State Dept. Daily Press Briefing Sept. 13, 2006
Daily Press Briefing
Sean McCormack, Spokesman
September 13, 2006
Under Secretary for Political Affairs R. Nicholas Burns's Calls
with P5+1 and Others
Consultations with Colleagues / Preferred Pathway of the P5+1 and
No Indication Received that the Iranians will respond in a
Germany Does Not want Iran to Have a Nuclear Weapon
Status of UN Security Council Resolution / Sanctions Against Iran
Javier Solana's Meetings and Consultations with the Iranian Regime
If Iranians Suspend Nuclear Activities then We Can Begin
Read Out of Secretary Rice's Meeting with Republic of Korea
Assistant Secretary Hill Would Be Willing to Have As Many Meetings
as the DPRK is Willing to Have, in the Context of the Six-Party
Secretary Rice Talked with U.S. Senator Chafee
Secretary Rice's Meeting with APEC Officials
Sudanese Government Needs to Meets Its Commitments / Consent to an
U.S. Concerns Regarding Acts of Violence Have Not Abated
The UNSC Has Authorized Deployment of International Force & AU
Will Serve as the Core
The Substance of the Sudanese Reply to President's Request was
Relations Will Likely Get Worse if Sudan Does Not Agree to an
The U.S. will be Speaking with NATO Allies Prior to UNGA /
Continue to work with those interested in Assisting in the Country
The Conditions that are Required Between the Palestinian Authority
and Rest of the World are Missing / Not Seeing anything Different
Palestinian Authority is Failing to Meet the Needs of the
United States Continues to Tend to the Humanitarian Needs of the
Secretary Rice's Response to Media Reports on Her Relationship
with Peter MacKay
Secretary Rice's Recent Visit to Canada to the Thank the Canadians
for Their Kindness during the 9/11 2001 Terrorist Attacks
Nomination of Ambassador John Bolton as U.S. Permanent
Representative to the United Nations
U.S. Assessment on How Morales Government Dealt with
Read out of Secretary's Meeting Today with Prime Minister Jaroslaw
Expected Topics of Discussion for Secretary Rice's Meeting Today
with Foreign Minister Livni
U.S. Support and Financial Allocation for Lebanese Reconstruction
/ U.S. Friendship / Democracy Development
U.S. Embassy Damascus Remained Closed Today / Investigation is
On-going / One Remaining Known Attacker Died / Inquiry on Status
of Guards Injured and Syrian Cooperation
Those gathering for the Non-Alignment Conference in Havana will
Determine How Productive Their Gathering Becomes
Status of Assistant Secretary Hill's Travel
(2:51 p.m. EDT)
MR. MCCORMACK: Good afternoon. Don't have any opening statements, so we can get right into your questions.
QUESTION: Could we get --
MR. MCCORMACK: Who wants to start? Barry.
QUESTION: You know, we need a 24-hour filler – a filler over the last 24 hours of Mr. Burns's activities. And you remember there were calls yesterday that --
MR. MCCORMACK: He got up this morning and came in to work, he had some meetings.
QUESTION: And they're all in favor of sanctions, right?
MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah.
QUESTION: Now he was going to, instead of just having a Monday night conference, whether he was going to keep calling. I wonder if he got back to it today?
MR. MCCORMACK: He had a conference call with his P-5+1 counterparts on Monday; one on Tuesday. At the moment, there's nothing else scheduled. He's on the phone with his counterparts individually and in other groupings virtually every single day, so it's just part of his ongoing diplomacy. I think as of right now, the EU-3 and the EU are going to have a meeting tomorrow about what possible sanctions might be included in the UN resolution. And I would expect that when the Secretary travels up to the UN General Assembly that there would be a meeting, some gathering ministers. She would also have bilats in which this topic would come up.
QUESTION: It is also referenced to -- there was also some reference to later this week talk going on at the UN about sanctions. Now I just wonder if that's, you know, intensive talks or just it comes up as diplomats talk.
MR. MCCORMACK: It's part of -- part of the diplomacy, consultations continue. John Bolton, our Ambassador up there, it is talking to his colleagues about this issue as well, being worked in capitals. Nick is working it. And I would expect you see the Secretary more publicly to do things starting next week when she has meetings and consultations with various configurations of the P-5+1 up in New York.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MR. MCCORMACK: Yes, Elise.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) do you think there'll be a specific P-5+1 ministerial on Iran or do you think it's just in the course of meeting bilaterally with the EU ministers?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, we're now -- we're still working through her schedule, so we'll get that to you as soon as we can here. I know we're coming up on the General Assembly next week, so we'll try to give you a little more detail on with whom she's going to be meeting during the General Assembly.
