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US State Dept Daily Press Briefing: 19 Dec 2007


Daily Press Briefing
Tom Casey, Deputy Spokesman
Washington, DC
December 19, 2007

US State Dept Daily Press Briefing: 19 Dec 2007

INDEX:

TURKEY

U.S. Cooperation with Turkey in Combating PKK

IRAQ

Congressional Amendment on Iraqi Immunity

SOUTH KOREA

Lee Myung-Bak's Election

ISRAEL / PALESTINIANS

Roadmap Commitments
U.S. View of Israeli Military Actions in Gaza

UKRAINE / RUSSIA

U.S. Support for Ukrainian Democracy
Ukraine's Relations with Russia

KOSOVO

U.S. Policy on Independence / Ahtissari Plan

TRANSCRIPT:

12:39 p.m. EST

MR. CASEY: Welcome to Wednesday. I don't have anything to start you guys out with. Sue.

QUESTION: Yeah. The Turkish Ambassador to the United States said that the U.S. provided direct information which led to the weekend raids. Do you have any -- can you confirm that?

MR. CASEY: No, I can't. First of all, in terms of any actions or cooperation between the U.S. military and the Turkish military, I'd refer you over to my colleagues at the Pentagon. In terms of, well, the general principle, again, the President said after his meeting with Prime Minister Erdogan that we intend to continue our close cooperation with the Government of Turkey in terms of combating the PKK, and that certainly includes intelligence sharing and other kinds of cooperation. But in terms of the specifics on anything, I'd refer you over to the U.S. military.

Yeah, Kirit.

QUESTION: Do you have anything more on that amendment that I asked you about this morning about the Iraqis?

MR. CASEY: Not much. We do and did oppose the amendment when it was first proposed. I think people are still studying the final language that's been included in this omnibus spending bill to see what the policy implications are. It's a fairly complex issue and I think we'll just have to take another look at it before we can come up with any sort of final policy conclusions or recommendations on it.

Yeah.

QUESTION: This morning at the South Korean presidential election, as you know, Mr. Lee Myung-bak was selected as the new president. Do you have any comment?

MR. CASEY: We talked a little bit about this this morning. But certainly, we congratulate President-elect Lee on his victory in the elections. We look forward to working with him and his new government once they are inaugurated early next year. Certainly, South Korea has been and we expect will continue to be an important friend and ally of the United States. We have a number of important issues that we're working on together. Certainly, one of the foremost in our minds continues to be our combined efforts through the six-party talks to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula.

QUESTION: During the campaign, Mr. Lee Myung-bak had proposed a pragmatic and creative foreign policy. Do you have -- in terms of North Korean issue and U.S. and South Korean relations. Do you have -- what kind of impact or change do you expect, and how do you deal with this issue with new president?

MR. CASEY: Well, I'll leave it to the President-elect to explain both what he intends to do in terms of his foreign policy and what impact it might have in terms of overall South Korean relations with other countries. For our part, I don't think we expect to see any fundamental change in South Korea's basic positions with respect to the United States or with respect to the importance of the six-party talks. In fact, at least as far as I have seen, both he and the other major candidates in the election all spoke in favor of that process and the importance of continuing it through to its conclusion, which is full implementation of the September '05 agreement.

Sue.

QUESTION: On another subject, has the U.S. set up a specific system to monitor and judge whether the Israelis and the Palestinians are sticking to their commitments under the roadmap and various other --

MR. CASEY: Well, I think the roadmap is fairly self-explanatory. Certainly, we're going to be working with them closely. We have a number of people there working on various aspects related to that, from Tony Blair, who is of course working on Palestinian institution building, to General Jones who will be looking at some of the security structures. But I couldn't tell you, Sue, that there is someone sitting out there with a specific report card or check box that's --

QUESTION: Like a red, yellow and a green card?

MR. CASEY: Yeah, I don't think -- I don't think we have that kind of system in place.

QUESTION: Speaking of General Jones, what are his plans, you know, travel?

MR. CASEY: That's a good question, Matt. You know, I don't think we've ever gotten an update on him. We'll try and get something for you guys a little later.

QUESTION: He's still there, though, right?

MR. CASEY: As far as I know, yeah.

QUESTION: On the same subject, does the United States regard the Israeli military actions in Gaza as consistent with the spirit of and intent of Annapolis?

MR. CASEY: Well, again, James, I think we're all aware of the problems that exist in Gaza, particularly the continued rocket attacks on Israel. Certainly, Israel has a right to defend itself, but we also want to make sure that, as always, any actions Israel takes it's cognizant to the potential consequences of those actions.

Yeah.

QUESTION: Russia's President Vladimir Putin today in his interview with Time Magazine accused the United States in destroying what -- destroying the Ukraine by dividing its people into pro-Russian and pro-Western sides and by supporting the so-called Orange Revolution forces. Do you have any comments on that?

MR. CASEY: Well, the United States position consistently has been to support the Ukrainian people and their desire to have a stronger and more transparent and open democracy. The Ukrainian people, of course, make the choices as to who they elect for president or for parliament.

We noted yesterday and we're pleased to see that now, sometime after the election, the Ukraine does now have a new government and we look forward to working with it. We certainly would hope and expect that Ukraine would have good relations not only with the United States and with countries in Western Europe, but with Russia as well.

I think it's everyone's expectation that Russia, as a neighbor and as a close trading partner, will have relations that are positive and productive with Ukraine, and we certainly want to see that happen.

Mr. Lambros.

QUESTION: Mr. Casey, since today is Kosovo (inaudible), allow me to ask you this. During World War II, 40,000 Kosovar Albanians were (inaudible) by Nazi Germany as a part of the German occupational forces and security formations in greater Albania, a state created by Adolf Hitler in the (inaudible) including Kosovo (inaudible) Western FYROM, territory from Serbia (inaudible). I'm wondering, Mr. Casey, if you're taking that into consideration in the U.S. policy since the Albanians are trying today to fulfill exactly Hitler's plan at the expense of U.S., NATO and the European Union.

MR. CASEY: Well, that's an interesting theory, Mr. Lambros. I don't think anybody agrees with it.

Look, if your question is about Kosovo, our view is that all the people in the Balkans deserve to live in peace, deserve to achieve their Euro-Atlantic vision to be a full participant in European affairs. We believe that one of the key elements of that, one of the last remaining outstanding issues from what was a very difficult and in many ways tragic period in the 1990s with the breakup of the former Yugoslavia, is assuring that there is a resolution to the final status questions of Kosovo.

And as you know, consistently and repeatedly, the U.S. continues to believe that the way forward on that is through a implementation of the basics of the Ahtisaari plan, including at least initially supervised independence for Kosovo.

QUESTION: Mr. Casey, since the EU-Kosovo mission lacks the unanimity due to the (inaudible) Romania, Slovakia, Greece and Cyprus today opposed the independence and Serbia stated today that it's not going to allow EU to replace the UN military force, I'm wondering how you are going, as U.S. Government, to convince the European Union to resume its responsibilities in Kosovo.

MR. CASEY: I'll leave it to the European Union to work out its own internal politics. We're fully confident that this position that we have taken on this will have the support of the vast majority of the international community.

Thank you.

(The briefing was concluded at 12:48 p.m.)

DPB #219
Released on December 19, 2007

ENDS

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