could very well come up in that context. Quartet, I don't expect it to come up. I know that the British Government has made some suggestions about a potential meeting on Darfur up in New York, and that's certainly a very interesting idea. We're going to follow up with them as well as our other colleagues at the UN on that idea, but at this point there's nothing that's gelled on that.

QUESTION: Are you talking within the context of these meetings next week when you say --

MR. MCCORMACK: Excuse me? No, I've seen -- again, I've seen the press reports on it.

QUESTION: No, I mean, but next -- but for next week, not just like in the future.

MR. MCCORMACK: Right.

QUESTION: You're talking about next week.

MR. MCCORMACK: Right. Yeah, again, I've seen the press reports about that but there's nothing -- I mean, there's nothing to -- that certainly I could confirm on that.

Our focus right now is on the Abuja talks and making those work and doing what we can to see that they move forward.

QUESTION: So who would attend these talks possibly that the British are interested in?

MR. MCCORMACK: Again, this is -- you know, I've seen the news -- I've seen the news reports on this, Sue, so, you know, it is not -- it is not something that's on anybody's agenda at this point.

QUESTION: It's on the agenda of the French. They announced it officially. (Laughter.) But it will be --

MR. MCCORMACK: I didn't mean to leave out my French colleagues.

QUESTION: It will be at 4pm.

QUESTION: That's not fairly definite, then?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, yeah -- no, it's not fairly definite. As of right now, Sylvie, it's not on the Secretary's schedule.

QUESTION: Okay.

QUESTION: What are Deputy Secretary Zoellick's plans? Is he coming back? Is he staying to see if he can get more signatures? Is he going on to --

MR. MCCORMACK: Right now he's there and he's working hard and he's working side by side with the AU negotiators and President Obasanjo of Nigeria. And I just have to single out President Obasanjo and the leadership of the AU for the effort that they have put in to bring this negotiating process to the point at which it finds itself right now. We hope that it is successful in terms of gaining as many possible signatures on the document from the rebel groups as possible, but President Obasanjo and the AU deserve great praise and great credit for the effort that they have put in and the focus that they have devoted to get the process to the point at which we are right now.

Okay. Do you have anything else on this? Joel, anything on this?

QUESTION: Yes.

MR. MCCORMACK: Okay, Joel.

QUESTION: Yes, Sean. This morning, UN Secretary Kofi Annan delivered a speech to faculty at George Washington University and he spoke mostly about human rights concerns such as Darfur, the new Human Rights Council, and he's looking to also implement a Peace Building Commission. Now, at the same time, the United States has been called to Geneva before the implementation of this council on June 19th. There are hearings set for it today and tomorrow concerning questions of torture. Do you have any statements in regard to that?

MR. MCCORMACK: You've heard us before on this, Joel. John Bellinger, who is our State Department Legal Advisor, and Barry Lowenkron are leading the delegation there and they're going to make very clear to this commission that the United States does not torture. We abide by our international obligations. We abide by U.S. law. You've heard the Secretary say that, you've heard the President say that, and that's the basic message that they're going to reiterate. They're going to be there to answer any and all questions that members of the commission might have.

QUESTION: To follow up on the Annan speech, which I've listened to (inaudible), he's, you know, very tactful, very diplomatic, but there's no question he's critical of the U.S. excluding itself from the first round of elections, which were Tuesday, for membership in the new council.

MR. MCCORMACK: I haven't seen the --

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

MR. MCCORMACK: I haven't seen the speech. You know, I can't --

QUESTION: Well, it's so nuanced I wouldn't try to, you know, ask you for your reaction if you haven't seen it. But can you clarify this one thing for me? I should know the answer. You're not in the first round.

MR. MCCORMACK: That's right.

QUESTION: What about the future? Is there a decision on that or is it open?

