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US State Dept Daily Press Briefing: 30 Nov 2007


Daily Press Briefing
Sean McCormack, Spokesman
Washington, DC
November 30, 2007

US State Dept Daily Press Briefing: 30 Nov 2007

INDEX:

IRAN

Secretary Rice's Discussions with Chinese Foreign Minister Yang / Secretary's Request For Representation on Political Director Level at P5+1 Meeting /
A Combination of Various Elements May Have a Practical Effect on Iran's Behavior
Individual Actions by Countries / Security Council Resolution / Tactical Differences
Patient Diplomacy Required
Solana Meeting with Iranian Negotiator Jalili
Tactical Questions / Strategic Bargain Remains Strong Among the P5+1 / Issue of an Iranian Meeting in Baghdad / The Crocker Channel
Iran Continues with Uranium Enrichment Program / International Community Hopes Iranian Regime Takes the Positive Pathway
U.S. Open to Using Channel for Iran

MISCELLANEOUS

President's Upcoming Travel to Africa / Secretary Rice's Travel to Africa
Secretary's Travel to Brussels Will Deal with NATO Issues
Diversity Visas Program Procedures
2008 Calendar Foreign Policy Issues / Potential to Make Progress on Important Fronts

VENEZUELA

U.S. Wants Vote Count to Reflect the Will of the Venezuelan People
Alleged CIA Document Found by Venezuelan Government

COLOMBIA

Colombian Government Has Materials on Proof of Life / U.S. in Close Contact with Families of American Hostages
U.S. Fully Supportive of President Uribe to Get Back All Hostages / In Continued Contact with Colombian Government
FARC Extradition Case in Hands of Justice Department

ISRAEL/PALESTINIANS

Secretary Believes Results of Annapolis as Positive / Events Speak for Themselves

GREECE

Foreign Minister Bakoyannis Involved in Bringing Leaders Around the Globe Together
Important for States of the Balkan to Have a Horizon into a Different Kind of Relationship with Europe

MIDDLE EAST

Prospects for a Israeli-Syrian Track
Syria Has an Opportunity to Play a Positive Role in the Region

IRAQ

Deputy Secretary Negroponte's Extended Trip Throughout the Country / Assessment of How Things are Progressing
Iraqi Government Taking Advantage of Opportunities Provided Them / Government Moving Forward on Important Pieces of Legislation

SUDAN

U.S. Supportive of British Government / UK Working to Get Their Citizen Back

PAKISTAN

U.S. View on Pakistan's State of Emergency

TRANSCRIPT:

12:09 p.m. EST

MR. MCCORMACK: Good afternoon, everybody. Welcome to Friday. I don't have anything to start off with, so we can get right into your questions.

QUESTION: Sean, can you talk a little bit about what you hope to achieve at tomorrow's P-5+1 political directors meeting?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, I can't handicap it for you at this point. I think -- you know, let me go back to the fact that just recently, the Secretary this week had some good discussions with Chinese Foreign Minister Yang about their participation in the P-5+1 political directors meeting that is going to take place tomorrow in Paris. One of our requests was that they be represented at the political director level and Foreign Minister Yang said that they would be. We further asked that they play a constructive role in coming up with the elements of a resolution and trying to push down the line, actually come to some agreement on what the elements would be and try to further define exactly what the language will be.

Let's see. I can't tell you exactly what the outcomes would be, Matt. You know, going into this, would we have preferred to have already had a resolution signed, sealed and delivered, voted on and implemented? Yeah, absolutely. We make no secret of that. So we'd like to move forward as quickly as we possibly can and I can't tell you exactly what the outcome is going to be tomorrow.

QUESTION: Well, had this question of their representation -- has this been a problem in the past?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, it has been, but --

QUESTION: What, did they send someone lower --

MR. MCCORMACK: Lower -- lower level, yeah, lower level. And we talked about that, this

-- again, we're being -- trying to be as transparent about this as we possibly can be. But I think that, you know, our -- the indications are that the Chinese are coming to this with an attitude that they want to have a good, effective conversation.

QUESTION: Okay. And you said that they -- that he responded affirmatively to the Secretary's request for representation on the political level. How did he respond --

MR. MCCORMACK: At the political directors level.

QUESTION: At the political directors level.

