State Dept. Daily Press Briefing July 11, 2006
Daily Press Briefing
Sean McCormack, Spokesman
July 11, 2006
US Condemns Attacks in Srinagar and Mumbai / Query on American
Citizens Casualties / Investigation Ongoing / Anniversary of
London Train Bombings / Status of Secretary Rice's Phone Calls to
Government of India
Issue of Legislation on US-India Civil Nuclear Agreement
Ambassador Hill's Arrival in Beijing / Ambassador Bill Burns'
Consultation with Russian Government
Talks Between China and North Korea / US View of Chinese Proposal
/ Japan's Chapter VII Resolution to UN Security Council /
Multilateral Diplomacy / South Korea's Posting of Statement on
Website / Five Members of Six-Party Talks Working Together /
China's Constructive Role in Talks
Solana Meeting with Iranians / Comprehensive Briefing Forthcoming
from Solana / P5+1 and EU-3 Conditions to Iran / Public Statements
from Larijani / Pathways in Iranian Response / P5+1 United /
Ministers to Speak in Paris Meeting / International Community
Patient with Iranian Government
Secretary Rice's Meeting with Serbian Prime Minister Kostunica /
Read-out of Meeting with Thai Foreign Minister
US Encourages Parties on Meeting / Issues Discussed / War Crime
US Welcomes Outcome of Meetings of UN Under Secretary Gambari with
Cypriot President Popadopoulos and Turkish Cypriot Leader Talat
Read-out Secretary Rice's Meeting with Foreign Minister Gul
Passage of New Law Dealing with Journalists / US Strongly Supports
Freedom of the Press
Department of Defense Memo / Formulation of Policy on Questions
Related to Detainees / Issue of Repatriation
Query on Lawsuit Filed Against US by Widow of Former Al Jazeera
Reporter Killed in Iraq
12:15 p.m. EDT
MR. MCCORMACK: Good afternoon. I have one opening statement I'd like to give you, then we can get right into questions. This concerns the attacks in India.
Today there were multiple terrorist attacks in India in Srinagar and in Mumbai. We condemn these attacks in the strongest possible terms. Many have lost their lives and many more were injured. So our thoughts and prayers go out to those who have lost loved ones or friends or relatives in these attacks and we wish a speedy recovery to all of those who were injured.
We have been touch with the Indian Government concerning these attacks and, of course, we will offer any assistance that they might request. I understand that the investigation is ongoing as to who is responsible for these attacks. I don't believe that there's been any claim of responsibility at this point. So with that, I'd be pleased to take your questions.
QUESTION: Any word on American casualties?
MR. MCCORMACK: In the Mumbai attacks, George, we don't yet have any assessment whether any Americans were injured or killed in the attacks. In the Srinagar attacks, there were two American citizens at this point that we know of who were injured, but we don't have a privacy act waiver, so we can't get into any other details at this time.
QUESTION: Sean, this is also the first anniversary of the London train bombings. Any coincident because in Mumbai also a train bombing and India had been always warning that these Muslim terrorists who has camps and bases in Pakistan they were trying to kill (inaudible) like last month or last week, two weeks ago and now again? And also, any connection with this London train bombings and these al-Qaidas --
MR. MCCORMACK: At this point, Goyal, I wouldn't try to make any connection. The anniversary of the London train bombings was July 7th; this is July 11th. But at this point, there's been no claim or responsibility and I don't have any information that I could -- at my disposal that I could share with you as to who might be responsible for these attacks. Certainly we condemn them. These are senseless acts of violence designed to strike at those innocent people who were just going about their daily lives, people who were commuting home on a train. And so it is a terrible tragedy for the people of India and our thoughts and prayers are with them at this difficult time.
QUESTION: Just one more -- sorry. Minister from Pakistan is here in Washington. He met with the Secretary yesterday. One, is Secretary going to speak to him about this bombing in India, and also, if she has spoken to anybody in India?
