State Dept. Daily Press Briefing November 28, 2006
Daily Press Briefing
Sean McCormack, Spokesman
November 28, 2006
Secretary Rice’s Upcoming Meeting with President Abbas / Agenda
Gulf Cooperation Council / Working for Peaceful Change
General Dayton / Issue of Security Forces
Prime Minister Olmert’s Speech / Phone Call to Prime Minister
Status on Deployment of a Security Force in Gaza / Initial
Palestinian Authority Government Must Meet Quartet Principles
Query on Suicide Bombers from Morocco / Confirmation of Foreign
Fighters in Iraq
Reports of New Language in Draft Resolution / Issue of Agreement
with P-5+1 and Security Council on Language in Draft Resolution
Discussions on Iran with President Putin
Readout of A/S Chris Hill Meeting / Aim of Talks is a
Denuclearized Korean Peninsula
Preparatory Discussions / All Parties Hope to Have an
Understanding of the Possibilities for Progress / Laying the
Groundwork for Successful Talks
Other Meetings Planned with Various Parties / Reconvening of Talks
US Delegation to Swearing-in Ceremony of Mexico’s New President
Query on US Reaction to Quebec Issue and Impending Visa changes
2002 Ceasefire Agreement / US Condemns Tamil Tigers for Fueling
Violence and Hostility
Working with Monitoring Group / US Hosted Meeting of Co-chairs at
Tokyo’s Donors Conference
Closure of ICRC (International Red Cross) Field Offices / US Calls
for Government to Reopen Field Offices / Discussion of a UN
Security Council Resolution
12:30 p.m. EST
MR. MCCORMACK: Good afternoon, everybody. No opening statements, so we can get right into your questions.
QUESTION: All right. Mideast peacemaking. A senior Palestinian, says that the Secretary will meet with Mr. Abbas in Jericho on Thursday.
MR. MCCORMACK: That's right. That's the plan.
QUESTION: Okay. Well, that's confirmation the U.S. Embassy did not provide, so that's the plan.
MR. MCCORMACK: That's the plan at the moment. And I would expect, Barry, that there will probably be other meetings around this Forum for the Future and her stay in Jordan after the President departs. He'll be departing on Thursday after his meetings. So we'll try to keep you up to date on the schedule as it evolves.
QUESTION: Though the Israelis seem to be missing from the equation so far.
MR. MCCORMACK: Like I said, we'll keep you up to date on the schedule.
QUESTION: So you're unable to say now that there will be some sort of a meeting with an Israeli official?
MR. MCCORMACK: I can't at this point, Barry.
QUESTION: Do you think it's not likely to be one with the Israelis?
MR. MCCORMACK: At this point, don't have any updates on the schedule for you.
QUESTION: But it could be afterwards?
MR. MCCORMACK: You know, we could possibly have a meeting. We'll look at the scheduling. Right now it's a matter of looking at the scheduling and the timing. It's very tight in terms of getting back to Jordan in time for the Gulf Cooperation Council meeting plus two, that's plus Egypt and Jordan. So we're looking at the timing and we're trying to coordinate a lot of different people's schedules here. So we'll try to keep you up to date as we roll through this. She's also going to have some bilats around the Forum for the Future. I promise you that we'll -- once we get those nailed down, I'll keep you informed and I'll let you know. We don't have anything to announce yet, but we're working on two or three -- looking at two or three around that time.
QUESTION: In terms of the GCC and the GCC+2, I mean, what is the United States looking for the GCC? What can the GCC do to help with the situation in Iraq and with the Israeli-Palestinian?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, this is -- this would be, I think, the third meeting in this particular configuration. Had one in New York around the UN General Assembly. There was one in Cairo that was hosted by Foreign Minister Aboul Gheit and now this meeting. They really covered the range. They look at the range of issues in the region. They talk about Iraq, they talk about Lebanon, they talked about Israeli-Palestinian issues, certainly talk about how various states in the region play into those issues.
But essentially what you're looking at with this grouping of countries is a group of moderate governments who are interested in trying to resolve any differences that might exist in the region through political dialogue, through negotiation. That sort of peaceful evolution of the political process, as opposed to, say, Iran or Syria, their subcontractors, Hamas and Hezbollah, who are interested in a different kind of change, a violent change in the Middle East who are not in favor of seeing greater freedom, greater openness, greater democracy in the region. So this is really -- this is a grouping that really focuses on how can we support those groups, those individuals, those governments in the region who have an interest in seeking a peaceful change and peaceful resolution of differences that exist and we all know what those are.
