State Dept. Daily Press Briefing August 29, 2006
Daily Press Briefing
Tom Casey, Deputy Spokesman
August 29, 2006
UNSC Resolution 1696 Deadline Approaching / Compliance with
International Community's Demands
Failure to Meet Security Council Deadline will Result in Sanctions
/ Security Council to Decide Timing, Types of Sanctions
Visit of Former President Khatami / No Plans for Meetings with
General Ralston's Role as Special Envoy on Countering the PKK /
Will Meet With Department Officials Soon
Designation of Special Envoy Shows U.S. Commitment to Working with
Turkey and Iraq Against Terrorism
VENEZUELA / SYRIA
President Chavez's Visit to Syria
Assistant Secretary Frazer's Trip to Khartoum / Delivery of
Message from President Bush to President Ahmed Al-Bashir
Expanded UN Force Necessary to Implement Darfur Peace Agreement
Bashir to Send Envoy to Washington in Response to President's
Arrest of Chicago Tribune Journalist / Consular Visits / U.S.
Hopes for Speedy, Fair Trial
Plan for a Jointly Drafted U.S. - UK Resolution on Darfur to the
President Al-Bashir to Send Envoy to Washington
ISRAEL / LEBANON
Comments by Mr. Nasrallah Regarding Kidnapping Israeli Soldiers,
Implementation of 1701 Necessary for Lasting Peace
Trial of Bulgarian Nurses Suspended / U.S. Wishes to See Nurses
US Welcomes contributions from All Countries to UNIFIL / Total
Pledges Approximately 12000 Troops SOUTH KOREA
Visit of South Korea's Six-Party Talk Envoy Chun Yung-woo /
Meetings Within the Department
12:40 p.m. EDT
MR. CASEY: Afternoon, everybody.
QUESTION: Good afternoon.
MR. CASEY: Good afternoon, Mr. Lambros, and thank you all for joining us today. I don't have any opening statements or announcements, so let's go right to questions.
QUESTION: Tom, I assume you saw the Iranian president's remarks challenging the UN Security Council, critical of the U.S. and Britain. There's been no response that I know of from the White House. Do you want to take it on and say something?
MR. CASEY: Well, look, I think the main thing here is to keep the focus where it should be. And the focus should be on the fact that Iran has until August 31st to meet a deadline set by the UN Security Council in Resolution 1696 for it to come into compliance with the demands of the international community, the longstanding demands of the international community for Iran to cease all uranium enrichment activity, to take the opportunity, the positive opportunity given to it by the P-5+1 and the international community to move forward in a way that would allow them to peacefully develop nuclear power, but that would end the possible threat of Iran developing a nuclear weapon.
There's still time for them to do it and it's unfortunate, I think, that what we're seeing instead is continued statements of defiance and continued rejection of what is not only the will of the international community, but is in the interests of the Iranian people as well.
QUESTION: Oh, I can ask --
MR. CASEY: Do a follow-up, sure.
QUESTION: Again, this -- clearly, would be something in a statement at the White House, but I don't think they've said anything. The Iranian president is also challenging President Bush to a debate. Is that a good idea?
MR. CASEY: Well, Barry, again, I'll let the White House respond on behalf of the President. Again, I think this is a distraction and I also think it's somewhat odd for the president of a country that represses all debate within its own society to be talking about free and open exchange of ideas. What I think we'd very much like to see and what I think the people of Iran deserve would be a chance for they themselves to have free and open discussions of ideas, views, and opinions within their own society. And that would be something, I think, that the Iranian Government might want to look to.
QUESTION: Earlier this month, Under Secretary Burns said flat out that if the Iranians fail to meet the Security Council condition of suspending their uranium enrichment program, that we will have a resolution passed in the month of September that imposes some kind of sanctions on the Iranians. He said that flat out in a discussion with NPR, August 21st.
MR. CASEY: Not that you checked.
