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State Dept. Daily Press Briefing June 1, 2006

Daily Press Briefing
Tom Casey, Acting Spokesman
Washington, DC
June 1, 2006


Deputy Secretary Zoellick to travel to Santo Domingo for OAS
General Assembly / Secretary Rice Unable to Attend

Repression of Civil Society Activists / Arrest of Mohammed
el-Sharkawi and Karim Shaer
U.S. Has Raised Human Rights Issues with Egyptian Government

Resumption of Six-Party Talks / Implementation of September 19
Joint Statement
Termination of KEDO Light-Water Reactor Project
Financial Sanctions Unrelated to Resumption of Talks / Financial
Measures Designed to Protect U.S. Financial System

Overview of Secretary Rice's Meetings in Vienna on Iran /
Ministers Meeting in Vienna
U.S. Willing to Talk to Iran, Eliminate Excuses for Inaction /
Iran Must Stop Enrichment

Introduction of UN Security Council Resolution on Human Rights
Burmese Regime Must Address Serious Political Problems
Burmese Government Repression and Poor Economic Choices to Blame
for Suffering

Humanitarian Crisis in Darfur / Parties and African Union Must
Implement Peace Agreement

Charles Taylor Trial and Detention


12:47 p.m. EDT

MR. CASEY: Good afternoon, everyone. Pleasure to be here with you. I have one brief announcement for you and then we'll go to your questions. First of all, we'll be putting out a statement later to this effect. I just want to announce that Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick will travel to Santo Domingo and the Dominican Republic on June the 4th and 5th where he'll head the U.S. delegation to the General Assembly, the Organization of American States. And while he's there, obviously the Deputy Secretary will be underscoring the positive regional movement towards inclusive democracy, which offers the best hope to fight poverty and corruption and promote development. Certainly, he'll be reiterating also our commitment to continue to work with and support the Organization of American States as it seeks to address the challenges before the hemisphere. And with that, let's go to your questions.

QUESTION: May I ask about that?

MR. CASEY: Yeah.

QUESTION: So why isn't the Secretary going?

MR. CASEY: Well, the Secretary obviously has attended previous OAS ministerials and would very much like to be able to attend this one. And there's a variety of other issues on the agenda, including some things, as you know, that she's working on today that are taking up her attention and in this case, she's very pleased that she'll have such an able representative as Deputy Secretary Zoellick to head the U.S. delegation for this event.

Certainly, he's a very well-known figure in the hemisphere and has taken the lead not only here in this building, but in his previous role as a U.S. Trade Representative on a number of hemispheric issues.

QUESTION: So are you saying that on Sunday and Monday, the Secretary will be working on Iran and therefore --

MR. CASEY: No. I'm saying it's a variety of issues and it's just press of business related to a number of things, not exclusively Iran or any other particular issue.

QUESTION: Okay. And you hear the criticism often that since September 11th the Bush Administration has turned its attention away from Latin America, it's inattentive. Don't you think given that context, this could be viewed symbolically as representing that inattention to the region?

MR. CASEY: Well, I don't think so. And I think if you look at what has happened during the Administration in relation to U.S. relations with the hemisphere, we've actually got quite a good picture. Obviously, when I mentioned Deputy Secretary Zoellick's role in the hemisphere, he's been someone who's played a very instrumental role in advancing our agenda, particularly in development of the Central American Free Trade Agreement, in the Free Trade Agreement with Chile, the launching of a similar round of discussions with the Andean countries and also obviously he's played a very important role in Central America as well, has spent an ample amount of time working on helping to promote a stabilized democracy in Nicaragua among other places.

And certainly, Deputy Secretary Zoellick's representation of this is a very high level of attention -- a same high level of attention that we're showing towards countries like China where he plays a leading role in conducting dialogue with that nation as well. And our agenda for the hemisphere certainly is a positive one. It's one that focuses not only on the trade issues but, of course, on strengthening democracy and advancing it as we move forward with our partners in the OAS. So certainly no one should read any lack of attention or interest in hemispheric affairs into the fact that she's not going to this particular meeting.

QUESTION: Can we stay on the OAS?

MR. CASEY: If you like.

QUESTION: Well, just now that we know who's going and, obviously, the U.S. plays a big role. Often these kind of things can degenerate well, so often. In recent years, they can degenerate into a fight between the U.S. and Venezuela. Chavez seems to be a bit of a divider in the region these days, picking fights all over the place, you know, at a time when the assembly tries to have unity. How do you guys view his interference, if you like, with other countries' electoral process?