MR. MCCORMACK: Yes.

QUESTION: How did he respond when she asked him if they --

MR. MCCORMACK: She didn't ask him. She just underlined it is important to try to move forward.

QUESTION: And his response was?

MR. MCCORMACK: It wasn't the -- it wasn't the kind of point to which one responded. She just made the point and that was it.

QUESTION: Do you have any --

MR. MCCORMACK: Charles, anything else on this?

QUESTION: Yes.

MR. MCCORMACK: Rosen, you have the floor.

QUESTION: In the further interest of transparency, it is clear that the United States doesn't regard any potential action at the UN Security Council at this point as the instrument that will actually cause Iran to cease and desist in its quest for the atom, does it?

MR. MCCORMACK: Do we think that a UN resolution will be the only thing that causes them to change their minds? No, I don't -- no, we haven't said that it would be the only thing. We think that a combination of a variety of different things, starting with a different set of decision-making metrics within the Iranian Government, will lead them to pursue a different course, pursue the course of negotiations that has been offered to them. But it will be a combination of different things: Security Council resolutions, Chapter 7 resolutions. They do have an effect and the various elements of them have a practical effect. These are Chapter 7 requirements, which mean they have the force of legal -- international legal standing.

But beyond that, individual actions that countries will take such as the steps that we have taken to cut off the ability of certain Iranian financial institutions from accessing U.S. as well as international financial markets, individual steps like Germany has taken to reduce the level of export credits, there have been other countries that have followed suit, individual actions by businesses making business decisions based on reputational risk assessments that they perform will have an effect. So you have a combination of different things that one hopes will have a positive effect, meaning the Iranians will change their mind and change course.

But a Security Council resolution is just one of those elements. I think going back to the first one that we passed, we were surprised about the sort of secondary effects of the resolution when we went to have conversations with other states, with businesses about what they might do vis-à-vis Iran and some of these entities in question. A Chapter 7 resolution actually had played an important role in their thinking. What it is is it's an important international signal. It's an important international political and diplomatic signal that something's wrong. And the fact that you had these prior two resolutions pass unanimously, this is a strong signal to those in the international community, whether that's in the private sector or the public sector, that there is something wrong, there is something that merits their close evaluation of what they are doing with Iran.

And so it has had a very real effect, but alone, it is not going to -- I assume it is not going to change Iranian behavior, but in combination with other actions, our hope is that it will, along with the prospect that there's a positive pathway for Iran and we want to keep that open and make it very clear to the Iranian Government that that positive pathway is open to them.

QUESTION: Can I just follow up on that?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, Charlie, did you have an Iran question or something else?

QUESTION: It's a non-Iran question.

MR. MCCORMACK: Okay. Well, I'll -- you have the --

QUESTION: Could I just follow up directly on what you just said?

MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah, sure.

QUESTION: I mean, wouldn't you also say that the fact that you haven't been able to get a resolution passed since those other two, despite promises since back in June and May, doesn't that also signal that there isn't the consensus that you like to say exists in the international community?

MR. MCCORMACK: No, look, there have been tactical differences and we've talked about that. We've had some tactical differences with the Russians about how fast and how far to proceed on the Security Council track. And some of those -- we've had similar differences with the Chinese as well. But nobody has walked away from the fundamental bargain and nobody has walked away from the idea that they don't want to see Iran get a nuclear weapon -- not China, not Russia, not any other member of the P-5+1. Everybody is unanimous on that. They're rock solid on that. They're also rock solid on the idea that we want to maintain these two pathways and that there are -- you need to have negative consequences for not complying with the demands of the international community, all the while keeping open that positive pathway.

So everybody is -- in terms of the objectives and the strategy, everybody is absolutely on board. As far as tactics go, okay, yeah, there have been, you know, within a standard deviation or a couple standard deviations, some differences there. But we have in the past worked through those and we have every confidence that we'll continue to be able to work through those.

QUESTION: But you're running out of time.

MR. MCCORMACK: No, we're not running out of time. I don't think so. We -- this is going to require patient diplomacy. I understand that the Iranians are proceeding on course with their building of centrifuges and operating of the centrifuges, but the diplomacy is proceeding along. Would we have hoped that it would go along a little bit faster? Yes, absolutely. But we believe that we are continuing to follow the proper approach.

