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US State Dept Daily Press Briefing: 04 Dec 2007


Daily Press Briefing
Tom Casey, Deputy Spokesman
Washington, DC
December 4, 2007

US State Dept Daily Press Briefing: 04 Dec 2007

INDEX:

ISRAEL/PALESTINIANS

Cannot Confirm Reports That Israel Plans to Build New Housing in East Jerusalem

IRAN

Secretary Rice Reached Out to P5+1 Counterparts on National Intelligence Estimate
Public Statements Indicate P5+1 Consensus on Two-Track Policy, Including Resolution
NIE Does Not Change Basic U.S. Policy; Will Continue to Work Common Issue With Allies
Gulf Cooperation Council Will Manage Own Relations and Cooperation With Iran

SOUTH KOREA

Secretary Rice Met With South Korean National Security Advisor
Discussed Six-Party Talks, Security Cooperation, Bilateral Issues
Chinese are Working Out Dates for Six-Party Envoy Levels Talks
Chris Hill Travel; Reiterated Importance of Full Declaration of Nuclear Activities

KOSOVO

Expect Troika To Report UN Secretary Ban; U.S. Supports Ahtisaari Plan

ZIMBABWE

In Coming Days, Financial Sanctions Will Be Taken Against Certain Zimbabweans
Under Existing Sanctions Policy, Imposed Travel Restrictions on 38 Individuals

TURKEY

Turkish Government Acted In Response to Common Threat Posed By PKK
United States Desires to See Turkey and Iraq Work Together

RUSSIA

President Bush on Russian Elections and Voiced Concerns on Process

TRANSCRIPT:

1:51 p.m. EST

MR. CASEY: Well, good afternoon, everyone. I don't have anything to open with, so --

QUESTION: How about there's a report that the Israeli Government plans to build 300 new houses in a portion of East Jerusalem. Senior Palestinian officials have criticized this and suggested it is both a violation of Israel's roadmap commitments and also that it's something that could undermine the peace efforts that were launched at Annapolis and are due to formally actually begin on December 12th. What's your view on this? Does this constitute a breach of the roadmap and specifically it's -- Israel's -- it's call on Israel -- on the Israeli Government to freeze all settlement activity, including natural growth?

MR. CASEY: Well, Arshad, I've seen those press reports, have not had a chance at this point to be able to look into them with a full level of detail. Certainly, though, you know our position on settlements. It is outlined in the roadmap and we certainly want to see both Israelis and Palestinians honor the commitments that they have made there. The Annapolis process, of course, will now launch negotiations focused on some of those broader final status issues. But as has been made clear by everyone involved, ultimately that kind of agreement needs to be implemented in conjunction with the commitments that people have already made on the roadmap. So I think I need to make sure I get a better understanding of exactly what's been decided and where it is. But I think our basic policy on this issue is quite clear and we'd certainly hope that both Israeli and Palestinian sides would honor them.

QUESTION: Just two follow-ups. I mean, when you do check in on this and it would be great if you could get us an answer by the end of the day, I think the core question is whether you regard this portion of East Jerusalem as being one that falls into a definition of a settlement and therefore this would fall into the definition of a settlement activity or natural growth. I guess the other thing that I'm interested in is whether you think that this kind of action falls into the category of things that the Secretary when she was in the region in October was very careful to say that she didn't want to see either side doing things that -- I forget the exact words she used, but undercut or undermined the process. In that case, it had to do with land seizures related to road building. But essentially, I want to know both: Does this fit your definition of what is captured by the roadmap; and secondly, even if it doesn't is this the kind of thing that can simply make it harder to negotiate when a negotiation is about to begin?

MR. CASEY: Well, I'll see what we can come up with for you. I'm not sure I can give you a definitive legal definition of any of that, but I will make an effort to do so.

Sylvie.

QUESTION: Would you have a list of the people the Secretary called before leaving, after the publication of the NIE report and --

MR. CASEY: Specifically about that subject?

QUESTION: Yeah.

MR. CASEY: I'm not sure I've got the complete list. And I think she was making some calls from the plane. Certainly, I know she's reaching out to most of her P-5+1 counterparts. I know she did in fact talk with Chinese Foreign Minister Yang and German Foreign Minister Steinmeier. I believe today she has also gotten a chance to talk with EU High Representative Solana and also with the French Foreign Minister Kouchner. As you, I'm sure, all heard this morning, the President noted that he had a discussion of this with Russian President Putin. I also know that Nick Burns has been reaching out to his P-5+1 colleagues as well. I'm not sure whether he's had a chance to speak with all of them yet. As you know, he's currently on travel in Asia, so wasn't able to get a complete list. But I know Nick has had an opportunity to speak with most, if not all of his colleagues at this point.

