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State Dept. Daily Press Briefing September 6, 2006

Daily Press Briefing
Sean McCormack, Spokesman
Washington, DC
September 6, 2006


U/S Burns's Travel to Berlin / Meeting with P-5+1, Canada, Japan,
and Italy
Solana Meeting with Larojani / No Bearing on Moving Forward on
Sanctions / No Negotiation on Negotiations
Khatami Visit to the U.S. / No One From the Administration Meeting
with Him / Diplomatic Security is Providing Security Services for
His Visit / He is Here at the Invitation of Private Organizations
Verifiable Enrichment Suspension Directly Linked to Negotiations
and Suspension of UN Security Council Actions / Long-Term Goal is
to See that Iran Does Not Have a Nuclear Weapon / Iranian Regime
Taking the Path to Sanctions and Further Isolation
Secretary Rice's Call to IAEA Director ElBaradei
Timing of UN Security Council Action / Secretary's Activity at the
UN General Assembly

Agreement with Tribal Leaders of North Waziristan to Withdraw
Troops / Border with Afghanistan Can Not Be a Haven for Terrorists
President Musharraf's Efforts / Government of Pakistan will
Continue to Hunt Terrorists / Consultations with the U.S.

Continuing and Increased Levels of Violence in Darfur / U.S.
Continuing to Pressure Sudanese Government / Status of AU
Rehatting to a UN Force / Darfur Peace Agreement Must Be
U.S. Working with AU and UN Security Council
Former Deputy Secretary Zoellick Instrumental in Sudan / Secretary
Rice and A/S Frazier Involvement / Agreements and Resolutions Must
be Implemented

Pipeline Agreement to Diversify Delivery and Supply

Welcome the Offer of Troops to UNIFIL

Possible Nuclear Test Would be a Deeply Provocative Act
Secretary Rice's Meeting with South Korean National Security
U.S. Will Protect Itself and Its Currency / Sanctions are In Place
Because of North Korea's Behavior
Implementation of UNSC Resolutions


12:05 p.m. EDT

MR. MCCORMACK: Good afternoon. Lambros, how are you? I don't have anything to begin with so we can get right into your questions.

QUESTION: Let's check again if we can on those two important meetings. The Burns meeting with the others of his level is indeed tomorrow?

MR. MCCORMACK: It is indeed tomorrow. He is leaving --

QUESTION: For Berlin.

MR. MCCORMACK: He is leaving this afternoon for Berlin, yes.

QUESTION: All right. Now there's been a lot of contradictory information coming from Europe on the --

MR. MCCORMACK: I would know not from here.

QUESTION: No, you guys are always right on the money. The Solana meeting with Larijani.


QUESTION: What is your understanding now?

MR. MCCORMACK: Check with either Mr. Solana's office or Mr. Larijani's office. We're not party to that meeting. We support the effort to keep channels of communication open certainly by way of trying to convince the Iranian regime to meet the conditions that the international community has laid out before it. But we are not party to that meeting so you'd have to check with those who are supposed to be attending such meeting.

QUESTION: Well, surely you don't like delay, do you? I mean, Iran -- Mr. Joseph just said a few minutes ago that Iran plays for time; it keeps trying to delay things.

MR. MCCORMACK: I think that's a fair statement borne out by recent history going back over several years.

QUESTION: All right. It's a critical meeting. But there's delay of a week. I know it's only a week --

MR. MCCORMACK: Barry, you're confusing two things here.

QUESTION: All right.

MR. MCCORMACK: The Solana-Larijani meeting has no bearing on whether or not we continue down the pathway of seeking sanctions as follow-up to the agreements reached in Paris, Vienna and then in New York. So those two things are separate. Certainly the rest of the world, including the United States, would like to see the Iranian regime take up the world on its very generous and fair offer: meet the conditions, suspend all enrichment and reprocessing related activity and in return we'll suspend action in the Security Council and negotiate with you toward the end that the Iranian state has told the world that it wants, a peaceful nuclear energy program.

But whether or not Mr. Solana and Mr. Larijani meet has no bearing upon whether -- on our progress down the pathway of seeking sanctions on Iran.

QUESTION: Now let me ask you one other thing. You've said it at least twice about no contact with Khatami.