QUESTION: Yeah. I don't want you to tell me you're unfamiliar with the statement. You've -- the State Department since then has put out its own statement saying that the Iranian response falls far short of meeting that condition. Therefore, I wonder if the State Department stands behind Under Secretary Burns's prediction that we will see sanctions in a resolution passed by the end of the month of September by the Security Council.
MR. CASEY: Well, James, certainly, the resolution specifies that if Iran fails to meet the deadline of August 31st, that the next steps are sanctions under Article 41 of Chapter 7. And that's fully what we expect to happen. I'm not going to stand here and tell you I'm going to give you the precise date at which that'll occur. I tend to agree with my friend John Bolton that anyone making predictions on the specific timing of resolutions usually is doomed to failure. But I do think it will be quick. I do think it will be something that we will see action on in the near term and in that sense, I'd certainly stand by what Under Secretary Burns has said.
QUESTION: Can you address whispers to the effect that there are -- that the Administration -- there are two camps in the Administration: those who are pushing for an aggressive first round of sanctions that would target dual-use technologies and financial networks and some who are favoring a somewhat gentler approach that would start out the first round of sanctions with something like travel restrictions and so forth.
MR. CASEY: Well, James, look, I certainly am not going to talk about internal discussions within the Administration. I think the one thing that is clear is that we are united internally within this Administration and certainly in our cooperative efforts with the P-5+1 to move forward under the terms of 1696. And again, I think what's important for people to remember is that the Iranians have an opportunity here not just to avoid sanctions, but to receive some benefit to do what's in the interest of their people and their continued defiance of the will of the international community puts them in the position where frankly they will be subject to sanctions. And this certainly will have an impact on the country. How fast and which ones and what timing and all that, I'm going to leave that to the Security Council when and if we get to the 31st deadline and don't see, as we don't expect at this point, a positive response.
QUESTION: Last one, if you will.
MR. CASEY: Sure.
QUESTION: Under Secretary Burns in that same interview said that the sanctions will get progressively tougher on the Iranians if there isn't any compliance. Is that what you expect a gradual game plan in the Security Council?
MR. CASEY: Well, I suspect that we're first of all going to have a serious discussion in the Council after the deadline is passed and we'll move forward. Obviously, you know, we'll take this step by step. We may take another shot at a resolution that puts sanctions forward. The exact nature of that and whether it will require additional steps or not, you know, we'll just have to wait and see. Again, the most important thing here, the game plan here and the goal here is not to impose sanctions. The goal here is to change Iranian behavior, and to change Iranian behavior in a way that not only satisfies the concerns of the international community about Iran's potential developments of a nuclear weapon, but also ultimately advances the interest of the Iranian people themselves. There is a definite possibility here that the P-5+1 put forward that would be a win for the Iranian people and would be a win for the international community. Unfortunately, the Iranian leadership at this point appears to be more interested in continuing defiance and continuing rejection of what should be in their country's own best interest.
Okay. Let's go over here. Samir.
QUESTION: Yeah. The Iranian former President Khatami said today if the U.S. going to ask him to get fingerprints before his expected visit to Washington that he will cancel the visit. Will you give him a special treatment since he is a former President?
MR. CASEY: You know, I'm not familiar with what forms of protocol procedures might or might not be used at the port of entry. That's frankly a call for Department of Homeland Security, Samir.
QUESTION: Can I follow up?
MR. CASEY: Oh yeah. Sure.
QUESTION: Has the visa request been accelerated since yesterday?
MR. CASEY: The visa for former President Khatami, I understand, was issued approximately an hour ago. And that, you know, again, is in keeping with the functions that he had outlined. My understanding is that he has been invited here for a meeting of the Alliance of Civilizations, the high-level panel that Kofi Annan established a while ago, and that he'll also be doing some private visits.
QUESTION: So let's run it through the basics, please.
MR. CASEY: Yeah.
QUESTION: Still no plans for U.S. officials to meet with him?
MR. CASEY: No plans, yeah.
QUESTION: Do you know about others in his group who also wanted visas?
MR. CASEY: My understanding is that there were several other people in his contingent that were granted visas. I don't have any specifics on who they are or names of the officials.
