State Dept. Daily Press Briefing June 6, 2006
Daily Press Briefing
Sean McCormack, Spokesman
June 6, 2006
EU Foreign Policy Chief Javier Solana Presents Proposal to Iranian
Government / Contents of Package / How Long Iran has to Respond /
Why Contents of Package have not been Made Public / U.S. Security
Guarantees Not on Table / Three Different Tracks
Trafficking in Persons Report / India's Tier Placement
Venezuela's Response to Trafficking in Persons Report
Reports that Islamic Courts' has taken Control of Mogadishu / U.S.
Concerned About Presence of Foreign Terrorists and al-Qaeda in
Somalia / Spike in Violence / Allegations that U.S. is
Contributing to Instability / U.S. Involvement
Department of Defense Detainee Directive / LA Times Story that it
will Exclude Certain Geneva Convention Protections
General Dayton Continues to work with President Abbas to Implement
Gaza Movement and Access Agreement / Rafah Crossing Still Open /
Possible Palestinian Referendum
Quartet Tasked EU to Come Up with a Proposal to be Considered by
Prime Minister al-Maliki's Efforts to Heal Divisions Within Iraqi
Recent Violence and Attacks on Coalition Forces / Motives of Those
Committing Acts of Violence
Query on U.S. Position on Whether President Chen Should Step Down
or Complete his Term
U.S. Efforts to Free Aung San Suu Kyi
12:50 p.m. EDT
MR. MCCORMACK: Good afternoon, everybody. How are you? How's it going?
MR. MCCORMACK: We've got a full house today. I don't have any opening statements, so we can get right into your questions. Who'd like to start?
QUESTION: Since the proposal has been made to Iran, can you ascribe at all what is happening here -- has the -- who has the Secretary been in touch with, if anyone? And what is your assessment of the initial reaction from the Iranians?
MR. MCCORMACK: Mm-hmm. We have not had an opportunity to talk to Mr. Solana or any other member of his party. My understanding is that Mr. Solana as well -- accompanied by the political directors from the EU-3 -- England, Germany and France -- presented the proposal to the Iranian Government this morning and that they answered some of the Iranian Government's questions about it. We don't have a readout yet of the meeting. I would expect that in the near future the Secretary will probably talk to Mr. Solana but at the political director level we'll be in touch as well. So I can't offer you any insight into the atmosphere --
MR. MCCORMACK: Today. I would expect today. And we'll -- I'll try to keep you up to date on that. If there are any phone calls this afternoon, I'll try to let you know about them and share what I am able to from those phone calls. So I can't provide you any readout as to the atmosphere or any particular reaction from the Iranian Government. We have seen some public comments from it. I think you could look at them for yourself. I wouldn't characterize them one way or the other at this point, as either accepting or rejecting the proposal. So what we're going to do is going to wait to see what Mr. Solana has to report back from the meeting and then we'll try to have a little bit -- little bit fuller reaction. I can't tell you exactly when that will be, whether that's today or tomorrow.
QUESTION: We're reporting that the -- one of the components is an offer of U.S. technological help for civilian nuclear development. Can you describe that component at all?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, I -- you know, I've seen a lot of reports flying around for the past couple of days about what may or may not be in this package. I would just caution everybody, until we actually are able to discuss what is in the package in public, to take reports with a grain of salt. There are robust measures on both sides, both the incentive side as well as the disincentive side in the package that was presented to the Iranian Government today. Where it presents the Iranian Government with a very clear choice on both sides of the road here: a pathway of negotiation, a pathway of increased isolation. So we'll to wait to see what their answer is. At the moment, we're going -- we're not going to discuss in public what the elements of the package may be, we want to give them time to consider it. They have had it presented to them. Now it's time for them to consider what their answer is going to be. We hope that there's going to be a positive answer. That we think is the best outcome for all involved; that they choose the pathway of negotiation; that they meet the conditions that the P-5+1 has laid them for them in order to have those negotiations.
QUESTION: And how long do they have to do that?
MR. MCCORMACK: The Secretary said it's a matter of weeks, not months. I'm not going to pin it down any further than that.
QUESTION: Sean, I'm sorry, did you say how Javier Solana is going to report back his discussions with the Iranians? Is there going to be another meeting or --
MR. MCCORMACK: What I told Anne, as well as the others here, is that I would expect the Secretary will be in contact with Mr. Solana at some point in the near future. We'll try to let you know when that is and I'll share with you what I can out of that contact.
