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State Dept. Daily Press Briefing May 30, 2006

Daily Press Briefing
Sean McCormack, Spokesman
Washington, DC
May 30, 2006

INDEX:

SOMALIA
Reports that U.S. Diplomat Transferred from Post in Kenya Due to
Critical Comments He Made About U.S. in Somalia / Department's
Dissent Channel

IRAN
Meeting of P-5+1 on Thursday / Secretary's Travel to Vienna
Possible Punitive Measures / Three Current Diplomatic Tracks /
Financial Measures / Chapter VII Resolution / Sanctions /
Conference Call Between P-5+1 Political Directors
Package / U.S. View of Need for Possible Punitive Measures / U.S.
View of Chapter VII Resolution / Query on Security Guarantees

ISRAEL/PALESTINIANS
President Abbas' Referendum Plan / Need for Palestinian People to
make Fundamental Decisions on Their Future

EGYPT
Reports that Political Activist Mohammed el-Sharqawi was Abused by
Police
U.S. Concerns on State of Democracy

INDONESIA
U.S. Aid for Earthquake Relief Efforts / U.S. Ambassador Plans
Trip to Assess Situation

EUROPEAN UNION
European Court of Justice's Decision on Sharing of Airline
Passenger Information

AFGHANISTAN
Violence in Kabul / U.S. Military Truck Accident

ETHIOPIA/ERITREA
Boundary Commission Meeting / U.S. Initiative / Progress Made on
Demarcation / U.S. Support for Fair and Equitable Demarcation

MYANMAR
UN Security Council Briefing and Possible UN Security Council
Action

CUBA
Status of Report on Cuba from Commission for Transition


TRANSCRIPT:

12:23 p.m. EDT


MR. MCCORMACK: Welcome back from a long weekend. I don't have any opening statements so I'll be happy to jump into your questions. Who wants to go first?

QUESTION: Can I ask you about Somalia?

MR. MCCORMACK: Sure.

QUESTION: There were reports that one of your diplomats whose portfolio -- he's based in Kenya -- his portfolio was to look after political affairs in Somalia, made some what could be perceived as critical comments about U.S. policy towards financing warlords or, you know, transactions or whatever. And he's been moved. Diplomats say he was transferred as a punishment. Is that true? Can you confirm any parts of the case?

MR. MCCORMACK: I've seen the news reports, Saul. You know, I am certainly not at liberty to talk about personnel matters. But look, if there are any people in our embassies who have differences with U.S. Government policy, there is a mechanism. There are a variety of different mechanisms that individuals can use. One formal mechanism is called the dissent channel. This is something that was set up in the wake of the Vietnam War. Well, it was actually a little bit later on, a little bit later than that. It was the Balkans, it was the Balkans. And so individuals have access to that channel.

And beyond that channel this Secretary certainly encourages those individuals in the policy-making process, and that would include those implementing those policies in the field, if there are serious policy differences to use a variety of mechanisms to make those differences known.

Now, in this particular case I am not at liberty to speak about any particular personnel matters or even -- I couldn't even talk about the dissent channel, whether or not dissent channel messages get sent, because we like to try to keep that as something that is private just in the interest of the individuals who choose to use it. But these messages are read by the senior members of the State Department.

So on this particular score, Saul, I guess I can't offer any specifics. I can talk in general about the fact that this Secretary and the organization of the State Department does have mechanisms for dissent.

QUESTION: Not to belabor it, but in Secretary Christopher's time when there was -- there were, including a couple of senior officials, some of -- one of whom left early, retired early, he acknowledged -- you know, he acknowledged that there had been complaints or dissent. I don't know if it was necessarily the dissent channel, but he acknowledged it and said something to the effect, you know, people have the right to express their opinions. He was very up front about it. So if people had a complaint, it was publicly acknowledged but not, of course, dwelled on but at least there was confirmation that there's some folks out there. In fact, the dissent channel was a guy that wasn't even in the Balkans, one of the guys, but he didn't like what was going on and he said so.