MR. MCCORMACK: It's certainly an open possibility. You know, we talked about this at the time of the vote and the formation of the Human Rights Council. And Secretary Rice called Secretary General Annan prior to our casting the vote to explain what our position was, and our position was we didn't think it was the right move for the United States to, at this point, on this round of elections, put ourselves up for candidacy. There are a lot of other very strong candidates and we -- who came out in support of the Human Rights Commission as it is currently the Human Rights Council, as it is currently constituted with the current rules. So we didn't think it was really fair that you have a number of these very strong candidates who came out and actively supported it as it's currently constituted, to have the United States put itself up for candidacy. It might have meant one of those other countries wouldn't run or it would have to take itself out of the running. We didn't think that that was fair.

We did leave open the possibility of the next time there is an election for the council that we would participate, but at this point we haven't made a decision on that.

Sylvie.

QUESTION: Can you speak about the Quartet meeting?

MR. MCCORMACK: Sure.

QUESTION: This meeting comes at the time where the Quartet is very, very divided. The --

MR. MCCORMACK: I don't know if I'd characterize it that way.

QUESTION: Well, Moscow said that suspension of funding to the Palestinian Authority was a mistake. You don't seem very interested by the proposal of France and Britain to open escrow accounts to help Palestinians. You rejected yesterday the proposal of Abbas to start again the negotiations. So what can we expect from this meeting?

MR. MCCORMACK: I think this meeting is designed to take stock of where we are. It allows the international community, the members of the Quartet, to get together six weeks after a Hamas-led government has taken office and just a few days after a new Israeli Government has been seated. So it's an opportunity to take stock of where we are, take stock of what move there has been on the part of a Hamas-led government to comply with previous statements from the Quartet. I think it's safe to say there hasn't been any movement on that front.

Talk about the humanitarian. It's an opportunity to talk about the humanitarian situation and what -- the efforts of the international community and the members of the Quartet to provide humanitarian aid to the Palestinian people. So I think this session is really designed -- is really a taking-stock session. It allows at the minister level for them to get together and really sort through all the variety of issues there. But I wouldn't -- you characterized the Quartet as deeply divided on these issues. I certainly wouldn't characterize it that way.

You mentioned the proposal by the French Government and the British Government for the use of the international financial institutions as a potential mechanism to pay some of the salaries of the Palestinian Authority. And we've talked about our view of direct -- at this point, of funding the Hamas-led government in terms of salary support. But if this comes up as a topic of conversation, which I expect it will, certainly we're going to be ready to listen, to see, to hear what the French, British and other representatives have to say about it.

So I'm not going to prejudge an outcome, but I will say that as a matter of law and principle the United States doesn't provide money to a terrorist organization.

QUESTION: And you are not afraid to be seen as supporting the project of the new government, the new government of Israel, to separate Israel and to design its own borders?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, in terms of what Prime Minister Olmert has said, you know, our views are clear. We've made it clear on the issue of final status issues like borders. President Bush has talked about that. There's no change in our policy on that.

Sue.

QUESTION: You're also going to meeting with Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia on Tuesday morning to discuss this and they're saying that they would like to have a more realistic sort of view of funding towards the Palestinian Authority and that what's happening at the moment -- this kind of stranglehold on the PA -- is just going to lead to a humanitarian catastrophe on the ground. And so they're going to be pushing you to make some concessions and to find some creative nifty ways of making sure that doctors are paid, teachers are paid. So I wondered what your reaction would be to these, you know, strong allies.

MR. MCCORMACK: The Quartet from time to time hears from outside parties. The last meeting at the ministry level -- the last meeting, I believe, Jimmy -- we heard from Jimmy Carter. Jim Wolfensohn when he was in his job made reports every time they met. General Dayton has provided reports. So this is consistent with the practices of the Quartet to hear from other parties. I would expect that there would also be a separate just Quartet meeting. We're going to listen to what they have to say and hear their views, in terms of where they are with their own programs.

The principle for us remains the same. We want to address the humanitarian needs of the Palestinian people, but we're also, like I said, as a matter of law and principle, not going to provide money to a terrorist organization. So if there are suggestions, of course, we're going to listen to suggestions how to address the humanitarian needs of the Palestinian people. But at this point, certainly, we're not going to commit ourselves to any change in what we have already done. And I have to point out that what we have already done is to greatly increase our level of humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian people to address a lot of these same issues in terms of health and making sure that people have enough to eat.

