State Dept. Daily Press Briefing July 5, 2006
Daily Press Briefing
July 5, 2006
Global Condemnation of North Korea's Missile Launches
U.S. and International Diplomatic Actions regarding North Korea's
Secretary Rice's Calls to Foreign Ministers of South Korea, Japan,
China and Russia
Assistant Secretary Hill's Travel to Region
UN Security Council Meeting Today on North Korea
China's Reaction to North Korean Behavior / Diplomatic Leverage
with North Korea
North Korea's Motivation / Timing of Tests /Prospects for Further
Status of Six-Party Talks
Secretary Rice's Meeting with South Korean Minister Song Min-Soon
US Tracking and Preparation for Possible North Korean Missile Test
Secretary Rice's Conference Call with P5+1 Counterparts
Expected Meeting of EU Javier Solana and Iranian National Security
Council Secretary Ali Larijani on Package
Secretary Rice's Meeting with Turkish Foreign Minister Gul
Israeli Operations in Gaza
U.S. Troops and Possible Trials in Iraq
2:15 p.m. EDT
MR. MCCORMACK:Good afternoon, everybody.I don't have any opening statements.We can get right into your questions.Who wants to start?
QUESTION:I was wondering what are you depending on to change North Korea's behavior.Are you going to try to talk them into it or is there something forceful behind the rhetoric?
MR. MCCORMACK:Well, I think that first of all, Barry, you have seen global condemnation --
MR. MCCORMACK:-- of North Korea's action.You have seen a statement out of NATO.You have seen statements from Japan, the United States, South Korea and China and the list goes -- Russia -- the list goes on and on.That's a considerable amount of international pressure that is coming to bear on them and I would expect that that pressure will continue in the days ahead.
What they've done -- what they did yesterday, and then apparently early this morning, is that they have sought to further isolate themselves and the North Korean people from the rest of the world.Now, certainly there's a way out of that situation for them.There's been a pathway that's been offered to them via the six-party talks.Thus far they have not chosen to take up that offer and that pathway.But I would expect, Barry that you will see a considerable amount of international pressure continue to build in the coming days. And I think we're entering a period of intensive diplomacy.
Secretary Rice has over -- since last night been on the phone with her counterparts from China, Russia, South Korea and Japan.Chris Hill has been very active as has the State Department here, our embassies in the region. Chris Hill is going to be traveling to the region leaving tonight.He's going to stop first in Beijing, then travel to Seoul, on to Tokyo and then finally to Moscow.That's the planned itinerary right now.There are also consultations, as you all know, up in New York at the UN Security Council.There's been some initial discussions that will begin this afternoon concerning a statement and a resolution regarding North Korea's behavior.
So I think Â– again, Barry, we are in the first day of this happening and we'll see where the diplomacy takes us.But I would expect that what you're going to see is a strong, universal international response to this.You've already seen it and I would expect the international community is going to act on the diplomatic front to address North Korea's behavior, which is unacceptable and it's also provocative to the entire world.
QUESTION:As a practical matter, though, is there anything that the United States can do individually or in concert with either the members of the six-party talks or through the UN that really would put the screws to North Korea to change?I mean, is there some economic measure you can apply or political?I mean, they're -- as you have and Secretary Rice have often said, you know, already a very isolated regime that seems not to mind its own isolation.So what can you really do?
MR. MCCORMACK:Well, again, the point here is that this is not a solely U.S.-North Korea issue.Certainly the United States is going to be talking to friends and allies around the world about what we might do together.You point out that North Korea is isolated.Indeed it is, and at times they seem to revel in their isolation.But they do have connections to the outside world. There are, for example, connections with Japan.There was a -- the Japanese have taken some actions that began as early as this morning and they are considering other actions.There are other states that have kinds of relationships with North Korea.
So what we are going to be doing in the days ahead is going to be talking to friends and allies around the world who are outraged by this action which contravenes North Korea's own promises not to launch such missiles, and we're going to be talking in the international community about how to address this and what specific actions the international community might take.At this point I'm not going to detail them.I'm not going to go down the laundry list of what is possible, what is not possible, what will be agreed upon.