QUESTION: But it's timely to ask again because he's around.


QUESTION: You also on one occasion -- I think it was you -- sort of welcomed tough questions from the American public who might be part of these events.

MR. MCCORMACK: And the news media who happened to be interviewing him.

QUESTION: Yeah. Well, can we go through the drill one more time? Is there any possibility that U.S. officials will take the opportunity to meet with Khatami?

MR. MCCORMACK: Nobody from this Administration, Barry.

QUESTION: Can you -- I saw a report in the Boston Globe today and I think it was on the wire yesterday quoting Governor Romney as saying that he was not going to allow state, you know, police officers to provide any assistance to him. Is the State Department providing any kind of security or other assistance to former President Khatami while he's here?

MR. MCCORMACK: We are. Our Diplomatic Security Service is providing security services for the former president. There is precedent for this, former high-ranking officials traveling throughout the United States. We've done this type of thing before.

Diplomatic Security has been -- they worked with the Massachusetts government, the Massachusetts State Police. Our Diplomatic Security folks believe that they have the assets in place so that they can fulfill the mission that they have set out for themselves.

QUESTION: So it's not a problem that the Massachusetts State Police are not going to help?


QUESTION: Can you -- following on that, is there any estimate of how much the American taxpayer is paying for or what costs associated with Khatami's visit are being borne by the American taxpayer?

MR. MCCORMACK: I don't know that anybody has done those calculations, James.

QUESTION: I'm starting to get confused. Last week you were saying this is a private visit and yet the State Department is obviously helping out with security. Is this because you're required to or is this because you want to or what?

MR. MCCORMACK: It is something that we thought was prudent to do. Again, this in no way changes our policy views with respect to the visit. He is not here at our invitation. He is here at the invitation of private individuals and organizations. We felt as though however that it was a prudent step to take to provide the security while he was here.

QUESTION: Well, do you think then it may be helpful for the U.S. in any sense to have somebody here who is from Iran, was the former president, who doesn't necessarily espouse the views of the current regime that he, for example, does not deny the Holocaust, that he does recognize -- say that the Iranians should recognize the right of Israel to exist.


QUESTION: Do you welcome that?

MR. MCCORMACK: We've gone over this before. He is here at the invitation of private groups and individuals. He is here for a variety of different reasons to engage in this "Dialogue of Civilizations," which is a private effort. Look, while he was president of Iran he talked about the fact that Iran and the Iranian people should recognize the state of Israel. So that's on one hand. On the other hand, Iran continued at the same time he was saying that providing money and funding to Palestinian rejectionist groups like the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. So others will assess whether or not the label "moderate" or any other political label applies to the former President of Iran. We have not put ourselves as the U.S. Government in the position of standing between those private American organizations and citizens who wanted to hear what former President Khatami had to say. That's the extent of our involvement in this visit.

QUESTION: Well, not exactly, Sean. In providing security, because you thought it was the prudent thing to do, the appropriate thing to do, I mean, do you fear for his safety if you didn't provide security? What was the rationale? Why was the --

MR. MCCORMACK: I won't get into the details of it, Charlie, but we have done this in the past and we -- our security people took a look at it and believe that it was the smart, prudent thing to do.

QUESTION: Back on the nuclear issue if I might --

QUESTION: Can I just --


QUESTION: To follow on this.


QUESTION: What is the precedent? I'm sure that the U.S. Government has provided security for former official from other countries, but I'd be interested to know whether the U.S. Government has done this for former officials from countries with whom the United States doesn't have -- does not have diplomatic relations and that are on the state sponsors of terrorism list.

MR. MCCORMACK: I will check for you on that, Arshad. Off the top of my head, I don't think there's any overlap in those two categories, but we'll see. I'll see.

QUESTION: Back on the nuclear issue, Sean. The Foreign Minister of Iran appeared on television today and said that a "short-term suspension" of uranium enrichment was on the meeting agenda for Mssrs. Larijani and Solana. I wonder what the U.S. view is of a short-term suspension of uranium enrichment, and when the U.S. was working with its allies in the Security Council what the length of time for the suspension of enrichment was that was always envisioned. Was it supposed to be indefinite, et cetera?

