State Dept. Daily Press Briefing October 5, 2006
Daily Press Briefing
Tom Casey, Deputy Spokesman
October 5, 2006
Assistant Secretary Chris Hill's Message to North Koreans Through
New York Channel / U.S. Working Bilaterally and Multilaterally on
Issue / U.S. Open to Consider a Full Range of Diplomatic Actions
Possible Presidential Statement / Issue of Sanctions Under UN
Security Councils Chapter 7
Ongoing Discussions by Others with North Korea / U.S. Consulting
with Russians / U.S. Engaged in a Process of Consultations at UN
Under Secretary Nick Burns' Upcoming Meeting with P5+1 Political
Directors in London
No Positive Response from Iranians to Offers / Sanctions
Resolution Under Article 21, Chapter 7
Statement by Special Envoy Mitchell Reiss on Commission's
Conclusion / Concerns of Independent Monitoring Commission
Andrew Natsios' Preparations for Travel to Sudan / Status of Visa
Washington Post Magazine Article on Former Secretary of State
No Criminal Charges Filed Against Pilots / Brazilian Authorities
Passports in Possession of Brazilian Authorities
Secretary Rice in Baghdad / Talks with Various Officials
Query on Possible Elections by Palestinians / U.S. Focus is on a
Palestinian Government as a Partner for Peace
Secretary Rice Meeting's with Israeli Officials / Discussions on
Border Crossings and Other Issues
U.S. Encourages Both Countries to Work Together to Resolve
Differences Peacefully / U.S. in Contact with Russian and Georgian
12:45 p.m. EDT
MR. CASEY: Good afternoon, everyone. I don't have any statements or announcements so let's go right to your questions.
QUESTION: Do you have anything new on North Korea? Have you heard back from them yet after Chris Hill sent something to them yesterday?
MR. CASEY: Well, we did send a message to the North Koreans through the New York channel. Basically that message simply reiterated what you've heard from us publicly. It stated our view that a nuclear test would be an extremely provocative act that would represent a threat to peace and security.
No, we have not heard anything back from them. As you know, this is in general a mechanism that we use to be able to pass messages that explain our policies, and that's what it was used for in this instance as well.
QUESTION: The U.S. said yesterday that under no terms would you accept North Korea -- or if they launched this test -- so what kinds of steps could you take or would you take? Would you take unilateral steps or are you looking to take steps with your partners on this?
MR. CASEY: Well, look as I said, we're going to continue to work both bilaterally and multilaterally on this issue with the main goal first and foremost of convincing the North Koreans not to go ahead with a test.
Certainly, though, we are open to considering a full range of diplomatic actions. As you know, there is discussion ongoing in the Security Council right now about a presidential statement reiterating or emphasizing, I guess I should say, the consensus of the international community that North Korea definitely should not proceed with this. We think that it is important to have that kind of statement again to make it absolutely clear to the North Koreans what the view of the international community is. And we're looking to have that kind of statement issued this week.
In terms of other actions, again, Chris continues to consult with his colleagues. Under Secretary Burns is doing so as well. We would certainly expect as we said when North Korea launched their missiles and when we passed Resolution 1695 that should they go ahead with a test that one thing that we would expect to see would be sanctions pursued under Chapter 7 by the UN Security Council. Certainly, though, again I think what we are trying to concentrate on right now is to see what efforts can be made by all parties to convince the North Koreans not to go ahead with this, and that's where the immediate focus is.
QUESTION: Do you have any details of this meeting at the NSC, I believe it was Tuesday? What officials from the State Department were there? I guess they were talking about options for, I guess, convincing North Korea not to test and what would happen if they did test.
MR. CASEY: There are discussions that go on all the time internally on this matter and on others. I don't have anything on meetings that have taken place elsewhere, and in terms of anything that happened at the NSC I'd refer you over there. But I believe their general policy is not to comment on internal deliberations.
QUESTION: What -- well, I guess -- what about the idea of a naval blockade? I guess that came up in the meeting.
MR. CASEY: Again, I'm not aware of any decisions that have been made on policies and certainly I wouldn't be in a position to describe for you what, if any, options were being discussed in particular.
Anything else on North Korea? Yes, let's go back here.
QUESTION: The Russian Foreign Ministry has said that they are in direct talks with North Korea. Have they communicated that to you?
MR. CASEY: Well, I know there a number of people that are having discussions with the North Koreans and certainly we are consulting with the Russians among others. I don't have any specific readouts to share with you. I'd refer you to them in terms of any comments on what they might or might not have heard. But certainly we are talking with them.
QUESTION: You said that you are looking at a range of diplomatic actions. Aside from sanctions, what else are you looking at? Are you looking at tightening up travel restrictions, other things? What else is there?