MR. MCCORMACK: I think, you know, on the first part of that question I think this is a little presumptuous, Goyal. On the second, she hasn't had any phone calls at this point, but we'll keep you up to date on any statements or phone calls she might make.
Yeah. Anything else on India? James.
QUESTION: On North Korea, have you had a readout from Ambassador Hill?
MR. MCCORMACK: I haven't had a chance to speak with him or get a readout from him. He is in Beijing now. I know that when -- upon his arrival, he expected to have a couple of meetings. I don't know if he, in fact, had those meetings. They were putting together a schedule for him I think as he was arriving at the airport. So we don't have any readout quite yet. I understand that the Chinese are talking to the North Koreans in Beijing now and then they're going to send an envoy to Pyongyang. So Chris is in Beijing now and he's going to be in contact with Chinese officials, but I don't have any readout for you.
QUESTION: What is the U.S. view of the Chinese proposal that was put out yesterday, which kind of reflected one might say a nonbinding version of the Japanese resolution?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, at this point, where we stand with respect to the UN action in the Security Council, which is one of several diplomatic tracks that we're on now, is the Japanese have put forward a resolution. It's a strong, tough resolution, a Chapter 7 resolution. There was a sense among the members of the Security Council, including the eight co-sponsors at this time, that let's give the Chinese diplomacy a little opportunity to work and see what comes out of it, see if anything comes out of it. See if they convince the North Koreans to come back to the table, engage in a constructive manner and also abide by, once again, their moratorium not to launch anymore missiles. So at this point, that's where we stand.
In essence, the work up at the Security Council continues at the working level. But right now we still have a resolution and I think that that is -- that that is what is on the table. If we do shift back to the New York Security Council track, then we'll probably have more to say about a variety of different proposals that may be out there. But right now what we have is a resolution. It's not moving forward to a vote at the moment. We're trying to give these other tracks -- the diplomacy a little time to work and hopefully these two efforts, both in New York and in the region, are mutually reinforcing.
QUESTION: Has there been any sign from Pyongyang over the past day or so that makes you more hopeful about the direction of things?
MR. MCCORMACK: I don't have any information one way or the other, James. What we're going to be looking for is actions and the North Koreans actually getting back to the table, actually engaging in a constructive manner and not launching anymore missiles; that's not constructive behavior. So we'll see. We'll wait to hear what the Chinese have to say as a result of their meetings with the North Koreans, but I'm not aware of any other information one way or the other where they might be headed.
QUESTION: We have now the answer of the Iranians to the offer of the P5+1 --
QUESTION: Can we stay on North Korea for a minute?
QUESTION: Oh, sorry.
MR. MCCORMACK: Okay. North Korea.
QUESTION: Yeah. The Chinese and the Japanese have exchanged some words in the past few days, but also the Japanese and the South Koreans have and there was a posting on the South Korean President's website at the end of last week saying that some Japanese proposals are not constructive. I wonder if you think that that's sort of a classic example of North Korea managed to divide countries that are actually allies in most other ways over this issue to be not exactly united.
MR. MCCORMACK: No. I would look at the strong condemnation that's come out from around the globe, including from the region on this matter. And you do have the members, the five members of the six-party talks, working together to try to bring about a diplomatic solution. Certainly there are different points of view. The Chinese may have a different point of view. The South Koreans may have a different point of view. The Japanese may have a different point of view. But that exists at any given point in time in multilateral diplomacy. With multilateral diplomacy you're trying to bring people together. We're certainly confident that we have been able to bring the interested countries in the region together on this topic and we have every expectation that we'll continue to do so. And that countries will come together to face what they see as a common problem: North Korea developing nuclear weapons, lobbing missiles, testing missiles. That's a problem for regional security and stability.
So I think every -- all the countries in the region: Russia, South Korea, China, Japan, as well as others, have an interest in trying to grapple with this problem and use whatever leverage they or others might have to get North Korea back to the table. So we're confident that everybody is moving in that direction and working towards that common goal.