QUESTION: Are you anticipating that there's going to be some sort of give and take and some negotiations over these robust measures? And secondly, why are you not releasing details of them? They now have them in hand. I mean, it could take weeks or possibly even a month, I don't know, for them to answer. So why do you want to keep it secret?
MR. MCCORMACK: Because we want to give this every opportunity to succeed. And once we start talking about these various -- the package in public, it becomes a public document, it becomes a matter for public debate and that's not where we are right now. The diplomacy, I would say, is at a sensitive stage. This package has been presented to the Iranian Government and we want to give them a little bit of space to consider what's in the package, both on the positive as well as the negative side. And we want to do that free from having a public debate about what has been agreed upon by all the members of the P-5+1.
QUESTION: And what about negotiations? Is there room to negotiate over this package?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, we're not to that point yet. And when we reach that point, what we talked about is having negotiations. But in order to get that point -- to that point, the Iranian regime needs to meet the conditions that were laid out for it by the P-5+1. And central to those conditions is a full suspension of all enrichment-related activities. It was laid out -- as laid out in the IAEA Board of Governors resolution in February -- I believe February of this year.
QUESTION: Can I just ask you that when do you think you're going to be able to give us details of what is in the package?
MR. MCCORMACK: In due course. In due course we hope to be able to share these with you. But as I said, we want to give the Iranian Government some time to consider what is in this package. So in due course, we will, I'm sure, be able to share this with you. But the time is not now.
QUESTION: But don't the public have a right to know what their governments are offering the Iranians?
MR. MCCORMACK: What the governments have a right to expect -- what the people have the right to expect is that their governments do everything that they possibly can to give diplomacy a chance to succeed and that's what we're doing now.
QUESTION: Sean, how would the fact that you would make this public impede Iran's chances or their desire to respond positive to the package? I mean, what --
MR. MCCORMACK: I think I just answered that question for Sue, Nicholas.
QUESTION: Well, I didn't hear the answer. If somebody did, please let me know. But what you said was that it leaves you more room in the negotiations.
MR. MCCORMACK: No, that's not what I said. That's not what I said, Nicholas. What I said is that this is a matter of sensitive diplomacy at the moment. We want to give the Iranian Government some time to consider this, to consider this package, free from having a public debate about what may or may not be in the package and we think that that's appropriate. We think that -- and all the ministers in the P-5+1 agreed that that is appropriate. There was an agreement among the ministers that we would not discuss the elements of the package in public before the Iranian Government has had some time to consider what is being offered to them.
QUESTION: But if they do stop their enrichment work -- this is following up on Sue -- that means that the elements of the incentive package are still under negotiation. Is that accurate?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, if --
QUESTION: I mean, it's still open for discussion once they stop -- if they stop their nuclear work*?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, it's -- then if they meet the conditions that have been laid out for them, it then becomes a negotiation. And we have laid out -- laid out for the Iranian regime -- the P-5+1 has laid out what as a group we believe is a positive package, a positive pathway. We're offering them that pathway and we hope that they take up the international community on that positive pathway. As we talked about, there's another one. And the international community, the P-5+1 is fully prepared to go down that pathway if the Iranian regime doesn't meet the conditions laid out for it.
QUESTION: Can -- without going into the elements of the package then, can you at least assure us that some of the principals that were very firm before the package was presented, such as no security guarantees, no security assurances for Iran, that that's still true?
MR. MCCORMACK: In terms of U.S. Security affairs?
QUESTION: Right. U.S. policy.
MR. MCCORMACK: Yes. This is, as Saul will remember, this is the exception -- the exception that I made to not talking about the package. U.S. security guarantees are not on the table.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) to characterize the answer, the response of Iran, but can you at least tell us if, according to you, it's something -- it's a good sign or it's a bad sign or it's --
MR. MCCORMACK: Sylvie, without -- without all the facts here, I'm not going to try to characterize it. We've seen along with you all the public comments that Mr. Larijani have made. I think we're going to wait until we get a sense of what the response was from the representatives from the EU-3 and Mr. Solana before we have any further comment on it.
After we have had an opportunity to consult with them, then I'll try to get you a little bit more of a response. I'll try to share something a little bit more with you.
QUESTION: They're -- while not revealing any parts of the package, the Iranians have said that they find there is some ambiguities. Would you agree with them that there are any ambiguities or would you dispute that analysis?
MR. MCCORMACK: Again, without having access to the facts here and the facts would be what Mr. Solana may have heard from the Iranians, I'm not going to try to dissect what they have said in public.
Yes. Anything else on Iran?