MR. CASEY: Again, Sue, look, we are engaged right now in a process of consultations at the UN, with our allies individually and collectively. At this point I'm not going to try and preview what steps might be taken. Again, our first and foremost goal here is to try and convince the North Koreans not to proceed with this test.
QUESTION: On Iran. Can we move on to Iran?
MR. CASEY: Fine with me.
QUESTION: Is there any progress towards the holding of this P-5+1? I know Secretary Rice today raised some questions, said a couple of ministers didn't seem to be able to go. I mean, other people are -- and the Russians said they were going, the French are talking about going. Do you know where this stands?
MR. CASEY: Well, I think in terms of the Secretary's schedule I don't have any announcements for you. What I can tell you is Under Secretary Nick Burns will be in London tomorrow. He intends to meet there with the P-5+1 political directors. Certainly, as you've seen, there have been statements by Mr. Solana among others about where the process stands. What we expect the political directors will do is take account and take stock of the situation and review where this process is and what our next steps might be. Certainly I would expect that in the future there will be opportunities for the Secretary to consult with her colleagues on this as well.
QUESTION: The political directors will be continuing their talks on the specific list of sanctions in a first UN resolution?
MR. CASEY: Well, as I said, the political directors will look at and take stock of where the situation is. Certainly I expect that discussions of how to proceed in terms of a sanctions resolution, as called for under Security Council Resolution 1696, would be part of that discussion.
QUESTION: The fact that there is unlikely to be a meeting of the ministers, does that indicate that there is not consensus then among the political directors as to how to proceed if they're still talking about it?
MR. CASEY: No, my understanding is there are some scheduling issues involved and I wouldn't read anything more into it than that.
QUESTION: Do you -- I guess the British Ambassador to the UN mentioned bringing up Iran in the Security Council next week, beginning deliberations on a resolution. Is that your understanding?
MR. CASEY: Well, as far as I know, there is nothing on the Council's schedule as of yet. Certainly member states are free to bring up any issues they want at any time. But it is clear, as Mr. Solana has signaled, that the process and the discussions between him and Mr. Larijani are drawing to an end. It is clear that we don't have a positive response from the Iranians to the offer that has been made to them. So as we've always said, the next step then is to proceed with a sanctions resolution under Article 41, Chapter 7. And while I don't have any specifics for you on timing of that, I think that time has drawn pretty near.
Let's go over here.
QUESTION: On Northern Ireland. The Independent Monitoring Commission there has reported that the IRA does not want to go back to violence and no longer has the capacity to mount a sustained campaign. And do you have any reaction to that report?
MR. CASEY: Well, first and foremost, I'd point you to the statement that Special Envoy Mitchell Reiss released on this issue yesterday. But we are heartened by the conclusions that the Commission's reached that the IRA, and the quote that they used is to say is now firmly set on a political strategy, eschewing terrorism and other forms of violence. So certainly we think that's positive and we hope that these conclusions will clear the way for serious discussion on power sharing and the other issues that are going to be coming up during the all-party talks in Scotland next week, and Mr. Reiss will be there for that meeting as well.
There are still concerns out there and I think you've heard them enumerated by the Commission and others about paramilitary and criminal activity both among dissident Republican groups as well as some loyalist elements. And so I wouldn't say that this puts an end to the issue but certainly it's a positive report and we welcome it.
QUESTION: On Sudan. Andrew Natsios said yesterday that he had applied for a visa officially with the Sudanese Embassy yesterday. Do you have anything on his travel plans, any updates?
MR. CASEY: Well, I know he's finalizing preparations for a trip later this month. I don't have any details for you on that. Yes, certainly as he said, they did in fact send an application over for a visa for him yesterday. I expect that we'll get a response back from the Sudanese Government soon, but we anticipate that that visa will be granted.
QUESTION: And do you have any idea whether he'll be able to travel outside of Khartoum or whether his movements are limited?
MR. CASEY: His travel plans would obviously include travel outside of Khartoum.
QUESTION: Tom, do you have any thoughts and comments concerning the cover story in Sunday's Washington Post -- the Washington Post Magazine -- concerning former Secretary of State Colin Powell? And he also delivered a speech yesterday in Minnesota. And today is both a pro and con nationwide rally nationwide concerning the war. Do you have any thoughts and comments?
MR. CASEY: Concerning the article, haven't read it, so can't comment on it. Certainly, I would just say in general that we all have the utmost respect for Former Secretary Powell and the service he rendered -- the distinguished service he rendered not only to this building but for many years before that as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, as National Security Advisor and in many, many other roles over time.
In terms of -- what was your other part of the question?
QUESTION: He delivered a speech in Minnesota yesterday and also there are pro and con nationwide demonstrations today concerning the Iraq war.
MR. CASEY: Well, in terms of his speech, obviously, he makes remarks in a number of fora. I haven't seen them. Again, we have tremendous respect for him and believe he served this Administration well and previous administrations as well.
