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Media Roundtable Discussion In Canberra, Australia


R. Nicholas Burns, Under Secretary for Political Affairs
Office of Public Affairs, Canberra
Canberra, Australia
December 5, 2007

Media Roundtable Discussion in Australia

VALERIE ADAMCYK: We're honored to have here with us Under Secretary of State Nicholas Burns. You have his biography as well as a press release. I'm not going to take a lot of time here, I'm just going to turn it over to the Under Secretary for some opening remarks and then to your questions. We'll have to call for the last question at twenty after ten. The other thing I'd like to remind you of, please, is the embargo on material from this roundtable until after eleven tonight. OK. And with that I'll turn this over to Under Secretary Burns.

UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: OK. Nice to see you all. Thank you. I'm sorry if I kept you waiting. Ambassador and I have had an excellent morning. We began the morning by going up Red Hill and had a nice walk in the morning sun. It's my first - believe it or not - it's my first visit to Australia. Took me fifty-one years to figure out this is a good thing to do, and it's a great thing to do. I'm really happy to be here. So we did that. I've been here for about twenty-four hours.

I'm here for a meeting of the Trilateral Security Dialogue. This is a group - Australia, the United States and Japan - have been meeting together for several years to talk about our alliance issues, number one. To talk about our work together in the Asia-Pacific region and also global issues. So, for instance, we're talking about Iran, Lebanon, all the Middle East issues - Iraq. We talk frequently about - we'll talk today about - Burma. We'll talk about our relationship with China - how we can cooperate with China in a number of ventures. So it's a chance for us to have a global and regional discussion several times a year. We meet at the ministerial level. We meet at my level, sub-ministerial level, and there are working groups. So I'm here for that. The Australians are hosting it. Michael L'Estrange is my Australian counterpart, Mitoji Yabunaka our Japanese counterpart.

Obviously, it's an exquisitely well-timed trip, but we didn't realize that several months ago when we made these dates, but it's been a good opportunity for the Ambassador and I to sit and visit with the new Australian government. (We've) been very pleased to meet with them. We met yesterday with Joel Fitzgibbons the new minister of defense. We'll be looking forward to seeing him next week - there's a meeting in Edinburgh of the Regional Commands - South countries in Afghanistan - all the countries that have troops in the southern part. Urzugan, Helmad and Kandahar provinces. Secretary Gates will be there for the United States. It's being hosted by the British Secretary of Defense and we'll look forward to seeing the Australian delegation there next week.

This morning we met, had a good breakfast. The Ambassador hosted with the Deputy Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister Gillard, and with the Minister of Agriculture, Tony Burke, and with the Foreign Minister who joined us. And then we went over to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and had a bilateral meeting with the Foreign Minister. (We) just concluded that.

And after I see you, I'm going back in to have six or seven hours of Trilateral Security Dialogue. We began that last night and continue it today. I'm then going on to Sydney to do a variety of events there.

So it's been a very good opportunity and a welcome one to meet the new government leadership. I congratulated, obviously, all of the government ministers on their electoral victory. Of course, President Bush and Secretary Rice have already called the Prime Minister and Foreign Minister respectively. I said on behalf of our government that we're very much looking forward to working with this government. The alliance with Australia, for the United States, is one of our greatest international priorities to maintain it. To make it succeed. We consider Australia to be in every way one of our most important allies worldwide.

I think we had excellent discussions. We reviewed in all the meetings that I just enumerated, we reviewed just about every issue you could think of. A lot of focus on the Middle East, on our appreciation of what's happening in Iraq with the surge and with the efforts of the United States and our allies there. Big focus, of course, on Iran given the release of the unclassified version of a national intelligence estimate yesterday in Washington, D.C. We've talked about that. We've talked about the Annapolis process, where that's going.