MR. MCCORMACK: Right. Well, you know, that's an individual choice, Barry. People -- you know, there is the First Amendment. People have a right to speak out. If they want to within the policy-making process within the system speak out, they can. There are channels to do that and part of the dissent channel mechanism -- the person who writes the dissent channel cable actually is owed an answer and there's a set period of time in which that person is owed an answer to their message.

QUESTION: And there are annual awards.

MR. MCCORMACK: And there -- well, there are Foreign Service Association, which is separate from the State Department bureaucracy does hand out annually awards for constructive dissent. But that is, again, a process, a separate process from the building management.

QUESTION: Well, this guy used -- whether he used that channel or not, he obviously used other means as well. But can you say where Michael Zorick, your diplomat who was the Somali Political Affairs Officer, where he is now, what post he has now?

MR. MCCORMACK: I can check it out for you, Saul, sure. Within the -- again, within the boundaries of maintaining people's privacy and talking about personnel issues.

Yes.

QUESTION: He is a public figure and usually --

MR. MCCORMACK: Understood, understood. I just want to err on the side of caution.

QUESTION: Okay.

MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah.

QUESTION: Can you confirm there will be a meeting of the P-5+1 on Friday in Vienna?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, what we're looking at, Sylvie, right now is we're looking at probably a meeting on Thursday. Again, we're -- we haven't finally set all the Secretary's travel plans. But I think what we're probably looking at is departing here some time on Wednesday later, some meetings -- having some meetings on Thursday, including a P-5+1 meeting and then likely returning on Friday. But again, we haven't -- we haven't worked out all the times, but I think that that's what you can look for. It's a P-5+1 meeting on Thursday.

QUESTION: In Vienna.

QUESTION: In Vienna.

MR. MCCORMACK: In Vienna. Yeah.

QUESTION: And the other meetings are still Iran related, it's EU-3 plus the U.S.?

MR. MCCORMACK: Yes. You know, I -- again, we haven't set all those meetings, Saul. But there have been -- around P-5+1 meetings there have traditionally been -- inasmuch as we've had several of these things -- there have been separate groupings, like she might have a bilat with one of the foreign ministers or there might be another grouping of ministers. But yes, I expect that there will be other meetings.

QUESTION: If it comes to punitive measures, if you can answer this, what is the thinking now? To go to the UN Security Council or to go -- I don't know what it's called -- coalition of the willing in this respect, too -- but you know, have individual countries or groups of countries apply all sorts of economic penalties or whatever?

MR. MCCORMACK: The answer is yes.

QUESTION: The second is preferred.

MR. MCCORMACK: It's both. Both. So the way we've talked about this, Barry, is there have been -- you can look at it as there are three tracks, three basic tracks right now. You have the Security Council track; you have the current track where you have the P-5+1 negotiating this package that presents the Iranian regime, or will present the Iranian regime with a choice, a choice, you know, confrontation or negotiation; and then there's a third track and that is talking about various other measures, financial measures. I wouldn't call them necessarily sanctions, but financial measures, as well as other defensive measures to guard against proliferation of know-how, both out of and into Iran. This is something that we work on, for example, with other likeminded countries concerning North Korea as well as other countries around the world. So you think about those three tracks.

Now, in the -- you know, again this is getting way ahead of ourselves. If the Iranian regime chooses the pathway of confrontation, isolation, and keeping its foot on the accelerator on its nuclear program, then you would, under the concept that is now being discussed by the P-5+1, you would have that regime potentially facing a variety of different actions under the rubric of a Security Council action. You might get a Chapter VII resolution and under the rubric of that you could take certain actions. And then you open up the possibility of proceeding further down that line with subsequent resolutions, talking about specific sanctions and actions that might be taken.

Now, separate from that, you know, throughout this process, even if you are proceeding down the Security Council route, Barry, you can still keep outside of that particular mechanism, individual states, likeminded states getting together to work on various financial measures that might be taken so that the Iranian regime can't exploit the international financial system for, you know, funding terrorism or for funding its weapons -- illicit weapons of mass destruction programs.

Saul.

QUESTION: Can I change the subject?

MR. MCCORMACK: I don't know. Anything else on Iran?

QUESTION: Yes.

MR. MCCORMACK: Michel.