MR. MCCORMACK: Elise.
QUESTION: Although there's no kind of timeline, at what point do the penalties or sticks kick in if Iran doesn't suspend? I mean, you're not going to wait for them indefinitely to suspend.
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, we've talked about weeks, not months, as the timeline for them to consider whether or not they want to go down this positive pathway. If they choose not to, then the international community is fully prepared at that point to go down the pathway of the UN Security Council.
QUESTION: Well -- but weeks, not months is also kind of ambiguous. While you don't want to tell us specifically, have you told the Iranians you have X date to give us an answer?
MR. MCCORMACK: We -- let me wait until we get the readout from Mr. Solana's meeting before I go into any more detail on that.
QUESTION: How long would it take the Iranians to suspend and have that verified to your satisfaction?
MR. MCCORMACK: That -- well, part of that's a technical question because the suspension would be verified by the IAEA.
QUESTION: I'm just wondering how long that whole thing takes.
MR. MCCORMACK: I think it'll probably take a matter of weeks.
QUESTION: Not months.
MR. MCCORMACK: Yes.
QUESTION: You said U.S. security guarantees are not on the table.
MR. MCCORMACK: Yes.
QUESTION: Does that also include the U.S. acceding to any multilateral security guarantees that the other five may be willing to present?
MR. MCCORMACK: U.S. security guarantees, U.S.-based security guarantees, U.S. participation in security guarantees not on the table.
QUESTION: That should cover it. Thank you.
QUESTION: But are you willing to discuss the idea of security with them in a dialogue without providing a guarantee?
MR. MCCORMACK: I don't think I could be any more clear than I was with Teri.
QUESTION: Well, there's a difference between providing a guarantee and engaging with a country on a dialogue about the issue of security.
MR. MCCORMACK: I think that we have sliced the salami here about as thin as you can slice it.
Anything else on Iran?
QUESTION: Iranian President keeps saying according to the reports and also he keeps saying in public also that he is backed by China and Russia, and he will not move as far as nuclear program where Iran is concerned.
MR. MCCORMACK: All I can say is the package that was presented to the Iranians was agreed upon by the P5+1, which includes Russia and China.
QUESTION: Change of subject, Sean.
MR. MCCORMACK: I don't know. Is there anything else on Iran?
QUESTION: There must be some content inside this incentive side of the proposal like freezing foreign assets of Iran, like that. Do you recognize them as economic sanction or this is the only disincentive. Is there any difference between disincentives and economic sanctions?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, there -- well, people will use different words to characterize it. We have used the words robust measures, robust steps that the international community would take that are agreed upon by the P5+1. So I'm not going to characterize it any further than that.
But I will say that we have talked about outside of this process, outside the Security Council, outside of this potential negotiating track, the United States and other like-minded states are looking at what other measures they might take that might prevent the Iranian regime from using the international financial system to further their nuclear weapons program, to further financing of terror, also talking to other like-minded states about counterproliferation measures.
A good example of that is our Proliferation Security Initiative, how to use those sort of defensive or counterproliferation measures to stop the inflow or the outflow of WMD, weapons of mass destruction technology and know how. So those are discussions that are also taking place but are outside the track of the P-5+1 potential negotiating track and outside of the Security Council track as well.
QUESTION: Do you mean it is -- you don't require any resolution in the Security Council for this -- disincentives?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, you're mixing terms a bit here. Let me go back. We talked about this in terms of three tracks. There's the Security Council track, there's the P-5+1 potential negotiating track that everybody's very interested in today, and there's a third track and those are the so-called financial measures or the counterproliferation steps. Those are things that don't necessarily require any action by the Security Council. Those are steps that individual states or like-minded states can take together in concert outside of the Security Council track.
QUESTION: I just have one more question --
MR. MCCORMACK: Sure.
QUESTION: You say --
MR. MCCORMACK: I'll start apologizing now. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: I mean, you say you're not going to reveal the details of the package, but details are being leaked. I'm not saying by you, but clearly some information coming out of Vienna. Would you correct anything that is wrong in those leaks?
MR. MCCORMACK: I'm not going to do it one way or the other because that starts going down the road of what's in it, what might not be in it. I would just point out that the negotiations aren't taking place in Vienna.
QUESTION: New subject?
MR. MCCORMACK: Yes.