But what I think you sense among the members of the international community is the need to address this issue and to act and to act in a coordinated manner. I would just point out that Ambassador Bolton in the meeting up at the Security Council in New York talked about the fact that there was -- within the Security Council there's not one voice that spoke up for North Korea in taking this action.I think that's just one small indicator of the kind of universal condemnation that this -- that their action has met with.I don't know what sort of reaction they expected to get from the rest of the world, but certainly we are going to see play out in the days ahead some intensive diplomatic activity that the international community will engage in to talk about how to address this.
QUESTION:Are you satisfied with the reaction of China so far?Do you think they have been firm enough toward North Korea?
MR. MCCORMACK:Well, Sylvie, I think that, again, what you have seen is a number of different actions but they're all within certainly a standard deviation of one another.Everybody is not going to use the same words.But certainly China understands that this was a provocative, unacceptable action. I'm not going to speak on behalf of them, but certainly they know that there is a need to address this, that they know that this kind of behavior serves only to isolate North Korea and that the international community, including those other members of the P-5 -- of the six-party talks minus North Korea have to discuss this.
I would point out that the fact that if you just look at the list of countries that Secretary Rice called and that Assistant Secretary Hill is going to be visiting, look at that list; it's the six-party talk list minus the North Koreans.So I think, in fact, the six-party diplomatic infrastructure has demonstrated its worth.I think if you go back to the mid to late '90s, you probably would have found a completely different situation in which it might have been the U.S. and maybe Japan standing together.It's not the case -- not the case today.North Korea finds itself increasingly isolated and they find themselves increasingly isolated by their own actions.And certainly we would expect them to desist in this kind of behavior, any further provocative actions, and then reverse course and engage in constructive behavior. There is a mechanism available to them and we would encourage them to avail themselves of that mechanism.
QUESTION:Also on China.You talk about, you know, all the six-party countries being united in their condemnation of the actual action like Christopher Hill, speaking earlier today, seemed to indicate that China could take a much greater role in terms of pressuring North Korea to stop this type of behavior without talking about specific things you'd like China to take.Do you think that China needs to step up its pressure on North Korea compared to what it's done in the past, which obviously hasn't worked?
MR. MCCORMACK:Well, we would encourage those countries, which might have some leverage with North Korea to use that leverage to get them to change their behavior, as I said to reverse course.They're headed down the pathway of increased isolation even further than the -- further isolation than they found themselves in before.We would encourage China, as well as any other country that might have diplomatic leverage with North Korea to use that leverage, to apply it and to encourage a change of behavior in the North Korean regime.
QUESTION:Remember the --
MR. MCCORMACK:Let's -- I'll spread it around a little bit, Barry. We'll come back to you.
MR. MCCORMACK:Okay.Teri and then Libby.
QUESTION:Secretary Hill also said that his conclusion is that the North Koreans were testing the Taepo Dong for WMD capacity.Is that your conclusion from what you've seen of the intel?
MR. MCCORMACK:I haven't talked to anybody about the intelligence, but they're certainly testing it for a reason.Clearly, this launch according to public statements from U.S. Government officials, talked to DOD as well as the White House, it failed.But they also can learn something from those failures.They're not just launching these things for no reason at all.And certainly every time even though there might be a failure, you'll learn something from that.As for their specific motivations, you know, I can't explain it -- can't explain it to you.I don't know if they were trying to gain the attention of the world, whether or not they were launching in order to get information to do a testing program.It's probably a combination of a variety of different reasons.
QUESTION:So it's not necessarily a consolation that it didn't hit another continent, that it fell into the water.
MR. MCCORMACK:Well, I think we can all be thankful that there were no injuries, no lives lost as a result of this.There very well could have been and that would have been a real tragedy, so I think we are certainly relieved that there was no loss of life in this, but there could have been.I think it underscores the seriousness of this nature -- of this activity, as if we need something else to underscore how serious it is, but it certainly could have been more tragic.
QUESTION:Do you have any indication that they're preparing any more tests?
MR. MCCORMACK:I don't have any information that certainly I could share with you.
QUESTION:Are you worried about it at all that they might be -- there might be more to come?