QUESTION: So you weren't at all concerned about the fact that the office of the President of South Korea posted a statement that said that Japan is doing things that are not constructive. This is not the cause of concern to you?
MR. MCCORMACK: Everybody has the same goal here, Nicholas. And nobody wants to see North Korea perfect missile -- intercontinental missile technology, have the ability to put nuclear warheads -- perfect the ability to put nuclear warheads on top of missiles, to further develop their weapons of mass destruction program. Nobody in the region wants that. So we're confident that states, if there are any differences in points of view that they'll come together. They'll bridge whatever differences may exist or may arise in the interest in bringing about a common solution to a common threat.
QUESTION: Just -- I'm sorry, but back on Ambassador Hill for just a moment. He's in Beijing now.
MR. MCCORMACK: He's in Beijing now, yeah.
QUESTION: And he's staying there for the time being or do you have --
MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah, for the time being. He doesn't have any -- at this point any onward travel plans.
QUESTION: What happened to Moscow? He hasn't been to Moscow yet, right?
MR. MCCORMACK: He has not. He has not. And thanks for bringing that up. We took a look at exactly what his travel schedule was. He didn't end up going to Moscow because his counterpart was not there at the time and they have a lot of ongoing preparations for the G-8 so he talked to Ambassador Bill Burns in Moscow and Ambassador Burns was able to consult with the Russian Government without Chris having to make the trip all the way there and not be able to meet with his counterpart at that time. So we believe that we have effective consultations with the Russians on this matter and he decided to instead, after speaking with Secretary Rice, go from Tokyo to Beijing.
QUESTION: Has he spoken with Secretary Rice today or since he arrived in Beijing?
MR. MCCORMACK: I'll have to check for you, James. I know they talked yesterday.
QUESTION: Okay, thanks.
QUESTION: One more on North Korea?
MR. MCCORMACK: Oh, North Korea?
QUESTION: Yeah, just quickly. Sorry. Sean, this, like you said, the North Korean threat is growing in the area. So many countries are under threat, especially Japan and South Korea. These talks were going on for the last so many years and China was in the center stage, but don't you think China has failed and because China is the one who is helping North Korea, how can you trust China to have a constructive talks and North Korea can come in the table and stop all this nuclear (inaudible) missile testings.
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, the six-party talks have met with some success in the September joint statement that was brought about as a result of the concerted efforts of the other five members of the six-party talks, including the Chinese Government. They have certainly worked with the other members of the six-party talks to get the North Koreans back to the table in the past, to engage in constructive behavior. Would we like to see the Chinese do everything that they possibly can to get North Korea back to the table? Absolutely. They have played a constructive role over the course of the history of the six-party talks and we think it's important that they do everything that they can at this important point to get the North Koreans back to the table, Goyal.
QUESTION: Are the Chinese saying anything new to the U.S. what will be the --
MR. MCCORMACK: I'm not going to get into what our diplomatic exchanges are.
QUESTION: Are you satisfied with the level of what you're getting from the Chinese?
MR. MCCORMACK: We've been talking about -- talking with them about doing everything that they possibly can do at this point, James.
QUESTION: And are they?
MR. MCCORMACK: We're talking to them about doing everything they possibly can at this point.
QUESTION: About Iran, we have now the answer of the Iranians. It was given just before the beginning of this briefing so you may not have seen it. Ali Larijani just said in Brussels that the offer is acceptable but he said also that the Iranians want to negotiate the suspension of enrichment. Is the suspension of enrichment negotiable?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, a couple of things. One, we're not going to offer a formal assessment of what the Iranians have told Mr. Solana in their meeting. We're going to wait for Mr. Solana to be able to provide a comprehensive briefing to the P5+1 foreign ministers in Paris tomorrow. Secretary Rice leaves tonight for Paris. And then the foreign ministers will have a discussion along with Mr. Solana about what the response of the P5+1 will be.