QUESTION: Sean, yesterday the Secretary released the report on trafficking, as I said yesterday, and the Ambassador was very clear also. It's disturbing for the world's largest democracy, India, that India has gone down on the list and what sort of steps India is taking or the Secretary has been talking with Indian Government officials she meets so many times here and also in Delhi, and what is the reaction from the Indian Government on --
MR. MCCORMACK: I don't have any particular reaction from the Indian Government on this, Goyal. Look, this is a very serious problem. It's something that the President takes seriously, the Secretary of State takes seriously. Our Trafficking in Persons Office tries to gather the best information that they possibly can working with host governments on this issue, and what you see is their best judgment based on an objective set of criteria.
There are many countries who are our friends and allies who end up in Tier 3 or on the Tier 2 Watch List, and that I think is a real demonstration of our commitment to this. This is a hard issue and that we are going to speak out clearly and in public on it.
Now, the whole idea behind listing the various countries and the governments in terms of what steps they have taken on to fight trafficking in persons is to try to solve the problem. What we want to do is work with governments to try to resolve the problem, get -- work with those governments so that they can take steps, they can change their laws, they can change their regulations to fight trafficking in persons.
So the actual list itself is more of a mechanism. It's not meant to -- it's not meant to brand any particular country, although there are some countries that have sort of -- have remained on the list for quite some time. There are examples of countries moving up, and moving up in this case is a good thing, up from Tier 3 up to Tier 1. Malawi is a good example. Ecuador is a good example. And there are other examples that were listed in the report yesterday. So it is possible to see improvements and I think that when you look at those countries that have moved up the list, it's a demonstration of the utility of talking about this in public.
QUESTION: How about the United States? What are the UN doing on this issue and are we going to talk when the UN General Assembly meets in September or October this year?
MR. MCCORMACK: Honestly, Goyal, I don't have any particular information on what the UN may be doing. You can check with them.
QUESTION: Change of subject?
MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah.
QUESTION: Venezuela is complaining about its designation for a fourth year, I think, on Tier 3.
MR. MCCORMACK: Right.
QUESTION: And they put out a press release yesterday saying that contrary to State's report which says there have been no prosecutions of human traffickers, they say there were 21 prosecutions last year, three so far this year. How could the records be so different?
MR. MCCORMACK: I saw the press release and I talked to our Trafficking in Persons Office about this because I wanted to try to square this. What I was told is that, first of all, the report goes from March -- this particular report covers the time period from March 2005 to March 2006. And the office, our Trafficking in Persons Office, gathered all the information that it could. This particular set of facts or purported facts was not made available to our Trafficking in Persons Office. So I talked to John Miller about this and he said, look, if these are -- if these really are real prosecutions last year and this year, they're going to look into it. They're going to see if, in fact, this is real data. If it is, then it will be reflected in upcoming reports.
As part of this process, what we do is we encourage countries that are on Tier 3 -- and Venezuela is in Tier 3 -- we encourage them in this time period from when the report is issued until September to take remedial steps, to take action, to change the laws, change the regulations. So if the Government of Venezuela has, in fact, done these prosecutions and they're real prosecutions and they have taken steps, certainly that will be reflected in future reports.
QUESTION: Change of subject to Somalia?
MR. MCCORMACK: Anything else on trafficking in persons? That's a no.
QUESTION: Do you see the rise of the Islamists in Somalia as a setback for counterterrorism measures in the region? And just to clarify, there are many reports that you have been backing this anti-terrorism coalition and that you have said -- that the State Department has said publicly that you would support those who are fighting terrorism, especially within the Horn of Africa. Do you think you backed the wrong horse?
MR. MCCORMACK: A few things. One, we have certainly our set of facts with respect to what is happening in Mogadishu, and I think that these reports are centered on Mogadishu itself as opposed to the rest of the country. It's imperfect. I will tell you that right now. We don't have an embassy there. We watch what is going -- we have a group of people in Embassy Nairobi in Kenya that watches the situation in Somalia.
As for the press reports about this group that has allegedly "taken control" of Mogadishu, I can't verify any particular aspect of those reports, what area they may control as opposed to another group. The situation, I think as many people will understand, is very fluid in Mogadishu. It has been for some time, years in fact.
So but there is one thing in asking questions about this particular group. My understanding is that they are not, in fact, a monolithic group. There is a -- there are many different factions even to this one group. So I can't -- I'm not going to characterize them in any particular way. I couldn't get into whether or not they have links to al-Qaida or not.
Now, all of that said, we do have serious concerns and publicly stated concerns about the presence of foreign terrorists in Somalia. The institutions in Somalia are -- the national institutions in Somalia are virtually nonexistent. The international community has been working to try to support the transitional federal institutions which has sought to set up a capital in a town -- in a city outside of Mogadishu. To this point, those efforts have not been successful. These institutions are very, very weak and it's really unclear how much authority they actually are able to exercise over Somalian territory.