Yes.

QUESTION: In the meeting between Solana and the Iranian negotiator Jalili has ended and Solana said that he is disappointed.

MR. MCCORMACK: Right.

QUESTION: Do you have any reaction to --

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, we haven't got --

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

MR. MCCORMACK: We haven't gotten a readout yet. I expect that we will, I don't know, today or maybe tomorrow. I'm not sure. Nick is going to see his EU counterpart in Paris for the meetings tomorrow. The Secretary hasn't yet spoken with Mr. Solana. I expect at some point she probably will. I can't tell you exactly when.

I saw the same press report saying that he was disappointed. I really can't add anything to that, although I suppose it doesn't come as much as a surprise -- of a surprise given the Iranian attitudes stated in public as well as private to Mr. Solana that he would be disappointed coming out of this meeting as well.

QUESTION: One more on Iran?

QUESTION: Just on that question, time and running out of time, I mean, you are running, at least in East Coast time, you've got about another 12 hours before your own -- before the P-5+1's own deadline of November to act expires. Do you think that that fact, which the deadline is not going to be met obviously, is an indication that some on the P-5+1 are not entirely committed or not entirely serious about seeing through what you all have agreed to?

MR. MCCORMACK: No, we believe that they are actually serious about it. Like I said, there are tactical differences. What we're talking about are questions of timing, questions of exactly what elements to include in a resolution, how much farther to advance beyond what we already have qualitatively, questions about language. These are tactical questions. And I admit they have slowed up the process from our perspective, but the point is fundamentally the strategic bargain made among the P-5+1 remains and it's still strong, remains strong.

QUESTION: And just one other thing because -- related, which is that it's been some time now, almost a week I think, since you've said that you were ready to have the talks again with the Iranians in Baghdad. Has something been scheduled along that line? Has it been (inaudible) back because of Deputy Secretary Negroponte's visit? Is it something that he might be involved in?

MR. MCCORMACK: No. Haven't heard back from the Iranians either via the Swiss channel or via the Iraqis.

QUESTION: On Iran?

MR. MCCORMACK: Yes, Goyal.

QUESTION: One more, thanks. How long you think diplomacy will play a role, and because in the meantime you said that support has not gone down as far as countries are concerned against Iranian nuclear program and also at the same time Iran is progressing and going ahead with their nuclear program. Can you update how far now they have gone? Have they stopped during this diplomacy and during these UN resolutions and pressure, or they are continuing with their program?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, they have said that they are continuing with their program. I think the most recent IAEA report has said that they are continuing with their uranium enrichment program and that really is at the core of what we're talking about here. The fact that they are proceeding along, continuing to make progress and trying to make progress on the most important part of any nuclear program -- and that is the enrichment phase. It's the hardest part. It takes the longest period of time. So that, from the very beginning, has been our source of concern and that has been the focus of our efforts, to get them to suspend those activities and in exchange for that, realize negotiations with us.

QUESTION: So the more time you give diplomatically the more they are going ahead with their program so one day it will be too late maybe?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, let's all hope that the Iranian regime takes the positive pathway that's been laid out for them.

Charles, you have the --

QUESTION: Can we go back to the --

MR. MCCORMACK: No, Charlie has the next off-topic question.

QUESTION: It's a different topic and a different continent.

QUESTION: Can --

MR. MCCORMACK: Is it on Iran?

QUESTION: Yes.

MR. MCCORMACK: Okay.

QUESTION: Can we go back to this meeting that is supposed to take place in Baghdad between -- I wanted to know at what level you offered the dialogue.

MR. MCCORMACK: I don't think that's been determined yet. We haven't heard back officially from the Iranians, but --

QUESTION: You haven't -- back about what? What did you offer them?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, it's not a matter of -- it's a matter of, once you decide, yes, we are open to using that channel, that we'll decide at a certain point, mutually agreed, at what level we would offer up on our side. There are a variety of different levels. You know, the channel is essentially the Crocker channel to his counterpart, but there have been subgroups, there have been working groups that have been established under him and one of them has been Ambassador Rees. Wouldn't be surprised if that were the level, but I don't think that's -- those questions have been finally determined.

QUESTION: Okay.

MR. MCCORMACK: Yes, Charlie.