The P5+1 has made it very clear repeatedly all along the line that the conditions laid out for the Iranian Government are firm: that they have to suspend all enrichment-related and reprocessing-related activity. Those aren't just the conditions that were formulated by the P5+1, but those were conditions that the EU-3 themselves had come up with during their negotiations with the Iranians. So these aren't new. Those conditions were reaffirmed by the IAEA.
So again, I'm not going to at this point offer any formal response from us to public statements from Mr. Larijani. Secretary Rice did talk to Mr. Solana. She got a preliminary readout of the meeting between the Iranian representative, Mr. Larijani, and Mr. Solana.
I would just say at this point it is up to the Iranians in their response which pathway we're going to go down here. We know what the two pathways are. There's a positive pathway that could lead to potential benefits to the Iranian people. That's the pathway of negotiation and we are fully prepared to go down that pathway. We are also fully prepared, as are the other members of the P5+1, to go down the other pathway. That is the pathway of the UN Security Council.
So in the absence of a clear answer, the P5+1 has in the past stated their willingness to go down that other pathway. So let's -- and I'm not going to prejudge at this point what the outcome of the discussions of the P5+1 foreign ministers are going to be, but in the absence of a clear answer from the Iranians that they are going to meet the conditions laid out by the P5+1 as well as the IAEA, then the P5+1 has said in the past that they are fully prepared to go down that other pathway of the Security Council.
QUESTION: Is the suspension negotiable?
MR. MCCORMACK: The P5+1 has been very firm on the conditions that the Iranians have to meet. It has been talked about by the IAEA -- suspend all enrichment-related and reprocessing-related activities. It's very simple. And in return for that suspension, the P5+1 said that they would suspend any activity in the UN Security Council.
So what we have done is given the Iranians ample space, given them wide berth here, six weeks, to provide an answer. They had many, many opportunities along the way since that proposal was presented to them to get clarification from Mr. Solana to answer -- to get answers to whatever questions they may have. So they have had their meeting with Mr. Solana. We'll wait to see what the ministers have to say about what Mr. Solana heard in that meeting.
QUESTION: But if I can ask another question, he also said that the P5+1 are divided on this question. This -- is the --
MR. MCCORMACK: I've detected no division on this matter.
QUESTION: On the enrichment, negotiable or not?
MR. MCCORMACK: I've detected no divisions on that. The P5+1 is united on that.
QUESTION: From your remarks, including your repetition twice of the phrase "in the absence of a clear answer," is it the position of the United States Government that no clear answer was delivered by Mr. Larijani?
MR. MCCORMACK: We're going to wait for the discussion among the ministers, James, to offer the P5+1 united reaction to what was heard. I'm just restating where we have been in the past and up until this point, but I'm going to wait until the Paris meeting and the ministers are going to speak for themselves. You'll have an opportunity to hear directly from them about what the reaction of the P5+1 is to what the Iranians have said.
QUESTION: I, in turn, am merely asking about why you just used the phrase "in the absence of a clear answer" twice to us.
MR. MCCORMACK: Because that has been the position of the P5+1 from the very beginning, that there are these two pathways. And what this proposal was intended to do was to really divine what are the Iranians' true intentions here. They've stated that they want a peaceful nuclear energy program to benefit the Iranian people and that they don't want to use that to -- that program to build a nuclear weapon.
The international community said okay, let's -- you say that that's what you want to do. We'll give you a clear choice one way or the other. We can give you that pathway that will allow you to realize many, many benefits potentially through negotiations for the Iranian people and for the Iranian Government and address your stated desires for peaceful nuclear energy, despite the fact that over the course of many years Iran, through its actions, has eroded the trust with the international community on this very question. If they choose not to take up the international community on that offer, then the international community, the P5+1, is prepared to go down the road of the Security Council which they had already started.