QUESTION: Do you have any readout on the conference call today between the political directors of the P-5+1?

MR. MCCORMACK: Still going on. It's still going on. I think that going into the phone call, though, I think that we would -- we could safely say at this point that we feel like we're in good shape headed in -- heading into Vienna for the P-5+1 ministers meeting. The political directors are going down that list of issues that were still remaining open after the meetings last week. And I think that even over the weekend as well as yesterday and this morning before the conference call, that list of open issues is being whittled down, being narrowed and there's still the conference call going on now. We'll try to get you whatever we can that comes out of that conference call in terms of where the political directors have left it.

Under Secretary Burns is our point man on it. He's been in touch with the Secretary over the weekend as well as this morning concerning various issues, getting decisions on various issues. So we're continuing to work it, but I think the assessment right now is that we feel as though we're in pretty good shape going into Vienna.

QUESTION: I don't want to split hairs, but I will split a hair. When you say whittled down, narrowed down, are some tough ones being excised from the list --

MR. MCCORMACK: No.

QUESTION: -- or are they being narrowed down by reaching some --

MR. MCCORMACK: Agreement, common ground.

QUESTION: Agreements?

MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah.

QUESTION: Okay.

QUESTION: So can you tell us (inaudible) good news, what the issues are that you've come to agreement on?

MR. MCCORMACK: I think, Saul, we're going to hold off in talking about specific parts of the package until we really have the whole thing put together, ministers and capitals having blessed it and ready to talk about it in public.

QUESTION: Is your expectation then that the ministers turn up to bless the package that's already --

MR. MCCORMACK: It is our hope that they will be ready to sign off on the package in Vienna, if not beforehand.

QUESTION: Sean, is the --

MR. MCCORMACK: Charlie.

QUESTION: Are the talks going to be held in connection with the IAEA at the IAEA and is there any -- is it just a coincidence that IAEA is in Vienna?

MR. MCCORMACK: It's just coincidence, Charlie. It ready had to do -- it boiled down to people's schedules and travel times and making sure that you could get all the ministerial level people there at one time. And it just worked out that Thursday in Vienna was the place that seemed to best fit everybody's schedule and everybody's timing.

QUESTION: Related to the previous question, in addition to Under Secretary Burns talking to the Secretary over the weekend, has the Secretary been on the phone talking to any of her colleagues or has she not yet done that?

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

QUESTION: In the last few days.

MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah. Let me check for you. Okay.

QUESTION: On this?

MR. MCCORMACK: I think we still have more on this here.

QUESTION: The AFP has published today that a draft proposal on Iran nuclear issue.

MR. MCCORMACK: The AFP has put out their own proposal? (Laughter.)

QUESTION: The draft proposal -- has published it. Did you see it? And it's --

MR. MCCORMACK: I haven't seen it, Michel. I have to say that I have not seen it. I am not going to comment on various news reports. There have been a lot of news reports over the past week that, with various elements, that are supposed to be in this draft package. I'm just not going to go down that road.

Elise.

QUESTION: On the idea of the package, is the United States committed to signing onto a package that doesn't have an agreement on the basic principle that there will be penalties if Iran continues its suspension? For instance, you talk about potential penalties, like perhaps a Security Council Chapter VII resolution, but are there certain red lines for you in terms of what you would not -- what kind of package you wouldn't sign off to, if it didn't have guaranteed penalty?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, we wouldn't. It wouldn't be a package. You need the two sides there. You need the pathway that leads to negotiation, to compromise, to bringing Iran back into the mainstream on the nuclear issue; and then the other pathway, which is further isolation, the potential of sanctions and other measures by the international community. So, by definition, we wouldn't split those two things apart. And that's what everybody is working on now. I don't think you have anybody now who isn't constructively engaged and working on both sides of that package.

QUESTION: But is a Chapter VII resolution, for instance, a red line for you? Or it seems as if that --

MR. MCCORMACK: We believe --

QUESTION: -- it's the idea of some penalty would be applied, but do you have a certain kind of minimum standard requirement?