QUESTION: There are reports out of Brazil that the two pilots that were involved with this jet crash over the weekend have had their passports taken and now they've been charged with I think it is reckless endangerment. Has the U.S. been in touch with the Brazilians about how to proceed on this, try to get the pilots or anything like that?
MR. CASEY: Well, several things. First of all, my understanding is there have been no criminal charges filed against these individuals, nor any civil charges filed. The Brazilians are conducting an investigation into this incident. The passports of the individuals involved have been requested and have been turned over as part of that investigation.
Certainly, we have been in touch with the Brazilian Government about this issue and also have been, through our consular officials, talking with the individuals involved. But my understanding is they are not charged with any criminal violations. This is simply part of a standard procedure that the Brazilians are applying under their law as they proceed with the investigation.
QUESTION: There was some conflicting reports coming out of Baghdad today that al-Masri had been killed by U.S. forces. Do you have anything on that?
MR. CASEY: No, I don't. I'd refer you to the people in Baghdad on it. My understanding is there's certainly no confirmation of that though I understand individuals are still looking into it. But the Pentagon and/or coalition forces and the Iraqi Government would be the best place to go for answers on that one.
QUESTION: And --
MR. CASEY: Either one.
QUESTION: Is it on Iraq?
QUESTION: Okay, go. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: I've got another one and that --
QUESTION: After you.
QUESTION: No, go ahead.
QUESTION: Also this -- I understand that there were some indirect shooting just before the President -- the Secretary -- sorry that was a slip -- just before the Secretary landed in Baghdad and she had to circle around for about 30 minutes. Do you have any more details on that?
MR. CASEY: No, I haven't gotten any reporting back to that effect. Certainly pleased to see that she is in Baghdad. As you probably all saw, she met with the Prime Minister a little bit earlier today. I know she's glad to have the opportunity to meet with him, hear from him about his plans and how he's moving forward as well as to see General Casey and Ambassador Khalilzad and some of our officials on the ground and hear from them about what we're doing to try and help the Iraqi Government move forward.
QUESTION: On the Middle East, Israel, Palestinians. You've often said here and Sean and Secretary Rice that Hamas -- the Hamas government has failed in its responsibility to its own people and by not governing properly by, you know, failing to deal with the problems there. Do you think that new elections, early elections, would be a positive step?
MR. CASEY: Well, look, the Secretary addressed that yesterday and that really is something for President Abbas and the Palestinian people to decide. It's not for the United States to choose the leaders for the people of the Palestinian territories. Certainly what we want to see, though, is a Palestinian government that is a partner for peace and that can help us work with the Israelis to come up with an agreement on a two-state solution to achieve the President's vision.
In terms of the efforts of the Secretary in the region, you saw the statement that was issued shortly before they departed for Baghdad talking about some of the efforts that she's made with Israeli officials to establish more consistent means for some of the border crossings to be opened, to consider other ways of using the tax resources that the Israelis have gotten to help provide for some of the basic needs of the Palestinian people, and talked a little bit as well about the efforts of General Dayton to deal with some of the concerns of the security forces down there. So we are definitely, even though we are not in a position to be able to work with the Hamas-led government because it fails to comply with the basic Quartet principles, we are still doing quite a bit to try and help deal with the real consequences of that government's failure to do so on behalf of the Palestinian people.
And certainly as I've mentioned previously as well, we have provided a great deal of bilateral assistance to try and help support the humanitarian needs of the Palestinian people as have other countries in the region, as has the EU.
MR. CASEY: I've got one more back there with David.
QUESTION: Tom, it appears that Russia is continuing to ramp up sanctions against Georgia, various ways of isolating that country and this despite the release of the Russian prisoners that were in Georgia and also appeals for restraint from a lot of places, Washington. I wonder if you have any further reflection on that?
MR. CASEY: I really don't have anything new to offer on that for you, David. Actually, I'd just refer you back to what I said previously. Again, what we really want to see happen is that both these countries work together and resolve their differences in a peaceful way. And we certainly want to see good neighborly relations between Georgia and Russia. They share a common border, they share a common history in many ways, and we certainly want to see them be able to maintain good relationships with one another.
QUESTION: Are you in touch with the Russians on that?
MR. CASEY: We continue to be in contact with both the Russian and Georgian Government on this issue. And again, our discussions with them are the same as the comments I've made here previously, encouraging both of them to deal with this issue in a positive way and resolve their differences peacefully.
QUESTION: Do you have any details on a child custody dispute involving an 11-year-old kid? A Marin County man apparently flew his plane and went into Cuba and took this kid out. Apparently the State Department has the lead on this.
MR. CASEY: That may be true, but it's not anything anyone has briefed me on, so we'll try and get you something on it.
(The briefing was concluded at 1:02 p.m.) DPB #162
Released on October 5, 2006