QUESTION: Within the last hour, the President's announced he's planning a trip to Africa in January. Will Secretary Rice go with him and does Secretary Rice's upcoming trip have anything to do in setting the stage for that in any way?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, I would expect that she would go with him. I haven't talked to her about it yet, but I assume that she would. In terms of this current trip, I'm not sure that it is really meant as a way to set up the President's upcoming travel. This is more of a problem-solving trip, working on a few of the discreet issues that we see in East Africa regarding the Great Lakes and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which I know is not necessarily East Africa, but part of the problem is in East Africa, Somalia as well as Sudan.

We're going to have a briefing for you, I think, at what, 3:30, Tom?

MR. CASEY: 3:30.

MR. MCCORMACK: 3:30, Tom, with Assistant Secretary Jendayi Frazer who will be able to give you a little bit more depth in terms of what the Secretary's going to be doing on her trip.

Yes, sir.

QUESTION: Yes, can you tell us more what the Secretary plans to do in Brussels?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, this is -- it's a NATO foreign ministers meeting. They're going to deal with the whole breadth of NATO issues. I think there's going to be a North Atlantic Council meeting, there's going to be a NATO-Russia Council meeting, a NATO-Ukraine Council meeting. Among the NATO members, I would expect they touch on topics like Afghanistan, Kosovo. I can't tell you what else is on the agenda, but those are the basics.

QUESTION: Sean, can we go to Venezuela?

MR. MCCORMACK: Sure.

QUESTION: Do you have confidence that the vote count there Sunday will be legitimate?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, we'll see. One hopes that the voting, the vote count will actually reflect the will of the Venezuelan people. I can't tell you what that will be. One thing that is worth noting is that there won't be observers on the ground, so the outside world won't really have much insight into the procedures that are implemented not only on the day of the vote, but also in counting the vote. So I can't really offer a view on that, whether or not the actual outcomes will reflect the will of the Venezuelan people. Certainly, one hopes that it will.

QUESTION: The Chavez government has said they found a document linking the CIA to the referendum and interfering in the referendum. Do you have any comment on that?

MR. MCCORMACK: I think that is just trying to distract people from the issue at hand.

QUESTION: Colombia?

MR. MCCORMACK: Colombia, yes.

QUESTION: What's your opinion about the proof of life? What is --

MR. MCCORMACK: I understand that the Colombian Government has obtained some materials. We have seen some excerpts, some parts of those materials. I think, inasmuch as it involves our citizens, we're going to get a full look at those, do an analysis of them. But the initial indications are that it does provide some proof of life for several of the hostages, including American hostages, and we're going to be in close contact with the families of the American hostages.

QUESTION: Colombia?

MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) proof of life came because of the mediation, facilitation of President Chavez, will United States agree if the dialogue that will start between President Uribe and President Chavez in order to get the hostage back?

MR. MCCORMACK: I think President Uribe has made some decisions in that regard and we're fully supportive of President Uribe in terms of his actions and commitment to getting back all of the hostages as soon as possible and unharmed. One thing that's been very heartening for the United States Government has been that he has made it clear that there's no distinction among the nationalities of the hostages as far as he's concerned. He's not going to prioritize Colombian hostages over American or French or any other, so that's very heartening for us.

Yeah, Sylvie.

QUESTION: Sean, what exactly do you do to -- in this -- on this matter? Did you -- after the proof of life were published, did you call anybody? Is there --

MR. MCCORMACK: We've been in contact with the Colombian Government as the first matter and then also we have been in contact with the families of those American citizens being held hostage.

QUESTION: And that's all? You don't do anything special now? What is your next step now that you have this proof?

MR. MCCORMACK: Continue working with the Colombian Government.

QUESTION: So you have no position on whether Chavez belongs back in those negotiations or not?

MR. MCCORMACK: Those are decisions that President Uribe has taken and I think he has explained with good reason the reasoning behind his decision.

QUESTION: Sean, do these --

QUESTION: But in Colombia, on Monday, there is going to be the sentence for Simon Trinidad, the FARC guerrilla who has been extradited here in the United States. Now that the proof of why that he asked to the FARC to put them out are out, do you think or will the United States be agreed for a shorter sentence for this (inaudible) even as they offer as United States --

MR. MCCORMACK: I think this is something that is in the hands of the judicial branch.