So we view the international efforts to try to reinforce and to build up these international institutions and efforts to fight the presence of foreign terrorists in Somalia as mutually reinforcing. If you're able to combat the presence of foreign terrorists, who like nothing more than ungoverned areas -- failed states, if you will -- then that helps -- that could help build up these national institutions. Fighting did not just break out in Mogadishu four weeks ago. Sadly, this has been the case in Somalia for quite some time. It hasn't had a central government since, I think, about 1991. It's a tragic situation for the Somalian people. It's a real source of concern for the international community. The international community is still, despite the conditions in -- violent conditions in many parts of Mogadishu and parts of Somalia, still working to get humanitarian food aid in. We contribute to that via the World Food Program.
So we and the rest of the world have an interest in seeing a better day for the Somalian people and we have an interest in seeing democratic institutions reinforced in the Horn of Africa. And we have -- also have an interest as well as the rest of the world in combating the presence of foreign terrorists in that Horn of Africa region. It's a place where Usama bin Laden after he left Afghanistan -- before he went to Afghanistan sought refuge in Sudan. So there is a long history of foreign terrorist presence in that Horn of Africa. It's an important area of responsibility for our Central Command.
QUESTION: Are you concerned that this violence that has been going on for several -- that's been going on since 1991 basically, but it's intensified in the last three months, are you concerned that this is going to create an even more dire humanitarian situation? Apparently people have been fleeing the capital of Mogadishu and NGOs are very concerned that it could be a repeat of sort of the 1992, 1993.
MR. MCCORMACK: Certainly, the humanitarian -- the situation for the Somalian people is a real source of concern for us. That's why I mentioned that we do contribute to the World Food Program. The violence over the years has waxed and waned. There have been periods where it spiked. I think that -- I can't speak to the relative level of violence today versus 1992. But I think it is safe to say, relative to recent times, there has been -- there has been a spike in violence. Yes. It's a source of concern. Yeah.
QUESTION: All right. Can you say anything about the foreign terrorists you were alluding to before and where they are from and with which groups do they have links?
MR. MCCORMACK: We do have concerns about the presence of al-Qaida in Somalia, George. I can't go into a list of names for you. If I am able to share that information with you, I'll be certainly happy to do so. You know, we have certain constraints in terms of intelligence information. But yes, we do have concerns about the presence of al-Qaida in Somalia.
QUESTION: Just following up on that. What do you say to the accusation that the U.S. is contributing to instability in the country because of its support by (inaudible) of certain groups?
MR. MCCORMACK: Right. Well, we have talked about the fact in public that we certainly want to work with people in Somalia who are interested in combating terrorism, foreign terrorists. And the presence of foreign terrorists in Somalia is a destabilizing fact in and of itself. I would just go back to the -- I would just go back to the sad fact that violence is not new in Somalia. And it's certainly not new in Mogadishu. This is a place that has known violence for the past you know, since 1991, coming up on two decades now.
So we have an interest as well as the rest of the world in seeing what we can do to try to help the Somalian people realize a better day. I talked a little bit about the basic approach, in that helped to try to build up those institutions in Somalia that might someday lay the foundation for a stable, well-governed state. Sadly that seems to be far off in the future, as well to fighting the presence of foreign terrorists in Somalia.
So that's a general explanation for what our policy is. And certainly, we as well as others around the world have an interest in seeing a stable, secure, peaceful and prosperous Somalia. But that's going to take a lot of work on the part of the international community as well as on the part of the Somali people
QUESTION: Sean, also on Somalia, you're working with these people in Somalia who are interested in fighting terrorism. Do you have a minimum kind of set of standards for their practices or, you know, when you talk about the issue of working with some unsavory characters, what kind of accountability factor do you have for people that you're working with? And also, who is taking the lead in terms of dealing with Somalia? Is it the State Department? Is it the Embassy in Nairobi or is it the Pentagon in terms of dealing with some of these characters?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, all the various elements that the U.S. Government have an interest in Somalia. You have the State Department, who certainly is very interested in the political situation there, interested in the humanitarian situation there.
I think the Department of Defense also has interest in that. They have a -- Central Command has a task force that has area of responsibility for -- that includes Somalia I believe that they're based in Djibouti. So they have an interest in the Horn of Africa. Somalia policy is of interest to a variety of different agencies in the U.S. Government and it's one that is coordinated across those agencies.