But fundamentally, the reason why, you know, the PA might in the future find itself in perilous financial circumstances is because they've refused to make the hard decisions; simple, straightforward decisions like recognizing the state of Israel and turning away from terror. That -- you know, those are pretty basic. And the international community is certainly united around the idea that if the Palestinian people are going to realize a state of their own, you're going to achieve that via the negotiating table, not by sending, you know, 16-year-olds to blow up other 16-year-olds, which is where the Hamas-led government is right now.

QUESTION: Hold -- wait a minute.

MR. MCCORMACK: No, let me finish. So that's where we stand. And it is the fault of no other group than this Hamas-led government that they find themselves in the situation that they are right now.

Yeah.

QUESTION: You say that and I'm not disputing the fact that Hamas is a terrorist organization, but you say that Hamas is in the situation where it's putting 16-year-olds to blow up other 16-year-olds.

MR. MCCORMACK: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: I mean, are you not recognizing that there is a ceasefire in effect; that the Hamas-led government, while still a terrorist organization, is -- you're not saying that Hamas is responsible for the latest terrorist attacks?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, look, there's no pause button on terror, okay. You're either against it and you're acting against it or you're not. And, you know, I'll give you one example, the bombing in Tel Aviv by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. This Hamas-led government had every opportunity to condemn that and to speak out against it. Instead, what did it do? It condoned it. So, yeah, that's a pretty clear example and a pretty clear window into the thinking of this government.

Yeah.

QUESTION: Sean, on this, I know we've talked about various incarnations of this, but now Benita Ferrero-Waldner says that she will propose, or that the EU is proposing, a joint fund that would be administered by the Quartet members. Have you seen -- have you seen --

MR. MCCORMACK: I haven't seen the proposal. I haven't seen the proposal. I mean, the same basic answer applies: Certainly, if somebody wants to bring up that kind of proposal, we're going to listen to what they have to say but, you know, I've also outlined what our principles as well as our policies and laws are.

QUESTION: Well, would you be open to such a thing?

MR. MCCORMACK: I'm not going to prejudge a reaction. I think what we'll do is we'll let the Secretary and members of the Quartet hear what it is that the EU or others have to say.

QUESTION: But with Russia saying that it was a mistake to stop the financing and with EU and you, you're offering new proposals and UN trying to organize this meeting, U.S. is seen as the blocking party.

MR. MCCORMACK: Again, I don't -- we all agree on the objectives. We all agree on the need for humanitarian assistance. We agree that Hamas is a terrorist organization and that they need to comply with certain demands of the international community. Again, this is a situation in which Hamas has put itself and they now find that the financial cupboard is practically bare. The reason for that is their failure to comply with the conditions that the international community has laid out for them.

Yes.

QUESTION: Can you just clarify the situation with giving money to Mahmoud Abbas, whether that's still an option that you would consider or --

MR. MCCORMACK: Saul, we ourselves have not provided funding to the office of President Abbas -- President Abbas. It's something that certainly remains an option but not something that we've done to this point.

QUESTION: And what is the end game here, in the sense of -- I mean, is this -- I mean, you can't seriously believe that Hamas is suddenly going to renounce violence, as you're urging. Is your desire here in cutting off funding to see fresh elections or what?

MR. MCCORMACK: No. Our desire in this is to see a Palestinian government that is a partner for peace. And you've heard Secretary Rice say this before. It would be -- it would be, I think, everybody's optimal outcome if a group like Hamas took the steps to turn away from terror and to be a partner for peace. That's not at all the situation that we have right now.

So what we are doing and what we are urging other members of the international community to do is to band together, to have a common approach to dealing with this situation so you have a change in behavior and so that you can actually have a partner for peace and so that you can ultimately get back to the roadmap and potentially, through negotiation, see a Palestinian state be born.

But I'll tell you, with the current policies, the current tactics, the current behaviors of a Hamas-led government, you're not going to see that. And the Palestinian people and the world need to understand that it's the single biggest obstacle to actually potentially moving forward to a negotiated solution is Hamas and a Hamas-led government. That's the biggest obstacle to the aspiration of the Palestinian people right now.