QUESTION: Do you see that in terms of the Sunni-Shia divide, do you see them being able to help, for example, on more on the Sunni side and --
MR. MCCORMACK: I'm not going to try to break it down according to religious sect. I would draw the line differently. As I have said, this is a grouping of countries that are really interested in moderation in the region that are interested in greater freedom, greater openness. They are participants in the Forum for the Future. They are going to be -- they're represented at the Dead Sea. And this is just an opportunity for this group of countries and the Secretary to get together with these -- with her counterparts from these countries to talk about where we stand and how we might act together, either in concert, cooperation or in partnership to try to advance what we see are mutual interests in the region.
QUESTION: Let's go back to the --
Yeah, Kirit. Yeah.
QUESTION: Can you just talk about the Secretary's agenda for that meeting? I mean, I understand she'll be talking about the Israeli conflict, but is she going to be bringing any new ideas to this meeting or what? What is she hoping to get out of it?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, we'll talk about the security situation, I'm sure. I haven't talked to her in depth about what she hopes to accomplish in this meeting, but certainly you can bet talking about the security situation will be on the agenda. President Abbas has deployed some of his security forces in the north of Gaza and now there have been some additional rocket attacks, so we would hope that they would be effective in stopping any further rocket attacks or any terrorist attacks that might emanate from Gaza. But we believe that President Abbas is acting in good faith in taking these steps, and we encourage both sides to continue to abide by the ceasefire. The Israelis have, to this point, shown great restraint in not responding to some of the rocket attacks that actually have taken place after the ceasefire officially went into effect.
And I'm sure she'll also talk to him about the political situation in the Palestinian areas and how he sees that situation evolving. There is a lot of ferment ongoing in the Palestinian political system. The Hamas-led government has said essentially that it has failed in its task of governing the Palestinian people effectively and being able to provide those services that a government should be providing to its own people.
So there are a lot of discussions that are ongoing now about what might follow on. How that evolves is going to be a decision for the Palestinians alone to make. So I think the Secretary will be interested in hearing from President Abbas about those issues as well.
QUESTION: Does she have any new ideas that she'd like to bring to that meeting, though, I mean, is this -- to move this forward, I mean because they've talked about this in the past?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, actually if you look at it, it is moving forward. You have Keith Dayton, General Dayton on the ground who continues to work on the, you know, the real down-in-the-weeds blocking and tackling work of helping build up those security forces. Now that may not be very noteworthy in terms of big headlines splashed across the newspaper or the lead story on the nightly news, but it's important and essential work if you are going to have a Palestinian Authority that is able to provide security for all of the Palestinian people as well as working to prevent terrorist attacks and rocket attacks emanating from Gaza. So he's working on that.
I know that President Abbas also has some ideas about how to beef up those security forces. We're interested in working with him on that. You also have to, obviously, work in concert with the Israeli Government on that issue. They would obviously have an interest in those issues as well.
So this is a -- this is an incremental process, but you are seeing some positive movement. I would note also yesterday Prime Minister Olmert's speech -- a separate track, very positive. We -- Secretary Rice called Prime Minister Olmert and said that she welcomed his speech. Certainly it holds a lot of promise what Prime Minister Olmert talked about. He talked about if we -- if the two sides can move beyond some of the obstacles that are in the way right now, and we all know what those are, there is a real prospect of a political horizon there and having the two sides sit down together and work through some of the real issues that lead to a two-state solution. I think that Prime Minister Olmert reaffirmed that he has an interest in seeing a peaceful resolution to differences between the Israelis and Palestinians. He reaffirmed the possibility of a two-state solution.
So you have a partner for peace there. On the Palestinian side, President Abbas is a partner for peace. But you need a Palestinian government, a Palestinian Authority government, that is also a partner for peace. And that's what -- that's really where a lot of the focus of the international community is right now. But the answer to that question has to come from the Palestinians; it can't be something that is imposed by outside forces.