MR. CASEY: Well, Saul, listen, I really don't have anything new to tell you about our relationship with Venezuela. Obviously, our focus going down into this ministerial is on our positive agenda for the hemisphere and on working with Secretary General Insulza as well as the other ministerial representatives on advancing the OAS's agenda there. Our concerns about Venezuela are, as I said, are well known and I don't think I really need to reiterate them for you, you know. In effect, though, we continue to believe as does the Secretary General and as do most members of the OAS, that those that are elected democratically have a commitment to govern that way and obviously that's been one of our concerns about Venezuela, it has been the focus of our efforts in the hemisphere.

QUESTION: But has he started to pick fights with other people because his efforts to pick a fight with you haven't worked because you are -- you know, avoiding a confrontation?

MR. CASEY: Saul, I'll leave it to the Venezuelans to explain why they choose the policies they do. I think our policies on the subject are clear.

Yeah, let's go to you, Elise.

QUESTION: On Egypt. Do you have an update on the case of Mr. Sharkawi? Have you talked to the Egyptian Government about his situation?

MR. CASEY: Yeah. I do have a little bit. I know this is a subject that we talked about briefly the other day. And as you know as a matter of general principle, we're deeply concerned by reports of continuing arrests and repression of civil society activists by the Egyptian Government. But we are troubled by the recent reports that Mohammed el-Sharkawi as well as Karim Shaer, another civil society activist, were arrested. And during their arrest and detention were tortured in custody and then denied independent medical treatment. If those allegations are true, that would certainly be a violation of Egypt's own laws as well as accepted international human rights standards and practices.

The Embassy in Cairo has raised this issue with Egyptian officials. And first and foremost, we're urging them to provide any and all necessary medical treatment to Mr. Sharkawi and Mr. Shaer and to thoroughly investigate these cases and any others like them. Certainly, if the allegations are true, what we want to see happen is that the Egyptian Government should take immediate steps to punish those responsible and put into place institutional measures to prevent those kinds of incidents from occurring. And as you know, we continue not only in these cases but in others as well to urge the Egyptian Government to protect the rights of their citizens to assemble and speak out peacefully. And we've noted our concerns about, as you know, a number of the other cases as well.

Yeah. Let's go over here. Yeah, to you. Sorry.

QUESTION: You're condemning the arrest here of political activists and today one of Al Jazeera's correspondent who's already in jail have been finally convicted to seven years in Spain, although they said that he had nothing to do with al-Qaida. So some in the Arab world tend to feel that there is double standard, American double standard, because if Spain has arrested him then it's fine and if Egypt arrests its people then it's not fine. So -- and these are all journalists.

MR. CASEY: I think there -- the difference is, as I understand the case, and I'd refer you to the Spanish Government for details on their judicial process there. But in the case of the individuals we're talking about here, they've been arrested for the "crime" of simply freely expressing their views and opinions. In other instances where individuals are arrested and put on trial for serious crimes, in this case as I understand it, for association with an involvement with terrorists groups that's obviously a different situation. But I think we speak out throughout the world when we see people being arrested or being persecuted simply for expressing their views peacefully and responsibly about the situation in their own country or about a situation any place else in the world.

Let's go over to Dave.

MR. CASEY: Tom, can you address the -- an apparent North Korean invitation for Christopher Hill to come there as sort of a proviso that the U.S. supports the September understanding, which we're party to, so could -- react to that?

MR. CASEY: Well, yeah, first of all, we've seen the press reports about this North Korean statement. But I think the main point here, David, is that North Korea really needs to return to those six-party talks so that we can move forward on implementing the September 9th joint statement. We obviously believe that those talks should resume as soon as possible and all the other parties, save North Korea, believe the same way. Obviously the main thing for us at this point is to see that North Korea, in fact, comes back to those talks and does so as soon as possible. And there's benefits for all parties in the implementation of that joint statement, but it can't move forward unless we can all get together at the table again and start talking about the ways to do that. We're continuing to consult with our partners in the six-party process on this, as you know.

QUESTION: If a Chris Hill visit to Pyongyang would help get them back, I mean, is that something worthwhile?