The question -- it's important to realize also that the question still resides at the moment with the Security Council. There has been a presidential statement about this. We, as well as the other members of the Security Council, have deferred any action in the Security Council while this proposal was developed and while we waited for an Iranian response. So I think we have given -- we as a group have given the Iranians plenty of time to respond. And we'll -- you'll have our reaction -- the P5+1 reaction tomorrow.
QUESTION: How long was the telephone call between Secretary Rice and --
MR. MCCORMACK: I'll check for you. I think it was relatively brief.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MR. MCCORMACK: Okay. Anything else on Iran?
MR. MCCORMACK: Okay.
QUESTION: Larijani after this meeting was talking about a long process and he asked for patience. Will you be patient with them?
MR. MCCORMACK: I think the world has been patient with them. I think -- they have had six weeks to consider this question: Do they meet the conditions that have been laid before them? Not by the United States, not by just the Europeans but the international community, the IAEA. Will they meet those conditions in order to get back to the negotiating table? They haven't been asked to provide their final answer on a negotiated solution; that's what discussions are about. They've been asked to answer the threshold question: Will you meet the conditions in order to engage in negotiations? That's what they've been asked. They've been given six weeks to this point to provide an answer to that question.
And I would just point out, too, that this issue just didn't arise six weeks ago. They had two years of discussions with the EU in order to think about this issue, to consider their options and to consider what the potential benefits of a negotiated solution to the existing questions might be. So this didn't just come up. This has been ongoing for some time. So I think the world has given the Iranian Government plenty of time to consider what course it wants to take, what course it wants to pursue at this point. I think the world has been very patient with the Iranian Government.
QUESTION: I know I'll hear from the ministers in due course, along with the rest of the world (laughter), but I just can't conceive that you, as a logical thinking man, would continue using all of these conditional phrases like "in the absence of a clear answer" or if they choose this or that pathway, if in fact, in the meeting between Misters Larijani and Solana, a clear answer had been given.
MR. MCCORMACK: James, stay tuned tomorrow. (Laughter.) Yeah.
QUESTION: Another subject, Mr. McCormack, on Serbia. Do you have anything to say about today's meeting here at the State Department between Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and the Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica, something from the agenda?
MR. MCCORMACK: They're going to be talking about bilateral relations. They'll also be talking about Kosovo status talks.
QUESTION: Let's go to Cyprus. The President of the Republic of Cyprus --
QUESTION: Can we stay on that?
MR. MCCORMACK: Okay. Here.
QUESTION: Is the Secretary satisfied with -- is she going to tell the Prime Minister that she's satisfied with his country's cooperation with the tribunal or is she going to insist that they do more to hand over certain suspects to the --
MR. MCCORMACK: We, as well as our European friends and allies, have encouraged the Serbian Government to do more. There are outstanding warrants for certain individuals who are wanted for war crimes prosecution and we, as well as our European friends and allies, have urged the Serbian Government to do everything that they can to make sure that those people are delivered to justice in The Hague. And the Secretary will certainly reiterate that message as well.
QUESTION: Are there any issues that you might raise following from the referendum and Montenegro's separation from Serbia?
MR. MCCORMACK: We'll give you -- we'll try to give you a readout, Nicholas, see if that comes up.
QUESTION: Following up on the same subject. How do you comment on the statement by the so-called prosecutor of (inaudible) appointed by Carla del Ponte, Mr. Thomas Hannis, who said yesterday, Mr. McCormack, starting the trials of six Slobodan Milosevic aides, "It was a Serbian plan directed from the top to drive out the ethnic Albanians from Kosovo."
MR. MCCORMACK: I don't have anything for you on that. We'll try to get you -- get you if we have any particular reaction.
QUESTION: May I go to Cyprus? The President of the Republic of Cyprus Tassos Papadopoulos and the Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat finally met in Nicosia and reached a five-point agreement as well as a confidence building measure, CBM, following a three-hour meeting with the presence of the UN Under Secretary General for Foreign Affairs Ibrahim Gambari. Any comment since the U.S. Government, as you know, is involved too to find a solution to the Cyprus problem after 32 years of Turkish invasion and occupation?