QUESTION: As a follow-up kind of to that and her call yesterday to Prime Minister Olmert, given the fact that he was just here at the White House a couple of weeks ago -- I don't remember the exact date -- do you feel there's a need to meet with him again? Is there a benefit to it now? Is there something new to discuss or do you not feel there's a need to meet with him?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, you know, again, there's the possibility that we could have the meeting between the two. As you rightly point out, Prime Minister Olmert was recently here in the United States. Secretary Rice also had a separate meeting with him. She had a phone call yesterday with him. So we'll see, Charlie, whether or not schedule-wise things work out. If not, then of course we're going to be in close contact with the Israelis, either with Foreign Minister Livni or Prime Minister Olmert or both of them, to talk about what it is that we heard while we were in the region, both President Bush as well as Secretary Rice.
QUESTION: A senior Israeli diplomat, diplomatic source, as saying that Israel has agreed in principle to allow for the deployment of so-called Badr Brigade, a thousand-person force into Gaza. Do you have any opinion on such a deployment?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, I know that this was something that President Abbas was interested in and I can't speak for the Israeli Government what their thoughts on this were. But President Abbas has spoken highly of the competence and professionalism of this particular force and their dedication to the mission of fighting terrorism and providing real security for the Palestinian people.
I think if you have the deployment of such a force that really does meet those criteria and that is an effective force in providing security for the Palestinian people under the command and control of President Abbas and works to prevent future rocket attacks and terror attacks, I think that would be positive.
QUESTION: Do you have any -- has this force had any training from the United States?
MR. MCCORMACK: I'll check for you, Arshad. I don't believe that it has.
QUESTION: And do you have any -- I mean, the Secretary, I believe -- if not the Secretary then a senior official who was with her when she was last in the region -- has spoken very highly of the professionalism of the separate Palestinian presidential forces in which the United States has had a hand in training them. And I wonder if you have any independent assessment of whether this force is indeed professional, loyal to Abbas, et cetera, or whether its introduction might just be another armed group in Gaza.
MR. MCCORMACK: The initial assessments that I have heard, and we can check further for you, were that -- the assessments were that this was a competent and professional capable force.
QUESTION: Can we move on or --
MR. MCCORMACK: No, we want more. Sylvie.
QUESTION: Yeah. In Jordan where they are preparing the visit of President Bush, officials are speaking about a Quartet meeting. Can you confirm that there is such a meeting scheduled?
MR. MCCORMACK: The Quartet -- there's nothing on the agenda at this point. The schedule has been relatively fluid, shall we say.
QUESTION: So do you deny it? I mean, do you not have plans for one (inaudible)?
MR. MCCORMACK: I have not seen any schedule with that on it.
MR. MCCORMACK: I mean, involving the Secretary, you know.
QUESTION: You touched very lightly on the Hamas issue and I could understand --
MR. MCCORMACK: Excuse me?
QUESTION: You've touched very lightly --
MR. MCCORMACK: Oh, okay.
QUESTION: -- on the Hamas issue and I could understand. You have some momentum and you sure don't want to be negative with things moving in a positive -- moving forward. But doesn't this have to come up against Hamas's control over the Palestinian Authority at some point. I'm sure the Secretary isn't wasting her time -- doesn't intend to waste her time, but if the Palestinians still have a Hamas-led government where are you going with this?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, that's what -- that was the point I was trying to make --
MR. MCCORMACK: -- in answer to Kirit's question is that you need to have a Palestinian government that meets the Quartet principles; everybody agrees on that. Prime Minister Olmert reaffirmed that view. We have reaffirmed our view of that many times over. The Quartet has reaffirmed its view that you need to have a Palestinian Authority government that meets those criteria in order for the international community to resume the kind of relationship that it had previously with the Palestinian Authority Government. The reason why that -- there was a break in that relationship is you had a Hamas-led government come in and they refused to even recognize Israel or Israeli's right to exist. They refused to renounce violence. They refused to renounce terror. So as a result of that platform, of the decisions by that Hamas government, you had a break with past practice. And if you have a Palestinian Government that resumes adherence to the principles laid out by the Quartet, then you have the possibility again of resuming that relationship that previously existed with the international community.
Yeah. On this?
QUESTION: Change of subject.
MR. MCCORMACK: Okay.
QUESTION: An Islamic militant has blown himself up today at a Syrian border post near Lebanon after a gun battle with security forces, Syrian security forces. Do you have any reaction or any comment on this?
MR. MCCORMACK: I haven't seen those reports. I'll check into it. Be happy to check into it for you and see if we can confirm it and have any description or comment on the circumstances surrounding the possible event.