MR. MCCORMACK: We have talked about -- we have talked about the fact that we believe, at a minimum, a Chapter VII resolution is -- would be in the offing, again, if the Iranian regime chose to take that pathway.

QUESTION: Are the security guarantees still not on the table?

MR. MCCORMACK: The -- an American security guarantee is not on the table. See, this is the -- these are two exceptions that I'm making to the not talking about particular parts of it, Saul. (Laughter.) I just wanted to say that before you pointed that out to me.

QUESTION: What about security guarantees in a multilateral forum?

MR. MCCORMACK: Security guarantees in a multilateral --

QUESTION: What about that would include --

MR. MCCORMACK: I can only speak for the United States and the United States -- for the United States, security guarantees are not on the table.

Yes.

QUESTION: On likeminded states coming up with some action on Iran, can we have the names of the countries that are working together with the United States in this regard?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, we've -- you know, I'll let other countries speak for themselves and what they think of particular ideas that have been surfaced with them. Under Secretary Joseph and Assistant Secretary Hillen have been traveling around. They've traveled through the Gulf. They've traveled to Europe. Certainly we have also raised this issue with Japan as well as other countries. So there are a variety of countries that we have talked to about this -- approaches on that particular track, but I'm going to let them speak for themselves.

QUESTION: In this regard, any response from other Asian countries aside from Japan?

MR. MCCORMACK: On this particular issue?

QUESTION: Yes.

MR. MCCORMACK: I don't have anything that I could share with you at this point.

QUESTION: Were you asked about the Iranian Foreign Minister? Was it the Foreign Minister?

MR. MCCORMACK: Mr. Mottaki?

QUESTION: Yeah.

MR. MCCORMACK: No, I don't think I have been. I don't think I have been asked about that, no.

QUESTION: Well, here we go again. You know, we'd love to have talks with the Europeans, we're ready as can be, no concessions. Hard to see --

MR. MCCORMACK: I think we've --

QUESTION: -- don't want to see the U.S. but we want to --

MR. MCCORMACK: Right, I think we've heard that from them before, Barry. Yeah, nothing new there.

Joel.

QUESTION: Change of subject.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

MR. MCCORMACK: Okay.

QUESTION: You mentioned travel. The OAS meeting is coming up. Is the Secretary -- do we know yet if the Secretary is going to be attending the meeting?

MR. MCCORMACK: We'll keep you updated on that, Saul.

Joel.

QUESTION: Change of subject. Over the weekend, apparently Hamas has rejected out of hand the Abbas referendum plan and also it appears that Israel has told Hamas if any of their leaders are in East Jerusalem, either leave that -- the Hamas Party, political party, or leave the city. Is this reaching a boiling point? And as well, there was a clash over the Lebanese-Israeli border just yesterday.

MR. MCCORMACK: A lot in there, Joel. I think look, in terms of Mr. Abbas's plan, you know, we talked a little bit about this last week. I think that we will only know in retrospect whether or not that was an important moment. Regardless of the particular mechanism, whether it's a referendum or a particular plan, the Palestinian people need to come to terms with some fundamental decisions about their future and whether or not they are going to be able to realize a state of their own. They're not going to realize a state of their own through the use of terrorism or advocacy of the use of terrorism. There's a fundamental contradiction that they have to resolve. You know, they want to have a peaceful state. They want to have a relationship with the state of Israel where they can realize a better, more secure way of life, and yet they have a Hamas-led government that fails to recognize the state of Israel and advocates the use of terror and itself has used terror.

So at some point the Palestinian people are going to have to come to terms with what their future is going to be and make some fundamental decisions about their future. Whether that is through the mechanism of this particular plan by Mr. Abbas or some other way, it's a fundamental question that they're going to have to address.

Elise.

QUESTION: New topic?

MR. MCCORMACK: Sure.

QUESTION: I was going to ask about the Israeli raid into Gaza, but I don't know what's new to be said about it. You know, Israel still has security concerns. I don't know the facts, but they went in there against some of their antagonists and --

MR. MCCORMACK: I don't have the facts, Barry. I'll be happy to look into it for you.

Elise.