QUESTION: Okay, one more. I mean, how much of it depends on the speech by President Ahmadi-Nejad on Iran and what he says to the UN General Assembly?
MR. MCCORMACK: We don't have to wait for a speech. They could tomorrow come forward and say we're going to meet the conditions the world has laid out for us. And then the IAEA can verify that and then we could begin negotiations. That's where we are right now. You know, we've seen this game before from the Iranians. They want to stretch things out. They want to stretch it out. They want to say, well, we'll have a meeting on Thursday, no, let's have a meeting next Tuesday and it keeps going on and on and on. And at some point, the world has to say, look, we've given you the opportunity here and it's time to act. It's time to act with the Security Council and it's time to impose sanctions on Iran and to send a clear message to them that they have to take this seriously. I'm not quite sure that they are taking it seriously at the moment because they're not responding in a serious manner.
QUESTION: Given Iran's track record, I wonder how to take your description of how things would move. On the basis of Iran's word that it's stopping enrichment, the U.S. would be willing to go into negotiations or would you have to see some proof, some verification, before you would negotiate?
MR. MCCORMACK: I think everybody agrees there would have to be some verified suspension of enrichment-related activities.
QUESTION: IAEA meeting yesterday, a member of broader Vienna saying that there was supposed to have been a joint P-5+1 statement and that they couldn't agree on it and the Russians and Chinese thought balked because they didn't want the word "sanctions" in it. I mean, is that --
MR. MCCORMACK: I haven't checked. I haven't checked in on how things went over at the Board of Governors. I know that they were expecting to take up today issues related to Iran. I haven't gotten an update.
Look, it's enshrined in the Security Council resolution, it's enshrined in the statements out of Paris when the P-5+1 got together, so we have full confidence that everybody agreed to if the Iranians did not meet the conditions laid out for them by August 31st, then you start going down the pathway of sanctions. I think there's no dispute that that's what the agreement is. So that's where -- you know, that's the pathway we're headed down now.
We're doing consultations with our friends and colleagues, both in the P-5+1 and in the Security Council writ large, so that is the pathway we're going down. It's not our preferred pathway. Would we prefer to go down the pathway of negotiations and working across the table to try to resolve any differences, to try to understand exactly what the Iranian requirements are vis-Ã -vis a peaceful nuclear energy program and have the international community try to meet those requirements in a way that gives it assurance that they're not going to try to build a nuclear weapon under a cover of peaceful nuclear program. That's our preferred pathway. That's the preferred pathway of the P-5+1. It's the preferred pathway of the Security Council. The only group here that doesn't seem to prefer that path is the Iranian regime and that's too bad.
So we would still hope that they give a positive answer to the offer that has been extended to them. But thus far they have given no indication that they are going to respond in a positive way, at least in any sort of meaningful way.
QUESTION: Germany isn't part of the Security Council.
MR. MCCORMACK: Correct.
QUESTION: It wasn't part of that vote, but you've included it because of its prominence I suppose in this P-5+1. By all accounts from Europe today, and it isn't the first time, Germany is far less -- is reluctant -- whereas France and Britain supposedly are not, to impose sanctions and that statements are being watered down to please or to compromise with the Germans. So when you say they -- when you speak of the Council having voted the way it is and it's only logical to assume they'd stand by their word. How can you depend on Germany or do you know that Germany can be included with the others?
MR. MCCORMACK: Germany -- all the members of the P-5+1 know what they agreed to. Germany is a good friend and ally and Germany does not want Iran to have a nuclear weapon. And of course we're going to have consultations. That's what this diplomacy is all about. And different countries are going to bring different views to the table and right now that's the process that we're engaged is trying to hammer out a consensus as to what will be included in a sanctions resolution. So that's the direction we're headed in right now and we have confidence that all of the members of the P-5+1 will sit down across the table, get on the telephone and talk about this in a good faith manner and in the spirit in which the agreements that we have all made will be followed through on.
QUESTION: Sean, a number of State Department officials have suggested that at least if this is the first round of sanctions, perhaps there will be others, but that at least in this first attempt that imposing sanctions on Iran the emphasis will be on WMD and dual-use technologies, since that's where the greatest concern lies. Has Secretary Burns in these conference calls and in his meetings found there to be amongst our P-5+1 allies a consensus that that is the way to go, at least in choosing from this menu of possibilities?
MR. MCCORMACK: At this point, James, it's too early to give you a sense of exactly where we might end up with a resolution. I think that what you suggested -- the pathway that you suggested makes sense. I can't tell you that that is in fact where we will end up. But what we're trying to address here are the global concerns about their nuclear weapons program.