QUESTION: And what about the -- I'm sorry, what about the minimum standards for people that you're working with that are fighting terrorism? Obviously no institutions there, so what kind of benchmarks do you put for these people?
MR. MCCORMACK: As I said, we work with a variety of individuals and have interest in working with a variety of groups in Somalia. I don't have any further details on that. There's nothing I can share with you from the podium
QUESTION: Change of subject?
MR. MCCORMACK: Sylvie. Why don't we go back to Sylvie.
QUESTION: The African Union criticized yesterday -- the President of African Union, President Sassou Nguesso, criticized yesterday your involvement in Somalia saying that it would be better if you supported the official government, which is in exile in Nairobi. So what do you have to answer to that? What do you do for this government in exile?
MR. MCCORMACK: It's a question that I'll have to look into for you, Sylvie. I don't have any information on what our view is on that particular group. I know that we have worked to try to support the transitional federal institutions that are I think in Baidoa. I think that's the name of the city.
QUESTION: I just wondered whether you had any comment on the international crisis group's assertions that the U.S. is sponsoring this anti-terrorism alliance to the tune of about $150,000 a month?
MR. MCCORMACK: Anything else on Somalia?
QUESTION: Can you look into it?
MR. MCCORMACK: I'd be happy to share with you what I can, yes. Anything else on Somalia?
QUESTION: Change of subject?
MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah.
QUESTION: Sean, there was a report in yesterday's LA Times that said State Department officials were upset over a decision by the U.S. military to exclude certain Geneva Convention protections in the new army field manual on interrogations. So I'm just wondering if you have any comment on that? I know that the new army field manual is not out yet, but just the aspect that they may happen, you know.
MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah. No, I looked into this and I, you know, talked with our legal advisor, John Bellinger, who if anybody would be upset would probably -- he'd be the guy that's upset and he wasn't upset.
In fact, I can say that we believe that the directive is a good directive. We have had full opportunity to review it. We have had ample input. We are, I think comfortable with the directive but it has yet to come out. It's going to be issued by the Department of Defense. So I'm not going to try to preempt them and describe for you what is in there, but I would point out a couple of things.
One, that we believe that the directive establishes a minimum level of protections for detainees that is consistent with Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions, and that was one of the questions that was raised by this LA Times story. And in fact, some of the important respects, the directive will contain broader protections than those contained in Article 3.
The other point is that the Detainee Treatment Act, which has been referred to around here -- around Washington as the McCain Amendment, prohibits cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment of any detainees in U.S. Government custody. And this is also reflected in the DOD directive.
So I think -- on the whole we think it's a good directive. We're comfortable with it. And we had ample opportunity to provide our input to the directive, and I think that much of that input is going to be reflected in the final product.
QUESTION: Just to follow up, though, just the notion that it may contain certain elements of Article 3, but that it doesn't exactly follow the rule of the Geneva Convention. Just the image of that, isn't that damaging considering --
MR. MCCORMACK: I would caution you against making those sorts of assumptions. Again, I don't want to preempt what is a Department of Defense wide effort. This is going to be for use by Department of Defense employees, so I think you understand that I don't want to -- I don't want to talk about their work. But I can say from the State Department's perspective we think it's a good directive. Our input is reflected in it and it does contain those protections consistent with Common Article 3 as well as the Detainee Treatment Act.
Okay. Anybody else on this? Joel.
QUESTION: Sean, change of subject. The Gaza preventive security building was fired on with grenades and it appears there's still an ongoing duel militant army between Fatah and Hamas. And it appears that President Abbas is giving out his recommendation for this referendum and it appears, too, that Prime Minister Olmert is negotiating with various countries so it's ongoing.
If you would, maybe it can be called a mini-roadmap. The whole effort is to drive Hamas from power. Is there someone such as a James Wolfensohn that once again -- or General Dayton -- working to facilitate this between the Palestinians and the Israelis?
MR. MCCORMACK: In terms of a potential meeting between Prime Minister Olmert and President Abbas, that's for them to decide.
QUESTION: Just this small -- whole drive to get something ongoing where it's back to the regular roadmap.
MR. MCCORMACK: Okay, well, there are a few -- there are a few elements in that question. One, in terms of General Dayton, he is -- he continues to work with the office of President Abbas to implement the Gaza movement and access agreement. The Rafah crossing is still open. The security on the Palestinian side is handled by a presidential guard so that's directly with the office of President Abbas. European monitors are still there. There's still traffic that goes through there. General Dayton is still part of that process. And I have to emphasize working with President Abbas's office, not with the Hamas-led government.
