State Dept. Daily Press Briefing September 14, 200
Daily Press Briefing
Sean McCormack, Spokesman
September 14, 2006
Bringing Stability is an Ongoing Effort / Progress is Being Made /
Iraqi Army Beginning to be Trusted / Iraqi People Must Have Trust
in the Institutions / U.S. Will Stand By the Iraqis in the
Al-Qaida Responsable for Sectarian Violence
Iraq Has a History of Violence / Voter Turnout Shows Iraqi Desire
for Democratic Institutions / International Community Must
Contribute to the Buildup of the Institutions
PRTs Up and Working in Various Locations to Varying Degrees /
Purpose is to Get Outside the Capitol
Details of Unity Government Not Clear / Quartet Conditions Are
Clear / Hamas Government Not Effective
U.S. Continues to Contribute to Humanitarian Efforts to Address
Needs of Palestinian People
International Community is United / Different Proposals Made by
International Community / U.S. Sees No Qualitative Change /
Quartet Conditions Still Unmet
Quartet to Meet in New York During UNGA
Briefing Tomorrow on Secretary's Visit to UNGA / Many Bilateral
Meetings on the Schedule
Contents of Security Council Resolution Being Discussed /
Ministers will Meet at UNGA
Pathway to Negations is Clear
U.S. Expects the Security Council to Pass Sanctions Resolution /
International Community Must Follow Through / U.S. is Confident a
Resolution with Sanctions Will be Passed in an Expeditions Manner
/ Intense Negotiations Expected
Iran Leadership Has Failed to Meet the Expectations of the World
Limited Supply of Combat Power Worldwide / AU Forces to Form Core
of a UN Deployment / Sudanese Government Urged to Allow UN Forces
Other Countries Should Match U.S. Efforts to Pressure Government
of Sudan to Allow Deployment of UN Troops
U.S. Working to Ensure AU Troop Withdrawal Does Not Leave Vacuum
Security Council Resolution Requires Nations to Eliminate Flow of
Weapons and Technology
U.S. is Willing to Return to Six Party Talks at Any Time / Chris
Hill Ready to Attend
Two Sides to the Relationship Between NATO and Ukraine /
Established Links Should Remain Open
12:45 p.m. EDT
MR. MCCORMACK: Good afternoon, everybody. Who wants to start in on the questioning?
QUESTION: I'll try out on Iraq --
MR. MCCORMACK: Okay.
QUESTION: -- if I could.
MR. MCCORMACK: Okay, sure.
QUESTION: Lots of violence, 20 bodies, at least, showing up in Baghdad --
MR. MCCORMACK: Right.
QUESTION: -- tortured and et cetera. Does the U.S., you think, have to revise its expectations for a big -- for stabilizing the capital area this summer -- summer's almost over -- and turning over security in most, if not all, of the provinces to Iraqi forces by the end of the year? It doesn't look good does it?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, Barry, I'm going to leave it to the commanders on the ground to comment on the current state of the plan to stabilize Baghdad, to bring greater security to Baghdad. That's an ongoing U.S.-Iraqi operation. The military has talked many times about the progress that they are making in terms of training Iraqi troops, turning over areas of responsibility, turning over headquarters. So there's a lot of progress that's being made on that front, Barry.
The Iraqi army is an institution in which the Iraqi people it would seem by most evidence is -- they're starting to have confidence in the Iraqi army as an institution and that's important. It's important that the Iraqis be able to put their trust in these institutions of a democratic Iraqi Government. It's going to be a process that takes some time. But ultimately that will be the sign that real stability has -- real peace, security and stability has come to Iraq when the Iraqi people do have that level of trust in those institutions; that those institutions will work on their behalf. We're not there yet. But we are going to stand with the Iraqis as they make this transition, as they deal with the difficult political issues that they are grappling with now: things like oil revenue sharing and federalism and all the other issues, attendant issues, all the while in a quite challenging security environment which has been reported on quite extensively.
So we are going to stand by the Iraqis as they make this transition. We believe that ultimately they will succeed in that transition.
QUESTION: Do you think they're up to dealing with al-Qaida, you see more and more evidence of al-Qaida involvement.