QUESTION: This is about Egypt. A political activist, Mohammed el-Sharqawi, was arrested and abused by police. Apparently he's still in jail and being denied treatment to a doctor. Do you have anything? Have you taken this up with the --

MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah, I don't have the details on this, Elise. But certainly, at the very least, those reports are disturbing and merit further investigation. I think you can expect that we will be following up with Egyptian authorities to get to the ground truth. Look, there's a minimum level of -- a minimal level of care that needs to apply to all people in the custody of the Egyptian Government and we would expect that -- we'd expect them to abide by that. And certainly, you know, the reports that we have seen about the treatment of this individual are disturbing and we will be looking into them.

QUESTION: Just to follow on that, this is -- there have been a lot of reports in recent weeks and months about the arrest of protestors and crackdown on political dissent. I mean, what are your discussions with the Egyptian Government about the backsliding of democracy there?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, we have both in public and in private talked about our concerns regarding the evolution of Egyptian democracy. They have made some positive steps and they have -- President Mubarak has begun a fundamental reorientation of Egyptian politics. You saw that with multicandidate presidential elections.

But there are also other signs that raise real concern. We talked about the trial of Mr. Nour. We've talked about the treatment of peaceful protestors by Egyptian security officials. And then we also see other reports such as the one that you just mentioned that raise serious concerns about the progress of freedom and democracy in Egypt and we do raise these things with the Egyptian Government.

Secretary Rice is personally committed to carrying through on the President's freedom agenda, as described in the Second Inaugural. She went to Cairo to talk about the importance of the spread of freedom and democracy and she called upon the Egyptian Government to lead the way. And they have in some regards. In some regards they have not. And I think that we certainly expect that the Egyptian Government would lead the way, as they have in the past, in bringing to the Egyptian people greater freedom and greater democracy.

Sylvie.

QUESTION: Change of subject?

MR. MCCORMACK: Sure.

QUESTION: The quake in Indonesia. Would you have some figures of U.S. aid to Indonesia that is --

MR. MCCORMACK: Sure. I have some details here for you. The United States is providing $5 million for relief efforts in the wake of the earthquake. A million of that -- $1 million of that is in response to the May 28th emergency appeal by the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

In terms of our onsite presence, there is a USAID team that has already begun coordinating relief efforts on the ground. They arrived there yesterday and we actually have people in the affected areas right now. I would expect that there's going to be another eight-person office from AID that will arrive tomorrow in the affected areas and we have U.S. military assistance arriving as well. Four KC-130 flights have brought 45 U.S. military personnel to Yogyakarta, including a unit to provide initial trauma surgical capacity. The remainder of the surgical unit will arrive on three additional flights today and the plan is to set up a field hospital to begin treating the many injured.

Our Embassy's regional medical officer, four doctors from the Naval Medical Research Unit, two nurses and other staff from the Embassy are also going to Yogyakarta to provide medical services. Our Ambassador is going to -- planning a trip there tomorrow to take a look for himself, take a look at the situation and see what the U.S. is doing to provide assistance and what more we might do. As of right now, we do not have any reports of American citizens killed or injured in the earthquake. So that's --

QUESTION: Does the U.S. make a judgment as to how -- you know, what is needed and how the $5 million is to be spent? Or is that 5 million and it goes into some pool? I'm not --

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, there's a -- okay, there's -- I can get you a further breakdown, Barry. But the basic breakdown that I have here right now is you have 5 million total and that a million of that has gone to Red Crescent/Red Cross and so that they use that money in a variety of different ways. As for the other 4 million, I'll try to -- that's a good question. I'll have to check to see how much of that is actual cash assistance that gets disposed or in-kind assistance, so we'll get a further breakdown for you on that.

QUESTION: Where did the military flights come from? Where were they based?

MR. MCCORMACK: That was out of Guam.

QUESTION: Guam, okay.

MR. CASEY: Yeah, as well as from other points in the region.

MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah. What happened, Saul, is that, as I understand it -- you can check with DOD for some more details on this -- these are personnel that either were stationed on or might be stationed on the USS Mercy and the USS Essex. So these are medical support personnel attached to units that are typically on those ships. DOD, I think, can give you a little bit of a breakdown of exactly where they were flown in from, Saul.