MR. MCCORMACK:Certainly, if they have more of these missiles in their arsenal.I suppose that it would pose an ongoing threat.But at this point, I don't have any information that indicate that they would -- are preparing for additional launches.But again, I couldn't get into any intelligence information that we might have.
QUESTION:Thank you.You have been saying that launching missile by North Korea is inconsistent with joint statement of six-party talks.But if they, North Korean, agree to return to the talks, can you welcome them without any condition?
MR. MCCORMACK:Well, again, I think that this certainly makes it -- perhaps might make it a little bit more difficult from their perspective to return to the talks.But what we -- what the international community I think is saying is that don't engage in further provocative activity such as launching these missiles and engage in constructive activity.Part of that constructive activity might be returning to the six-party talks and actually acting on what it is that they promise to do.Thus far, they have not.
QUESTION:Is it fair to say that for now at least the U.S. -- whatever action is taken, the U.S. intends to take it in concert with other nations? Because you've begun to see even before this some indications of individual countries having their own way of applying pressure.Of course, I don't want to bring up the food thing again because you've made it clear you don't use food as a weapon.But are there unilateral actions the U.S. is considering or for the time being is it all for one and one for all?
MR. MCCORMACK:Well, that's sort of a big question.You say any unilateral action, so I mean, that's a very wide, wide category.
MR. MCCORMACK:Let me point out a couple things for you, Barry. Certainly the United States is going to take actions to defend itself.You've seen that with respect to, for example, our currency.We certainly will be very active in taking those kind of steps and as we made clear prior to the launch and just after the launch, the United States certainly will defend itself and I would expect other countries would as well.The Japanese, for example, took unilateral actions.They took actions that they thought were prudent and appropriate given the North Koreans' activities.
But I think the overwhelming action that you're going to see here is one that's concerted on the part of the international community and to send a strong, clear message to them that this behavior is unacceptable and that they -- unless they want to go down the pathway of further isolation -- and they do have some connections, as we've talked about, to the outside world -- unless they want to go down the path of further isolation, that they should engage in constructive behavior as opposed to what they've done.
QUESTION:Prior to the test, people were talking about the missile issue as separate from six-party issue, but now it seems like six-party talks are being brought up again in this context.What I'm wondering, a lot of experts are saying, hey, this test could really destroy the prospect of the six-party talks.Are you just going to back to calling for North Korea to come back to the talks or does this really fundamentally change the strategy?
MR. MCCORMACK:Well, I'm not sure who was saying that it was separate. I think we cited several things prior to the launch of this missile:one, their own moratorium that they declared in 1999 that they reaffirmed in 2002, Kim Jong-il himself did; and then the September 19 statement which does talk about missiles and they do have certain obligations under that.Now, granted, this is not a treaty but, again, when a state makes a commitment, makes a promise in the international arena, you expect them to follow through on it.
As for the diplomatic next steps, that's what we're talking about right now. This just happened within the past 24 hours.Out of the gate you have strong international condemnation of the action and you're going to see over the coming days, as I said, intensive diplomatic activity.Secretary Rice has been working the phones.She is just now meeting with or has finished meeting with the Korean National Security Advisor, Song Moon-sin -- Song Min-soon. And Chris Hill is going to be going out to the region.
So there's going to be a lot of activity.We're going to try to keep you up to date on it.At this point I'm not going to lay out what the diplomatic roadmap is in terms of specific actions.But the six-party talks, as the Secretary talked about, is an important diplomatic infrastructure.Again, we are in a different situation today diplomatically thanks to the six-party talks and President Bush's leadership in initiating the beginning of those six-party talks than we were, say, five or ten years ago.
QUESTION:So those who say that the six-party talks are in danger are overreaching; they've got it wrong?
MR. MCCORMACK:Well, again, Secretary Rice talked about the fact that this is an important diplomatic infrastructure -- the six-party talks -- and I would just point out to you, look at the list of people whom she has called, look at the list of countries that Chris Hill is visiting.It's certainly an important diplomatic initiative that sends a strong message to the North Koreans and I think that that group certainly forms a core within the region, in that Pacific region, that will address this North Korean issue.