MR. MCCORMACK: I'm going to leave it to the folks on the ground to make those sorts of assessments, Barry. Quite clearly you can just look at the various intercepts and so forth --
MR. MCCORMACK: -- and letters that have been made -- declassified and made public about what al-Qaida in Iraq's intentions are. You know, quite clearly they are intent, in their own words, in fomenting sectarian violence in Iraq. There are also obviously sectarian tensions which result in violence in Iraq. So there are a number of different factors which contribute to the overall level of violence in Iraq.
QUESTION: What evidence do you have that the Iraqi people feel confidence in their army?
MR. MCCORMACK: This is anecdotal evidence, Arshad, which again we collect through reporting interactions with the Iraqi people. I can't point you to a poll or anything like that.
QUESTION: And given the level of violence and its cruelty and ferocity, why should people have confidence in those institutions?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, I mean -- first of all, let's back up for a second. Iraq is not a place that has been immune to cruelty and violence in the past. They suffered 20 years of cruelty and violence under Saddam Hussein.
In terms of the institutions, people have voted in several elections over a period of time in which they have quite clearly stated, by the numbers of people who have turned out, that they want to promote these institutions, that they want to build democratic institutions. Why else would you want to vote in a democratic election if not to send a message and reinforce and participate in a democratic institution, which results in democratic political process which results in the formation and build up of democratic institutions?
It's tough going. This is a -- it's a new experience for the Iraqis, when you are trying to build, in some cases from the ground up, institutions that are designed to serve the needs of the people, as opposed to serves the needs of one individual over all the rest of the people. So it is a quite different framework that they are working with. It will take some time. It will require our assistance. It will require the assistance of the international community. And Secretary Rice, when she talks to other foreign leaders, her counterparts, talks about the importance of contributing to the buildup of those institutions with funding, with training, with other kinds of expertise.
QUESTION: How are the PRTs working out, because you were having problems staffing them? Are they having the impact that you'd hoped they would have?
MR. MCCORMACK: They are up and working to varying degrees in various -- varying places. I honestly haven't checked on the specific activities that they've been engaged in. I can't tell you that they have accomplished X, Y and Z tasks. They are out there. The Secretary expects them to be operating at a local and regional level. The idea is to get outside of the capital and do a lot of the same things that we're trying to do with the government in Baghdad out at the regional and the local level.
QUESTION: Palestinians. After the nomination of -- well, the decision to create a union government, the Europeans are giving the first signs they are willing to lift the embargo or the sanctions on Hamas and the Palestinian Government. Does it mean that the Quartet is officially dead?
MR. MCCORMACK: (Laughter.) No.
QUESTION: I was going to go file. If you say yes, we're out of here. (Laughter.)
MR. MCCORMACK: No. Look, you know, it is not at all clear that the Palestinians have come to an agreement on a unity government and what the platform of such a unity government would be and who would make up that unity government. You have different -- you have President Abbas talking about the fact that such a government would have to recognize past agreements of the Palestinian Authority. You have Hamas saying otherwise. So again, the details aren't at all -- aren't at all clear.
Secretary Rice laid out very clearly yesterday our -- not only our conditions but the conditions of the Quartet. If the Palestinian Authority wants to realize a different kind of relationship with the rest of the world, meet the conditions. President Abbas is clearly somebody who is interested in meeting those conditions and working on behalf of the Palestinian people so that they can realize -- they can go back to the same kind of positive relationship that they had with the international community with respect to international assistance. That picture changed when Hamas came in, instituted a different set of policies, failed to recognize the state of Israel, failed to abjure the use of terror and violence. You can't have discussions with a peace partner with only one person at the table that recognizes the other.
As for humanitarian assistance, we have been contributing to the humanitarian effort in the Palestinian areas. We understand that the Palestinian people have real needs. But the Palestinian people and the rest of the world need to understand why they are in the situation in which they find themselves now. They are in that situation because of the Hamas government, its failure to make the tough decisions to provide for the Palestinian people and to be able to govern effectively.
QUESTION: So will the Quartet meet during the UN?