MR. MCCORMACK: The suspension was envisioned as lasting as long as the negotiations lasted. So if you had an end of the Iranian suspension, that would mean the end of the suspension of activity in the Security Council and presumably that would also mean the suspension of negotiations. So those two things are linked: suspension for suspension. That's the idea. There's not a specific time limit that has been put on it.

QUESTION: So does the United States Government view it as at all productive or hopeful or encouraging that the Foreign Minister of Iran today is talking about a short-term suspension?

MR. MCCORMACK: Look, at this point, James, what we need to see are actions. We have plenty of words.

QUESTION: Just -- can I clarify something? So you're saying that as long as Iran would suspend its uranium enrichment, just to be clear, that you would suspend any further action at the UN Security Council?

MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah, that's not news. That has been the deal --

QUESTION: No, I'm not. No, I know. I just --

MR. MCCORMACK: -- since the beginning – it would be suspension for suspension. Suspension of -- Iran verifiably suspends its enrichment-related nuclear activities and there would be a suspension of activity within the Security Council in this case moving down the pathway of sanctions.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) so alarming to --

MR. MCCORMACK: Support for terrorism, human rights abuses.

QUESTION: No, no, no. Activities such as building reactors, such as work on heavy water, work in plutonium.

MR. MCCORMACK: This is -- well, you can --

QUESTION: I mean, you know, we went through this with North Korea. They suspended one thing and proceeded with another.

MR. MCCORMACK: I know, Barry. You can look -- I'm using a shorthand -- suspension enrichment-related activities. You can look at all the conditions. They're laid out in the Security Council resolution. They're laid out in the IAEA Board of Governors statement. But the reason why there is a focus on enrichment and reprocessing is because those are the truly critical pathways in order to achieve a nuclear weapon. If you don't have that know-how, you don't have the equipment, you don't have the experience doing it, you can't get a nuclear weapon absent buying that material. So that's why the focus on enrichment and reprocessing.

Yes, there are a lot of other parts and processes that go into building a nuclear weapon, but those are perhaps some of -- aside from weapon design and that sort of thing -- those are perhaps the two most critical procedural pathways.

QUESTION: Sorry. Just on suspension, so suspension as long as the negotiations lasted, but your long-term goal is still permanent suspension, isn't it?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, our long-term goal is to see that Iran doesn't develop a nuclear weapon. That's a shared goal among the rest of the world. There is a lot of discussion about Iran's rights under the NPT and whether or not they have a right to a peaceful nuclear program. Nobody is disputing that. What is in dispute is whether or not Iran is actually being, shall I say, forthcoming, fully forthcoming with the international community about the nature of their program and exactly what they're doing on the ground with their nuclear program.

We have gotten to a point, because of Iran's behavior, that the international community frankly doesn't believe Iran when it says that it is pursuing only a peaceful nuclear energy program. That is why we are in the situation in which we find ourselves right now, where they have a Security Council resolution that demands they take certain steps and that we are now proceeding along the pathway of sanctions against Iran. It is not a situation that we or anybody else want to be in. Certainly, we would have preferred to go down the pathway of negotiation, finding an equitable, diplomatic solution to achieving what Iran's stated goals are. But unfortunately that is not the pathway that the Iranian regime wants to go down, so now we are going down the diplomatic pathway of seeking sanctions on the regime.

There's no desire to harm or punish the Iranian people, but the Iranian regime has really taken the Iranian people down this pathway to further isolation. They are the ones on whom the burden rests.

Yes, Libby.

QUESTION: Can you confirm reports that Secretary Rice spoke with Mohamed ElBaradei today?

MR. MCCORMACK: I think she spoke with him yesterday.

QUESTION: Oh, it was yesterday?

MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah. She did talk with him yesterday.

QUESTION: What was the content of that call as far as, you know --

MR. MCCORMACK: They talked about Iran.

QUESTION: No more specifics?

MR. MCCORMACK: No. I generally don't get into a great deal of specificity with the Secretary's phone call. They talked generally about Iran.

QUESTION: Was he trying to push for, you know, letting the Europeans talk to Iran a little bit more or anything like that?