QUESTION: Do you know of any restrictions in the general sense of where he could go or that sort of thing?
MR. CASEY: You know, Barry, as far as I know since he is here as a private individual and not as a government official, there aren't restrictions that apply to his visa in terms of where he might be able to travel.
QUESTION: Tom, do you know if he's asked to meet with U.S. officials?
MR. CASEY: Not that I'm aware of, but no.
QUESTION: Since you regard Iran as officially as a state sponsor of terrorism, why aren't you planning to detain and interrogate this man?
MR. CASEY: First of all, I would -- I want to make sure that while we do recognize that Iran is a state sponsor of terror, in fact Iran is the leading banker of terror, it would certainly not be appropriate to claim that all Iranians or all members of any country are terrorists themselves. Certainly, again, we have obligations under the UN Headquarters Agreement among other things with respect to travel of officials for UN events.
I think, you know, this is an opportunity in part for former President Khatami to hear the concerns of the American people, and I suspect not only in New York but certainly in the other places he travels to he's going to get some tough questions from the American people who he does meet with. And I think it's important that we recognize that we are an open society, we are willing to have a free exchange and a free debate over any and all ideas. I think it will be refreshing to have an Iranian leader face some of those kinds of questions.
Mr. Lambros --
QUESTION: Anything to say --
MR. CASEY: Wait. Wait a minute. I think we're still on this subject.
QUESTION: On the same subject.
MR. CASEY: Okay. But then we'll go to Turkey, I promise.
QUESTION: Yes, okay.
MR. CASEY: Michel.
QUESTION: Is there any meeting for the P-5+1 foreign ministers after August 31st?
MR. CASEY: I don't have anything scheduled at present. Obviously there will be a discussion in the Security Council. Certainly I'm sure that'll take place at ambassadorial level. What other meetings might or might not be arranged, I don't have anything for you at this point.
Same subject, Joel?
QUESTION: Partly yes. Hugo Chavez is visiting --
MR. CASEY: Chavez we'll do later. We'll go to Turkey first.
QUESTION: Yes. Mr. Casey, anything to say about the U.S. Coordinator on PKK issues in Turkey, retired Air Force General Joseph Ralston?
MR. CASEY: Well, I think you saw our statement that we put out yesterday on this subject.
MR. CASEY: But obviously we're very pleased that General Ralston, who's of course both the former Deputy Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and a former NATO Supreme Allied Commander, has accepted this role being a Special Envoy. This reiterates the commitment that we have to working with Turkey and working with the Government of Iraq to end the threat posed by PKK terrorism resulting from northern Iraq or from any other place.
I should also take the opportunity, Mr. Lambros, to reiterate something that Sean told a few of you yesterday, and which is that we obviously condemn the PKK-sponsored attacks that have occurred in Turkey over the last couple of days. This has resulted in numerous injuries and several deaths. Clearly this is an unacceptable practice. The PKK needs to stop all hostile actions against the Turkish people, and we strongly stand with our friends and allies in Turkey in saying no not only to PKK acts of violence but all forms of terrorism.
QUESTION: Why your government appointed a military person and not a political or diplomatic one? Is there any particular reason?
MR. CASEY: Well, I think as we said in our statement, I think General Ralston is an individual with unique qualifications. He has served extensively in Europe, including again as Supreme Allied Commander for NATO, as well as the head of the United States European Command. He is very familiar with these issues. And obviously, as the PKK is a terrorist group, it is something that requires the work of all parts of our governments not only from the political or diplomatic side, but also from the side of coordination among our security forces. And I think General Ralston is very well qualified both to work the political aspects of this as well also to certainly understand the security dimensions of the problem.
QUESTION: Do you believe the Coordinator Ralston will report directly to the Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice or to the Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld by definition who -- I'm saying Mr. (inaudible) by definition, he's the popular Prime Minister of Turkey (inaudible) 2003 to the present?