MR. MCCORMACK: I would expect they will, yeah. We're going to try to -- what we're going to try to do is tomorrow have a briefing for you guys to run through some of the bigger multilateral meetings that the Secretary is going to have over her stay at the UN General Assembly and we'll also try to keep you updated on a rolling basis on her bilateral meetings. There are going to be a lot more bilateral meetings this year than there were last year. It's going to be a pretty action-packed schedule up there for those of you who travel to New York with us.
QUESTION: A follow-up on that? The EU does seem, I mean, more satisfied with what's -- with this national unity government idea than Washington does. I mean, they seem to be ready today to start making some declarations about lifting embargoes. Is there a disconnect there between the EU and --
MR. MCCORMACK: Again, it's pretty clear. If they meet the conditions that are laid out for them, then of course they can potentially realize -- the Palestinians -- a different kind of relationship with the United States, with the EU, with the rest of the world. The Quartet principles still hold.
At this point it is not at all clear that there is in fact agreement on a unity government, its platform, its composition and all the important details that would go along with it.
QUESTION: Would you implacably oppose any easing in the embargo absent their meeting those three conditions?
MR. MCCORMACK: We have been asked this question in the past numerous, numerous times. They have to meet the conditions that are laid out. But I would point out and underline the fact that we have provided for the -- we have contributed to the effort to aid the Palestinian people in terms of easing their humanitarian plight, spent a lot of time doing that -- working with the Europeans, working with others around the world. So we have been quite active in trying to address those needs. But fundamentally it comes down to a question of is the Palestinians' government going to take the tough decisions that it needs to in order to provide for the Palestinian people, provide for a better -- provide even a better horizon for them.
QUESTION: Forgive me if I missed it, but it seemed like you didn't answer the question which was whether you would implacably oppose any easing of the embargo by other parties if the Palestinians fail to meet those three conditions? And is the answer yes?
MR. MCCORMACK: One of the reasons why we as an international community have been able to send a strong message that we stand against terror and stand for peace with respect to the situation in the Palestinian areas and between the Palestinians and the Israelis is we've been united on this idea. Certainly, the -- you know, the EU has proposed various mechanisms in looking at the idea of how to come up with an international funding mechanism, that was something that they were interested in. It's not something that we necessarily would have suggested, but we participated in that. So you're going to get -- just as in any multilateral effort, you're going to get different countries, different groups coming to the table with different ideas. That's to be expected.
The key here is to find the convergence and the overlap in terms of the thinking and the policymaking and that's what we have managed to do. At this point, we don't see any qualitative change in this situation vis-Ã -vis the Palestinian Authority and its policies and therefore, whether or not it meets the conditions laid out by the Quartet in its London statement, so we would expect that the status quo as it stands should be unchanged.
QUESTION: It really sounds to me because you're not flatly ruling this out, that you are open to it. I mean, when you talk about --
MR. MCCORMACK: I don't see how you can take that from what I said (inaudible) the multilateral effort.
QUESTION: Well, you said you'd try to find the convergence of policy. That's not saying, no, we won't accept this.
MR. MCCORMACK: And keep on reading. When I said that the status quo hasn't changed and that we don't think that anything qualitatively has changed with respect to the Palestinian Authority and that we would expect that the Quartet principles apply and that everybody would live up to those principles.
QUESTION: Tomorrow the 25 foreign ministries -- ministers of European countries will meet and they are going to -- apparently they're already expected to greet this new government and to start speaking about lifting the sanctions. So what are you going to do?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, again -- again, if the EU takes such a step, we would -- if that is their position then we'll of course deal with that. But you're talking about something that is prospective, not done yet, and hypothetical at this point, which I'm not going to address.
QUESTION: Would you think there's -- the EU, you said, would probably be meeting -- the Quartet would probably be meeting in New York?
MR. MCCORMACK: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: Is there a need to restate or revisit the -- what's called the requirements for Palestinian participation? I mean from a U.S. standpoint -- I mean your position is clear.
MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah.
QUESTION: The European position isn't very clear. It's rather typical of the European position of past decades. So do you think it ought to be said all over again or don't you want --
MR. MCCORMACK: Said it --
QUESTION: -- to open a can of worms?
MR. MCCORMACK: Said it once, I don't think it needs to be said again. It holds. The conditions hold.