In terms of the referendum question, this is -- I think what this reflects is the ongoing discussion within Palestinian society about their future: What pathway are they going to follow? Certainly the pathway that the Hamas-led government would like to take the Palestinian people down leads to nowhere because it's a pathway of violence and it does not lead to a two-state solution, it does not lead to a Palestinian state for the Palestinian people.
There's another way and that is the way that President Abbas has talked about: recognition of Israel's right to exist and being a negotiating partner for peace with the state of Israel. It's going to be up to the Palestinian people to decide which pathway they go down. I think that discussion of a referendum, discussion about the various kinds of proposals and agreements that are now ongoing in Palestinian society is a healthy debate but it's going to be a debate that is going to have to be finally answered by the Palestinian people. We can't answer it. Nobody else can answer it for them.
QUESTION: So you support this idea of referendum?
MR. MCCORMACK: No, that's not what I'm saying. I'm saying -- what I'm saying is that it's the Palestinian people that have had the choice. They are going to have to decide for themselves how they resolve these fundamental issues. The fundamental issues are what kind of future is the Palestinian people going to have. Are they going to continue down the same pathway that they are on with a Hamas-led government that advocates use of terror, does not recognize the right of the state of Israel to exist? There's another pathway and that is represented by President Abbas and people that work in the office of the president. That is a pathway that could potentially lead to a Palestinian state, Palestine. But how those questions get answered and using what mechanisms are only questions for the Palestinian people to answer.
QUESTION: On the same connection?
MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah.
QUESTION: Is the U.S. going to do anything to help Abbas in conducting this referendum and campaigns or anything?
MR. MCCORMACK: That's for -- those are questions for the Palestinian people and President Abbas and others to answer.
QUESTION: Sean, one on Burma?
MR. MCCORMACK: On -- we're still in the Middle East.
QUESTION: Do you have anything on the aid mechanism that the Quartet's come up with, that the Quartet agreed on in New York? Apparently the EU is very close to -- this is for the Palestinians. The EU is close to making some decisions and I wondered whether they'd been consulting you and what you had on it.
MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah, we have been talking. I don't think that they have -- I don't think they have reached the point of having a final proposal. And the way this would work is that the Quartet tasked the EU to come up with this, come up with a proposal that then would be put forward for consideration by the Quartet. We have been consulting with them. I think there was a meeting in Brussels within the past couple of weeks that we attended at the deputy assistant secretary of state level. But as of this point, I don't think that they have come to closure on a final proposal yet that they could submit to the Quartet for consideration.
QUESTION: So how would that work? Would that be submitted to political directors within the Quartet? Would that be presented to the ministers or --
MR. MCCORMACK: I'm not sure what the exact mechanism would be, Sue. But the Quartet envoy -- it's usually David Welch who handles those things in close consultation with the interagency, including the White House.
MR. MCCORMACK: Sylvie.
QUESTION: In Iraq, the Prime Minister al-Maliki is proposing a new plan for security and actually he started by releasing -- or announcing the release of 2,500 detainees and also he proposed a South African-style truth and reconciliation committee. Do you think it's a good idea?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, certainly on the prisoner -- on the prisoner question, this is something that is being done in consultation with the U.S. Government and the multinational forces on the ground there. We are deeply involved with Prime Minister Maliki's government on this issue.
Let me step back for a second. There is very clearly going to come a time when the Iraqi people need to come together and to try to reconcile whatever differences that they may have. This has been -- the period of Saddam Hussein was a very difficult and dark period for the Iraqi people in terms of their rights, the abuses that were visited upon them by this regime, and they're very clearly over the past few years there have been differences among the Iraqi population about the liberation of Iraq as well as the formation of this new government.
So I would interpret -- the way I would view Prime Minister Maliki's efforts is as an attempt to start to heal some of the -- some of those divisions that currently exist in Iraqi society to try to bring together the Iraqi people.
We have, for quite some time, talked about our strategy working very closely with the Iraqi Government to bring as many people into the political process as we possibly can. We believe that that ultimately is the way, the most important way of reducing the level of violence in Iraq and helping the Iraqi people build a more stable, prosperous Iraq.
There are going to be people that are irreconcilable to any political process. The al-Qaida adherence of the world, the Zarqawi's of the world, and some hardcore insurgents that are just, regardless of what sort of political process may exist to try to bring them in to a better future for Iraq, they're not going to participate in it. And you have to deal with them militarily or through the use of force, and that is what we're working with also on -- with the Iraqi Government in training of their troops, training of their security forces, and also the presence of multinational forces in Iraq.