And just very generally, our approach here has been to gradually escalate and increase a diplomatic pressure on Iran. So as Secretary Rice has said before, you don't start out with the most draconian sanctions in a first resolution. This presuming that there could be more than one resolution. That again is presuming that Iran remains non-cooperative with the international community. So again, specific sanctions of where we might come out, at this point I'm not going to try to predict. But there is commitment to go for a Chapter 7 resolution, Article 41, which means sanctions and that the approach -- our approach has been one, and will remain one at the moment, where you go for a gradual -- a graduated approach, gradual escalation of pressure on the Iranian regime.
QUESTION: And so we haven't yet forged a consensus that, at least at this stage, that all the allies want to see those kinds of sanctions imposed.
MR. MCCORMACK: James, at this point, I'm not going to try to -- I'm not to try to prejudge where we come out.
QUESTION: Do you think Mr. Solana's efforts to discuss with Larijani were productive?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, thus far -- certainly we appreciate the efforts of Mr. Solana. He is making every effort to try to convince the Iranian regime that it is in their best interest and the best interest of the world to meet the conditions that were laid out for them by the international community. Thus far, the Iranians have not responded in a positive way. And by that I mean they have not agreed to meet the conditions that were laid out for them. It's pretty simply. This isn't tough. This isn't hard. They just have to suspend their enrichment-related activities in a verifiable manner. Then they can realize negotiations. They can get at the issues that they want to talk about; that they say that they want to talk about. They can possibly achieve, through those negotiations, exactly the ends that they say they want to achieve. So this isn't hard. It is a very simple thing that is being asked by the world of the Iranian regime. Thus far, they have refused to meet those very simple conditions.
QUESTION: Well, just to go back to this offer that they've made of this possible suspension. I mean, are you interested in finding some formula that could make the suspension work, while the negotiations continue or you think this is just more stalling?
MR. MCCORMACK: Look, suspension is suspension is suspension. The very -- the core element, the very elegant formulation that we -- the world have put forward to the Iranians is: suspend your enrichment-related activities and we will suspend activity in the Security Council. That deal still holds. And like I said, it couldn't be more simple. It's not complicated. I know the Iranians want to make it complicated. They want to bring all sort of other freighted issues to the table. They want to make it about the U.S. and Iran, it's not; it's about Iran's behavior. And we will see. We will see in the coming days and weeks how they react and we would expect that the world would react to their intransigence, their refusal to meet the demands of the world.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) on North Korea, can you give us a readout on Secretary Rice's meetings, both with the South Korean Foreign Minister and with the South Korean President today?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, she met with the Foreign Minister as well as the President in preparation for President Roh's meeting with President Bush tomorrow, so they were in preliminary conversations. I'll only describe it in the most general terms. They obviously talked about bilateral issues. There are a number of important issues in the U.S.-South Korea bilateral relationship including -- you know, including issues related to our alliance. Of course, they talked about regional issues. They talked about North Korea as well and our common interest in getting North Korea back to the six-party talks.
QUESTION: Foreign Minister Ban told some of us outside after his meeting that he hoped that the two leaders would discuss a way of trying to achieve a breakthrough in the stalled six-party process tomorrow and they discussed that in detail, and he said that he hoped they would be able to discuss a more common and more comprehensive approach on the six-party talks. Did you -- did he make any progress in these meetings today toward more consensus on how to deal with North Korea?
MR. MCCORMACK: Inasmuch as I relate to a meeting with the President, I'm going to let the folks at the White House talk about that meeting.
QUESTION: Steal his thunder, come on.
MR. MCCORMACK: No thanks.
QUESTION: Could I say something else a little bit out of the way? The Secretary spoke to Lincoln Chafee.
MR. MCCORMACK: Sure, she did.
QUESTION: And congratulated him. I wonder if we could get into -- get into it a little more deeply, if that's possible. Does she -- I don't know if it came up. I don't know if she asked, but has he -- did he say he would support Mr. Bolton's --
MR. MCCORMACK: That's going to be a decision for Senator Chafee. We certainly hope that he would. John deserves an up-or-down vote on the floor of the Senate and we would hope that the Senate Foreign Relations Committee would see fit to report him out to the floor and he can get a vote and if he gets the floor, we think he's going to win.
QUESTION: No, I'm --
MR. MCCORMACK: And in terms of the conversation, Barry, it's -- I'm not going to get into the private conversations. They did talk and the Secretary was happy to talk to him.
QUESTION: It's interesting for several reasons. His stated reason for not proceeding with confirmation the other day was that he had questions to ask, critical questions, clearly like U.S. policy and the Middle East. Apparently he doesn't quite agree with what the Administration is doing. And here's the Secretary of State calling to congratulate him. So I was wondering did any of that come into the conversation? Did his delay of Bolton come into the conversation? And --
MR. MCCORMACK: Barry, they had -- look, the Secretary talks to U.S. senators frequently. On any given week, she will have had multiple conversations with U.S. senators. I don't talk about the contents of those conversations.