QUESTION: Mr. McCormack, change of subject please to Iran.
MR. MCCORMACK: Proceed.
QUESTION: Are we basically in a holding pattern with Iran until the UNGA starts or is there actual movement happening today or over the past 24 hours?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, we're continuing to talk between capitals, among capitals about what would be in a Security Council resolution. I think the EU-3 and the EU are going to be talking about that or they were supposed to be talking about that today, gathering together their position on the matter, what particular sanctions would be contained in a resolution. And the Secretary's going to also have meetings up in New York on the issue. They're going to get together at the ministerial level like she talked about yesterday. I would expect in advance of that that you have Nick Burns doing his consultations with his counterparts. So it is moving forward.
QUESTION: Were there conference calls yesterday or today?
MR. MCCORMACK: Nothing yesterday or today, no.
QUESTION: And do you have any reaction to Ahmadi-Nejad's comments from Senegal that -- to the effect that they are open to solving this through negotiations and ready for "new conditions?"
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, I'm not sure what that means. But certainly if they're open to negotiations, there's a clear pathway -- meet the international conditions. The pathway to negotiation is open, it's clear, couldn't be simpler in terms of what the Iranians need to do.
MR. MCCORMACK: Barry, you'd have to --
QUESTION: I mean, we've heard these things so many times.
MR. MCCORMACK: Right. Look, you will have to ask the Iranian leadership what is in their --
MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah, that's right. If you happen to have a chance to ask a question up there.
QUESTION: Just that same thing. You expressed your confidence repeatedly that the P-5+1 will hang in and they follow the -- what they've already set out in the resolution. But the declarations that are coming from them, the French and the Chinese in particular again today, don't sound the same. The Chinese Premier in Berlin clearly saying it's not time for sanctions and that they'll have the opposite effect of helping the thing; and the French Foreign Minister saying that one or two of the Permanent Members of the Security Council, if they fail to uphold the dialog and press too hard, that that's going to make the whole thing fall apart. How can you hold -- how can you maintain your sense of confidence in that in the face of --
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, we have an agreement. We have an agreement that includes the -- all of those countries in the P-5+1. It's very clear. The Secretary talked about it from London to Paris to Vienna to New York. It was -- this approach has been reaffirmed and confirmed and everybody understood what they were signing up to when they voted 15 to 0 for that resolution. And we would expect that the Security Council would follow through on doing what it said it was going to do, which means passing a Chapter 7, Article 41 resolution that includes sanctions on Iran and that the P-5+1 would follow through on the agreement that it reached in Paris, which had at its core essentially the same thing, if the Iranians don't meet certain conditions, the conditions that were laid out by the IAEA, then sanctions would follow. And it has come time for the international community to act, to follow through.
We -- as I have said multiple times before, this isn't our first choice. It isn't our first choice to go down the pathway of sanctions, but this is the pathway that the Iranian leadership is leading the world and the Iranian people down. They are leading them down the pathway -- all of us down the pathway of greater isolation for Iran, increased diplomatic pressure on Iran and sanctions.
That is where we find ourselves right now, and make no mistake about it, the reason why we find ourselves in this position is the failure of the Iranian leadership to act and meet the very simple conditions that have been laid out for them by the rest of the world.
QUESTION: You said you expect them to follow through. Are you confident that they will follow through?
MR. MCCORMACK: We are confident that they will follow through. We are confident they will follow through and that they will abide by their word.
QUESTION: What provides that confidence if you're hearing these same statements we're hearing?
MR. MCCORMACK: James, our diplomatic interactions indicate that while these will be -- this will be complex, sometimes hard-fought diplomacy that we will in fact end up with a Security Council resolution that includes sanctions, Chapter 7, Article 41 sanctions.
QUESTION: What kind of a timetable are you looking at in terms of getting this Council to impose sanctions against Iran? Nick Burns was hopeful that it would be early this month. It's the middle of September already.
MR. MCCORMACK: Right.
QUESTION: What are you looking at realistically?