MR. MCCORMACK: I -- again, I'm not going to get into the specifics of their call, but let's go back and cycle back to where we began with Barry's question. As for the EU meeting -- EU representatives meeting with Iranian representatives, of course they should. Others who have diplomatic relations with Iran, we would hope would encourage the Iranian regime to comply with the demands of the international community. So there's no problem with the EU meeting with the Iranian representatives.

But again, as I said, that does not bear upon Nick Burns's meetings in Berlin coming up tomorrow. He's going to be meeting with the P-5+1. He's also going to meeting with some of his counterparts from other countries: Canada, Italy and Japan. They're going to be talking about a variety of different issues. I think most of the discussions will focus on Iran, but they'll probably also touch on Sudan. They'll touch on Kosovo as well as other bilateral issues.

QUESTION: But, I mean, you say that one doesn't have bearing on the other, but if the European Union is continuing to talk with Iran, doesn't that make the rest of the Security Council members hesitant to consider sanctions because they feel as if negotiations are still going on?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, there's no -- again, let's repeat --

QUESTION: In your mind, but don't you see --

MR. MCCORMACK: In the European --

QUESTION: -- a reluctance of other countries?

MR. MCCORMACK: In the European mind there's no negotiating about negotiations. The objective, as I understand it, is to understand more clearly what it is that was in the Iran response, what it is they meant by certain things. Talking -- certainly there's no problem with those kinds of discussions going on, but they're not trying to change the terms and that's the key factor here.

QUESTION: No, but --

MR. MCCORMACK: They're not trying to change the terms about whether or not Iran has to meet certain requirements.

QUESTION: I understand. But do you sense unanimity among other members of the Council to move ahead with sanctions while these discussions with the Iranians go on?

MR. MCCORMACK: I never predict the outcome of Security Council votes. But look, this is going to be tough, complex diplomacy, I grant you that, up in New York. We've seen this before. It will play out over the coming weeks. But we are going down the pathway in seeking sanctions, which is as a follow-up to the agreements in Paris, Vienna and New York.

QUESTION: Sean, I know you don't like to do timetables, but is it realistic to think maybe there would be a resolution during the UN General Assembly? Is that what the Secretary would hope for?

MR. MCCORMACK: No, I never lay money on when -- a specific date when the Security Council is going to act. We of course would like it to act as soon as possible. But I think the reality of it is that this is -- these are going to be tough discussions and tough diplomacy. Serious matters, countries will take it very seriously and there will be a lot of thought, a lot of discussion that goes into it.

Yes, Nicholas.

QUESTION: Sean, does she plan to negotiate a resolution when she goes up to New York or will she leave most of the negotiation, or the negotiating, to John Bolton and his team?

MR. MCCORMACK: I'm sure that this will mirror the previous efforts in that regard. Clearly, the Secretary is going to be deeply engaged in the process. Nick clearly is and John is as well. So there's going to be activity in capitals around the world. There's going to be activity up in New York. And certainly when she goes up to the General Assembly she's going to probably spend quite a bit of time on this matter. But there are other things that will be on her agenda: North Korea, Kosovo, Sudan, as well as a variety of other issues. And we'll talk a little bit more about exactly what's on the agenda and what meetings she'll have when she goes up to New York as we get closer to her departure.

Yes. James.

QUESTION: On the Rice-ElBaradei call, who initiated it and how long do it last, do you know?

MR. MCCORMACK: I'll check for you, James. I don't know. Off the top of my head, I don't know.

QUESTION: Will you make it a taken question or --




QUESTION: What do you plan -- what do you expect will come out of this meeting tomorrow? You plan to publish a statement or brief the --

MR. MCCORMACK: Out of the P-5+1 meeting?


MR. MCCORMACK: I would expect that at this point it's going to be a matter of taking stock where we are in light of Iran's refusal to meet the requirements laid out for it by the Security Council. We are going to talk about our view. Our view has been very clear public -- both in public and private that we are pushing for a sanctions resolution. 1696 talked about a Chapter 7 resolution under Article 41 and that's the basis on which we intend to proceed and engage in these discussions.

QUESTION: And a statement will be published?

MR. MCCORMACK: I don't expect that -- it's not the kind of meeting where you have a statement. It's more of a working meeting so I don't expect a statement to come out of this meeting.

QUESTION: Briefing?