QUESTION:Can you give out a more detailed readout on the Secretary's meeting with the Korean security minister?And I also wanted to follow up on something you said a moment ago.You said if they have more of these missiles, that would pose a threat.It isn't a given that they do?You don't know how many they have?
MR. MCCORMACK:I just don't have the information.I don't have an estimate. You can check with the intelligence community to see if they have an estimate of how many they might have stockpiled of these.I assume clearly they have more than one.So I just can't tell you.I just don't know.
The first part of your question?
QUESTION:A more detailed readout on the --
MR. MCCORMACK:I'm afraid I don't have anything for you on that.It was a very small meeting, just the Secretary and one or two aides with her.
QUESTION:For how long?
MR. MCCORMACK:I don't know when it ended.It began at about -- just past 1: 15.
QUESTION:And was that scheduled today specifically in response to --
MR. MCCORMACK:They were originally scheduled to meet tomorrow but we moved up the date of the meeting till today -- to today.
MR. MCCORMACK:Yeah, mm-hmm.
QUESTION:A bit of a follow-up to my AP colleague.What is -- what are you looking for from South Korea?They, like China, have a substantial aid relationship with North Korea and they have tended to be open-ended with their aid.Are you looking for specific cuts in aid or --
MR. MCCORMACK:I'm not going to start talking about what we might expect from different countries.I think themselves -- they themselves have come out and said, look, we need to -- based on -- given this action, we need to take a look at exactly what we're doing with North Korea.That's generated out of the South Korean Government.So I'm not going to from here start talking about what we expect from different countries.What we're going to do is we are going to be working with all those various countries.
And again, I point out this is not the -- not a U.S.-North Korea issue only. This concerns the entire world.You have -- again, as I said, you have NATO -- NATO -- coming out with a strong statement condemning this action.So clearly this is an issue of global concern and it is -- the North Korean action has met with global condemnation.
Okay, Lambros, we'll get to you.Unless you're going to ask about North Korea.Are you going to ask about North Korea?
QUESTION:Yes, North Korea.Yes.(Laughter.)
MR. MCCORMACK:I'm sorry --
QUESTION:-- to fire missiles against Greece, and I was wondering when. (Laughter.)
MR. MCCORMACK:We'll come back to you.We'll come back to you.
QUESTION:Thank you.If United States diplomacy is not working in case or the diplomatic resources are exhausted, then what is the final alternative by the United States?
MR. MCCORMACK:We are on a diplomatic course.
QUESTION:I know you talk often how it's hard to assess the North Korean motivations, but have you guys given any further thought to the timing of yesterday, the 4th of July?And also given the Iran situation and how Iran was supposed to be sort of be on, you know, front page today, meetings with Solana in Tehran, is there any connection there?
MR. MCCORMACK:I'm not going to try -- I'm not going to try to make an assessment.You might ask the North Korean Government at their daily press briefing --
QUESTION:But surely if -- (laughter).
MR. MCCORMACK:-- what the motivation is.
QUESTION:When you note that this missile could have the capability of hurting people since it does have the capability to reach the United States, was the U.S. aware --
MR. MCCORMACK:I think it's a theoretical capability.It's not a proven capability.
QUESTION:Was the U.S. prepared to do something to stop that?Did you have enough warning that your missile defense system would have been operational and successful you'd needed it?
MR. MCCORMACK:I'll let our colleagues over at DOD talk about it.I think the Department of Defense has talked about the fact that they were tracking the missile and prior to the missile launch I think the Department of Defense had talked about how the -- at least part of the missile defense system had moved from a testing to an operational phase.It is a limited system but it does have some capabilities.As for its operational status during these missile launches, I think DOD would be in a better position to talk about that.
QUESTION:Well, not -- just not completely technically though, was the Administration aware through its tracking abilities that -- in enough time -- in case he would have needed it?
MR. MCCORMACK:Talk to the folks over at DOD.
MR. MCCORMACK:Yeah.Not our area.
QUESTION:Back to China.Since the six-party talks started, it's been mentioned often by U.S. officials that China is possibly key to the situation and to a lesser extent Russia.Is there any hope that after an escalation that was so bold as this that there might be some window of hope for China to put more pressure than it already has.I mean, Ambassador Hill's remarks seem to suggest that the U.S. was perhaps not happy that China had been firm enough with North Korea in the past.