Yeah. Anything else on Indonesia? George.

QUESTION: Change of subject to the European court decision this morning. Do you have anything on that?

MR. MCCORMACK: I did see -- I did see the -- this is concerning the sharing of passenger names?

QUESTION: Yeah.

MR. MCCORMACK: This is something our lawyers are taking a look at. This is an issue that's going to require some work between the U.S. and the EU to work out. The agreement that was overturned by the European court was something that was carefully worked out between the U.S. and EU officials. It also involved the participation of -- well, at least consultation with the airlines. And as a result of that agreement, airlines undertook hundreds of millions of dollars worth of changes in their computer system to accommodate the formats for the information that was provided.

My understanding is that while a judgment has been rendered, that the judgment has actually been put on hold until September, that there's a period of time at which, I suppose, through the European judicial processes there can be a variety of appeals where we can work out some other solutions. So it's something that from both a legal as well as a practical perspective that we're taking a look at, George. We're going to be working with the EU on it.

Lambros, you've been waiting patiently back there.

QUESTION: On the Balkans, on the Balkans.

MR. MCCORMACK: On the Balkans, yes.

QUESTION: Yes. Any update on the Kosovo issue?

MR. MCCORMACK: No.

QUESTION: General Wesley Clark on May 21st stated that Kosovo is ready for full independence. Does he check his comment with the Department of State? Is he applying independently for the position of imperial viceroy of Kosovo, just reaching for --

MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah. I don't have anything other than the fact that Mr. Ahtisaari is working hard on this issue and he's working to try to bring the parties together. Ambassador Frank Wisner, who is a special envoy for the United States Government on this issue, is working very closely with Mr. Ahtisaari as well as his other European colleagues on it. But beyond that, I don't have anything beyond, in terms of a change in U.S. position.

QUESTION: And one question for Turkey. Any comment in the today's New York Times editorial against the Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan and generally democracy in Turkey supporting actually the Turkish generals for another coup d'etat?

MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah. I don't do critiques of New York Times editorials.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: At ease. (Laughter.)

MR. MCCORMACK: All right. Joel, go ahead.

QUESTION: In view of what's happened over the weekend with both Iran and Iraq as well as the mini-riot in Afghanistan and Kabul, what is the United States attempting to do? Are you leaving it up to those individual governments to iron out that dispute?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, in terms of Afghanistan, Joel, our Ambassador has put out a statement on behalf of the U.S. presence there in Afghanistan. What -- there was some violence in Kabul and that grew up around a terrible accident. Apparently, what happened was there was a large truck that was coming down a hill -- this is a U.S. -- I believe a U.S. military truck coming down a hill. There was a mechanical failure. The brakes failed. The person driving the truck did everything they could to avoid hitting any pedestrians. Unfortunately, there were some deaths that resulted from that. We have apologized for those deaths. And certainly, as is consistent with standard U.S. practice, there's a possibility of compensation to those affected by the terrible accident.

I understand that there is now a curfew in place in Kabul at the moment and that the police have the situation in hand. So I think the situation is much more calm today than it was yesterday.

Yes, ma'am.

QUESTION: Do you have any comments or reaction to the reports over the weekend about a letter to the then Assistant Secretary of State about the Korean War during the civilian shooting on No Gun Ri?

MR. MCCORMACK: I don't have anything for you on that.

Yes, sir.

QUESTION: This weekend the Assistant Secretary of African Affairs Donald visited Ethiopia and do you have any outcomes in meeting with the Prime Minister Meles Zenawi?

MR. MCCORMACK: I don't. I'd be happy to check into it for you. This is Mr. Yamamoto?

QUESTION: After he's returned from Kigali or from Rwanda, he stopped over in Addis Ababa.

MR. MCCORMACK: Who is this, Mr. Yamamoto?

QUESTION: Yes, sir.

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

QUESTION: And last week I asked you about Eritrea.

MR. MCCORMACK: The boundary commission?

QUESTION: Yes.

MR. MCCORMACK: I got something for you.