QUESTION: Mideast. Would the United States like to see the UN Security Council issue some kind of resolution memorializing the results of Annapolis?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, we think that at this point, James, we looked at this matter, thought about it. And at the end of the day, the Secretary believes that the results of Annapolis, the positive results out of Annapolis, speak for themselves and there's really no reason to gild the lily, I guess. That's how I'd put it.

QUESTION: How did that idea get so far along if the Secretary feels this way about it?

MR. MCCORMACK: I don't know. Can't tell you.

QUESTION: But U.S. introduced a draft resolution yesterday.

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, you can -- you take time to consider things and you take a look at the -- all the positive effects that have come out of Annapolis, and I'm not sure that we saw the need to add anything else to the conversation. Sometimes the results and the event speak for themselves.

QUESTION: So did Zal shoot too fast?

MR. MCCORMACK: I think the events and the results of Annapolis speak for themselves.

QUESTION: Were the Israelis consulted on this?

MR. MCCORMACK: Excuse me?

QUESTION: Were the Israelis consulted on this?

MR. MCCORMACK: We -- yeah, absolutely we talked to them. We talked to them about it. Sure.

QUESTION: And what did they say about it?

MR. MCCORMACK: You can talk to the Israelis about what they think about it.

Lambros.

QUESTION: Mr. McCormack, two questions on Greece.

MR. MCCORMACK: Sure.

QUESTION: The Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis during the Annapolis conference proposed "the next generation activity," hosting civil society meetings with Israeli and Palestinian youth on a rotation basis for unlimited period of time in Greece with explicit goal of boosting the peace process, as she said. Any comment?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, people-to-people -- encouraging people-to-people contacts is very positive, something we encourage. There are a number of private foundations even based here in the United States who do that. I know that Foreign Minister Bakoyannis is somebody who is very much involved in bringing together government officials with civil society people, you know, these sorts of people-to-people contacts. I think she's somebody who's been involved in efforts that the Secretary has been involved in -- been involved with to bring many leaders from around the globe together. But in terms of any particular projects that Greece wants to pursue in encouraging people-to-people contacts, I would say that's very positive.

QUESTION: And the next. The Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis last week during the summit of the EU foreign ministers in Brussels, Mr. McCormack, proposed that the Thessaloniki plan number two by which all the Balkan state must be accepted into the European Union system. Anything to say on this Greek proposal?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, inasmuch as it involves the European Union and inasmuch as we are not members of the European Union, I would leave it to the European Union to comment, although we have commented that it is important for the states of the Balkans, to varying degrees, to have a horizon into a very different kind of relationship with Europe, meaning the EU.

Yeah. James.

QUESTION: Back to the Mideast?

MR. MCCORMACK: Sure.

QUESTION: There's conflicting reports in the U.S. and Israeli media about this this morning, but is the U.S. looking to thaw its icy relations with Damascus at the present time?

MR. MCCORMACK: I think you know where we stand with respect to Damascus. Yeah, a lot of this comes about -- comes out of the fact that Syria had accepted an invitation to participate in Annapolis and we believe that that was positive. Taken as a whole, their comments were positive and added to the conversation at Annapolis.

But the real question here is -- centers on the idea of whether or not there is going to be an Israeli-Syrian track, whether or not those two states move forward. And our stated position is that Syria and Israel need to explore for themselves whether or not there is something there, whether or not there is some opening that they can exploit. We have encouraged Israel, if they see some opening, some promise there, to explore it. We don't believe that that track is in any way a substitute for the Israeli-Palestinian track, and I don't think Israel sees it as a substitute.

As far as Syria's behavior, they have an opportunity to play a more positive role in the region. Is their participation at Annapolis an indication of that? I don't -- I can't tell you at this point. But certainly, we would encourage them across a number of different fronts to play a more positive role in the region. Whether they choose to do so, it's up to them.

QUESTION: Has there been any evidence that Syria today is playing a more positive role in the Middle East than it was, say, six months ago or a year ago?