MR. MCCORMACK: I have something for you. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: I heard. How?
MR. MCCORMACK: We welcome the outcome of the meetings of UN Under Secretary General Ibrahim Gambari and Cypriot President Popadopoulos and Turkish Cypriot leader Talat. We look forward to the start of talks by the end of the month as agreed by the leaders on both everyday and substantive issues. We hope that the agreed formula will set the stage for comprehensive negotiations on the Cyprus issue. As always, we stand ready to assist the UN and the two sides in this important effort and continue to encourage the parties to remain flexible and engaged.
QUESTION: And what happened to the Annan plan?
MR. MCCORMACK: We think that this is certainly a promising development and we're going to try to build on this.
QUESTION: And the last one on Turkey.
MR. MCCORMACK: Let's spread it around here. If we have time, we'll come back to you.
QUESTION: I have a question on Cyprus.
MR. MCCORMACK: A question on Cyprus? (Laughter.) Okay, great timing.
QUESTION: Apparently U.S. is planning to send an envoy in Cyprus soon and the President of Cyprus said that if this U.S. envoy meets with the north, the Turkish Cypriot leader, he will not receive the U.S. envoy.
MR. MCCORMACK: Let's back up and we'll see if we can get you any information on this supposed envoy and what his or her schedule might be.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MR. MCCORMACK: Yes, sir.
QUESTION: Sean, do you have a readout on the meeting this morning with the Thai Foreign Minister?
MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah, they talked about a variety of different issues. It was about a half hour meeting. They talked about U.S.-Thai bilateral relations, talked about various trade issues between the U.S. and Thailand. They talked about -- talked a little bit about North Korea. They talked about the upcoming ASEAN summit as well as the ARF -- the associated ARF meeting. They also touched on Burma as well.
QUESTION: Yes, a question on Egypt. Can you comment on Egypt's plan to pass a law that would impose fines and prison terms upon journalists who criticize their government?
MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah. My understanding -- and we haven't seen the text of this proposed law, and my understanding is that it has been passed by the cabinet, now it's gone to the Shura Council, so I can't provide you a detailed response as to what may be in this law. But I can say as a matter of general principle that we would be concerned about any law that would restrict the ability of a free press to report on what is going on in Egypt, in Egypt's daily political life. That would hold true not only for Egypt but any other country around the world.
So we are strong supporters of freedom of the press in Egypt as well as elsewhere and certainly we would encourage the Egyptian Government to take a look at any law that they might be considering and look at it in the context of the importance of freedom of the press to any country that is undergoing a process of political reform. It's essential to have a free press as part of that political dialogue within a country that is wrestling with issues of political as well as economic reform.
QUESTION: On the Defense Department memo that Tony Snow talked about today, how involved was Secretary Rice in drafting that memo which now gives Geneva Convention protections to detainees?
MR. MCCORMACK: She certainly didn't type it up. Look, on issues, I mean --
QUESTION: Well, I --
MR. MCCORMACK: It's a Department of Defense memo. Look, she along with other members of the national security team have been involved in formulating policy on questions related to detainees since 2001 when she was in her role as National Security Advisor. It's an important issue. And she along with everybody else that was present in government at that time in leadership positions said that they were going to do everything that they could to make sure the American people weren't subject to another terrorist attack like they were on September 11th, 2001.
And the actions of Secretary Rice and the Administration since that time have been guided by that principle, but also guided by -- they've also been guided by the principle that they're not going to lose sight of who we are as Americans in our values and defending those values. And the actions that we have taken have resulted in people who have sought to do harm to the American people, as well as others -- friends and allies, get those people off the street. You see those people in Guantanamo Bay now. They are there for a reason. And the Administration has set up various processes to deal with those people. Part of that -- an important part of that in which the State Department is involved, is sending these people back to their home countries with the assurances that they're not going to -- they are not going to be mistreated, tortured and they're not going to go -- not going to be allowed to go in the front door of the jail and out the back door. So -- that they would be allowed to do harm to others at some point in the future.