QUESTION: And, Tom, I just want to follow up directly on that.

QUESTION: Sure, you can go ahead, Kirit.

QUESTION: Whether any of the people that have reached out, from Bush to Rice and to Burns, has received assurances from their P-5+1 counterparts that they still would like to push ahead for a resolution since they did so on Saturday before revelations of the NIE?

MR. CASEY: Well, I'd point you at the public statements that have been made, I think, by pretty much all the other members of the P-5+1 at this point, indicating that they basically are continuing to adhere to the P-5+1 consensus, our two-track policy. And I've not heard anything either in terms of readout of these phone calls or in public statements that would indicate that anyone's changed their views on how we ought to proceed in terms of another resolution.

QUESTION: Does that include the Chinese Ambassador to the UN who says the NIE does change things?

MR. CASEY: Well, if it does, it's not something that was conveyed in the conversations that either Nick or the Secretary had with his superiors back in Beijing.

QUESTION: So your understanding - I'm aware of the public statements -- but your understanding is that the private statements in all of these calls that you just described indicated continued support for moving toward a third resolution?

MR. CASEY: I don't have a detailed readout of a lot of the calls, so I don't want to try and convey this to you with any great level of detail. But again, my understanding is that the private reactions have tracked with what I've seen in terms of public reactions, which is a commitment and a continued commitment to the P-5+1 consensus on a two-track approach, including on going ahead with another resolution as presently envisioned.

QUESTION: And do you yet have a date for when the next P-5+1 political directors may meet or consult by phone on this?

MR. CASEY: Well, as I said, in terms of individual consultations, Nick has, in fact, been doing that over the last couple of days. They, of course, did have a good meeting in Paris over the weekend. I think at this point, they are still consulting as to whether they, in fact, need to have another political directors session, whether virtually on a call or in person or whether, in fact, the conversations are at a point where we might be able to move the discussions to the UN. So that's still to be determined, but I would suspect that one or the other would happen within the next couple of weeks.

QUESTION: And given all this -- well, actually, two things, a simple thing, the Secretary's conversations with Foreign Minister Yang and Foreign Minister Steinmeier, those were yesterday or today?

MR. CASEY: The conversations with Foreign Minister Steinmeier and Yang were yesterday. I'm not sure at exactly what time. And in the course of today, she's spoken to the others; I mentioned Mr. Solana and Foreign Minister Kouchner.

QUESTION: And any outreach to Foreign Ministers Miliband and Lavrov?

MR. CASEY: As I said, I can't guarantee for you that that is a definitive list just because many of these calls are being made from the plane. I understand that it is likely she will have an opportunity to speak with both of them.

QUESTION: And given all the outreach, both on the part of the President and the Secretary and Under Secretary Burns, does that reflect a fear that the NIE might undercut your diplomatic effort to persuade Iran to abandon what you regard as its pursuit of nuclear weapons?

MR. CASEY: Well, I think the NIE is a significant document and it is the latest and best assessment, a snapshot, if you will, of our intelligence community's understanding of Iran's nuclear program and of the nature of it. So clearly, it's something that is of interest and of significance to our partners as we all try and move forward with efforts to try and get the Iranians to change their behavior and to come to the negotiating table with us. So I think it is certainly reflective of our desire to make sure that our best understanding is an understanding that we explain and share with our friends and allies, since it concerns them and concerns their interest as much as it concerns ours.

I will say, too, that I think, as the President said, this does, in many ways, serve as a reminder or a continued warning to the international community. Saying that Iran, for many years too -- as certainly as the intelligence community can determine -- has pursued a nuclear weapons program, even though it may have been in suspension for the last several years, shouldn't be a great comfort for anybody; having someone standing around with a book of matches and some tinder there, but just not actually going ahead and trying to light it shouldn't be a lot of comfort for people.

So I think it is important that we took this opportunity to explain to our friends in the international community exactly what our understanding of their program was. And I do think when you look at what is required to have a nuclear weapon, we still see Iran progressing on what has been described by various people as the long pole in the tent, which is producing through uranium enrichment enough fissile material to be able to turn that into a weapon. And certainly the fact that they have suspended their weaponization program does not in any way indicate that they have made some sort of definitive decision to forego a nuclear weapon. In fact, I think the language in the NIE makes clear that that's not a determination we've made. And the NIE also makes clear that this is a program that they could restart at any time.