MR. MCCORMACK:Well, I think, you know, I think clearly let's go back to the facts.North Korea hadn't come back -- had not come back to the table prior to this launch.So I think there's a gap -- I think the last meeting was in either October or November.I can't remember exactly when, so there's been a gap here.
Let's -- but let's not let North Korea off the hook here.It is -- they are responsible for their own behavior.It is incumbent upon them to come back to the table.Now, given the realities of the nature of that regime, they likely would only respond to some sort of pressure from the outside and certainly the Chinese have some leverage with them.Other countries have leverage with North Korea.I think at this point let's just say that we would encourage any state, as I said before, that might have some diplomatic leverage with North Korea to use that leverage, get them back to constructive behavior.At the very least, you know, insist upon the fact that they do not engage in such further provocative behavior.
QUESTION:Sean, does the Secretary view this meeting with what's gone on with both North Korea and Iran at this time as a grandstanding on their part to perhaps embarrass or disrupt the upcoming G-8 summit which is going to be held later on this summer?And also is there any indication that they're working with perhaps rogue governments or nations with an ongoing A.Q. Khan-style network?
MR. MCCORMACK:As for the G-8 summit, Joel, I would expect that this was going to be a topic of conversation.I think certainly it now will be a more prominent topic of conversation given North Korea's action.But it was something the foreign ministers talked about when they were in Moscow. It's going to be a full agenda.As for the timing, I've talked about that before. I can't account for the motivations behind what the North Korea Government has done.I'm not going to try to figure it out from here.Certainly their decision-making processes are a bit opaque.I'm not going to try to discern them standing here at the podium.
QUESTION:Can you find out for us the last time Secretary Rice spoke to her South Korean counterpart?Is it possible to know that?
MR. MCCORMACK:South Korean counterpart?
MR. MCCORMACK:It was --
QUESTION:Before this recent phone call.
MR. MCCORMACK:Prior --
MR. MCCORMACK:Sure.Yeah.We can look it up.
QUESTION:And then my last question was about both China and Russia seemed to indicate today that they weren't going to support the sanctions that Japan has been asking for, but you're talking about universal condemnation.
QUESTION:Would you be, you know, disappointed if -- I mean, if divisions happen on the issue of sanctions?
MR. MCCORMACK:Again, I don't even know if the experts have started meeting on this -- on proposed Security Council statements or a resolution.So this is going to play out over a matter of days.I think that given the public statements thus far that Ambassador Bolton has expressed some optimism that this would move forward in the coming days.So let's let those discussions take place before we start, you know, drawing lines as to who's on one side and who's on the other.
QUESTION:Can we switch to Iran?
QUESTION:Well, the meeting today didn't happen with Solana and the next big marker is the 12th.At one point, not with great emphasis though, the State Department said that you'd be willing to entertain questions Iran might have on the package.Of course that also, should they take that course, could delay a real answer even further.Do you want no questions asked, answer now, is it time for that, or is the U.S. willing to entertain clarification questions? Don't know that clarification is necessary but I wondered.
MR. MCCORMACK:Right.Well, Secretary Rice talked a little bit about this at her press avail with Foreign Minister Gul.
MR. MCCORMACK:So I don't have a whole lot to add -- add to her answer.I will say that she did this afternoon, early this afternoon, have a conference call with the P-5+1 - among the P-5+1 counterparts, so that was EU High Representative Solana, Foreign Minister Douste-Blazy, Foreign Minister Steinmeier, Foreign Minister Lavrov and Foreign Secretary Beckett.So they took the opportunity to just touch base, see where we are in wake of the G-8 ministerial and also looking forward to Mr. Solana's meeting with the Iranians, as well as to the [*]G-8 ministerial meeting which is going to be on July 12th.