MR. MCCORMACK: They may have –


MR. MCCORMACK: May be an ambush -- standing outside the door? (Laughter.) The individual political directors will make their own decisions about when and where they talk to the media.

Okay, anything else on Iran?

Mr. Gollust.

QUESTION: Sean, new subject.


QUESTION: The Pakistani Government reached an agreement with local militias, local clan leaders.


QUESTION: In the border area of Waziristan, apparently the Pakistani forces will withdraw, these militias will take over security, but apparently with only verbal commitments to stop the sort of cross-border traffic. This has caused some anxiety in Afghanistan. Do you share that concern?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, President Musharraf is actually in Afghanistan at the moment and that is certainly -- that is very positive. They have -- Afghanistan and Pakistan have a shared interest in seeing that that border area is not a safe haven for al-Qaida or terrorists. Afghanistan and Pakistan are both threatened by al-Qaida. They are both threatened by terrorists. So this -- we'll see how this agreement plays out. I know that this is something that is very important to President Musharraf in trying to get a handle on that situation. This is an area that has been -- well, you can go back and look in the history books for yourself, but ungoverned for many, many years in terms of Pakistan and even prior to that the British while they were there.

So we will see how the agreement is implemented. You correctly point out that the agreement is that the people of North Waziristan, of that area, will no longer allow Waziristan to serve as a launching point for attacks, that it will not be a safe haven for al-Qaida, and in return the Pakistan military will go into cantonment areas. They will -- you can talk to the Pakistanis about exactly where they will withdraw to, but those forces will still be available to take action if necessary. And this is -- there are also a number of political and economic aspects to this agreement.

So the bottom line is we'll see how it is implemented and we'll see what the outcome of the implementation is. Now, I have -- I did see some earlier comments yesterday about the agreement and about the ability of senior al-Qaida leaders to be present in that area. I know the Government of Pakistan has come out very clearly and said that they will continue to hunt senior al-Qaida leaders and they will not allow that area to serve as a safe haven for al-Qaida or terrorists.

QUESTION: It is indeed the case that this part of the world has not been subject to central authority for, you know, decades and it was my understanding that the Pakistani military went in there partly at the behest of the U.S. Government and it was at times -- their operations there were at times cited with great approbation by Administration officials that they were actually taking action and trying to find members of al-Qaida or pro-Taliban militants. And I wonder why you think there is any reason to believe that the local authorities will be any more energetic in pursuing al-Qaida or Taliban, pro-Taliban militants, now than they were before.

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, we'll see, Arshad. We'll see. This is, as I understand it -- and again, the Pakistanis can go into the details of their proposal, of the agreement, but it does involve also development, economic as well as political aspects. And we all know from experience in looking around the world one of the best ways to deal with these ungoverned areas is to come at it from a number of different angles, come at it from a military angle, come at it from an economic angle, come at it from a political angle, so that you do build up institutions there that are reliable for the central government. The Pakistani Government has an interest in this agreement working and so we have every expectation that they will look to implement it in good faith and that we all share the same result that -- the same objective in that that area is not allowed to be a safe haven for terrorists.

QUESTION: So did they consult -- did the Pakistani Government consult you before deciding to strike this agreement and are you then fully in favor of it? You feel like the local authorities, if that is the right word, are going to be better at going after these groups than the Pakistani military would have been?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, a couple of things. One, it's not necessarily for us to offer the up-or-down seal of approval for an agreement. I think what we're interested in is seeing that this area be rid of terrorist elements. That would be good for Pakistan, be good for Afghanistan, be good for us.

As for the consultations, I do know that in her last trip to Pakistan President Musharraf raised this idea and he did walk her through some -- the framework that he had in mind for dealing with Waziristan and North Waziristan. It wasn't in an effort to seek her approval but really just to provide her the information. And I think that over the course of time we have had updates from the Pakistani Government on the matter. But this is a sovereign decision for them to take and they think that this is the best approach to reach what is an objective that all would share.


QUESTION: New topic?

MR. MCCORMACK: Okay. Anything else on this? Okay, go ahead.

QUESTION: There's some reports in the newspapers and also an Amnesty International report about a new offensive by Sudanese-backed forces. Some of these forces belong to Minni Minawi, who is now an advisor to the government -- but that the rebels are being, you know, backed up with government weapons, government planes, things like that, and hundreds more killings in Darfur.