MR. CASEY: Well, I know Special Envoy Ralston will be coming here shortly in the next few days to meet with officials here in this building. My understanding is his primary chain of responsibility will be through here. That of course involves conversations with officials like Assistant Secretary Welch who handles Middle Eastern issues, Assistant Secretary Fried who deals with European concerns as well as certainly Under Secretary Burns, who's been actively involved in this issue as well.
QUESTION: Same subject?
MR. CASEY: Yeah, sure.
QUESTION: So is he going to have an office in the State Department building? And do you know whether he's planning to go to the region anytime soon?
MR. CASEY: Well, again, I don't have any specific travel plans for him to share with you, although we'll keep you updated on that. In terms of whether he physically has an office here or not, I honestly don't know right now. There are some -- in some cases, some envoys have requested that kind of office space; others have not and I'm just not aware of what his plans are.
QUESTION: President Chavez is going to be in Syria tomorrow. What do you think of this visit? He's supposed to speak about bilateral relation and the situation in the region.
MR. CASEY: Well, you know, all countries are free to establish or maintain whatever bilateral relations they want with other countries and that's for them to decide. Certainly, we think what's important for anyone having discussions with the Syrian Government to do is to emphasize the need for Syria to meet its international obligations. And that includes complying with its longstanding obligations under UN Security Council Resolution 1559, as well as the additional ones placed upon it in Resolution 1701.
QUESTION: Do you see this visit as a provocation for -- against you?
MR. CASEY: I see it as a decision made by the Venezuelan Government about their relations with Syria, and you would have to talk to them about the reasons for it.
QUESTION: Change of subject?
MR. CASEY: Yeah.
QUESTION: Today, Assistant Secretary Frazer is in Khartoum, Sudan and she's hoping to see President Umar Al-Bashir. And apparently, he has yet to accept any UN peacekeeping for Darfur. Now if that peacekeeping doesn't go through, if he's against it, as an alternative, would you wish to expand the AU forces?
MR. CASEY: Well, first of all, let's talk about Assistant Secretary Frazer's trip. She is -- as you said, she's been in Khartoum. She's had a number of meetings with officials there. She did meet this morning with President Bashir at his home, and our Charge Cameron Hume was also there as well as some other officials. In that meeting, she delivered a letter from President Bush, a message from President Bush to President Bashir.
QUESTION: A letter or a message?
MR. CASEY: A message, sorry. And President Bashir listened to her concern. She certainly stressed to him our continued support for the African Union and humanitarian operations in Darfur and obviously, reiterated our continued belief in the need to move quickly to take the AU force and put it under UN auspices, to expand it and make it stronger, to be able to implement the Darfur peace agreement. President Bashir has said in response to the message from the President that he would be sending an envoy to Washington and that he would then provide a direct response to that message at that time.
QUESTION: When --
MR. CASEY: I don't have a specific timetable for it. You know, I would expect we are talking within the next couple of weeks.
QUESTION: About the multinational forces, did he respond to Frazer's comments about implementing that?
MR. CASEY: Again, I'll let the Government of Sudan talk about their specific reactions to this. Again, she made a very clear case of what U.S. policy is, and he certainly listened to what she had to say. Whether there will be any specific comments on this from the Government of Sudan, again, I'll leave it to them.
QUESTION: Is there some reason the Sudanese would be disgraced by having a United Nations force in there, as has been suggested by one of the translations of Bashir?
MR. CASEY: Well, I'm not sure which translation you're referring to, but -- you know, I think one of the things that we have continued to say, and it's important to remember, is there already is a United Nations force in Sudan. It is helping with the implementation of the North-South agreement. There already are international forces under African Union mandate in Darfur. The Darfur Peace Agreement specifically calls for a strengthening of those forces and an expansion of them to be able to implement the agreement. And we think that it is very clearly not only in the interests, again, of the international community, but of the Sudanese themselves to see that there's a force sufficiently strong to be able to implement and help them implement the Darfur Peace Agreement, which is ultimately the way to end the violence and assure a better future for everyone in that country.
QUESTION: One follow-up --
MR. CASEY: Sure.