So look, the Iranians have had ample opportunity to consider this package.It was presented to them on June 6th.So if they have questions about it, certainly I would expect Mr. Solana would be available to answer those questions.I'll let him talk about his meeting schedule with the Iranian Government, but I would expect in the not-too-distant future that there would be a meeting between Mr. Solana and the Iranian representative, Mr. Larijani. And so we know, or we certainly hope and expect, that that is going to occur. We do know for a fact that there's going to be a -- that there's going to be a ministerial meeting in Paris among the P-5+1.
MR. MCCORMACK:So at that point, I think the ministers are going to consider what it is that they have or had not heard from the Iranian Government and that that will certainly inform the discussions at the G-8 summit meeting in St. Petersburg, which will be on the 15th.
QUESTION:Well, I don't -- I guess neither you nor us should jump ahead, but what if they come up with a bag of questions?You can't very well -- well, you can do what you wish, but if they come up with a bag of questions, don't they co-opt any action, any immediate action?
MR. MCCORMACK:I'm not going to prejudge what they are or are not going to do, Barry.But I think that you've heard from the Secretary as well as other officials that they've had -- that it's high time that they provide an answer. They certainly have had ample opportunity to consider this proposal, which provides them a positive pathway as well as a negative pathway, and we would encourage them to take up the offer that has been presented to them for negotiations.They have to meet certain conditions.Everybody has agreed upon what those conditions are.And most importantly, suspension of all enrichment and reprocessing related activity.That's not a U.S. condition; that's a condition that has been laid out by the IAEA and prior to that was negotiated among the Iranians and the EU-3.
QUESTION:If there is no answer by the time of the P-5 meeting next week and going into the G-8, does the United States consider that, in effect, Iran's answer and you --
MR. MCCORMACK:We're -- I'm not going to jump ahead to presuppose what it is that they may or may not do.As I said, they've had plenty of time to consider this.It certainly provides them many opportunities to be on the pathway of negotiations.We'll see what their response is.We'll see what they tell Mr. Solana.
QUESTION:Change of subject?
MR. MCCORMACK:Okay.Anything else on Iran?Okay.
QUESTION:Sean, Macedonia is holding parliamentary election today. Authorities said that there were no major incidents, but then just point out to irregularities like vote stuffing and agitation.The elections are widely seen as Macedonia's major test for European Union and NATO integration.What is your comment and readout, please?
MR. MCCORMACK:I think that there's going to be an OSCE report that's coming out over the next day or two on this matter, so we're going to take a look and withhold any comment and see what that report has to say.
You were going to ask about Macedonia?(Laughter.)
Moving to Lambros.
MR. MCCORMACK:On Turkey, yes.Any readout on the today's meeting between Secretary Rice of State Condoleezza Rice and the Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul prior and during the luncheon?
MR. MCCORMACK:Well, you heard a good bit of what they --
QUESTION:Prior to the luncheon.
MR. MCCORMACK:-- what they talked about the lunch.They covered a variety of different topics.They talked about Iraq.They talked about EU -- the Turkish discussion with the EU.They talked about energy supply.They certainly talked about issues related to religious freedom in Turkey.That's really sort of the -- that was the lunchtime discussion.
QUESTION:Did they discuss any of the well known Greek-Turkish differences over the Aegean Sea?
MR. MCCORMACK:Not at the lunch meeting.
QUESTION:Did they discuss the Kosovo issue -- in general, the Balkans -- since both countries are paying a lot of attention?
MR. MCCORMACK:Same as above.
MR. MCCORMACK:Not at the lunch meeting.
QUESTION:And also during the press conference, the Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul stated that they discussed the Cyprus issue and I'm wondering to which extent any reference in connection to the Turkish accession to the European Union, any connection?
MR. MCCORMACK:Well, you know, I think the Cypriots have made that connection via the EU.We ourselves, as outlined in the joint vision statement, support Turkey's accession to the EU.We also support a resolution to the Cyprus question.So certainly we would like to see both -- on the first one, that process move forward although that is a question for the EU and Turkey to answer.On the second, we would like very much to see progress be made.