Lots of detailed discussion about Afghanistan, what we can do together, Australia and the United States, militarily and politically to sustain the peace to help the Afghan government. We discussed the situation in Pakistan and a lot of discussion, of course, in conversation about this region - about the Asia-Pacific region, about APEC, ASEAN, the situation in Burma, our respective relations with China, our alliance with Japan and South Korea. I'm very pleased by the discussions. I think we're going to work very well with this new government. Secretary Rice has invited the new foreign minister, Foreign Minister Smith, to visit Washington as soon as he is able. We look forward to constant interaction with the new government. These are very impressive people, very skillful. I take some pity on them because they've been three days in government. You know - for us to show up and have these detailed meetings. I know what it's like to go through a transition. We've been through a lot of them in the United States, but they're very, very impressive people, very skillful and very committed to a good relationship with the United States as we are to one with Australia. I'm very pleased by the visit and we're looking forward to the closest possible bilateral relationship and the continuation of the alliance with Australia.

Ms O'Malley, AAP: Obviously, one of the crucial issues for Labor was its pledge to withdraw combat troops from Iraq. Was there any practical discussions about how that could be achieved provided the most minimum disruption to the effort over there?

UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: Well, we had, I of course talked about this with the Deputy Prime Minister, with the Foreign Minister and obviously with the Defense Minister - the Ambassador and I both did. We obviously were well aware of the statements made by the Prime Minister. We respect those statements. We look forward to working with Australia. I think the discussions that you have suggested are probably ahead of us. We did not have detailed discussions. That will take place through our - through the Ambassador and also through our Department of Defense in the United States with the Ministry of Defense here.

So I think those specific discussions about timetables and so on are ahead of us but, obviously, there's a continuing job that needs to be done and what I said was that we respect the decision of the Prime Minister, number one. Number two, we're very, very grateful for what Australia has done over the last several years - the commitment of your soldiers and the sacrifice that your soldiers have made. Third, we will respect the decisions of all our allied governments, but there's still a lot of work that we can do together.

There is the priority effort of trying to help support the government of Iraq to develop its capacities of governance and to deal with all the significant issues that that government in Iraq has to deal with. There's the effort to give political support to that government, to give economic support to that government, to see greater support from the Arab countries as well as the European countries. And so, I don't think this is the end of the story in the sense that Australia and the United States will continue to cooperate in Iraq, but we'll be very respectful of the decisions that the Prime Minister has made.

Ms McGrath, Australia Network: So what sort of impact do you think the decision will have to the US operation there?

UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: Well, I say we're grateful for the support we have had. We intend to stay. Our President has been very clear. We have a substantial commitment of troops. We intend to maintain our troop presence as the President has described it. We believe that the surge has been, has had some very positive benefits to the situation. We will work with those countries that are committed to keep their soldiers there. If countries elect to take their soldiers out, there are other ways that we can work together and I enumerated some of them - politically and economically.

Pardon?

Ms McGrath: Does it have an impact on the US operation?

UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: Well, the United States, you know, as allies add troops or subtract troops we take account of that, and we have to, obviously, our military has to take account of that and redeploy our forces or other forces to take account of that. But that's normal in any kind of environment like the one we're in in Iraq.

Mr Skehan, The Sydney Morning Herald: In the broad, Labor has said, before the election campaign late last year they described the intervention in Iraq as a 'strategic and humanitarian disaster'. They are the words that were specifically used by Labor. What do you think of their assessment that the whole exercise has been a humanitarian and strategic disaster, which is the Labor position ...

UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: I'm a professional diplomat and so what I'm not going to do is, you know, look backwards and respond to statements that were made as part of, made in the past. My job is to come here, work with the Australian government, look forward and obviously maintain the best possible dialogue between the two governments that we can have and look for ways that we can continue to work together. I said we respect the decision of the government, we certainly do. But this alliance between Australia and the United States is exceptionally strong across the board. It will remain exceptionally strong. We may have tactical differences on a number of issues, Iraq. We certainly have a tactical difference on the issue of Kyoto, but it doesn't mean we cannot work well together. We will work together and we can work on these issues where we have different perspectives. So what I suggested in Iraq is that we look for ways to continue to both give support to the Iraqi government, but both of us will make sovereign decisions as to how that's done.

Mr Nicholson, The Age: Now Labor had indicated before, over the past year, that it was more enthusiastic in terms of Iraq in being involved in governance, training of police and troops, that sort of thing, and it seems that your indication that that would actually be a valuable contribution.

UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: It would be a very valuable contribution. There's, you know, obviously a lot of the international press attention has focused on the military effort and its understandable. But there's a lot going on in Iraq to try to help the Iraqis build a stable government, to take back control of the streets, to train the police, to train the military, governance issues, corruption issues, economic issues, how to share the oil wealth. All of these issues are in play. Every country brings to the table what they believe is their comparative advantage. Every country does what they believe is in their interest to do. When you have a major coalition in Iraq or Afghanistan, one is accustomed to countries deciding on their own what they're going to do. That's a sovereign decision. We respect that. But we hope that the sum total of what we do is successful. So as the government has made a very clear decision and the Prime Minister has announced it, our job now is to work with the Australian government to see what we can do together. And that's the attitude the Ambassador and I have taken in the conversations over the last two days.

Mr Nicholson: The other area where Labor has indicated that it will probably be more supportive of the broad US effort is Afghanistan. Would you like to see more Australian troops in Afghanistan or a broader role for Australia?

UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: We're very satisfied with what Australia has done. We had a good discussion with Minister Fitzgibbons and with the chief of defense of Australia yesterday. We'll have a much more detailed set of talks next week when we get to Edinburgh.

Australia's deployability. Australia deploys more of its forces than just about any other military in the world. And Australia has taken on major burdens as you know in this region as well as in the Middle East as well as in South Asia. So we're very pleased that Australia has made this renewed commitment in Afghanistan over the last several months. It's a very difficult international mission. We're working well together on the military side. I also sense in the new government a great interest in working with the Afghan government and with us on counter-narcotics, on governance, on economic reconstruction, on infrastructure development. In Afghanistan, our long-term view is that the military effort is very important, but it's not the only thing that the international community has to do. President Karzai does want greater involvement on the economic side. I sensed in our conversations over the last two days, a great interest of Australia of maintaining its military commitment, but doing a lot on the economic side as well and we welcome that. I thought we had excellent discussions on Afghanistan - very detailed discussions with the Minister of Defense and the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Journalist: (indistinct)

UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: Yeah, yeah, very detailed discussions.

Mr Skehan: So with the Trilateral Strategic Dialogue, will you be discussing missile defenses, and given the recent problems in Japan (indistinct) upper house and the decision made relation to refueling efforts in the Afghanistan theater. Do you see that as being a problem in (indistinct) relation to that dialogue and missile defense? And what role, future role, do you see for Pine Gap? The former Defense Minister Brendan Nelson in a speech to parliament mentioned that Pine Gap could have a future role in relation to missile defenses. Is that something that you see coming up? Will it be covered in the technical and political aspects of these talks? And where are these trilateral talks going in terms of missile defenses in general?

UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: We do not get into specific military issues in this dialogue. We do that in defense channels. So the dialogue is more about our political engagement together in the Asia-Pacific region and also globally. So today we'll focus a lot on the Middle East issues, Afghanistan, Burma certainly, as well as some of the other - we'll certainly talk about the Pacific Island issues, Fiji, Solomon Islands, other issues - our aid programs, Japan, Australia and the United States to the Pacific region. So it's wide ranging, but we're not - I don't expect any detailed conversations about missile defense today in this particular group.

Mr Skehan: What about political commitment to it? Whether it's a role for (indistinct) or Japanese commitment to issues such as technology sharing given the Japanese constitution.

UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: I'm looking for one of my colleagues, Steve McGann, here - I don't believe this is even on the agenda today. George, I don't believe it's on the agenda, right? No. The agenda's truly daunting. If we can get through it in six hours we'll be doing well. There's a long list of things, but missile defense just isn't on this one. Now, it doesn't mean this is not an issue in our relationship or something to work on. That's normally done in defense channels.

Ms McGrath: So given the Chinese sensitivities about the trilateral dialogue, do you expect any change in the role of this grouping given the new government of Australia?

UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: Well, there's no reason for China to have any concerns about this dialogue. We are all treaty allies. Japan, the United States, and Australia have been allies for decades and we're the closest possible allies. We believe we are, the three of us and some of our other allies, are guarantors of peace and stability in this region. We've got a good track record. So we expect - I don't want to speak for the Australian government, I wouldn't dream of doing that - but I think this is a valuable strategic dialogue ...

Ms McGrath: (indistinct)

UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: ... we had several hours together last night, hosted by the Australians - excellent conversation, wide-ranging. Every indication I've received is that there's a great interest in having this kind of dialogue.