QUESTION: While we're on terrorism, this may be left field, but seven or nine -- that's one of the questions, how many -- suicide bombers from Morocco have killed themselves in some campaign in some operation in Iraq and they come from a Moroccan town allegedly, Tetouan. Is this anything you're familiar with?
MR. MCCORMACK: Not the specifics, Barry. It's been widely reported, and we've confirmed that there are foreign fighters in Iraq. I can't tell you if any of them have come from Morocco. I can't dispute that, but I don't --
QUESTION: Let alone the town?
MR. MCCORMACK: Or let alone that town.
MR. MCCORMACK: Anything else? Okay. Sylvie.
QUESTION: Apparently, France, Germany and Britain has presented a new draft under resolution on Iran on the sanction on Iran.
MR. MCCORMACK: I think I saw the spokesman for the French Foreign Ministry talking about circulating a -- some new language. We'll of course take a look at whatever is circulated by the -- any revisions to the draft that previously existed. It's part of the process, and we'll take a look at whatever it is that they -- the French have forwarded to us in the spirit of trying to get a resolution here. And we would hope that all the parties, the P-5+1 and then the Security Council, could come together and coalesce around some -- an approach as well as some specific language and sanctions so that Iran does get the message that there are consequences for their failure to comply with the demands of the Security Council.
QUESTION: What was the problem with the former draft?
MR. MCCORMACK: I can't get into any specifics, but there -- you know, obviously you didn't have agreement among all the P-5+1 let alone the Security Council on the language of the draft so. It's a multilateral negotiating process.
QUESTION: Have you actually seen the new version?
MR. MCCORMACK: What's that?
QUESTION: Have you received the new version? Can you confirm that it was sent?
MR. MCCORMACK: I haven't talked to our guys. I don't know. I'm just basing this on the reports I actually saw and (inaudible) from the French Foreign Minister's spokesman.
QUESTION: So you have no internal information about whether you've got it or --
MR. MCCORMACK: I don't. I don't. He has stated so publicly, and I assume that if we have not yet received it, then we will soon get it and take a look at it.
QUESTION: It is -- yet, it's too early to say whether this is now the operative vehicle?
MR. MCCORMACK: I couldn't say, Barry. You know, I'd have to talk to our guys and, you know, get their analysis of it.
QUESTION: Shall we follow up? Is it too early to say that you'd have a resolution by Christmas? (Laughter.)
MR. MCCORMACK: Oh, man. You guys are merciless. What's the next holiday after Christmas?
QUESTION: Easter. Easter.
MR. MCCORMACK: Easter? Okay. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: A follow-up on that. The Secretary met in Hanoi with the Russian Foreign Minister and we suspect they spoke about Iran. Did they -- did you have any readout of this --
MR. MCCORMACK: I didn't talk to her specifically about that, but it was -- Iran was going to be a topic that the President talked to President Putin about during the course of the two exchanges, one in Moscow, one in Hanoi. And although I haven't spoken specifically to the Secretary about that, that issue, it's safe to assume it came up. They have talked -- they have talked periodically about Iran as well.
QUESTION: Did they make any progress on --
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, we don't have a resolution yet so, you know.
QUESTION: New topic? On Iran, too?
MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah, sure.
QUESTION: Iran's Supreme Leader has said that today during his meeting with the Iraqi President that U.S. troops must leave Iraq if security is to be restored.
MR. MCCORMACK: Right. Well --
QUESTION: What's your --
MR. MCCORMACK: Interesting. That's not what we're hearing from the Iraqi Government.
QUESTION: North Korea. A North Korean met with -- envoy met with Chris Hill today. Before or right after the meeting, he said that North Korea is going to these talks having attained the position of being a nuclear power and that they would, you know -- they were holding the talks from the grandstand point of being a nuclear power. Do you have any comment?
MR. MCCORMACK: Right. Well, we -- you know, we've talked previously about our views on the fact that North Korea has detonated a nuclear device, but we view that as a reversible state, I guess you can say. And the whole aim of these talks is to have a denuclearized Korean Peninsula.
QUESTION: Did Assistant Secretary Hill in his conversation with Kim Gye Gwan propose or discuss any additional inducements that the United States might be willing to offer North Korea if it were to proceed down the path toward denuclearization?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, I won't get into specifically what they talked about, but the whole idea behind these preparatory discussions is to lay the groundwork for a good, solid six-party round that actually produces results based on the September 19th statement. So you want to use that as your launch point, move forward from that, actually get concrete results.