QUESTION: Follow up on Iraq?
MR. MCCORMACK: Excuse me?
QUESTION: Follow up on Iraq?
MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah, sure.
QUESTION: Yesterday, an Italian soldier was killed in an explosion near Nasiriyah in an area which was relatively calm until a few weeks ago, and now we are have a number of violence and a number of deaths. Does that mean that the violence is spreading off to the Sunni area or does that mean that the insurrection is targeting the weakest element of the coalition and trying to push them out of Iraq sooner than they plan?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, I don't have the particular details of this incident, and I think that the security people on the ground, our coalition forces on the ground are in a better position to more precisely describe to you where violence may be occurring, whether that's in new places or whether it's a pattern that they have witnessed before. So I think that type of question is best posed to them on the ground in Baghdad.
Certainly, we honor the sacrifice of all the coalition forces. We honor the sacrifice of the Italian forces that have also previously shed blood in Iraq in defense of liberty. So our condolences go out to those who have given their lives for this cause of freedom.
As for the motivation of those committing these acts of violence, they're interested in seeing -- halting the progress along the pathway to democracy of this new Iraqi Government. They're interested in seeing multinational forces leave Iraq before the Iraqi people have a real opportunity to set a solid foundation for a better way of life for themselves.
QUESTION: I think I asked you about the trips (inaudible) that Assistant Secretary of Affairs --
MR. MCCORMACK: Oh, Mr. Yamamoto? Did we get any answers on that? We'll get back to you. Check with Tom after the briefing, he'll get you an answer.
QUESTION: Okay. I have just a couple of questions. Do you have any comments on last week there was an announcement on Ethiopian radio that you're going to be maybe directly or indirectly participating on the fundraising that is taking place here in Washington, D.C., for the opposition party? Has anyone is being invited from your Department?
MR. MCCORMACK: We'll check for you.
Okay, yes, ma'am?
QUESTION: On South Korea it is reported that South Korean Government has requested the United States to agree that goods manufactured at Kaesong in North Korea to be regarded as made in South Korea. Was this issue formally discussed at FTA meeting between U.S. and South Korea?
MR. MCCORMACK: I'll check. I know that we've begun FTA negotiations with South Korea. I don't have a readout for you as to what issues were discussed in the meeting.
We have other people with their hands up? Anybody else here?
QUESTION: Thank you for taking my question yesterday. I saw you put out a statement on Taiwan. I'm just wondering how the U.S. perceives the latest development now the opposition party has filed a motion to impeach Chen Shui-bian. Are you concerned the impeachment may cause instability in Taiwan?
MR. MCCORMACK: I would refer you to the statement that I put out yesterday.
QUESTION: A quick follow-up. There have been a lot of confusing reports in Taiwan. A few politicians claim now the U.S. is backing them. Just for the record, can you clarify whether or not the U.S. has any preference for Chen Shui-bian to either step down or complete his terms?
MR. MCCORMACK: Those are political decisions for the Taiwan people to make, not for us.
QUESTION: Just a follow-up.
MR. MCCORMACK: Yes?
QUESTION: Taiwan's Government on the news agency, Central News Agency filed a report on -- saying that U.S. hoped President Chen to complete his term in the office. And they said -- a government-owned agency says the report was read everywhere in Taiwan. So the people in Taiwan now says perhaps the U.S. Government take side on that issue.
MR. MCCORMACK: It sounds like a political issue for the Taiwan people to decide.
QUESTION: Sean, first one on Burma. It's been like ten years, I saw the statements from the State Department on Burma, the democratically elected leader. She's still under house arrest further beyond ten years and celebrating her 61st birthday still not in freedom.
Like we did with the other dictators, the U.S. -- how the U.S. is not going to deal with this Burma dictator to free her and have a free election and let the people decide what they want and she was elected freely in that country which still -- she is not free still.
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, you do that a variety of different ways, Goyal. You do it by speaking out in public, trying to bring diplomatic pressure to bear on that regime. You work quietly behind the scenes with countries in the region and around the world who have an interest in seeing democracy come to Burma. So there are a lot of different ways that you do that. You can act through the Security Council as well. So I think it's safe to say way we're pursuing all those different avenues.
MR. MCCORMACK: Thank you.
(The briefing was concluded at 1:37 p.m.)
Released on June 6, 2006