MR. CASEY: Well, David, I don't think the issue here is really direct talks between the United States and North Korea. We had direct talks with the North Koreans in the context of the six-party talks. But the issue really here is North Korea's commitment to the September agreement which all parties agreed was the way to move forward on this.

And what we're looking for is for North Korea to demonstrate its commitment to that agreement by coming back to the six-party talks so that we can implement it. So I think that's where our focus is right now.

QUESTION: So is this a no? Chris Hill doesn't want to go to North Korea?

MR. CASEY: Look, I think what this is is a belief that the best way to move forward on implementing that September agreement is through the six-party talks. I know Chris has spoken to the issue of potential travel to North Korea in the past, but I certainly don't have anything new to offer you in that regard.

QUESTION: Does this mean that you're ruling it out then or is it something you're taking under consideration?

MR. CASEY: I can say that right now we've seen press reports about this so I don't think I have anything particular to consider other than that.

QUESTION: Are you seeking any clarification from the North Koreans through the New York channel?

MR. CASEY: I'm sure we'll be looking into this. But again, I think the main thing here is that we see from the North Koreans a real commitment to the full implementation of the September 19th agreement, and the way to show that is to do what the other five parties want to do, which is restart the six-party talks right away.


QUESTION: Still on this. Can you confirm that yesterday the plan to possibly build the light-water reactors in exchange for inspections has been formally sort of, I don't know, dissolved?

MR. CASEY: Yeah, let me -- I have something on that here for you. Yeah. Yesterday, the KEDO Executive Board did decide to terminate the light-water reactor project in North Korea and the U.S. representative on the board did join the consensus to -- for that decision. Basically the board also did decide that the KEDO Secretariat was going to close as soon as practicable to terminate the operations.

And I think the board has addressed the reasons behind this, but just to give you a quick summary of it, the position that KEDO took was that the termination of the light-water reactor project was a result of the DPRK's failure to perform the steps that were required in the agreement and, in effect, not only failed to perform those steps but to take steps antithetical to it, including withdrawing from the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and expelling the IAEA inspectors and then restarting its nuclear program.

QUESTION: A follow-up on North Korean issues again. When the Chinese high-level ranking officers visited Pyongyang last time, North Korean Kim Jong-il mentioned unless United States lift financial sanctions, North Korea would never return to the six-party talks again. What would be the next step by the United States?

MR. CASEY: Well, again, I think we've spoken to the issue of financial sanctions in the past. These are things that we're doing, as all countries do and as all countries have the right to do, to protect the integrity of our currency and our financial system. They are not related to issues involving the six-party talks and we don't think they should be.

Again, we briefed the North Koreans, as you know, on our financial measures in New York some time ago. Certainly, you know, we are happy to clarify, as we did then, what our policies are and what their purposes are. But again, this issue isn't related to the six-party talks and, you know, we believe that what the North Koreans need to do is again emphasize what their statements apparently claims is their commitment to the September 19th agreement, and the way to do that is to return to the discussions.

QUESTION: North Korea still mentioned about their -- you know, (inaudible) bank money, (inaudible) money is back from United States.

MR. CASEY: Well, again, with respect to the financial issues and the financial measures that we've taken under the Patriot Act, they are not focused on any one country. They are designed to protect our financial system and protect our financial system from counterfeiting and other kinds of measures. Obviously that's not something that any country is going to support.

Let's go over -- same subject, Teri? Same subject? George.

QUESTION: Could you take the question of the thinking on the possibility of a Chris Hill visit to North Korea irrespective of the issue of the six-party talks?

MR. CASEY: George, I'll see if we have anything more to get for you on that. I think, though, that pretty much we don't have anything new to offer you on that subject, no.

Let's go back here.

QUESTION: I wonder if you can tell us, the report on Mr. Hill is reported to have said that he would consult with his partners. I wonder if he's doing so, talking to, let's say, Chinese or South Koreans or Japanese.

MR. CASEY: To be honest with you, Mr. Hill is not presently here at the State Department. He's doing some personal travel. So I'm not aware of any -- he certainly doesn't have an official schedule here in this building so I'm not aware of what conversations he might be having.

Obviously, though, he has been visiting the region recently. He's had conversations with other countries involved in the six-party talks. That's part of our ongoing efforts on this issue. I'm sure that he and other officials here in this building will continue to have discussions with the Chinese, the Koreans and the other members of the six-party talks as well.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: A follow-up?

MR. CASEY: Yeah. On that same subject? Yeah.