Ms McGrath: You don't (indistinct) specifically about this dialogue (indistinct) given any indication of their view?

UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: You know, the one thing I've learned to do in dealing with the press is I can only speak for my government. I don't want to speak for the Australian government. You can ask them about what their views ...

Ms McGrath: (indistinct) have you responded to whatever they (indistinct) today?

UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: Well, all I say is this. I think there's a mutual, I sense there's a mutual appreciation for the utility and value of this dialogue. It's been underway for a number of years. We are allies after all and the alliance is not just a piece of paper. It is a living, breathing thing, it really is, in the life, in the relations among these three governments. We need to understand each other as to how we see challenges in this region. For instance, I'll give you an example. Burma. I think - I'll just speak for the United States - we're very frustrated that there hasn't been more progress by the Burmese government to release Aung San Suu Kyi, to allow the democratic opposition, the National League for Democracy, to speak freely, allow the press to report on them freely, allow the monks to associate among themselves. That's an issue for this Trilateral Security Dialogue. It's important for us to know what Australia thinks, what Japan thinks is important to see if we can align our efforts on an issue like that. This is not just - I mean, I know you're not suggesting this - but it's important to spend some time, several times a year reviewing these issues. We intend to have, I hope we'll be able to have another session of this at my level in a couple of months time ...

Ms O'Malley: Japan is talking about ...

UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: ... and I hope that, in Japan, I hope that we'll welcome Australia and Japan to the United States. We want to meet continuously throughout the year and it just wouldn't be proper for me to try to articulate for you what the Australian government thinks, but I can tell you that we really appreciate this.

Ms O'Malley: Sorry, Japan has talked about bringing India into the whole, in this grouping. Has there been any discussions regarding that? And what's the probability of seeing India (indistinct)

UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: Well, technically speaking - I just want to - technically speaking, there are two different things happening here. There's a Trilateral Security Dialogue, with long-standing, great importance, meets at the ministerial level. There had been an attempt by the Abe Government to have a quadrilateral. It wasn't an extension of this, it was a bit of a separate grouping and that group met a couple of times. It didn't meet at my level. It did not meet at the ministerial level.

Yes.

Journalist: You've mentioned Burma several times ...

UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: Yes.

Journalist: Do you see Australia having a greater role in trying to bring them (indistinct)

UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: Well, I think an Australian role is very welcome. I think Australia has played a significant role over the last several months since the protests and since the brutal put down of those protests in September. I, we had some very good talks, discussions in the last twenty-four hours here with the new government about Burma. And I think this is going to have to be an international effort. We are supporting the United Nations effort. We are supporting Ambassador Gambari who is the UN Secretary-General's rep. He's been in Burma twice, just been in this region over the last few weeks. We meet with him frequently. We're supporting him. We wish the Burmese government would be more open to him and would allow him to travel to Burma more frequently and to be more free inside Burma once he gets there to meet with civil society and to meet with the monks and to meet with the political leadership - including Aung San Suu Kyi. So I sense from discussions today a great deal of sympathetic views between Australia and the United States and I sense that we can work very well on this issue.

Journalist: So what do you say about the National Intelligence Estimate in relation to Iran and the suggestion that it hasn't had a nuclear weapons development program since 2003. Do you agree with that conclusion? I think you've had considerable involvement in Iran before from what I've previously read. And have you discussed that issue with the Australian, will you discuss it in the Trilateral Security Dialogue, and what was your view of that assessment about the Iran's nuclear weapons program?

UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: We've discussed this with everyone with whom we've met on the Australian side. All the ministers and with my counterparts as well in the Department of Foreign Affairs. You saw the unclassified press statement that we made yesterday. I have described that in some detail for our Australian colleagues. Obviously, what we conclude from this is that there is, the Intelligence Estimate speaks for itself. It is quite authoritative. There is still an enrichment and reprocessing program which is overt. The Iranians talk about it. The IAEA Director-General Mohammed El'baradei reports on it. It's the effort in Natanz in Iran to the centrifuge research that Iran has been doing. They have accelerated that research throughout the course of 2007. They still have a ballistic missile development program which the Iranians talk about publicly and boast about. And so our view is that there's every reason for all of us to continue with the effort in the UN Security Council to continue to offer on the one hand negotiations to the Iranians, and we have offered for eighteen months, the P5 countries, open negotiations. Secretary Rice has said that she'll be there to represent the United States and if Iran cannot support that - and as of last Friday when Javier Solana on behalf of the P5 met with Saeed Jalili, the new Iranian negotiator - Javier Solana said he was disappointed by the meeting. So if they're not able to accept negotiations which we continue to offer then we believe they should be subjected to a continued sanctions regime. So we are going to continue to work with the Chinese government, the Russian government, Britain, France, and Germany on a third Security Council sanctions resolution. We hope to make progress on that in the coming days and weeks. I was in a meeting in Paris on Saturday of the P5 countries. We made progress at that meeting. And it's important that Iran knows that it cannot just continue these activities of trying to develop a scientific capacity on the enrichment and reprocessing side and expect that the world is going to ignore that or allow Iran to continue unfettered. There's going to be a sanctions process. We very much believe, and we still believe, in light of the release of the NIE this is a proper policy for the international community. And so I think in that respect you can continue to see a very vigorous effort at the United Nations by the US and by a lot of our friends there.

Mr Kerin, Australian Financial Review: The previous Australian government supported the sanctions. Have you been given any commitment by the new government that they will (indistinct)

UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: You know I really haven't, we didn't really get into that as - I don't want to speak for the Australian government. We didn't get into that in any level of detail, but I did, we had a good discussion of this issue. But I think it's proper to the Australian government leaders to articulate their own position on this, but I was satisfied with the discussion we had. Good discussions.

Valerie Adamcyk: ... one more question, this will have to be the last question now.

Mr McGuirk, Associated Press: (indistinct) Iraq. We're talking about 550 combat troops. What is the significance of 550 Australian troops to the United States in Iraq?

UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: Well, let me just say I think the best way to answer that question would be to say we're very grateful for what Australia has done. You know, all those young men who went over there were doing, were serving in what we believe is a useful mission - one that is very important for security in the Middle East. So I think that the right thing to do is to thank Australia and the Australian soldiers who went over to do the job. It is the sovereign right of the government of Australia to make its own decisions about when its troops are deployed and where they're deployed. There's a large effort in Iraq. We have upwards of over 150,000 American troops there. There are thousands of other troops from a variety of our ally countries. We value all these contributions and we value what all these soldiers have done. But obviously, we will now work with the Australian government on a different basis. We hope that's a continued commitment to Iraq, to the stability of Iraq, to help the government and to help the Iraqi government become more effective in bringing peace and stability to the Iraqi people. That's the strategic aim of the international involvement.

Mr Skehan: Just on the South Pacific, finally.

UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: Sure

Mr Skehan: You mentioned Solomon Islands and Fiji. One of your predecessors previously suggested (indistinct) to the streets (indistinct) too much confrontational ...

UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: Which predecessor? I'd just be interested to know.

Mr Skehan: He's from the State Department, visited the region and he suggested fairly gently that there was a bit of a confrontational relationship (indistinct) Solomon Islands. It was reported in the (indistinct)

UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: Between ...

Mr Skehan: Australia and the Solomon Islands and the intervention mission up there. I was going to ask you maybe more generally as well how you see the situation in the Solomon Islands and Fiji (indistinct) instability?

UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: Well, first of all, since I'm in Australia, I should thank, congratulate the Australian government for what it's doing - what Australia has been doing in terms of aid, economic aid, governance issues in the Pacific region. We also are engaged in this with our friends in the Pacific. I think Australia has played, over many years, probably the critical role in being a force for stability and then using its military force at times, as you've done in Timor and in other places, to try to help stabilize countries that are in crisis.

There's no question that the United States - I'll just speak for our government - has been very disappointed by events in Fiji. Steve McGann is here with me, he's the gentleman at the back. Steve and I met in New York in September with the Pacific Island leaders. We met, and the Fijian Foreign Minister was there. We had all the Pacific Island leaders with the United States, all the heads of government. Several months before that, the Fijians were there so we have a relationship with Fiji. We talk to them. We've been disappointed. And we have urged a return to stable, democratic rule and an end to a situation that was unfortunately carried out over the last year.