So even though it's a positive thing, the international pressure, we believe, has caused them to suspend the weaponization program; the fact that they are continuing to pursue, in defiance of UN resolutions and the will of the international community, the most important and often most difficult component of producing a nuclear weapon -- again, getting enough highly enriched uranium to be able to turn into a nuclear device, I don't think should provide people with comfort.

And again, I think the NIE in its conclusions bears out the logic of our diplomatic strategy, and we certainly hope that our friends in the international community, including the members of the P-5+1, will continue to see the advantage and the benefit of continuing to keep this pressure on Iran so that we can, in fact, keep them both from returning to a weaponization program as well as making sure that we prevent them from obtaining the major piece of know-how required to ultimately produce such a weapon.

QUESTION: But even if -- just one last one from me on this. Surely, the --

MR. CASEY: I didn't tire you out with the last answer?

QUESTION: You tried.

MR. CASEY: I tried. Yeah. Okay.

QUESTION: And I can't speak about everybody else. (Laughter.)

But look, surely, the U.S. intelligence community's judgment that they ceased work on the actual weaponization in 2003 should provide some kind of a view on the part of the U.S. Government that perhaps this problem is not as acute or as imminent as you had previously thought.

MR. CASEY: Well, I think that when you look at, whether it's this NIE or any other judgments of the intelligence community, they're a snapshot. And they're a snapshot based on everybody's best understanding of the information that's available. And people in the community as well as Steve Hadley spoke yesterday about the fact that there's constant information coming in and that this information -- some of the information involved in these latest judgments is relatively new. But I don't think it decreases our sense of urgency about the need to respond in an appropriate way to Iran's nuclear program and about our desire to see Iran take up the opportunity provided to engage in negotiations with us.

Again, it doesn't, I don't think, provide people with any great comfort to know that Iran, in fact, has had a clandestine nuclear weapons program and that while in suspension it certainly hasn't been dismantled, disabled, to use a phrase from another nuclear issue we've talked about, and that Iran certainly has not made any admission that it even had this program or has this program in the first place.

So there are still a tremendous number of questions out there, and I think one thing the NIE affirms is that this is a serious question and a serious problem. Estimates will always vary between exactly when this concern would turn into an actual nuclear weapon on the part of Iran, but I think from our perspective it only reinforces our desire to take action on this now and to work in concert with the international community, because no one wants to see Iran get to the point where it is capable of building a nuclear weapon.

Kirit.

QUESTION: Does the Secretary plan to make any sort of in-person presentation on the NIE when she's in Brussels, given that a lot of members of the P-5+1 will be present?

MR. CASEY: I don't think --

QUESTION: Or anybody traveling with her? I don't know.

MR. CASEY: Yeah, I don't think there is any specific agenda item at NATO on that issue. I'm sure to the extent it comes up in conversations either in the sessions themselves or in any conversations of a bilateral nature there, that she'll be happy to speak to it. I'm not sure what -- and you'd probably have to check out with our mission in NATO -- what plans they may have to provide a kind of briefing or other kinds of updates. I think that would determine or be determined basically, based on the interest of the Council itself.

Yes.

QUESTION: Tom, just to be clear, so when the Secretary and Nick reached out to their counterparts, their message was not that the diplomacy in any way should change, but that in spite of whatever the estimate said that those efforts will continue. Is that right?

MR. CASEY: Well, I think the calls were basically to note that this unclassified key judgments had been issued, to explain that to their counterparts, but yes, to also reinforce the fact that this did not change our basic policy and our basic policy approach and also to reiterate the fact that we did believe that we should continue to move forward on the course we've gone on both in the short term, in terms of another Security Council resolution, as well as the longer term, which is the broader commitment to the two-track approach.

QUESTION: Well, was that because it's part of what Arshad asked about? Were these calls because the Secretary and Nick Burns were concerned that their counterparts might think otherwise, that things should change? Was that why they --

MR. CASEY: Well, Nicholas, again, I think they reached out because we had a significant new assessment from our intelligence community on an issue that we've been working on together and that's a great concern to all of us. So I think that was the basic motivation. Certainly, in those calls any questions that individuals might have had are free to raise. But again, I think it's something that you would do with any friends or allies who you're working on a common issue for, if you have something new or significant to say about it that you want to make sure you take the chance to brief them and discuss the issue with them personally.