QUESTION: What is the difference between Iran and North Korean case? The United States talks to North Koreans directly (inaudible). So what is the real difference?

MR. CASEY: Well, I think they're two entirely distinct situations and that we've adopted policies designed to approach each one on their merits. In the case of North Korea, we've got the six-party process. We believe that's the most appropriate way forward. There's a separate series of measures and process ongoing with respect to Iran, and again we've adopted our policies to the circumstances.

Let's go -- same subject, anybody?


MR. CASEY: No on -- I think we're still sort of on North Korea. Okay, let's go back here on that.

QUESTION: North Korean spokesman has said in the statement that they had already made a strategic decision regarding to the abandoning the nuclear program. What is the U.S. view on that?

MR. CASEY: Well, again, I think our view for right now is that the North Koreans along with the other members of the six-party talks have signed onboard to the September 19th statement and that's clearly designed to establish a denuclearized Korean Peninsula. But signing onto the statement is only step one. The real way of assuring that those goals are achieved and the real way of being able to verify that a strategic decision has, in fact been made, is for the North Koreans to come back to the six-party talks and again to have us work together and make real steps forward to implement that agreement.

The same subject?


MR. CASEY: Okay.

QUESTION: It has been reported that there is a strong possibility that Hill's Deputy Kathleen Stephens may visit Kaesong industrial park in North Korea on Friday. What is the purpose of her visit to Kaesong industrial park?

MR. CASEY: I do know that she's traveling in the region. I'm not aware that she's scheduled to do that visit. We'll let you know if we've got anything on that for you. But as of this moment, I'm not aware that anything's scheduled.

Same subject or different?

QUESTION: Different.

MR. CASEY: All right. Let's go to Teri and then Mr. Lambros.

QUESTION: Is it going to be a long one? You know what, Mr. Lambros, is yours really short?

MR. CASEY: Mr. Lambros has never asked a short question. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: All right. I just gave him a shot.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) some questions.

QUESTION: That's true. On Iran then -- could you up-to-date us on what the Secretary's day has been like in Vienna? We haven't had any press availabilities yet, so you're the first crack at it.

MR. CASEY: Sure. Okay. I think as you know, she's had a couple of preliminary meetings to the more full P-5+1 session today. She met earlier with UK Foreign Minister Beckett. She then had a meeting with her EU-3 counterparts. As I was coming out here to brief, they were just about to get started with the full P-5+1 meeting. I understand that's scheduled to run a couple hours or more. Obviously, after that's concluded, I'm sure the party out there will have something to say -- had good sessions with those individuals who she met with. I think, as Sean said and as she said before they left, you know, we feel we've been making good progress on this package. And we'll look to see the results of the meeting this afternoon.

QUESTION: They actually aren't planning to say very much from what we've been told: a canned statement and no Q&A (laughter) just kind of information.

But moving on with questions. If she has not yet seen the Russians and the Chinese separately until this, the full meeting -- is that correct? She hasn't spoken to them?

MR. CASEY: That's correct. Again, the meetings that I understand that she had earlier in the day were specifically with the UK Foreign Minister and then with the EU-3 foreign ministers, yeah.

QUESTION: But can you talk more about the package?

MR. CASEY: No, again, I really can't. And I'll leave you with what she said yesterday afternoon to you, which is that she'd rather have that discussion with her ministerial counterparts and then talk to you and everyone else about it afterwards.

QUESTION: Just this morning the Chinese have announced that they don't -- that they're opposed to arbitrary sanctions on Iran. I mean, yesterday this Administration was going on about how they were getting agreement from the Russians and the Chinese on going forward on a package of incentives and penalties. So it seems as if despite your rosy picture of progress, there's still a fundamental difference with the Russians and the Chinese over the whole idea of penalties.

MR. CASEY: Well, again, look, let's let them have the meeting and let's let the ministers tell you what they've come to conclusion on and see where we are. I think if you saw the comments the President made this morning, he's now spoken to President Hu, he's spoken with President Putin as well. He's described those conversations for you and described them as positive and moving forward. I think we just need to wait and see what they come up with in Vienna, but I think it's very clear to us that there has been progress, that we are moving forward and that there is unity in the international community that we do need to take concerted action together. But in terms of the specifics of the package, frankly, I'm just going to leave that to the folks out in Vienna.

QUESTION: What do you make of the Foreign Minister's rejection of the idea of suspension before sitting down to talks?