QUESTION:One clarification on the document.Mr. McCormack, the document of the shared vision of Turkish-American strategic partnership you released, Secretary Rice told us earlier in the Franklin Room during the press conference, "The strategic vision of the U.S.-Turkish relations is indeed a relationship that has a great deal to contribute to regional stability." I'm wondering, including Greece, since we need the stability in the Aegean but most recently, as you know, for a number of reasons the Turkish military establishment only -- I have to emphasize in Ankara -- likes to promote bravado activities challenging even the Turkish political leadership under the popular Prime Minister Recep Erdogan.
MR. MCCORMACK:Well, there are well known issues related to the Aegean.We have talked about --
QUESTION:I'm just saying regional, including also Greece?
MR. MCCORMACK:I'm sure -- I'm not sure I understand the question.
QUESTION:The question is in the document you are saying the strategic vision of the U.S.-Turkish relations according to Condoleezza Rice is indeed a relation that has a great deal to contribute to the regional stability. And I'm asking you, including Greece?
MR. MCCORMACK:Well, look, Greece and Turkey are NATO allies.They're strong allies of the United States.I would point out to you in terms of the question of regional stability Turkey has other neighbors other than Greece and certainly there are still important issues of regional stability in those other areas as well.So we want a strong relationship with Turkey.We have it.We want a strong relationship with Greece.We have it.We would certainly encourage Greece and Turkey to resolve any differences that exist between them.But I would just point out that they are NATO -- strong NATO allies and that there is a good personal relationship between the Greek political leadership currently in power and the Turkish political leadership currently in power.
QUESTION:Another question --
MR. MCCORMACK:Nope.You've had enough.I think it was four or five.
QUESTION:On the Middle East.The escalation continues.You have Qassam rockets into Israel on the Palestinian side and continued Israeli offensives into Gaza, the attack of several Palestinian legislative buildings and government buildings.What is the U.S. doing right now to try and calm the parties down?Have there been any more calls by the Secretary?
MR. MCCORMACK:In terms of the Secretary's calls, no, not on that.Our people on the ground and in the region both in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv as well as other countries in the region are doing what they can to gain the release -- see that the Israeli soldier is released.That has been the root cause of what has happened and unfolded there over the past week or so is the attack in Israeli territory on this guard post, the killing of two soldiers and the kidnapping of a soldier.
So the focus of our diplomatic activities and the diplomatic activities of many in the region has been to gain the release of that soldier.Certainly we recognize Israel's right to defend itself.We have also talked to the Israeli Government and encouraged restraint in their actions.But as Secretary Rice noted, there are responsibilities of others as well.She noted the fact that Qassam rockets continue to rain down on Israeli territory.That is the responsibility of the Palestinian Authority to stop.They have not done so. As a matter of fact, there's rockets -- rocket attacks didn't just start after the kidnapping of the soldier.There have been many, many prior to the kidnapping of the soldier and the Palestinian Authority has a responsibility to stop those.And certainly the international community wants to see them stopped.
QUESTION:Well, the fact that they're not meeting that responsibility, do you think that legitimizes the attacks on government buildings?
MR. MCCORMACK:You're using -- you know, again, you're using the words "attack" and this sort of -- what Israel needs to do.Let's talk about what the root cause of this is.What has been --
QUESTION:I mean you talked about -- you already talked about the root cause.
MR. MCCORMACK:Again, we have -- Israel, we have said, has a right to defend itself and what we want to see is this soldier returned.We have via our people on the ground as well as in public talked about the fact that it is important for Israel to exercise restraint so that one day, as the Secretary said, you can get back on the footing where there is the possibility of a negotiated settlement.
But you certainly don't get to that pathway, you don't realize a two-state solution, by the kinds of activities that we have seen by the Palestinian Authority, by the terrorists that have -- that are responsible for these attacks on innocent civilians and this kidnapping.
QUESTION:On Iraq, actually.General Caldwell earlier said today that the U.S. would not allow its troops to be tried in Iraqi courts.Do you have any comments on that?
MR. MCCORMACK:Excuse -- General Caldwell?
QUESTION:He said that he would not allow U.S. troops to be tried in Iraqi courts.
MR. MCCORMACK:That's a matter for the Department of Defense and the Iraqi Government to talk about.
(The briefing was concluded at 2:52 p.m.)
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[*], as well as to the P5+1 ministerial meeting, which is going to be on July 12. [return to text]
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