The Ethiopia-Eritrea Boundary Commission met twice -- has met twice since February 2006. At the most recent meeting, the witnesses supported -- this is the witnesses to the Algiers agreement -- witnesses supported a U.S. initiative to resume demarcation of the boundary and move toward normalized relations. Progress has been made on steps necessary to resume demarcation. The United States believes that demarcation of the boundary in accord with the delimitation decision of the EEBC is a critical step to ensuring stability and sustainable peace in the region.

The United States has encouraged parties to cooperate with the EEBC and resume demarcation. We have urged other governments to support this position and, as necessary, provide resources to support demarcation.

QUESTION: What was your response on the President Isaias Afewerki last week who was accusing the United States for taking side with Ethiopia on demarcation?

MR. MCCORMACK: No, we support the efforts right there -- that were underway for demarcation. You know, we're not a party to this. Certainly, we're part of the witnesses to the Algiers Accords, but our only interest is in seeing the boundary be demarcated in a way that is fair and equitable, and that the way to do that is through the third party of the EEBC. And we have encouraged the parties to take steps to get the demarcation back underway. And right now that's -- the focus of our discussions is for each of the groups to take those steps necessary to get it going again.

QUESTION: I'm sorry. Ethiopia is also accusing Eritrea for explosion in Addis Ababa now. So if both of them are competition, do you think this issue of -- on supporting for the terrorist activity in Ethiopia by -- like Ethiopian Government is accusing with the Eritrea saying that they send the oil off to --

MR. MCCORMACK: I don't have any information to support that claim.

Yes.

QUESTION: I guess I wanted a quick follow-up to Secretary Rice videotaped statement on Myanmar. And just was she basically underlining U.S. commitment on helping the people of Myanmar? Is there any prospective moves at the UN Security Council?

MR. MCCORMACK: Certainly a possibility. Certainly a possibility, yeah.

QUESTION: Aside from a briefing?

MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah. That certainly is a possibility. I understand that there is going to be a briefing for the Security Council, but I certainly wouldn't preclude the possibility that action by the Security Council would end with just a briefing.

QUESTION: A U.S. briefing?

MR. MCCORMACK: No. This is -- I don't have the gentleman's name with me right now.

Saul.

QUESTION: On Cuba. A few days ago you mentioned to us that there had been a delay in preparing the report from the State Department to the President on, you know, the commission for transition. Where are we now?

MR. MCCORMACK: We're still waiting for the report, as I understand it.

MR. CASEY: Yeah. It hasn't quite come forward. I'm not sure what the specific timetable --

MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah. This was -- like I said, it was not a date for delivery that was set in law, the regulations. This was just the date that they thought they could meet. They wanted to take a little extra time. I think that that's certainly understandable. If you're going to put something down on paper for the President of the United States, you want to make sure it's right and you want to make sure it's exactly what you want to say and the way you want to say it.

QUESTION: Do you have a sort of revised estimate of when it might be done?

MR. MCCORMACK: I don't have -- I expect in the near future, Saul, but I don't have the date for you right now.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MR. MCCORMACK: Thank you.

(The briefing was concluded at 12:55 p.m.)

DPB #90

ENDS

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Refugees and asylum seekers on Nauru, most of whom have been held there for three years, routinely face neglect by health workers and other service providers who have been hired by the Australian government, as well as frequent unpunished assaults by local Nauruans. More>>

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Other Australian Detention

Gordon Campbell: On The Censorship Havoc In South Africa’s State Broadcaster

Demands have included an order to staff that there should be no further negative news about the country’s President Jacob Zuma, and SABC camera operators responsible for choosing camera angles that have allegedly made the President ‘look shorter’ were to be retrained... More>>

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Gordon Campbell: On A Bad Week For Malcolm Turnbull, And The Queen

Malcolm Turnbull’s immediate goal – mere survival – is still within his grasp... In every other respect though, this election has been a total disaster for the Liberals. More>>

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Gordon Campbell: On Bidding Bye Bye To Boris

Boris Johnson’s exit from the contest for Conservative Party leadership supports the conspiracy theory that he never really expected the “Leave” option to win the referendum – and he has no intention now of picking up the poisoned chalice that managing the outcome will entail... More>>

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