MR. CASEY: Well, you know, again, what we have done with our offer yesterday to participate in discussions with the Iranians, with the EU-3, should they suspend their uranium enrichment activities, is showing, I believe, a very clear sense that we are willing to go the extra mile and eliminate, as the Secretary said, all possible excuses for not moving forward with these discussions. This isn't a U.S. condition. This is the same condition that the EU-3 has set forward. It's the same condition that the IAEA has set forward. It's the same condition that the Security Council has set forward. And more importantly, it's the same condition that Iran agreed to with the EU-3 in the Paris agreement. Certainly, I don't think it's unreasonable to ask them now to do what they've already promised to do as the basis for having these kinds of discussions.

As far as the Foreign Minister's comments are concerned, you know, I think what we need to do, as the President said earlier, is actually let a full package be developed and be presented and then we'll see what their reaction is. But Iran clearly has a choice that it's going to have to make.

QUESTION: But it has already rejected to stop uranium -- I mean, they've already said that they will not stop enriching uranium. The condition that you've put, they've already rejected it. So now the Americans will not take part in the EU-3?

MR. CASEY: Again, the Secretary has made clear what our position is. But I think you need to go back to what the EU-3 has said. The EU-3 has said that their conditions for beginning negotiations is Iran returning to the suspension of uranium enrichment, which they agreed to do under the Paris agreement.

Again, I think we need to actually have a package developed, see it be presented, and then we'll see what ultimately the Iranian reaction is to that.

QUESTION: Can I ask a quick follow-up?

MR. CASEY: Yeah.

QUESTION: Did they get back to you in any formal way or have you just seen press reports of their position on the --

MR. CASEY: As far as I know, all I've seen is press reports. I don't have any indication that we've had anything formally through the Swiss.

QUESTION: Do you plan on seeking -- when you delivered this message to the Swiss, did you ask for a reply through the same channels?

MR. CASEY: We certainly delivered the message and I'm sure if the Iranians wish to respond to it, we'd be very interested in seeing what they have to say. But again, I think as far as our offer goes, it is there. The Secretary has made it very clear exactly what it is. And we will see not only what the Iranian reaction is to that but we'll see what their reaction is to the proposal that's going to be put forward that they're working on now in Vienna.

Mr. Lambros.

QUESTION: On Turkey.

MR. CASEY: Thank you for your patience.

QUESTION: Thank you very much. BBC reported a few hours earlier that Turkish police arrested a bunch of people in Turkey during the plot to assassinate the popular Prime Minister of Turkey Recep Erdogan. I am wondering if you have anything on that and if you could offer any comment since such actions undermine democracy in Turkey, a NATO member and a strong ally to the United States of America.

MR. CASEY: Mr. Lambros, I actually haven't seen those reports and I'd best refer you to the Turkish Government for information about any action their law enforcement officials may have taken. Certainly we strongly support democracy and democratic institutions in Turkey as well as in all parts of the world and would obviously not want to see any actions taken by anyone that would undermine the democratic basis of that country's government.

QUESTION: One on Cyprus. Deputy Assistant Secretary Matt Bryza in an interview to a Turkish daily newspaper is referring the Republic of Cyprus as South Cyprus a couple of times actually in the same text, which means clearly partition of the island. And I am wondering if your policy has been changed unless Mr. Bryza was meant the division only geographically for practical reasons.

MR. CASEY: Well, Mr. Lambros, I am sure that whatever Deputy Assistant Secretary Bryza said, he was thoroughly eloquent and spoke absolutely in accordance with U.S. policy. But just to make it clear, there is certainly no change in U.S. policy when it comes to recognition of Cyprus.



MR. CASEY: Okay.

QUESTION: On the UN resolution on Burma. When do you plan to introduce it and do you have enough support in the UN Security Council for such a resolution?

MR. CASEY: Well, thanks for giving me a chance to talk about that. I do hope most of you did see the statement that we put out yesterday afternoon. I know it was a busy day for people on Iran issues, but we did announce yesterday that we do intend to pursue a UN Security Council resolution on Burma. And the purpose of that resolution would be to underscore the international community's concerns about the situation in that country, including the unjustifiable continued detention of Aung San Suu Kyi and other political prisoners, as well as our common position that the regime needs to ensure an inclusive and democratic political process. I don't have a specific date at which we intend to introduce this now. We're working on some other preliminary actions in New York at this point. Certainly we expect to do it in the coming weeks.