In the Solomons, Steve's been very engaged. He might want to come up and say a few words if you'd like. Here's the expert. Here's probably the man you were referring to - one of my predecessors. You want to say a few words about Solomons and Fiji?

Steve McGann: Well, I think ...

UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: Steve, Steve McGann.

Steve McGann: ... one of the things I'd like to emphasize is that Australia and the United States have an extremely close cooperative relationship on dealing with Pacific Island issues. We, from the beginning, have been shoulder to shoulder in insisting on an early return to democracy in Fiji. We want Commodore Bainimarama to meet his commitments to undertake elections in March 2009. Regarding the Solomons, we think that Australia's leadership in RAMSI is essential. We believe that the efforts towards trying to improve the bilateral relationship between the Solomon Islands and Australia is critical in supporting the role of RAMSI. We encourage the government of (President) Sogavare to do whatever he can to reach out to Australia and to increase their level of dialogue.

UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: He's the expert. Can I just say before we leave, I just want to say one last thing and maybe invite the Ambassador to say anything he wishes to as well. I came here on behalf of our government and to work with our Ambassador under his leadership to assert one thing - that we believe in the alliance with Australia, and that we are confident that this alliance is going to go forward in a successful way. And it is absolutely normal in a democratic relationship between allies that there should be differences on some issues. There are differences with Britain that we have, with France, with Germany, with Norway - our closest allies. And it is no surprise that there will be some here, but that does not take away from the fact that we are allies, that we have an extraordinarily close relationship in all ventures between Australia and the United States. We have great respect for this country. There's great affection in the United States for Australia and Australians. And I have, I'm going to leave here tomorrow night with a very positive sense of this new government and with an appreciation for the skill and professionalism of some of the new ministers with whom the Ambassador and I have met. Really fine people and people who I think will be great partners of our country. And an appreciation that our two countries will continue to have a unity of interest and, of course, of values that will carry this relationship forward. I'm encouraged by the visit and I hope the Australian government feels the same way.

But I wanted to give the Ambassador the last word if he'd like it.

Ambassador McCallum: Well, there's not a whole lot more that I can add to the eloquence of the Under Secretary. We appreciate very much you all being here with us today and hope that we've been able to give you some information that'll be helpful to you.

Ms O'Malley, AAP: Ambassador, have any meetings been organized to discuss further the practicalities of Iraq (indistinct)

Ambassador McCallum: You will not be surprised to learn that the Prime Minister has had a very busy schedule. He has hit the ground running and he is organizing all of the activities of his various ministers at this point, so although I have left him voicemails (laughing) I have not yet been able to set up specific times to get together with him. But it's been a great pleasure for Under Secretary Burns and for me to meet with the Foreign Minister, the Defense Minister, the Minister for Agriculture, and the other representatives of the new government. We've enjoyed that very much. Thank you.

Mr Skehan: Did you seek a meeting with Mr Rudd? Are you hoping for a meeting with the new Prime Minister?

Ambassador McCallum: We certainly let Mr Rudd know that the Under Secretary was here and would love to get together, but he has been so busy. We were able to have these meetings with the other ministers so we were not able to arrange that with his schedule and the Prime Minister's schedule.

UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: But you know, let me just say, we are very satisfied by the level at which we were received ...

Ambassador McCallum: Absolutely.

UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: ... and we had great discussions. Really substantive discussions. In some cases, very detailed. So we understand the Prime Minister is a busy man and he's got lots to do. This is the equivalent of arriving in the United States on January 23rd after we've had a general election. I've been through a few Presidential transitions and know what that's like. We feel fortunate to have seen the Deputy Prime Minister ...

Ambassador McCallum: Absolutely.

UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: ... and all the other ministers.

Ambassador McCallum: The interesting thing is the time availability that the Under Secretary's had is dramatically limited because of the Trilateral Strategic Dialogue and the already set obligations that he had in that regard. We've been most gratified by the cooperation that we've received in the scheduling of the bilateral meetings that we've been able to do.

UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: Yeah.

Valerie Adamcyk: Speaking of close time commitments, I'm afraid ...

UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: Yes. Thank you. Good to see you. Thanks.

Released on December 5, 2007

ENDS

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