QUESTION: I know. Do you consider it a political call?
MR. MCCORMACK: A political call, yeah. He's on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Barry.
QUESTION: Is that why she called him or did she call him because he won in a primary?
MR. MCCORMACK: It was a call of substance, Barry.
QUESTION: It was a call of substance.
MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah.
MR. MCCORMACK: It was -- the senator is on the committee that supervises or oversees the State Department.
QUESTION: It was an issues call.
MR. MCCORMACK: It was an issues call.
QUESTION: Yeah. On Sudan. Sudan said today that the AU had no authority to transfer, it's up to the United Nations. And I just wonder whether you have any comment on that. Also there are increasing reports of the Sudanese Government launching air attacks in Darfur.
MR. MCCORMACK: I think the Secretary, she told reporters on the plane on Monday in the strongest possible terms, told the Sudanese Foreign Minister what they need to do. They need to live up to their commitments. They need to agree to this international force coming into Sudan. Sudan is not going to realize a different kind of relationship with the rest of the world which they seem to want, absent cooperation on these crucial matters of international concern. Top of the list is assenting to that international force going into Sudan so that lives would be saved.
And the -- I don't have the specifics for you, Sue, on these attacks, but it's been very troubling what the Sudanese Government has been, by my latest information, preparing to do. I don't have the specifics of attacks. But the -- our concern has not abated concerning the Sudanese Government's actions with respect to either supporting or committing acts of violence in Darfur and that that is very troubling. That is why you have Secretary Rice managing this issue personally in concert with Assistant Secretary Jendayi Frazer who recently traveled to meet with President Bashir in Sudan to deliver a message directly from the President. So this is something that the United States has been pushing very hard on. It's very, very troubling and the Sudanese Government now needs to meet the demands of the international community, agree to that international force.
As for the legalities of this issue, I think that again that is something that's a distraction. The Security Council has authorized deployment of an international force and it has been stated all along that the AU Mission would form the core of that international force. I think that there was a willingness on the part of the AU to have that happen. So this other statement, although I have not seen it, on the surface would seem to be just a distraction.
QUESTION: So does the Secretary have any special plans at UNGA to push Sudan? What are you going to do about it? Because at the end of the month, that's when the AU mandate runs out --
MR. MCCORMACK: Right.
QUESTION: -- and if you don't have anything in place then aid groups, for example, say there's going to be mayhem.
MR. MCCORMACK: Right. Well, obviously, we're quite concerned about that scenario as well. So we're -- we are in close touch with the AU. We -- I don't think anybody wants to see that happen and see that occur. So we're in close contact with the AU. And the easy answer to this is that the Sudanese Government gives its clear unequivocal assent and support for an international mission in Sudan.
QUESTION: Are you asking for money -- Congress? Are you asking them to give additional funding for the --
MR. MCCORMACK: For the AU Mission?
QUESTION: For the AU?
MR. MCCORMACK: I'll check for you, Sue.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) that's on the funding thing, another thing that they said today was at the Arab League had pledged money to boost the AU force, rather than have a place for the peacekeeping force. Now is there any attempt to bring the Arab League into the --
MR. MCCORMACK: I'll check for you, David. I don't have the latest on that.
QUESTION: Sean, do you have a have a readout of what the letter that was transmitted to --
MR. MCCORMACK: I don't think it has been transmitted. There was -- I think that there was a desire to transmit a letter and deliver one personally to President Bush. Clearly, that wasn't going to happen. And I think we had a good sense from the Foreign Minister in the meeting with the Secretary as to the content and the substance of their response, which was unsatisfactory.
QUESTION: Which is to say they were talking of better relations and simply not addressing the question of the UN force?
MR. MCCORMACK: Right.
QUESTION: But did he actually have a letter to give to the President? In other words, there wasn't a letter. It was just a verbal reply or --
MR. MCCORMACK: I don't know if he actually had a physical letter, if somebody had sat down and typed up a reply. I don't know. But we did get the sum and substance of the Sudanese reply. And as you heard from the Secretary, it was unsatisfactory.
QUESTION: Can you check whether there was a letter? Because I thought Secretary Rice told on the plane that he had a letter which we -- which I am transmitting (inaudible)?
MR. MCCORMACK: No, there was not one that has been transmitted.
QUESTION: So they never gave you a piece of paper?
MR. MCCORMACK: No.
QUESTION: In addition to talking about (inaudible) -- that the relations wouldn't improve if the force wasn't allowed in. When she met with the Foreign Minister did she lay out potential consequences for the Sudanese Government if they didn't allow the force, such as a no-fly zone?