When the six -- when the talks reconvene formally, it's going to be a negotiation. I think the way to look at what Chris did today was to start to provide information on how we might be able to define what is an effective round of the six-party talks that produces concrete results. So what does that look like? And we have had discussions previously with South Korea and Russia, Japan and China, obviously, on all of these points. And I think that there is some convergence on -- around the idea, towards the ideas of well, what would constitute progress in this next round of six-party talks -- tangible, concrete progress.
So we -- I think it's only natural that you also start to outline some of those thoughts, at least from our perspective, of (inaudible) the North Koreans about what that might look like. So that's what he did.
QUESTION: But that implies -- I mean, none of that is particularly -- I mean, all of those are statements that you or other people made when we were in Hanoi. And my question is whether what was under discussion today is what you want them to do, in other words concrete steps that they would take, and whether it exclusively focused on that. So when one is: Is it what you want them to do whenever the next round or to be prepared to do when the next round begins?
And then second, did you talk about what you might do --
MR. MCCORMACK: Let me put it this way. You know, before the next round of these talks convene that all the parties, including North Korea, including us, will have, we hope, a good understanding of what are the possibilities for making progress, what does real progress look like in these talks. And that would include what -- all of the -- what all of the parties in the talks might do. This is a negotiation so of course there's going to be -- there's going to be give and take among all the parties. And you will have some parties that are able to do some things that other parties might not be able to do.
So I would just say prior to the reconvening of those talks that everybody will have, we hope, that understanding. So I'm not going to get into specifically, well, what did Chris talk about and talk about what we might do, what the Chinese might do, what the North Koreans might do. I would just say as part of the process everybody will, we hope, have an understanding of that.
QUESTION: Can you at least say that he talked about both sides of the coin, what they might do and what others might do?
MR. MCCORMACK: I'm just going to say during this process all of that will be aired as part of providing information.
QUESTION: Why can't you say that he did that, if indeed he did do that? I mean, it seems like a reasonable thing to ask.
MR. MCCORMACK: Because -- no, it's a perfectly reasonable question. It's just that, you know, I'm choosing to describe the process more generally. I don't want to get into one -- this -- you know, this particular meeting is about, you know, one set of issues vice another set of issues. Look at this as a process that is preparing these talks as a whole and that during the course of that process you're going to have us, you're going to have the Chinese, you're going to have the Japanese, the South Koreans talking about what they might do and also hearing from and talking to the North Koreans about what they might do.
QUESTION: Any plans for him to meet Kim Gye Gwan again? This week?
MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah. As a matter of fact, the meeting -- there's another meeting that is -- it's planned at this point for tomorrow where he would -- it would follow the same pattern where you'd have interaction with the Chinese and then likely with the North Koreans as well.
QUESTION: Well, can I --
QUESTION: So in other words, three-way and then two-way?
MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah, in theory, that's the way -- yeah, that's the way that it worked today. He had a meeting -- I don't know if he -- I'll check for you. I don't know if he had a meeting separately with the Chinese, but there was a meeting with the Chinese, the North Koreans and the United States. Then there was a meeting with U.S. and North Korea. And then I think the idea is that we'd replicate that tomorrow.
QUESTION: Sean, when you talk about kind of laying the groundwork for successful talks, I mean, how much of this is kind of precooking the negotiations so that you just go to the table and you already know what everyone's prepared to agree on? I mean, what is being left to actually negotiate at the talks?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, at this point I can't tell you. You know, I'm sure that you're going to have negotiations. I can't tell you how long they might go on when you reconvene the talks. I might add that we don't yet have a date for those talks reconvening, but you want to make sure that everybody at least has a good solid understanding of what might happen in those talks. It's not to say that you seal a deal prior to going there. I'm sure that there will be some negotiations. Anytime you get into a negotiation, the devil's in the details. We all know that and I'm sure that there will be a lot of details to go through when the talks reconvene.
QUESTION: But it sounds like there's a lot of negotiations going on right now.
MR. MCCORMACK: I think what -- no, I wouldn't call what you have negotiations. We're providing information to the North Koreans; they're providing information back to us. There's no guarantee that when you get to the talks that that's the actual outcome that you're going to arrive at. One would hope that when all the six parties get together and everybody has all their input, lay it on the table, that you come up with a good solution that allows us to move this process forward.