QUESTION: -- on Sudan. The Chicago Tribune journalist -- did Ms. Frazer bring that up in the meeting and what was the response?
MR. CASEY: My understanding was that she did raise that in her meeting with President Bashir. I don't have any specific response to offer you. Again, I think, as we've said previously, you know, we want to see him receive a speedy and fair trial. A couple of you yesterday had asked us about the timeline of visits by U.S. Embassy officials to Mr. Salopek. This is the Chicago Tribune journalist who has been detained on a variety of charges by the Sudanese Government.
Again, the embassy in Khartoum learned that Mr. Salopek had been arrested on August 18th. On August 19th, one of the U.S. Military observers in Darfur was able to visit him, bring him some food and water. On August 21st, a consular officer then arrived in El Fasher and visited him on that day and visited him every other day consecutively through the 27th. That consular officer returned to Khartoum yesterday on the 28th and will be returning back to El Fasher and visit him again tomorrow, Wednesday, on the 30th.
He also, I think, as you know, was -- had the opportunity to meet with our ChargÃ© Cameron Hume, as well as Congressmen Shays and Higgins, who were in Darfur on an unrelated Congressional visit.
QUESTION: Is he okay so far, very --
MR. CASEY: Yes. Our reports are he is in good health. Certainly, again, we're concerned about the time between when he was first taken into custody and the delay in notifying us, as is generally required under consular agreements. But yes, he is in good health and again, we're continuing to visit him almost on a daily basis so that we can continue to verify the conditions in which he's being held and make sure he's okay.
QUESTION: Thanks. On Sudan again -- oh, I'm sorry, go ahead.
MR. CASEY: Okay.
QUESTION: Before Ms. Frazer left, she said that she expected a UN Security Council resolution on Darfur within the next few days. Given that you now are talking about several weeks for an envoy to come here, does that mean this resolution will be pushed back and the re-hatting is likely to be in January?
MR. CASEY: Well, the -- again, the -- you probably heard from the British UN representative today that there is a plan to put forward a jointly drafted U.S.-UK resolution today to the Security Council. The exact timing of the -- when a vote might take place on that, obviously, depends on discussions within the Council. But we are hopeful that we could have that resolution passed this week.
MR. CASEY: Okay.
QUESTION: And where is Ms. Frazer now? Is she -- she's still in Khartoum or she's gone?
MR. CASEY: I believe she has departed Khartoum and is on her way to Stockholm, but let me check for you and see if I can find that for you. I'll check and verify that for you, Sylvie. I believe she has departed Khartoum now and is on her way to Europe, but let me check for you.
QUESTION: Thank you.
QUESTION: Tom, I can understand your reluctance to speak for the Sudanese Government and to describe the responses that the president gave to Ms. Frazer on any number of subjects, but you could be asked, I think legitimately, to characterize the United States view of this discussion and whether or not you were pleased with how it went and whether you considered it constructive and so forth.
MR. CASEY: Well, I think they had a frank discussion. I think it was important that she was received rather warmly by him at his personal residence. You know, again, they had a good exchange of views. What I'm trying not to do, James, is speak for the Sudanese Government or make any claim that, you know, I have heard any kind of definitive response from them coming out of this meeting. Again, President Bashir said that he would be sending an envoy to Washington directly to respond to the message from The President, and I think we'll let them speak to either what they wish to say now about this or what the envoy has to say when he arrives.
QUESTION: Is sending an envoy a good enough answer, though? I mean, Secretary Frazer said the other day discussions needed to stop and there needed to be action, so adding another couple weeks to this process doesn't seem to be ending discussion.
MR. CASEY: Well, I don't have a specific -- again, a specific timetable for you as to when the envoy might or might not come. But we are moving forward. We're moving forward in the UN today, as I said. There's a resolution that's being tabled that calls for what the Darfur Peace Agreement calls for, which is an expanded force in the region under UN auspices to be able to implement the agreement. This is an agreement that the Government of Sudan has signed onto. It's an agreement that other players have signed onto.