MR. MCCORMACK: Not in specificity. She did make very clear that while on one hand the Sudanese Government hope for better relations with the United States as well as other countries around the world, she made very clear that those relations certainly would not get better absent their support for this international force. And in fact, they could likely expect that those relations would get worse.
QUESTION: How strongly is the U.S. and its partners on the Council considering implementation of a no-fly zone and as well as possible punitive action against the Sudanese Government if they don't allow the force in?
MR. MCCORMACK: Look, of course we're thinking about what might happen if they don't agree to this. But again, I'm not going to get into those subjects in public. What we want the Sudanese Government to do is do what it said it was going to do after a Darfur Peace Agreement was signed that they would agree to an international force. The first of the prerequisite condition has happened -- there is a Darfur Peace Agreement. We expect that all parties would work to implement it and part of that is the Sudanese Government needs to step up and it needs to allow that international force in.
QUESTION: One more on Sudan. Did the Secretary offer any specific incentives during her discussions with the Sudanese Foreign Minister?
MR. MCCORMACK: The incentive is to do what the world has asked Sudan to do.
QUESTION: But did she say --
MR. MCCORMACK: And in fact demanded it to do.
QUESTION: But she did she say, "if you do this," then we'll give you A, B or C?
MR. MCCORMACK: No.
QUESTION: No. Okay.
QUESTION: Could I just check this. Secretary Rice said he brought a letter to the President, which I have not seen, I am transmitting it.
MR. MCCORMACK: She didn't -- there was not a letter transmitted to us. He may have, in fact, brought a letter with him, didn't see it. He said that he had something to deliver. But again, we got the substance of the reply. Whether or not they chose to formally transmit a piece of paper, either a written piece of paper or via -- or electronically, to my knowledge they have not.
QUESTION: So did you tell him don't bother giving it to the President? It's not worth the --
MR. MCCORMACK: He wasn't going to get a meeting with President Bush under those conditions.
QUESTION: So the President -- did he request a meeting and then the President said, or the White House said no or --
MR. MCCORMACK: I don't think we had to ask whether or not he was going to get a meeting with the President. Certainly he wasn't going to. Certainly, you know, President Bush was not going to sit there and listen to the reply that this Foreign Minister delivered to Secretary Rice and he wasn't going to hear anything different.
QUESTION: Well, Sean, did you see this meeting with the Foreign Minister as an opportunity for them to reply or to once again, you know, push the issue? I mean, I would think that the more senior officials that are meeting with this government to urge them to admit the force the better. I mean, why wouldn't the President sit down with him?
MR. MCCORMACK: To hear what -- to hear what --
QUESTION: No, not to hear --
MR. MCCORMACK: -- to hear what Secretary Rice --
QUESTION: -- (inaudible) is to push for a UN force.
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, when, you know, when there's an opening in the President's scheduling the department will let you know.
QUESTION: Sean, also overnight there are other reports that says now that there's ongoing violence north to south and that the peace agreement in Sudan between the north and the south is now crumbling. When does the whole ball of wax go to the UN, next week?
MR. MCCORMACK: Joel, it's a continuing matter of interest for the entire international community. There has been progress made in implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. Certainly that's something that requires constant attention on our part as well as the rest of the world and the people responsible for implementing the agreement.
QUESTION: NATO was unable today to secure more pledges -- pledges for more troops in Afghanistan. It doesn't look like anything would happen until the end of the month when the foreign ministers meet there. The spokesman for NATO said that there were some general expressions of interest but nothing specific. Are you disappointed or do you plan intensive diplomacy (inaudible) in New York when the foreign ministers of NATO will meet and then up in Brussels at the --
MR. MCCORMACK: We're going to be talking to our NATO partners certainly in advance of the general assembly. This is an important issue. And we have some thoughts in mind of countries that might contribute additional forces, might move some of their forces in countries. We're going to be having those conversations obviously in coordination with the NATO leadership. But we think it's an important issue and we hope to achieve some movement. And we appreciate the fact that NATO countries have stepped up. They are in the fight now in Afghanistan. They are certainly -- they're laying down lives, they're laying down treasure in defense of Afghanistan and Afghanistan's young democracy. We appreciate that. But clearly you heard from General Jones that there's more that's needed and we hope that the member countries will step up.
QUESTION: So now you're saying that you have in mind certain countries now. Are you moving beyond the point where you're expecting them to come forward or now you have specified countries in your mind that --
MR. MCCORMACK: No. This is -- as you've just said, there are countries -- countries have expressed some interest. There are various countries that have expressed some interest. So that we're going to be working with those countries that are interested in and that have the capabilities that are needed in Afghanistan.
QUESTION: Just one more. The countries that have troops in Iraq, NATO members, is it under any consideration that some of those troops might move to Afghanistan?