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, we are quite concerned about the continuing and at this point it would appear to be increased level of violence in Darfur. Now as for the specific reports of the involvement of Minni Minawi's forces, I'll have to check for you, Elise. I don't have that information.

QUESTION: What are the -- sorry, go ahead.

MR. MCCORMACK: Go ahead.

QUESTION: What are the next steps to get the government to either allow this UN force to come in beyond talking to them or getting them to stop the violence, disarm the Janjaweed and also disarm this Minni Minawi force?

MR. MCCORMACK: It is hard-fought, inch-by-inch diplomacy. That is the way -- that has been the history of trying to move agreements forward with the Sudanese Government whether that is -- whether that was the Comprehensive Peace Agreement or the Darfur Peace Agreement. It is a tough diplomacy and it requires constant attention and constant focus. And that is what Jendayi -- that's one of the reasons why Jendayi Frazer went there herself. And we are continuing to put on the pressure. We are in very close contact with the AU. They are going to have to make some crucial decisions about their force in Darfur. We are confident that there will not be a vacuum one way or the other in Darfur, that there will be an international force presence there.

Now there are some questions about how exactly that happens and that's certainly the crux of the matter now and that is how to get that AU force re-hatted as a UN peacekeeping force. So that will -- that is a necessary condition for getting at the larger problem in Darfur. It's not a sufficient condition alone. You need also to address the humanitarian situation and ultimately you have to have the Darfur Peace Agreement implemented because ultimately there's -- it is going to be a political solution that will bring and end to the large-scale violence that is -- that has been ongoing and the violence that is going on there now.

QUESTION: Why are you confident that there will not be a vacuum?

MR. MCCORMACK: Because there are a number of different ways to come at this, Arshad, in terms of the AU. I'm not going to get into the various diplomatic options at this point, but we're in close touch with them and the AU doesn't want to see a vacuum there. They realize the importance of this mission. And we are going to be working very closely with them as well as the Security Council to see that the resolution is implemented and that there isn't that vacuum.

QUESTION: Is there any discussion of their extending their mandate unilaterally?

MR. MCCORMACK: There are a number of different things being talked about.

QUESTION: Can you talk more a little bit about what you mean when you say you're continuing to put on the pressure beyond kind of talking to them? This is a government that you -- that this Administration has said several years ago was, if not complicit, then responsible for a genocide in Darfur. So why is this -- why is the international community at large not getting tougher on this government?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, I think that we have -- we have been quite tough on them. But -- and the United States had led on his issue. I think it's a safe bet to say that we would not be here discussing this as one of the most important foreign policy issues of the day without the leadership of the United States Government in bringing this issue to the floor of the -- and bringing it to the attention of the international community and getting the international community to act.

But this is certainly a case where the United States cannot do it alone. We are working together with the international community. We are doing everything that we possibly can and it is also incumbent upon other members of the international community to do everything that they can to end the violence and to see these agreements implemented.


QUESTION: On Greece.

QUESTION: Oh, can I --

MR. MCCORMACK: Okay. We'll come --

QUESTION: I just want one on Sudan. The Administration has been accused of having been less involved in the Sudan question after the departure of Deputy Secretary Zoellick. So I was wondering if you have -- you had progressed on the nomination of a new Deputy Secretary?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, that presumes that a new Deputy Secretary would have the same portfolio as former Deputy Secretary Zoellick. He was intensely interested and devoted a great deal of energy to this issue and he got results. He was instrumental in arriving at the Darfur Peace Agreement.

But we have continued to be deeply engaged on this issue. This is something the Secretary is personally interested in and follows very closely. And Jendayi Frazer has also been very deeply involved. I note her recent trip to Khartoum. So we have been deeply involved in this.

Deputy Secretary Zoellick had, as I pointed out, a number of significant accomplishments during his tenure as Deputy Secretary, in particular on Sudan. And he and the United States Government as well others put in place a framework for a solution. You now have the Comprehensive Peace Agreement and you have the Darfur Peace Agreement. That put us on track to Security Council resolutions. We now have the Security Council resolutions. So it is now up to us as well as others to ensure that those agreements and those resolutions are implemented. Now that's hard. We see that with Security Council resolutions all the time. Note the recent Lebanese 1701 Security Council Resolution that brought an end to the fighting between Israel and Lebanon.