Yes, Sylvie.

QUESTION: Do you have any news about the talks that were scheduled in Baghdad with the Iranians?

MR. CASEY: No, don't have anything new on it. I actually didn't check this morning, but I certainly haven't heard anything. I'll do -- you know, as always we will check. And again, and if I have anything new I'll let you know.

Yeah, Samir.

QUESTION: What's your reaction to Ahmadi-Nejad to give a speech at the Gulf Cooperation Council in Qatar yesterday. And he called on the Gulf countries to forge a security cooperation treaty with Iran. What's your reaction for such idea?

MR. CASEY: Well, I'll leave it up to the countries of the GCC to determine how they wish to manage their relations with Iran or with any other country. I think, though, you've heard individually from a number of countries in the GCC who have been concerned about a number of Iranian activities in the region. And I would think that most likely one of the things that those countries would like to see addressed is some of the negative behavior in the region that Iran has been undertaking and that would probably be a logical first step before you start talking about formal security arrangements. But again, I'd leave it to the countries involved to talk about it.

Yeah.

QUESTION: What was the topic of Secretary Rice and South Korean National Security Advisor Baek yesterday?

MR. CASEY: Okay. I did actually get a readout on this. So yeah, the Secretary did meet with the South Korean National Security Advisor yesterday and they did discuss a variety of issues, including inter-Korean cooperation, a little bit about the six-party talks, obviously, and also some bilateral issues in our relationship. The Secretary was briefed by him on the recent exchanges between South Korea and the DPRK, as well as the visit of the DPRK's Director of the Korean Workers' Party United Front Department of Seoul. So we had a good chance to exchange and get an update from him on some of these activities.

QUESTION: Do you expect the four-party's declaration of the end of war in Korean Peninsula by the end of this year?

MR. CASEY: No, we've discussed that issue previously and I don't really have anything new to add to it. Obviously, ultimately, with denuclearization, there would come an opportunity to resolve a number of outstanding issues, including a final disposition, a move from an armistice to a formal peace treaty. But I don't believe there is any discussion that I'm aware of, of having those talks start, much less conclude in the next month.

QUESTION: What was earlier United States position of declaration of the end of war?

MR. CASEY: The position is as enunciated by the President when he met with his South Korean counterpart a couple months ago and I'd just refer you to that. I really don't have anything beyond what he said on it.

Mr. Lambros. Oh, sorry, Arshad, same thing?

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

MR. CASEY: Okay, two on North Korea and then we'll go to you, Mr. Lambros.

QUESTION: Can you confirm that the six-party envoy level talks that have been scheduled in Beijing this week are not going to happen and can you tell us why?

MR. CASEY: Well, I can't unschedule what the Chinese had never scheduled or announced, but my understanding is that while there had been some discussion about having a envoys level meeting perhaps as soon as the end of this week, that logistically, that's not feasible at this point. The Chinese are still trying to work out dates, but that also, I should note, means in terms of Chris Hill's travel. My understanding is that he will wind up departing North Korea on Wednesday and arrive in Beijing that same day. He'll then do some additional consultations in Beijing and then will depart for the United States on Friday.

Yeah, Nicholas.

QUESTION: Can you tell us anything about Chris' meetings in Pyongyang? Apparently, he met with the Foreign Minister, which is not -- quite a rare occurrence. But anything at all that you can provide --

MR. CASEY: Well, other than the fact that that meeting took place, as well as meetings with Kim Gye Gwan, I don't have a lot to offer you. As you know, communications between here and there are often a bit difficult.

I do know, and Chris has said this publicly as well, that part of his discussions with his North Korean counterparts were to reiterate the importance that we place and that really all the other members of the six-party talks place on having a full and complete declaration of North Korea's nuclear activities, as is required by the latest agreement.

QUESTION: But he -- I'm sorry to go back to the six-party talks that Arshad asked about. Clearly -- he -- they've never scheduled them officially, but clearly, Chris had said a couple of times and Sean did last week as well, everybody was planning on a meeting. Now, Chris goes to Pyongyang. He talks about the declaration they're supposed to produce with the North Koreans. And the next day, the six-party envoy level meeting is not taking place anymore. So you know, it just looks a bit, you know, suspicious that the scheduling coincides with --

MR. CASEY: In the way that it looks suspicious or in the way that, you know, two plus two equals five is a little suspicious. Look, there is -- you know, Chris went up there with a stated set of objectives. I can assure you that, at least my best understanding is there is no substantive reason for the delay, that it is simply a matter of scheduling and logistics, and I would look for that meeting to take place in the near future.