QUESTION: Well, I mean, is it right now these kind of preparatory talks, is it you're just laying all of your cards on the table and then you'll --
MR. MCCORMACK: No, you never lay all your cards on the table prior to negotiations.
QUESTION: Well, but I mean is there a give and take in these talks or are you laying out --
MR. MCCORMACK: No, this isn't --
QUESTION: -- your position?
MR. MCCORMACK: -- the negotiating session. That happens when all the parties get back together again.
QUESTION: On another subject, can I ask you if the American Government is satisfied with the investigation about the circumstances of the death of an American journalist in Oaxaca?
MR. MCCORMACK: Let me -- I'll check for you on that. I haven't looked into that recently.
QUESTION: Now, do you have the names of the people that is going to head the delegation, the American delegation, to the swearing-in ceremony of President Calderon?
MR. MCCORMACK: I think the White House just put those out and former President Bush is going to be leading that delegation and I think our ambassador is going to be part of it. I think that -- let me remember here, the attorney general as well as Secretary of Commerce are going to be part of that delegation.
MR. MCCORMACK: Joel.
QUESTION: To our northern border, it seems they've just resolved the issue over Quebec and how does that impact with the impending visa changes and of course there was separatism wanted for that one province? What is your overall reaction?
MR. MCCORMACK: I think that's a domestic politics question for the Canadian prime ministry.
Yeah. Anything else?
QUESTION: Sri Lanka.
MR. MCCORMACK: Sri Lanka.
QUESTION: Sri Lanka is on the verge of a new war because the independent Tamil Tigers leader asked for an independent state.
MR. MCCORMACK: Right.
QUESTION: So do you have any reaction to that?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, they also talked about the fact that they were -- the 2002 ceasefire was defunct as part of that, as well as declaring an independent state that we were disturbed by those reports. The 2002 ceasefire agreement is the foundation on which both the Government of Sri Lanka and the Tamil Tigers can find mutual understanding and build sustainable peace. We condemn the Tamil Tigers for fueling violence and hostility. Violence and terrorism do nothing to advance the resolution of the conflict and we're pressing both sides -- the government as well as the Tigers -- to honor the ceasefire agreement and return to a dialogue that will move the nation toward peace.
The Tigers can choose to return to the peace process and should do so for the benefit of the Sri Lankan people.
QUESTION: Do you plan any diplomatic initiative?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, we're working within the Contact Group process, the monitoring group. We have recently hosted a meeting of the co-chairs of the Tokyo's Donors Conference -- Norway, Japan and the European Union -- to help find a durable solution, so that's really the mechanism through which we work to try to move the process forward.
QUESTION: Has this risen to the Secretary's level? Has she made any calls on this or is it Assistant Secretary Boucher or is it beneath even that level?
MR. MCCORMACK: No, this is actually something Nick Burns is deeply involved in. He was actually one of the attendees at this Donors' Conference. So he's somebody that actually has -- in working with Richard Boucher, Assistant Secretary Boucher, he has this account. He regularly updates the Secretary on it so she does follow it. And certainly if she needs to intervene with phone calls or anything else she'll do what she can, but this is really something Nick on a day-to-day basis follows.
QUESTION: And do you know if she has made any calls following the statement or --
MR. MCCORMACK: She has not, no --
QUESTION: -- do you know if he has?
MR. MCCORMACK: -- not on this. We can check and see if Nick has done anything on this.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MR. MCCORMACK: Right.
QUESTION: Sean, Burma has shut down the field offices of the International Red Cross --
MR. MCCORMACK: Yes.
QUESTION: -- and some are saying it's like a preemptive strike in advance of a critical UN resolution. Do you have response to what they've done?
MR. MCCORMACK: I guess we shouldn't be surprised by the action given the nature of the regime in Burma. Certainly it's a negative step and we would call upon them to actually reopen these offices and allow the ICRC to continue its critical work. We are working within the Security Council to talk to other members of the Council about a resolution in the wake of Mr. Gambari's report to the Council and would expect in the coming days it would be a topic of conversation in the Council, and certainly this action by the regime in Burma should be an important part of the conversation and an indicator that you do need a resolution.
(The briefing was concluded at 1:02 p.m.)
Released on November 28, 2006