MR. MCCORMACK: I haven't heard. I haven't heard that.
QUESTION: Okay, thanks.
MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah.
QUESTION: Change of subject. There appear, Sean, to be very definite moves taking place in the Palestinian Authority to form, what they're calling, a national unity government. What is the U.S. view of what's taking place there, particularly with regard to the submission of portfolios and so on?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, I saw some comments from President Abbas about some -- a potential new government meeting and living up to former agreements made by the Palestinian Authority. Look, that would -- we would have to get into the specifics of exactly what was meant by that, what is the platform of this government, who is holding what positions. And at that point, we don't have -- at this point, we don't have those kind of specifics. So I think I would just very basically say the conditions that are required for a different kind of relationship now between the Palestinian Authority and the rest of the world, including the Quartet, very clearly laid out and thus far we haven't seen anything different, tangible from the Palestinian Authority. If that situation changes, certainly we'll take a look at what they have to say and do.
QUESTION: And what assessment is there on the part of our Government as to the impact that the denial of funds by the United States and by the other members of the Quartet have had on the Palestinian Authority since the funds were cut off?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, I guess I would turn it around. Certainly there has been an effect on the failure of the Hamas government to do -- take the required steps to meet the needs of the Palestinian people. They have a responsibility as a government to provide for the needs of the Palestinian people. They haven't done the things that are required, that have been required to suit the United States. But the international community to realize assistance -- they are, this is the group, the government that has broken with past practice. Despite all of that, we have -- we as well as others have stepped up and delivered humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian people. So we have been, as best we can, attended to the humanitarian needs of the Palestinian people. But the fundamental responsibility for providing for the Palestinian people rests with the Palestinian Authority and it's this government that has failed to do that.
QUESTION: On a lighter note, there was an article today in the New York Times --
MR. MCCORMACK: Yes. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: -- talking about the Secretary's visit with Foreign Minister Peter Mackay and how they have forged some sort of friendship possibly. What does the Secretary think of these kinds of stories and what --
MR. MCCORMACK: She had a good laugh when she read it. Look, she has a good working relationship, professional relationship with Foreign Minister Mackay and a lot of her counterparts. We appreciate the steadfastness of this Canadian Government and the Canadian people in places like Afghanistan. We talked a little bit about how people are laying down their lives in defense of democracy and freedom. Canada is part of that and we really appreciate it. And she was really honored to go up to Canada on September 11th and to thank the Canadian people. I don't know if you heard any of the stories from the airport manager and some of the people that took in American citizens during that time of need. And it was really a great visit, although it was a somber day and in many ways brought back some very tough memories of a very traumatic day in American history. There was also an uplifting element to it because you realized that in a time of need American does have friends like Canada and the Canadian people.
QUESTION: Do you think these kinds of stories hurt her ability to be taken seriously as a diplomat?
MR. MCCORMACK: No.
QUESTION: Well, I mean (inaudible) to continue with the lighter note.
MR. MCCORMACK: Uh-huh.
QUESTION: I mean, there are a lot of blogs and stuff in Canada that are talking about how he, you know, has a crush on the Secretary, how he's smitten with her and everything. I mean, you know, he did seem to be quite taken with her in their press conferences. So I mean, how does she feel about this admiration? (Laughter.)
MR. MCCORMACK: Barry, I agree with you. (Laughter.) You're shaking your head. I agree with you.
Okay. Yeah, Kirit.
QUESTION: Just two quick questions actually. There are reports out of Switzerland that a U.S. diplomat there is under investigation for espionage. I don't know if you have any information or --
MR. MCCORMACK: Nothing for you on that. I'll check into and see if there's anything that --
QUESTION: Okay. A second question was that apparently Senator Menendez has put a block on U.S. -- the Bush Administration's nominee for the Armenian ambassador just because the Administration will not recognize the Armenian genocide. Any information on that?
MR. MCCORMACK: In terms of senatorial holds this is, you know, talk to the Senate about this. It's the prerogative, I think of any senator to put a hold on a particular Senate action. In this case, our nominee has been reported out of committee to the floor of the Senate. We think that he should have an up-or-down vote. We think that given the opportunity that he will get the 51 votes required for confirmation. So we would hope the Senate would move forward on it.
Yeah. George Gedda.
QUESTION: Anne Patterson had a meeting with the Bolivian Vice President this morning. Do you have anything on that or do you have anything on the meeting? Do you have any evaluation then on how the Morales government is dealing with the counternarcotics situation?
MR. MCCORMACK: She did meet with him. I'm not sure if it was this morning, but recently. She has met with him. This is -- this is a tough call. And there are issues on both sides of it. The report that covers our assessment on this issue, I think is going to be coming out in the next week or two. So that will be the -- that will be our final assessment on it and I'm going to withhold any final comment until we see -- we have that report.