QUESTION: But you always talk about that Hamas and, you know, other countries and organizations have to make these strategic decisions. So are you looking for them to make a genuine strategic decision to pursue a peaceful path or are you -- you'll just be satisfied if they reluctantly go ahead with what you want because they can't govern any other way because they don't have the money?

MR. MCCORMACK: No, words have to mean something. You know, you can't just mouth words. They have to be -- they actually have to mean something. They actually have to reflect a true change in policies and also those words have to be, you know, actions have to be -- reflect those words. So -- but we're not at -- certainly not at that point right now.

Teri.

QUESTION: Change of subject?

MR. MCCORMACK: Anything else on this? Okay.

QUESTION: At Boston College, the Secretary has been invited to give the commencement speech and there is -- seems to be some controversy over her appearance. Can you tell me if she's confirmed her appearance there and what you make of the protests against it?

MR. MCCORMACK: She looks forward to delivering a commencement address there, addressing the students, the graduates, their friends, their families, as well as the faculty up at Boston College. I've seen the news reports. And, yeah, there's some individuals who would rather not her receive an honorary degree. I'm not aware of protests against her actually speaking, but that's just -- those are just the news reports I've seen.

Look, she's a former university professor, a former provost of a university. She's fully aware of the -- in an academic setting a diversity of views and the need for healthy debate within the academic setting. That's a great tradition of the academy. So I think her view, she looks very much forward to congratulating the soon-to-be graduates of Boston College, especially congratulate their parents for getting them across the finish line and their friends and family members. It's going to be -- it's a day for celebration. It's a day to be joyous and a day to look forward to the future and that's what she's going to do.

QUESTION: Okay. So it never crossed her mind to not go because there'd be --

MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah.

QUESTION: Sean, there's been a report by the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles that hate groups are using United States internet servers and they've logged over 6,000 sites. And one of these particular videos included what is termed a vile hidden camera jihad. Have you or the Secretary spoken to any foreign governments concerning this, as well as there's been a upsurge in violence, racial violence in St. Petersburg? And this is roughly two months before the G-8 Summit Conference there?

MR. MCCORMACK: I haven't seen the report, Joel. Our concerns about violent groups spreading intolerance via whatever medium is well known. I'm not aware of the use of government servers. Certainly, that would be a source of concern to us. But I'm not aware of the specific report that you cite.

Yes. In the back, way in the back.

QUESTION: Sean, change subject on Taiwan?

MR. MCCORMACK: Okay.

QUESTION: I just want to ask did you get the formal request from Taiwan for President Chen Shui-bian to transit on the back?

MR. MCCORMACK: Have we got a formal request?

MR. CASEY: I honestly don't know.

MR. MCCORMACK: Okay. We'll check for you. We'll check for you.

QUESTION: Another question, a follow-up.

MR. MCCORMACK: Sure.

QUESTION: It is said that Taiwan, when Taiwan cancel the trip on the way to South Africa, they ask the State Department to keep the secret and why on the third, you publicly issue a statement that this trip was canceled?

MR. MCCORMACK: I'm not aware of this -- those sorts of allegations.

Dave.

QUESTION: Sean, have you heard anything diplomatically from the Russian Government expressing their unhappiness with things that the Vice President said he and -- have said things in public?

MR. MCCORMACK: Not aware that there's been a specific diplomatic interaction, Dave. I can't say one way or the other.

Yes, ma'am.

QUESTION: Back to the Taiwanese leader's transit.

MR. MCCORMACK: Oh, good.

QUESTION: There has to be at this time the request? There has to be like a written form not just a verbal one, because we heard that U.S. requested if they're going to have any transit on the way back, it has to be in written.

MR. MCCORMACK: Whatever the standard procedure is for that, I don't know. I would expect that it be followed in this case, as well.

QUESTION: Any deadline? You think that --

MR. MCCORMACK: I'm not aware of any deadline. Thank you.

(The briefing was concluded at 1:23 p.m.)

DPB # 76

ENDS


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