QUESTION: And one sort of Asia question that's sort of a bit unusual, but you've yourself said a few times that Nick Burns is Under Secretary for everything, which is in the (inaudible) that my question is. But why is he in Asia? Why is he the first official to go to Australia after the election there? I'm trying to -- knowing the pattern of previous Under Secretaries of Political Affairs, what makes -- what's the reason for Nick's involvement in every part of the world? You know, he just came back from Europe. He went over to Singapore and Australia. Can't -- Chris Hill can't handle his own region?

MR. CASEY: Well, I certainly think Chris can handle this own region, but I don't think anyone is saying Jendayi Frazer can't handle hers because the Secretary is traveling to Africa. Look, Nick is the third-ranking official in the Department. He has worked on some Asian issues before and took this opportunity to go to the ASEAN Forum, in part, because that's an appropriate level. Once he was there, since there is a new Australian Government, it seemed to make sense to have him pay a call on some of the new folks there as well. I'm sure that Chris will have an opportunity to visit those countries which are part of his regional responsibility, too. I certainly would be remiss if I didn't remind people, as he likes to, that he is far more than just the negotiator for the six-party talks but is the Assistant Secretary for the region. And I'm sure we can look forward to visits by other senior officials out there as well in the coming year.

QUESTION: Why didn't the Secretary choose to go to ASEAN herself?

MR. CASEY: Well, this is, as I understand it -- this is not a ministerial level meeting, as I understand it.

QUESTION: I'm sorry, I thought it was.

MR. CASEY: It's a Strategic Dialogue U.S.-ASEAN, and I think -- I'd have to check, but I think that's usually been represented either at the Assistant or Under Secretary level.

QUESTION: Great, thanks.

MR. CASEY: Mr. Lambros.

QUESTION: On Kosovo. Mr. Casey, Russia stated yesterday that the UN Security Council should have the final word on Serbia's province Kosovo. Any comment since it was said that only a few days before mediators report to the UN December 10th?

MR. CASEY: Well, as you know, Mr. Lambros, there is a December 10 deadline for the troika to report back to Secretary General Ban. We certainly expect that that will happen and I'm sure there will be discussions both with the Secretary General as well as more broadly in the Security Council.

In terms of our position on this issue, though, again, I think we've made it quite clear. We believe that short of an agreement being reached in those discussions with the troika between the parties, that the appropriate way to proceed is to move forward under the terms of the Ahtisaari plan, including supervised independence for Kosovo. Obviously, there will be a lot of discussion, I suspect, that will follow the conclusion of the troika's negotiations and we'll just see where they take us. But I think from our perspective, the outcome for this is and should be clear to everyone.

QUESTION: In Tirana, Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi yesterday urged Kosovo not to rush to any "hasty decision," as he said exactly, that might undermine the unity of the 27-member EU, which is due to take over supervision of Kosovo from the UN. Do you agree with this Italian advice since you are concerned, Mr. Casey, too, for the stabilization of the Western Balkans?

MR. CASEY: Well, certainly, Mr. Lambros, we want to see things proceed, first of all, in a peaceful and nonviolent way. We are grateful that in the troika's conversations, both the Kosovars as well as the Government of Serbia have made it clear that they do not intend to resort to violence. So we look forward for all parties to exercise that appropriate level of restraint as we move forward. Again, these are issues that we certainly understand there are many difficulties with and many emotions that have been expressed by all parties on, and we look forward to being able to continue the discussion. But again, I think we also believe that the outcome of this is clear.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MR. CASEY: Kirit.

QUESTION: Do you have anything more to offer us on the Zimbabwe sanctions that you guys

-- or that Jendayi Frazer announced yesterday?

MR. CASEY: A little bit.

QUESTION: The timing on the financial aspect of it as well?

MR. CASEY: Some of that. In terms of the financial measures that Jendayi talked about, there's two -- there's basically two pieces to this. First of all, in the coming days, there'll be some financial sanctions taken against a number of Zimbabweans who are not yet on our list of financial sanctions and who have been playing a role in supporting the regime and in some of the more abusive practices that the regime has taken forward. But I'd have to leave it to the Treasury Department and the Office of Foreign Assets Control to really give you specifics on that and of course, as you know, we're always very careful not to detail these before they've actually been implemented, in part, to make sure that they can be as effective as possible.