So we are moving forward, we are making progress, and you know, I expect we'll see more as the days go forward.
QUESTION: Yes. Other travels. Kofi Annan has just visited the Middle East. He's been --
MR. CASEY: Oh, still on Sudan, Samir? Okay.
QUESTION: Sudanese officials said today on Arab television that the message from President Bush contained positive incentives, among it the promise to remove Sudan from the list of countries sponsoring terrorism and also removing economic sanctions. Do you confirm, please?
MR. CASEY: Look, you know, the private messages from one president to another are going to remain that way. Obviously, you know, this is part of our diplomatic discussion. We believe that it's important that Sudan accept this force and move forward with implementation of the Darfur Peace Agreement.
In terms of U.S. relations, U.S. bilateral relations with Sudan, obviously we've said repeatedly that those relations can only move forward in a positive direction if there are resolutions to not only the North-South concerns, which have been moving in a positive direction, but also to the situation in Darfur. And obviously there are, you know, many things that could occur once those issues are resolved, but at this point we need to see progress made in Darfur before I think anyone can start talking about our relations changing in any meaningful way.
QUESTION: Okay. Kofi Annan has just been visiting the Middle East, and it appears over the last number of days that Nasrallah of Hezbollah seems to be contrite in saying that if he had known the Israelis would have started this ongoing war with them, he's sorry. And secondly, is the term "conflict resolution" at the priority here because it appears not to be in some countries' vocabulary. You mentioned earlier the Syrians and Iranians. And what has to be done in order to stabilize the region? You saw Hamas in the last number of days where they freed the Fox television journalist. It's in ongoing discussions. That took less than a week. Is there something aside from the high priority that can be done at a lower level in resolving these particular conflicts with Palestinians, Lebanese, Syrians and Iranians?
MR. CASEY: Well, I think the way to resolve the conflict currently in Lebanon is for full implementation of resolution 1701. And I think what you heard from the Secretary General was a clear message to all parties that that resolution and its terms need to be implemented and need to be implemented fully, and you can't cherry pick what you wish to comply with and what you wish to ignore. There's a package there. It's a package that represents something that will serve the interests of all the parties involved, as well as ensure that we don't wind up exactly where we were about a month ago at this time with a situation where a militia and a terrorist group can launch an unprovoked attack on Israel. I think some of you heard Sean yesterday say that, you know, this was the comments by Mr. Nasrallah were, in a certain sense surprising. One would think that before one starts a war, and that is what Hezbollah did in this instance, one might try and think through the consequences.
QUESTION: In Libya, the death penalty has been requested against the Bulgarian nurses, and I wanted to know your reaction. What do you think about that?
MR. CASEY: Well, my understanding, as you know, the conviction of the Bulgarian nurses and Palestinian doctor had been overturned by the Libyan Supreme Court and a new trial requested. As I understand it, the prosecutorial phase of that trial is ongoing, although the procedures have now been suspended as I understand until September 5th. Clearly our view on this remains the same. We wish to see these individuals allowed to return home to their families and to their country. Obviously what happened was a terrible tragedy and we have great sympathy for the Libyan citizens, the Libyan children, who were affected by this and have supported efforts to assist them, including through a new international fund that's been set up.
Mr. Lambros. Yeah.
QUESTION: Yes. But there are so many witnesses who said for the last nine years, but those five individuals, the Bulgarian nurses, and the Palestinian doctor had infected 426 children with HIV, using pills from a company. So I would like to know what is the U.S. position that (inaudible) for so many years to (inaudible) because it's a big issue?
MR. CASEY: Mr. Lambros.
MR. CASEY: I have heard you repeatedly refer to "pills" as a means of transmitting AIDS. I am not away of any scientific or other information indicating that this is possible, much less that that occurred in this particular case. Again, this was a tragic incident involving these individuals, but U.S. position on it remains the same and hasn't changed.
QUESTION: When you are saying tragic, that means it was done by the nurses or it was done by accident?