Once the agreements are signed comes the hard work of implementing them and that is tough, grinded out, day-by-day kind of work. And that's what we're doing with Sudan in Darfur, that's what we're doing with -- in Lebanon as well as elsewhere.

QUESTION: And what about the search for a new deputy?

MR. MCCORMACK: Still ongoing. We'll let you know.

Yes. Lambros.

QUESTION: Yes, on Greece.

QUESTION: Can we go -- still on the deputy? Still on the deputy. Who is picking up the Deputy Secretary's portfolio since he left? I mean, is it being spread around various under secretaries and assistant secretaries or is Nick Burns's kind of assuming the portfolio temporarily?

MR. MCCORMACK: No, I think if you use -- let's use Sudan as an example. I pointed out Jendayi Frazer, Assistant Secretary for African Affairs, has been deeply involved in that issue. And she was also very involved when Deputy Secretary Zoellick was here. She accompanied him on a number of trips and through a lot of the negotiations. And there's a real team in the African Bureau that's doing that.

On China, Bob Zoellick took a particular interest in China as well. Chris Hill, as well as our EAP -- East Asia and Pacific Bureau, is deeply involved in that. So you can go down the line of issues that he had a great interest in and was deeply involved in and you see people around the building working real hard on those issues.

Yes, Lambros.

QUESTION: In Greece. Anything to say about the agreement reached before yesterday in Athens by Greece, Russia and Bulgaria on highest level with the Greek Prime Minister Kosta Karamanlis and Russian and Bulgarian President Putin (inaudible) for the construction of a pipeline project Burgas-Alexandroupolis since you are very concerned, Mr. McCormack, about any of the issues in Southeast Europe?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, when Secretary Rice traveled to Greece she talked about the importance of diversity of supply as well as diversity of delivery pipelines, means of delivery. I'll have to look into the specific issue for you. But if it does -- if this in fact does add to a diversity of supply as well as a diversity of means of delivering that supply, then it's positive. But let me look into the specifics and we'll get you a specific answer to your specific --

QUESTION: Another one. A bunch of Greek senior diplomats met yesterday here at the State Department with DAS Rosemary DiCarlo and DAS Matt Bryza. May we have a readout of their talks and which sides initiated those meetings?

MR. MCCORMACK: We'll have to get something for you on that.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MR. MCCORMACK: Yes. Anything else on --

QUESTION: And on Turkey -- you might have something on Turkey.


QUESTION: On Turkey.

MR. MCCORMACK: On Turkey. Go ahead.

QUESTION: The Turkish parliament last night approved the plan of the popular Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan to send troops in Lebanon. As UN Secretary General, Mr. McCormack, Kofi Annan arrives in Ankara today to give more details. Any comment on this Turkish offer?

MR. MCCORMACK: We welcome the offer. We think it's important that countries around the world step up and meet an important need so that we do -- we are able to make progress in that small corner of the world, so that we don't end up back where we were at the beginning of these hostilities.

QUESTION: Thank you.


QUESTION: Just a couple of quick ones on North Korea. Assistant Secretary Hill is cited as having said in Beijing that the United States and the Chinese governments are discussing a warning to North Korea not to conduct a nuclear test. Is that an accurate characterization of their -- of his conversations in Beijing? Is there any particular reason why you would want to make such a warning now? And given that the North Koreans have this long history of blowing through most of your warnings, I wonder why you would be talking about that now.

MR. MCCORMACK: Okay. I take it you're trying to get at something there. (Laughter.) Look, there have been a lot of news reports about whether or not the North Koreans are considering a nuclear test. I've seen all those news reports. Obviously, I have no comment on those things other than to say that such an act would clearly be a deeply provocative act to the international community and we believe that it would be important for all the members of the international community, including China, to state very clearly to North Korea that this would be a very provocative act and that would only add to and deepen their isolation.

As for -- I have to say, I didn't see Chris's exact comments, but I expect that they were in answer to a question posed on the issue.