MR. MCCORMACK: Sure. In terms of predicting dates of votes on the Security Council resolutions, there have been a lot of people that have lost money placing those kind of bets. I'm not going to do that. We would expect that the Security Council would act in an expeditious manner on this matter. The reality of it is that this is going to be -- there are going to be intense negotiations on this, probably, you know, I would imagine that the process would take weeks.
Yeah. One more and then Elise and then --
QUESTION: Still on Iran.
MR. MCCORMACK: Oh, interesting. Yes, ma'am.
QUESTION: Still on Iran. Do you have any comments on this letter that the IAEA sent yesterday complaining about the House Intelligence Committee's report on Iran?
MR. MCCORMACK: I hadn't seen the letter. And as much as it's commenting on a report that has emanated from Capitol Hill, I would refer you to those who sent the letter and those who received it.
QUESTION: Did the Secretary read the report?
MR. MCCORMACK: The House report?
MR. MCCORMACK: I don't know.
QUESTION: Is it Charlie's out on Iran still?
QUESTION: On Darfur. Yesterday, Secretary General Annan was talking at his press conference about Darfur, and he said that he thought that UN troops were stretched so thin around the world that even if there was a decision by the Sudanese Government to allow the UN force, he didn't know if there would be troops available. But he also said that the UN had no intention of admitting the force without the Sudanese Government approval.
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, as for -- there are no "UN forces." They're the forces of member-states so. Look, the reality is that there is a limited supply of competent and capable combat power throughout the world. It's a lot less than you would think.
But right now what we are -- what is envisioned is that the AU mission that is currently on the ground in Sudan would form the core of a UN mission, and there would have to be additional contributions. And the AU has said that it would also look within itself to see what else it could do. And it is -- this is an important enough topic that we would hope that countries from around the world would see fit to make a contribution to a UN force.
As for Sudan assenting to this force or not, we are still looking for them to agree to this force, follow through on their promise. Our history -- the history of dealing with this Sudanese Government has been that they do respond over time to concerted diplomatic pressure. This doesn't move as quickly as we would like -- certainly not. We have been pressing hard on this. We would certainly hope that the rest of the world would join us in pressing as hard on this issue as we have. I think it is incumbent upon other member-states of the United Nations to do -- to match the effort the United States has made on this issue.
So we're going to continue to do our part to be out front on this issue, to press as hard as we possibly can. But it is important that other states in the international community step up, pressure the Sudanese Government and ultimately make the kind of contributions to this UN force that will make it successful.
QUESTION: What are you looking for the rest of the international community, presumably the Security Council, to do to exert the pressure on Darfur -- sorry on the Sudanese Government?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, they can do that in a lot of different ways. They can do that bilaterally. They can do it through multilateral organizations. So there are a lot of different ways to do this. We're not the only country that has diplomatic relations with Sudan, and we would call upon all those -- all countries not only with diplomatic relations but all countries with an interest in this issue. And I can't see how there would be a country around the world who didn't have an interest in this humanitarian crisis, to do what they can to see that that UN force gets in there and that these agreements, as outlined in the Security Council resolution, as outlined in the Darfur Peace Agreement and the Comprehensive Peace Agreement are implemented.
QUESTION: Do you expect that at the end of the month if the mandate for the AU expires and the Sudanese Government does not allow re-hatting, that the AU will have to leave because the UN groups and other aid organizations are warning of a real disaster if they have to leave at the end of the month.
MR. MCCORMACK: It would be a real tragedy if there were a vacuum there and we are doing everything we can to make sure that there is not a vacuum there. And I think the AU itself, which has been also with us at the forefront of dealing with this issue, does not want to see a vacuum occur.
QUESTION: Sudan's President today accused the UN of having a hidden agenda and of attempting to re-colonize the country. So I just wanted --
MR. MCCORMACK: Come on. Okay, go ahead. I'm sorry.
QUESTION: No, that was great. (Laughter.)
MR. MCCORMACK: No, please go on.
QUESTION: I just wondered whether you had any response to that. It doesn't seem to indicate that he is being terribly open to having a UN force if he's -- if this kind of rhetoric is still being used. And (inaudible), who seems to be --
MR. MCCORMACK: Let's just hope that this is rhetoric and not a serious policy statement on their behalf. It would seem to me to be more of a distraction, trying to distract from the core issue, than anything else.