QUESTION: There's going to be an assessment on Bolivia alone?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, it's a drug majors report.
QUESTION: Oh, the majors report.
MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah.
QUESTION: Okay. Could you tell us what you can about the meeting with the Polish Prime Minister?
MR. MCCORMACK: It was their first meeting. And he is in town for a number of different meetings. He's going over to the White House for a meeting with Vice President Cheney, after he met with the Secretary. They really talked about a wide array of issues. Just going down the list here, they talked about the Middle East, they talked about Lebanon. Poland has a quite active interest in the Middle East, talked about Russia, talked about energy related issues. He had meetings over at the Department of Energy. Poland as a net energy consumer has a real interest in the diversification of supplies and delivery routes, talked a little bit about the politics of Central Asia, talked about Ukraine, Belarus, and also economic reform in Poland.
QUESTION: Can you provide any details on the Secretary's meeting with Tzipi Livni and what the topics for discussion will be? What's it focusing on?
MR. MCCORMACK: Going to talk about the situation, the status quo, where we find ourselves in the region. I would expect the meeting is going to happen in an hour -- hour and a half or so. I would expect that they talk about issues related to Israel and the Palestinians, talk about Lebanon, the implementation of 1701, probably the situation as a whole in the Middle East.
QUESTION: This morning, David Welch was testifying in the Senate and one senator criticized the U.S. aid to Lebanon. He said that most of the money announced by the Administration was, in fact, already authorized. And can you confirm that, for an example, some money was authorized for educational purposes and was reprogrammed for security -- reconstruction?
MR. MCCORMACK: I'll have to, you know, have somebody who's an expert in these budgetary matters and new money versus old money and reprogrammed money on these aid issues. It gets very complicated very quickly. So we'll get you an answer on that. Yeah, I can't tell you, I mean, standing here right now. But I do know is that the American people stepped forward with $230 million to help Lebanese reconstruction. We were important participants at a pledging conference for Lebanon's reconstruction at which nearly a billion dollars in pledges. So Lebanon has a good friend in America, in the American people.
And it is -- you know, this is not a one-time, you know, one-time commitment on the part of the U.S. Government. There will be certainly other gestures that we as a country make to Lebanon as it consolidates its democracy as it emerges from the shadow of two decades' worth of Syrian occupation. So on the specifics of, you know, what your money and all the rest of that stuff, we'll get you an answer. But still, we allocated a fairly significant amount of money, I think, by most measures to specific projects that would help the Lebanese people help rebuild their infrastructure.
QUESTION: It wasn't just about diverting scholarship money that (inaudible) concentrated on. This happens often, not only -- in all administrations, there -- figures are given and you discover that some large part of the figure is recycled and was promised under another --
MR. MCCORMACK: Right.
QUESTION: So how much of it is new (inaudible) off the top of your head.
MR. MCCORMACK: Like I said, Barry, you know, this is one of these issues where I will let people who deal with is minutiae on a daily basis get into it, provide you an answer. You know, again,
QUESTION: I just wanted to broaden the question. There was --
MR. MCCORMACK: No, no, no. I understand.
QUESTION: Some of the construction money was in a previous --
MR. MCCORMACK: Again, you know, these sort of -- as I said, this sort of minutiae I'm happy to find those people who deal with these things in intimate detail and provide you an answer.
QUESTION: It may not be this building's responsibility, but no answer was at the -- you know, available because he just didn't have all this stuff as to what the Saudis and some of the very rich Gulfies are doing for Lebanon. Now I don't know if this is -- would be out of line, but while you're at it, if you could at some point provide us with some notion of how much they're into this -- into supporting in a solid way --
MR. MCCORMACK: If we have that sort of assessment, Barry, we're happy to provide it for you.
QUESTION: Because you do it for other things, disasters and all, you know.
MR. MCCORMACK: Like I said, if we have it, I'd be happy to provide it.
MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah. Nicholas.
QUESTION: Sean, can you update us. . . . (inaudible) disasters and all, you know.
MR. MCCORMACK: Like I said, if we have it, I'd be happy to provide it.
MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah, Nicholas.
QUESTION: Sean, can you update us on the Embassy in Damascus? What have we learned about the people, the plot and what's the condition of the two guards who were wounded -- the Embassy guards who were wounded?
MR. MCCORMACK: I'll get you an update on the embassy guards. I don't know off the top of my head. The Embassy itself was closed today. As for what we -- what more we know about who perpetrated this attack, who was behind it, I don't have much more to share with you. Certainly we're -- it's a matter of great interest to us and we're going to do everything we can to find out who perpetrated these attacks. I understand from these reports out of Damascus that the one remaining attacker died, so we're going to try to see what we can find out from the Syrian Government what they know about the attack. And we'll do what we can to bring those responsible, if there others, to justice.