MR. MCCORMACK: You know, James, I don't think I can offer that kind of assessment. You have indications of things like participating at the Annapolis conference; juxtapose that against the fact that just, what, a month ago or so they had proposed holding an anti-Annapolis conference at which they would get together all the Palestinian rejectionist groups along with anybody else who seemed to want to use violent extremism to undermine any progress along the Israeli-Palestinian track. So you know, there's definitely a mixed picture there. We would hope that they would make a more definitive statement to the international community through their actions that they want to play a positive role in the region. I don't think anybody has seen that at this point.

QUESTION: But Annapolis even aside and anti-Annapolis aside, what about its conduct in -- with regard to Lebanon and with regard to the funneling of arms and fighters into Iraq? On those fronts, is there any evidence that Syria is playing a more constructive role than it was six months ago or a year ago?

MR. MCCORMACK: You know, again, James, you know, I can't offer you any sort of definitive assessment.

QUESTION: I didn't ask for a definitive assessment. I asked if there's any evidence.

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, what I am telling you is that I don't deal in any pieces of evidence out there, just bits and pieces. What we would do is offer a definitive, considered assessment. I can't offer that to you at this point.

Yes.

QUESTION: Democratic Congressman Murtha was in Iraq last week. They put out a statement that the U.S. military surge has created a window of opportunity for the Iraqi Government.

MR. MCCORMACK: Right.

QUESTION: And he goes on to say that the Iraqi Government has failed to capitalize on this. Your reaction? And also, how is Mr. Negroponte trying to persuade the Iraqi Government to be more --

MR. MCCORMACK: He's traveling for an extended trip throughout the country, starting in the south and moves his way up north. And he is talking about a lot of the things that you hear us talk about in public and he's there also to assess for himself how things are progressing on the security front, on the political front.

In terms of -- I haven't seen Congressman Murtha's statement, but the fact is that the Iraqi Government has taken advantage of some of this opportunity. Now, in some ways they haven't as well. There's still a provincial elections law that they're working on. There's still the de-Baathification law they're working on. They're still working on a national hydrocarbons law. But you know, with this -- important pieces still left, they do have a budget; money is flowing from the center out to the provinces. There have been requests for supplemental -- for example, request for supplemental monies for Anbar Province from the province, and Baghdad has responded. So there are -- they are following up in many ways and they are in many ways taking advantage of the opportunities provided them.

Very often it's the case that the individuals taking advantage of those opportunities are out in the localities, out in the provinces. Everybody knows the example of the Anbar Province and Ramadi and Fallujah and all of these other towns. So very often, you see from the bottom up individuals, groups, taking advantage of the space, if you will, created by the surge. And that is part of the strategy was to create multiple points for success. Now, we are continuing to urge at the national level that national politicians take advantage, full advantage, of the opportunity that is being provided them by the -- some of the successes we are seeing as a result of the Iraqi -- the Iraqi and American military surges. David Satterfield, our Secretary's Special Advisor for Iraq, is once again out in Iraq working with national-level leadership to -- on ways that they can move forward these important pieces of legislation we've been talking about for some time.

Our Under Secretary for Economic and Business Affairs Reuben Jeffery has recently been out to Iraq to work with the Iraqis on issues related to the hydrocarbon law. So we continue to try to help them move those pieces of legislation along, but there has been some substantial progress in other areas. It may not be headline-grabbing in terms of pieces -- a big piece of legislation being passed, but it is very meaningful.

You've had enough there, Goyal.

Yeah.

QUESTION: On something Sudan said about the teddy bear this morning, if you would comment, because I think that the latest comments from officials in Sudan saying that this is the latest example of a Western agenda against Islam.

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, it's just not -- you know, look, we are very supportive of the British Government in this regard. They are working to get their citizen back. I think there is a shared assessment that the punishment that has been imposed on this woman is in every way excessive. Even though it had been reduced from some corporal punishment to 15 days in jail, I think there's a shared assessment that that is just not at all consistent with what went on here.

You know, I don't know what more we can say about the case. I mean, quite clearly, there is an overreaction from individuals involved in prosecuting this case against this woman.

QUESTION: Sean, are you working with the British Government at all to try to secure this woman's release?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, there, Libby, we are being supportive in -- with our statements and of course, if the British Government would ever call upon us to help with one of their citizens, we would. I'm not aware that they have asked for any particular actions from us.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) punitive (inaudible).

MR. MCCORMACK: I'm not aware of any discussions of that sort.

Yes, sir.