The other thing that we have done is that yesterday, which is part of what Jendayi discussed, we imposed travel sanctions on 38 additional individuals. This is under our existing sanctions policy and that includes nine state security officials who have been involved in some of the security forces, repression of democratic activities in recent months. That travel should affect not only them, of course, but some of their family members and Jendayi referred to that, including, as I understand it, it's about five adult children of Zimbabwean Government officials who are currently studying in the U.S.

QUESTION: Is that second part effective today, yesterday and then is -- when do we expect the first part to come into effect?

MR. CASEY: Well, in terms of the travel sanctions against the 38, that was effective as of yesterday. I think, then, this gets into something of in the weeds on visa policy. Obviously, someone who is currently here on a valid visa is not likely to be picked up tomorrow and escorted to the airport. However, what this does do is ban them from future travel to the U.S., as I understand it.

QUESTION: So the ban is effective today, not effective issuance date?

MR. CASEY: Yeah, it's effective today.

QUESTION: Right. And then the second -- the first part, when do we expect the financial?

MR. CASEY: I think next few days, but I don't have a specific date for you and I'd leave it to Treasury because there always are a number of I's to dot and T's to cross on this and that sometimes can take a couple more days than people necessarily anticipate.

QUESTION: You don't have details about how many people are affected by those or what companies?

MR. CASEY: In terms of those, no, I don't. I don't have a specific number and I think -- again, I'll leave it to Treasury to detail that since it really is their area of operation.

QUESTION: But it's only individuals, not companies?

MR. CASEY: It's against individuals, as I understand it, although there have been companies listed in the past, who -- I think it's a fairly comprehensive list.

QUESTION: Tom, are you saying -- about the students who are here -- are you saying that if they don't leave the United States, they're free to complete their studies and then go home?

MR. CASEY: Look, I don't want to try and do a -- do the immigration services' job for them and of course, I've also got a list of Privacy Act or privacy restrictions that prevent me from talking in detail about individuals. But what I've gotten from our visa folks is that we will be taking a look most importantly at new applications for visas.

We've taken steps specifically against the college-age students that are studying in the U.S. simply because they are close to the regime and their family members are immediately involved in it. I guess what I'm trying to say is those -- most student visas, as you know, are issued for the particular year in which they study, after which they've -- they are no longer valid and the person would have to reapply to be legally in the United States.

QUESTION: Because my understanding was that these visas that are now valid, it could be revoked and these students could be asked to leave the United States, so that's not correct?

MR. CASEY: I'm not saying that's not correct, but I'm not going to try and tell you right now what specific decisions might be made with any individuals, in part, again, because I want to make sure that whatever actions are taken are effective.

Yeah, Mr. Lambros.

QUESTION: One on Turkey. Mr. Casey, the Turkish army killed four and arrested 60 PKK Kurdish rebel using strong military force the other day, 20 miles inside of northern Iraq. The Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan stated that his government had given the green light for this military operation. Any comment?

MR. CASEY: Well, Mr. Lambros, the Turkish Government, like any of our other friends and allies, doesn't, you know, get green lights from the United States or red lights from the United States. In terms of their actions, the Turkish Government did this in response to their national security concerns and our -- the common threat posed to all of us by the PKK and I'd refer you to the statements that the Turkish military and others have made about this operation. Certainly, as we've reiterated, we have a common goal in seeing the PKK eliminated and not being given a safe haven anywhere. And certainly, as the President said in his meetings with the Prime Minister, we intend to work cooperatively with the Government of Turkey on this issue.

QUESTION: One more on that. It was reported extensively with this operation that "Washington feels a major Turkish attack would create chaos in Iraq's most stable region." Anything to say about those --

MR. CASEY: Mr. Lambros, we've talked in the past, as have the Iraqis, as have the Turkish Government, about our desire to see everyone work together on this and not engage in any broad military incursions, and our position hasn't changed on it.

One more in the back.

QUESTION: Do you have anything to say about Russian elections? Observers say Russia -- general Russia election was not fair and the European Union made statement about violations today.

MR. CASEY: The President spoke to that today and said that he had told President Putin that our concerns about their election and their electoral process are genuine and sincere and that's where I'd leave it.

Thanks.

(The briefing was concluded at 2:24 p.m.)

DPB # 210
Released on December 4, 2007

ENDS

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