QUESTION: Whose move is next? I mean so far as the President sent a message. You got an unsatisfactory response.
MR. MCCORMACK: Sudan. It's up to the Sudanese right now. I think quite clearly it's in -- the ball is in their court.
QUESTION: So from the U.S. view, the President's appeal or whatever it's called, or the President's request, is out there unanswered satisfactorily?
MR. MCCORMACK: Correct.
QUESTION: And you're looking for a better answer?
MR. MCCORMACK: Right.
QUESTION: On North Korea. There's a Japanese newspaper report saying that Japan may freeze later this month financial assets of groups and individuals it suspects of links to North Korea's development of WMD. Do you have any reason to believe that is true and would you welcome such a step by the Japanese?
MR. MCCORMACK: Talk to the Japanese Government about what they may or may not do. I would point out that the recent Security Council resolution does call upon each individual member-state to do everything in its power to see that the, you know, transactions, either incoming or outgoing with North Korea, don't in any way assist their weapons of mass destruction program. And that would mean making sure that there is not an inflow of technology know-how, funding that might contribute to that -- those programs and that there is no outflow of the finished product of the North Korean efforts, meaning proliferation of WMD, WMD-related technology.
So what you've outlined, although I can't verify it for you, I couldn't comment on it not knowing the details, would appear to be consistent with what is required of the -- in the Security Council resolution. But again, for detail -- for any comment on what the Japanese Government is doing, talk to them; and that if they do in fact take an action and there are details that emerge, then we could provide a little more detailed answer for you.
QUESTION: One on North Korea. The Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman today said that the United States and North Korea both need to show flexibility. I wonder how you feel about that, about the Chinese sort of telling you to show a little more flexibility.
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, I think we have been, you know, quite flexible in terms of our willingness to return to the six-party talks at any point in time. Like I said, Chris Hill has a suitcase packed. I don't know if it's literally sitting in this office, but he is ready to go.
QUESTION: Metaphorically, his suitcase is packed?
MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah. Metaphorically, he has his suitcase packed and he is ready to go at any time to attend six-party talks. And like I said yesterday, he is willing to have as many meetings as the North Koreans are willing to take in that context on the six-party talks.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MR. MCCORMACK: No. We still have one more. Here we are. Sylvie.
QUESTION: Yes, I have two questions, actually. First, I would like to know if you have any --
MR. MCCORMACK: It looks like you have three down there, three lined up.
QUESTION: Correct, yeah. Any comment on the -- about the death of the Turkmen correspondent of Radio Free Europe in Ashkhabad? Do you know that?
MR. MCCORMACK: I'm afraid I haven't -- I'm not aware of the details.
QUESTION: So she was -- she was apparently tortured.
MR. MCCORMACK: Let me look into the details.
MR. MCCORMACK: The details of that, Sylvie. We'll get you an answer, but let me look into the details.
QUESTION: Okay. And also the fact that the Prime Minister, the Ukrainian Prime Minister, today said that his country wants to make a pause in its relations with NATO. Do you have any --
MR. MCCORMACK: Wants to take a --
QUESTION: To make a pause.
MR. MCCORMACK: Oh, to make a pause?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, look, there are two sides to this in terms of any -- it's common sense -- any relationship. One side of it is NATO as a whole and an organization which comprises different member-states with different points of view, so NATO has to decide how it wants to approach its relationship with the Ukraine. And then there's the Ukrainian side. At what rate are they ready to develop and move forward on a relationship with NATO? There's already the NATO-Ukraine Council that meets on a fairly regular basis. So there's already a kind of relationship.
Now, how that relationship develops and the depth of that development is going to be up to the two sides. And I think right now with a new government in the Ukraine that we're talking with the Ukrainians, other members of NATO are talking with the Ukrainians about that very matter. So it's going to be a two-way street in terms of how that relationship develops. We certainly want to keep those links that we have already established with the Ukraine open, but Ukraine is a country that is in the process of democratic transition. We've seen that over the past couple of years. So they are going to have to decide, you know, how comfortable they are in moving that relationship forward, as is NATO.
(The briefing was concluded at 1:17 p.m.)
DPB # 149
Released on September 14, 2006