MR. CASEY: Meaning the circumstances of the case were certainly not anything deliberate and was certainly a situation in which, again, we believe the individuals involved should be allowed to be freed and be able to return home to Bulgaria.
QUESTION: Yeah, Turkish Government has approved to send troops to Lebanon. The decision will go to the parliament, but do you have a comment on that?
MR. CASEY: Well, certainly, we welcome the contributions of all nations to the expanded UNIFIL force for Lebanon. I know that there have been a number of countries that have come forward with very significant contributions, including the Italians as well. I know the Turkish Government is still, as I understand it, trying to determine the exact size and scope of its contribution. But obviously, we're pleased to see that occur as well.
At this point, my understanding is total pledges of troops from both European and non-European nations brings the existing pledges for UNIFIL up to approximately 12,000 troops, 12,000 forces. Some of the earlier elements of that -- understand some of the Italian elements are in fact departing for Lebanon today as I understand it. So this process is moving forward and it's important that it does, because obviously, this is one of the critical elements of Resolution 1701 and of assuring a long-term solution to the problems there.
QUESTION: Yes, on Turkey. Mr. Casey, the other day, Turkish F-16 in the Iranian (inaudible) strike PKK position in northern Iraq, which provoked a strong reaction by Massoud Barzani against that. Any comment? Do you have anything on that?
MR. CASEY: I really don't have anything for you on that, Mr. Lambros. Again, the only thing I would say is that it's very important that we and the Iraqi Government, and the Government of Turkey all work together to end the threat posed by the PKK.
QUESTION: As we understand, PKK has two branches: the political one and the military one. Which from the two you consider not a terrorist one in order to negotiate with Ankara?
MR. CASEY: Look, Mr. Lambros, the discussions and what the envoy will be doing is talking with the Government of Turkey and the Government of Iraq. We are not engaged in conversations with the PKK or with any other terrorist organization.
QUESTION: And the last one, since --
MR. CASEY: I'll tell you what, we're out of last ones.
QUESTION: Very important, since --
MR. CASEY: They're all important.
QUESTION: Since General Joseph Ralston, as coordinator, will be involved (inaudible) that via (inaudible) Turkey and PKK are entering a kind of political dialogue, how will be this mechanism?
MR. CASEY: No. You can assume that General Ralston will be talking with officials of, again, the Government of Turkey and the Government of Iraq on how they and we can all work together to coordinate actions to assure that the PKK cannot conduct terrorist activities.
QUESTION: What are the reactions of PKK in this negotiation?
MR. CASEY: Again, I think we're pretty clear on that one.
You've got one more over here?
QUESTION: On North Korea --
MR. CASEY: Sure.
QUESTION: -- related issues. A South Korean broadcaster has reported that America's looking to strengthen its sanctions against North Korea. Do you have any information? Can you --
MR. CASEY: I don't have anything new for you on that. Again, we continue to call on the North Koreans to return to the six-party talks. That's what we and all our other partners in the six-party talks believe is the appropriate way forward.
QUESTION: Also --
MR. CASEY: The same thing? Okay.
QUESTION: Same thing. Well, related.
MR. CASEY: Related.
QUESTION: The South Korea envoy to six-party talks, Mr. Chun Yung-woo, he's -- it's been announced that he's going to be coming to Washington on the 30th -- on the 31st. Can you confirm that -- that he'll be meeting with Ambassador Hill?
MR. CASEY: I don't have dates for the visit. I do understand he's coming sometime this week and my understanding is that he'll be meeting with Assistant Secretary Hill, as well, I believe, with Under Secretary Burns; that they'll have a discussion of a broad range of bilateral issues. Obviously, the six-party talks always factor into our discussions with the Koreans.
Let's go over here.
QUESTION: Can you confirm the reported trip that Ambassador Hill will go to China next month?
MR. CASEY: No, I'm not aware of any plans for travel by Assistant Secretary Hill, but we'll keep you updated.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MR. CASEY: Okay. Thanks, guys.
(The briefing was concluded at 1:20 p.m.)
Released on August 29, 2006