QUESTION: Before that fourth person died were any U.S. officials allowed to speak to him in any way or be in touch with --
MR. MCCORMACK: Not that I'm aware of.
MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah.
QUESTION: Sean, are you conducting your own independent investigation? Are you sending your own people in to try to do analysis or --
MR. MCCORMACK: Forensics on it.
QUESTION: Forensics --
MR. MCCORMACK: I'll check for you.
QUESTION: And if you'd also check then whether the Syrians are being cooperative and allowing such personnel to come in?
MR. MCCORMACK: Yep.
QUESTION: The Non-Align summit is getting underway in Havana, which means that Castro, Chavez and Ahmadi-Nejad are under the same roof.
MR. MCCORMACK: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: Do you have any thoughts on the summit?
MR. MCCORMACK: Look, those gathered for the Non-Align summit in Havana are going to decide for themselves how productive this gathering is. We would hope that they would join the vast majority of the world's population in supporting greater freedom, greater democracy, addressing the plight of those who are less well-off among us all. Certainly President Bush has a vision how to do that and I think it has a fair degree of support. We have a lot of friends who are represented at this meeting: Indonesia, India among them, some of the founders of the Non-Align Movement. It's a gathering that has its origins in another era and I think it will be -- it's really up to the participants and the member states to see what it is that they make of this gathering of heads of state, heads of government and other representatives.
QUESTION: Do you have representatives (inaudible) the meeting.
MR. MCCORMACK: No.
QUESTION: But what's the -- ask you on North Korea. There is a report that -- quoting a South Korean official as saying that Assistant Secretary Hill had sought to contact North Korea but was rebuffed and that he got their answer while he was in Beijing. Is there any truth to that report? Has he tried to contact the North Koreans lately and has he been rebuffed and did this happen while he was on his trip?
MR. MCCORMACK: No, I checked with Chris on this. And somewhere along the line there was a garble there. He took this trip, didn't try to contact the North Koreans. I think what he did was -- and you can see that his public statements all along the way on his trip saying that he'd be willing to have as many meetings as the North Koreans could take in the context of the six-party talks. But if they would only -- if they would only come back to those talks. But, you know, they simply have refused to do so. So his bags are packed. He would be ready to bring along with him as many shirts as he needs, stay as long as he would need to stay and have as many meetings with the North Korean representatives in that six-party context as they could stand.
QUESTION: And (inaudible) is a meeting in New York of the five, you know --
MR. MCCORMACK: Five-plus one.
QUESTION: Five of the six are now set. There's been talk --
MR. MCCORMACK: Right, yes, I --
QUESTION: -- (inaudible) would be such --
MR. MCCORMACK: We're working on her schedule. We'll try to do this in a more --
QUESTION: Organized --
MR. MCCORMACK: Right, organized (inaudible) fashion --
QUESTION: I just wanted --
MR. MCCORMACK: -- in the coming days.
QUESTION: I just wondered if we could say they will meet or they --
MR. MCCORMACK: We'll keep you up to date, Barry.
QUESTION: Okay, good.
QUESTION: No, wait, one more.
MR. MCCORMACK: Oh, we have a couple more. Yes.
QUESTION: The head of Hezbollah, Sheikh Nasrallah, did in interview on Al Jazeera and made some comments that he had information that Secretary Rice when she met with Lebanese politicians that she predicted that Hezbollah was going to be wiped out in the next few days and that they were going to throw all of the rest of the Hezbollah leadership in jail.
MR. MCCORMACK: Uh-huh.
QUESTION: Can you confirm those comments? He said that he had specific information and he knew it to be a fact.
MR. MCCORMACK: Right. Okay.
QUESTION: Secretary Rice has met today with the Israeli lobby, the AIPAC people, and there was -- that took place a few hours before her meeting with the Foreign Minister of Israel. I wonder if she had asked Sheikh -- the Israeli AIPAC here your help to abandon their hard line position and help her out in her efforts to bring peace to the Middle East?
MR. MCCORMACK: She was pleased to talk to him -- talk to in AIPAC meeting. She has done so numerous times in the past. They're a part of America's democracy. She's a firm believer in talking to a wide array of different groups in the American political landscape.
QUESTION: Now what did she talk about? I mean, what was the meeting about?
MR. MCCORMACK: I didn't talk to her about the contents of her discussion.
QUESTION: Middle East (inaudible).
MR. MCCORMACK: One might imagine. Yeah.
QUESTION: Okay, thanks.
(The briefing was concluded at 3:34 p.m.)
Released on September 13, 2006