And in terms of support for it, I do think that there is broad and general support for the idea that the Burmese regime does need to address the serious political problems in that country. And that as we said in our statement yesterday, that the situation in that country is increasingly disturbing and is now posing a threat to the stability of the region itself.

QUESTION: A follow-up on that. Refugees International came out with a report today that said that the U.S. policy of isolating the regime is not working and that the way that the aid is -- that aid is really being a hostage, that the humanitarian situation is really deteriorating and that you have to find a way to get more aid into the country or condition it on political reform because the Burmese people are really suffering.

MR. CASEY: I haven't seen the report, Elise, and I'll see if we can get you something specific on that. I do think in general, though, that we do try and make efforts, not only in Burma but elsewhere as well, to ensure that we do what we can to relieve the humanitarian-suffering people. The Burmese Government of course, however, has taken not only repression political measures but made a number of economic decisions, too, that has made it increasingly difficult for people in that country. But I will try and get you something for you on that specific report.

Teri. Or same subject?

QUESTION: By (inaudible) support, I assume you mean within the UN Security Council.

MR. CASEY: I mean broad international support, George. I'm not trying to predict for you any particular standing by individual members. I haven't done a survey of Security Council members at this point.

QUESTION: On Darfur.

MR. CASEY: Yeah.

QUESTION: Two rebel groups now missed the deadline to sign on to the agreement. I'm wondering if people from this building are trying to help the AU with pressuring and what kind of implication do you think there might be for the fact that they have not yet to come aboard.

MR. CASEY: Well, I think basically, Teri, we believe that by remaining outside the Darfur peace agreement yesterday, those two groups did fail to seize an opportunity to demonstrate real commitment to achieving peace and democracy through a fair agreement in Darfur. And remaining outside the reconciliation and reconstruction process, they're in fact contributing to the humanitarian crisis in Darfur and certainly not helping the people that they themselves are trying to represent. We do think it's essential, though, that the parties involved in the agreement and the African Union move ahead to implement this as quickly as possible.

I understand the African Union is considering now what further steps to take. We're clearly consulting with them on this process. But I'm going to leave it to them to state any changes in their views specifically related to these two groups right now. But we are consulting with them and we're working with them on this.

QUESTION: What about the rebel groups? Is Secretary Zoellick continuing to reach out to people that he knows in the process?

MR. CASEY: I don't have anything for you on specific actions as of today. Obviously, we've got a number of people in this building who have been working very hard on this issue, and I know they're going to be continuing to do so and to talk to all the people that they have been. Clearly, we do want to see people come onboard to this agreement, including those groups that have remained outside of it. And we're very disappointed that they chose not to sign on at this point.


QUESTION: OPEC. If we can move to OPEC.

MR. CASEY: Yeah.

QUESTION: There are reports that there's a move afoot to enlarge OPEC, to include Angola, Sudan and Ecuador. Do you have any comment on that?

MR. CASEY: Really don't. I've seen those reports, but obviously that's a decision for OPEC itself to make.

QUESTION: Another African question.

MR. CASEY: Okay.

QUESTION: There was just -- just before we came out there was a story out of Stockholm that they may be willing to take Charles Taylor if he's convicted, which is something that you've been waiting on for a long time. Have you seen those reports?

MR. CASEY: No. I hadn't, Teri, so --

QUESTION: You would welcome that if it were true, since the U.S. has been among those who've been looking for a place to send him?

MR. CASEY: Well, I'd need to know the specifics of what was involved. But obviously what we do want to see is that there be a secure trial for Charles Taylor. That any continued imprisonment resulting from that is done in a way that enhances the peace and stability of Liberia and of the region itself and certainly we'd welcome any steps that got us in that direction.

Yeah, we'll go back here.

QUESTION: There were reports today that Uighur businesswoman Rebiya Kadeer's two sons have been formally arrested in China and just after being detained and released yesterday ahead of a congressional human rights caucus visit. Have you seen these reports and does the State Department have any comment on this development?

MR. CASEY: I have seen those reports and I've asked our folks in the East Asia Bureau to look into them. I hope we'll have something for you on that later this afternoon. But I unfortunately didn't get a chance to confirm them or verify them before I came out here.

Anybody else? Thank you.

(The briefing was concluded at 1:19 p.m.)

DPB # 91

Released on June 1, 2006


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