QUESTION: Two other quick follow-ups on North Korea. What can you tell us about this late 5 p.m. meeting that was added to Secretary Rice's schedule for today with the South Korean national security advisor?

MR. MCCORMACK: He's in town and he's the national security advisor. I believe the meeting is more in the vein of setting up President Roh's visit here to the United States. There have been a number of different meetings that we have had and I'm sure that the folks over at the White House have had with the South Korean Government in the run-up to that meeting.

QUESTION: The last one, and I apologize for not having drawn this to your guys' attention this morning. I was just -- it was drawn to my attention before the briefing started. But there's a British investment company which has bought North Korea's Daedong Credit Bank.


QUESTION: And the head of the British firm says that they want the United States to ease sanctions against North Korea. And if you could take it because I doubt you have anything prepared. But one, I don't know if you've ever been asked if you have an opinion on this British company making this investment.


QUESTION: And two, if there is even a scintilla of any interest on the U.S. Government's part on changing its sanctions regime against North Korea.

MR. MCCORMACK: On the first, I'll have to check to see whether or not we have any particular comment on a private -- what would appear to be a private transaction.

As for the steps that the United States has taken, look, North Korea has, you know, earned its way to this position the honest way -- through their misbehavior and through their actions. The United States is going to take steps to protect itself. The United States is going to take steps to protect its currency. It's pretty simple: Don't engage in counterfeiting, don't engage in illicit behavior and you won't have these kinds of problems. So I guess that would be the message to North Korea as well as others who might have an interest in this -- in the issue.

QUESTION: That the sanctions are here to stay?

MR. MCCORMACK: Again, they're in place. The variety of different measures the United States has in place right now are there for a reason. They're there because of North Korea's behavior and their behavior across a variety of fronts.



QUESTION: This is on the --

QUESTION: Is it related?

QUESTION: Well, similar.


QUESTION: Mssrs. Oberdorfer and Gregg in a commentary in the Post today say that the Administration is about to implement comprehensive additional sanctions against North Korea. I just wonder if you could comment on the state of consideration of such.

MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah, I read that. Look, what we are doing is we're looking at the implementation of Resolution 1695 that was passed 15-0 in the wake of North Korea's testing of several missiles not so long ago. So we are certainly having discussions about how to implement that resolution and that is -- that resolution talks specifically about the responsibility of member-states of the United Nations to -- and this is the shorthand -- basically not to in any way facilitate or assist the development of North Korea's WMD programs or their missile programs and to seek to prevent the proliferation of said programs around the globe. You can look at the resolution, but that's the essence of it.

So of course, yeah, we are talking with interested parties around the globe about how to -- what steps need to be taken to implement that resolution. I'm not going to try to prejudge at this point what actions might be taken, but it is a topic of discussion.

QUESTION: Since you read the commentary, the thrust of it is that sanctions are going to be counterproductive, perhaps cause the North Koreans to test a weapon and that there's hardly any support in the region for them --

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, you know, look, as for support in the region, we're now discussing with folks in the region as well as elsewhere. But I always find it very interesting this argument that somehow it is the fault of the United States or others when somebody else takes a step that is deeply provocative. So excuse me if I don't necessarily buy that argument that it is somehow -- that somehow these actions are somehow caused by the United States or the international community, when in fact it is some of these other states like North Korea that happen to be the outliers in terms of their behavior. So it's, again, up to those states like North Korea to change their behavior.

The international community has spoken with one voice; in this case 15-0 on the Security Council resolution. So it's pretty clear where the modification in behavior is needed.


QUESTION: What is the opinion of this building about the arrest of -- earlier this week -- of the head of Mahmoud Abbas's detail, Mr. Mahmoud Damra?

MR. MCCORMACK: I'll have to check into it for you.

QUESTION: There are some reports that the Bush Administration is petitioning the Israeli Government to release him.

MR. MCCORMACK: I'll check for you, Elise.

QUESTION: Okay. If you could take it, thank you.

QUESTION: Do you have anything on the state of Kim Jong-il's health? There's a report that a South Korean lawmaker is saying he's ill --


QUESTION: -- can't walk.


QUESTION: Thank you.


(The briefing was concluded at 12:50 p.m.)

DPB #144

Released on September 6, 2006


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