QUESTION: Rodney Livingston, SPNN.NET television here in --

MR. MCCORMACK: Sure.

QUESTION: -- Washington, D.C. Diversity Visas are set to expire. Is there any consideration to extending that? And the diversity, for lack of a better term, there's -- everybody in this room lives close to (inaudible), but there are some people that live a little bit closer. And the only way to file that application for the visa is electronically and so I'm just wondering what considerations are being offered for people that -- without causing a brain drain --

MR. MCCORMACK: Right.

QUESTION: -- in areas that you might not want that to be caused. And are -- what's the value of those types of people that live really close --

MR. MCCORMACK: Right.

QUESTION: -- to the (inaudible) with the diversity that you're trying to accomplish?

MR. MCCORMACK: They're all good questions and I'm going to have to get back to you with an answer.

QUESTION: Okay. Can I just follow up with one more?

MR. MCCORMACK: Sure.

QUESTION: The calendar for 2008, can you just talk a little bit about what considerations, what highlights for 2008 calendar, the busy people that you might want their ears to perk up on or consider in 2008? Busy people might be doing a lot of different things.

MR. MCCORMACK: Right.

QUESTION: But you might want them to say, hey, if this comes across your path, try to pay attention to it a little bit or consider it in 2008.

MR. MCCORMACK: Okay. Well, there's that peace in the Middle East thing that we're working on. We're working to denuclearize the North Korean Peninsula, still working with the Indian Government on a Indian civil nuclear deal and also working to resolve issues in Kosovo. So we have a lot on our plate. We believe that there's a lot of potential out there to make progress on some important fronts that will make a difference in people's lives.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: Sean, one more, please.

MR. MCCORMACK: Yes, Goyal, quickly.

QUESTION: Quick one, I just came back from a short trip to the region from India and along with border of Pakistan.

MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah.

QUESTION: My quick question is that everything has taken place under emergency and there is support for the United States for the Secretary of State would play a big role in Pakistan, but many Pakistanis that I have spoken in Kashmir and along the border, what they are saying is really that emergency should be -- should not be the way of life of Pakistanis and the U.S. must now support full and -- fuller democracy under those leaders like Benazir Bhutto and all those. My question is that, you think the Secretary is pressing Mr. Musharraf now to lift the emergency as soon as possible so -- for a normal life in Pakistan?

MR. MCCORMACK: Let me send to you the last three weeks worth of transcripts where we've talked, I think, every single day about this, Goyal, so --

QUESTION: Yeah, I have seen that. I have seen that. I have seen that.

MR. MCCORMACK: That's it.

(The briefing was concluded at 12:40 p.m.)

DPB # 209
Released on November 30, 2007

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At The UN: Paris Climate Agreement Moves Closer To Entry Into Force

The Paris Agreement on climate change moved closer toward entering into force in 2016 as 31 more countries joined the agreement today at a special event hosted by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. More>>

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Gordon Campbell: On The End Game In Spain (And Other World News)

The coverage of international news seems almost entirely dependent on a random selection of whatever some overseas news agency happens to be carrying overnight... Here are a few interesting international stories that have largely flown beneath the radar this past week. More>>

Amnesty/Human Rights Watch: Appalling Abuse, Neglect Of Refugees On Nauru

Refugees and asylum seekers on Nauru, most of whom have been held there for three years, routinely face neglect by health workers and other service providers who have been hired by the Australian government, as well as frequent unpunished assaults by local Nauruans. More>>

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Other Australian Detention

Gordon Campbell: On The Censorship Havoc In South Africa’s State Broadcaster

Demands have included an order to staff that there should be no further negative news about the country’s President Jacob Zuma, and SABC camera operators responsible for choosing camera angles that have allegedly made the President ‘look shorter’ were to be retrained... More>>

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Gordon Campbell: On A Bad Week For Malcolm Turnbull, And The Queen

Malcolm Turnbull’s immediate goal – mere survival – is still within his grasp... In every other respect though, this election has been a total disaster for the Liberals. More>>

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Gordon Campbell: On Bidding Bye Bye To Boris

Boris Johnson’s exit from the contest for Conservative Party leadership supports the conspiracy theory that he never really expected the “Leave” option to win the referendum – and he has no intention now of picking up the poisoned chalice that managing the outcome will entail... More>>

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