The other part of that process has been subject to review by the Supreme Court and President Bush has said that the Administration is going to abide by the findings of the Supreme Court, in terms of Common Article 3, as well as how prisoners, enemy combatants are treated. As for the specifics of the memo, I would refer you over to my friends at the Department of Defense. I understand that they're also hearings that are going to be ongoing this week. You're going to have expert testimony. So there'll be ample opportunity for people to question representatives at the Department of Justice as well as the Department of Defense about the specifics of the memo and Administration policy on detainees.
QUESTION: She's had to take the brunt of the criticism that the U.S. has received when she's gone abroad. For instances, last December in Europe, there was a lot of controversy over detainee policy. So is it fair to say that she was pushing for this, the way this moved or is this just in reaction to the Supreme Court?
MR. MCCORMACK: I would say that Secretary Rice provides her best advice to the President and other members of the national security team and that advice is for the President and other members of the national security team to hear, and not talk about in public.
QUESTION: On Guantanamo, is there an update on repatriation negotiations with other countries on trying to repatriate former detainees?
MR. MCCORMACK: It's an ongoing process. I think on any given day, we're working on that particular issue. If -- we'd be happy to look in -- to see if there are any particular updates that we might offer you and have provide them to you as well as everybody else.
QUESTION: Thank you.
QUESTION: Mr. McCormack, on Turkey.
MR. MCCORMACK: Lambros, go ahead.
QUESTION: To your best recollection, Mr. McCormack, do you know if during the meeting between Secretary of State
MR. MCCORMACK: (Inaudible) hearing now -- "to the best of my recollection."
QUESTION: Yes, because you were a participant.
MR. MCCORMACK: I refer to my lawyer, Rosen, here in the front row. I'm sorry. Go ahead.
QUESTION: Yes. Do you know if during the meeting between Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and the Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul, July 5th it was also discussed in the well-known mission of the ecumenical party of Constantinople in Istanbul, Turkey under the leadership of the ecumenical party of Bartholomew in the framework of (inaudible) freedom for which the U.S. Government is very, very concerned?
MR. MCCORMACK: They did. They did have a discussion about that and it was a good open discussion. It's something that does come up from time to time in the Secretary's meeting with Turkish officials. I believe that President Bush talked about it with Prime Minister Erdogan. Religious freedom is in -- is fundamental.
MR. MCCORMACK: Fundamental to any democracy. And we did -- yes, we did raise it with them. Yeah.
QUESTION: Thank you.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) speaking at Indian American groups and said a great talk and discussion and also (inaudible) speech on U.S.-India civil nuclear agreement especially. Do you think she's in touch with -- since the House and Senate both committees have passed this regulation and sent to the full House, is she in touch with anybody on the Hill and what she thinks about this agreement? Will it go through or?
MR. MCCORMACK: She's had numerous discussions about this important legislation with both members of the House as well as members of the Senate over the past several weeks. This is an important initiative. We think it's a good deal for the United States. It's a good deal for nonproliferation. So we're working very closely with the House and the Senate to see if this legislation can move forward. So it's an important agenda item for this administration, right at the very top of our list and we're working well with the Congress. They have an important role to play in this in moving that legislation forward.
QUESTION: Thank you.
QUESTION: Do you have a reaction to a lawsuit filed this morning against the U.S. Government on behalf of the widow of a former Al Jazeera reporter that was killed in Iraq? The question is about whether or not he was targeted and today a lawsuit was formally filed against the U.S. Government.
MR. MCCORMACK: I'll see if we have anything for you on that. Typically, any lawsuits involving the U.S. Government, the Department of Justice will handle any response on behalf of the Administration.
QUESTION: Does the U.S. target reporters for their programming or their channels networks?
MR. MCCORMACK: No.
(The briefing was concluded at 12:48 p.m.)