U.S. Daily Press Briefing
U.S. Daily Press Briefing
MR. MCCORMACK: Good morning, everybody. I have one trip announcement for you. Don’t worry Matt; we’re giving you enough time to pack. (Laughter.)
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will travel to India and Kazakhstan on October 3rd through the 5th. In India, she will meet with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, External Affairs Minister Mukherjee, opposition leader LK Advani, and other Indian leaders. They will discuss a wide range of issues, including the U.S.-India Civil Nuclear Cooperation Initiative, trade, counterterrorism, human rights, religious freedom, and education.
In Kazakhstan, Secretary Rice will meet with President Nazarbayev, Prime Minister Massimov, Foreign Minister Tazhin, and other government officials. She will discuss various aspects of the U.S.-Kazakhstan strategic partnership, including security and energy cooperation, Kazakhstan’s role as a regional leader, and its efforts to implement further political and economic reforms.
And if you also noticed last night’s event, where the Senate passed the so-called 123 Agreement with India, the Secretary – I think you received a statement from Secretary Rice in her own words. And I would also note at 1 o’clock today there’s going – the Secretary is going to host an event upstairs in the Treaty Room to thank State Department employees, as well as other invited guests, for their efforts in getting this passed. The press is invited to cover that event --
QUESTION: Sean --
MR. MCCORMACK: -- should you choose to do so.
QUESTION: Sorry. Sean, a practical thing. Does this agreement have to be signed by her? Is she going there to – is there some kind of signing that’s going to happen in Delhi?
MR. MCCORMACK: They’re obviously going to talk about the agreement and what it means for the relationship. And just her going there, at this time, is going to be a historic agreement. If there’s any further ceremonies with respect to this, we’ll let you know. But I don’t have anything to announce at this point.
QUESTION: But is the deal done? I mean, is it --
QUESTION: The President has to sign it, correct?
MR. MCCORMACK: The President has to sign it.
QUESTION: Well, that’s why I’m asking.
MR. MCCORMACK: There – I would expect, Matt, that there will be a number of other – what is it – administrative or bureaucratic steps along the way. But make no mistake about it; the action that the House and then the Senate last night took was historic. It, in our view, will mean a different kind of relationship between the United States and India for decades to come.
QUESTION: But she doesn’t – she’s not going there to sign anything?
MR. MCCORMACK: I’m not --
QUESTION: I’m not trying to downplay it. I’m just --
MR. MCCORMACK: No, I – no, I heard – I’m not going to – I’m not answering one way or the other, Matt. If there are any further events, you know, signings or anything else around this agreement in India, we’ll let you know. Right now, I don’t have anything to announce.
QUESTION: Sean, is it possible to say what the bureaucratic steps along the way will be?
MR. MCCORMACK: Param, you know, I am not steeped in this. I’m sure that there are going to be other things that -- you know, unrolling, for example, unrolling a bill for the President to be signed – for the President to sign legislation. And I’m sure on the Indian side, perhaps there are other such things. But again, I’m not going to concern myself with those kind of bureaucratic things. It’s not a question whether they are going to happen but, you know – but when, and it’s a matter of people doing those things. So I’m not trying to indicate any obstacles to this.
QUESTION: Can you tell us the last time she was in India, the last time she was in Kazakhstan? And on Kazakhstan, you mentioned security and energy cooperation, role as a regional leader. Can you elaborate a little bit on each of those?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, in terms of the dates, we’ll have to get them for you. I know she was in India very early on in her tenure. And rather than my trying to go back into the memory banks here and process when they were, we’ll post those things for you.
Look, India is going to play a very important role, along with a number of other countries in that region, in the South Asia region, whether it’s politics or economics or energy. Energy has – in Kazakhstan – Kazakhstan is going to play a similarly influential role with respect to Central Asia. She – the last time she visited there, and we’ll get you the date, she underlined the fact that she thought Kazakhstan was going to be an important country in turning that so-called arc of instability, which others have previously referred to that region going from Central Asia down to India, into an arc of stability and prosperity. Kazakhstan is going to play an important role in that, not only as an energy supplier, but also as an important country in the region.
Now, we are also going to talk to them about the importance of instituting democratic reforms, instituting human rights reforms, instituting economic reforms in that country. They have taken some steps. There are many more that they need to take, and that will be very much a part of her discussion with Kazakhstan’s leadership.
QUESTION: (Inaudible), Mr. McCormack. On the name issue between Athens and Skopje, during the various meeting of Secretary Rice at New York City last week, did you notice any progress so FYROM could become a NATO member? And how (inaudible) going on, this agreement between the Skopjen Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski and the Skopjen President Branko Crvenkovski is affects your efforts for a solution?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, first of all, Lambros, nothing’s done until everything’s done. We’re continuing to work with the parties to encourage a solution.
And I have a question for you. You referred to them as Skopje, as opposed to your usual FYROM. I’m wondering if you, in fact, are coming a certain distance in your views on the name issue. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: No, no. The name according to the UN --
MR. MCCORMACK: We use Macedonia. Feel free to adopt it.
QUESTION: I said FYROM. You are saying Macedonia. I’m not accepting – I’m accepting what the UN has saying.
MR. MCCORMACK: Okay, all right.
QUESTION: One more question.
MR. MCCORMACK: Okay. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: The Congress last week passed a resolution sponsored by Senator Olympia Snowe and Robert Menendez replacing the so-called “Macedonia” with a legal one under the UN, FYROM. Are you going to honor this resolution, Mr. McCormack, since President Bush’s initiative considers to withdraw the recognition from November 4th, 2004?
MR. MCCORMACK: Lambros, I have not – I have not seen the resolution sponsored by the Senator from my home state. The Executive Branch of the United States Government has made a decision with respect to the name. We refer to that country as Macedonia.
QUESTION: On North Korea, the set – the additional talks – well, simply stated, what, if anything has Assistant Secretary Hill achieved so far in his talks in Pyongyang?
MR. MCCORMACK: I know he’s staying an extra day, and we got word back he called back in to Washington. He didn’t provide anything that I would consider a full report. I think that’s understandable given the communications issues. We’ll see what these discussions produce. What the other five members are looking for from North Korea is agreement on the verification protocol. And that is a irreducible component of the Six-Party process moving forward.
Now we’ll see what these discussions yield. It’s – the ball is really in the North Koreans’ court, but Chris went there in good faith at the invitation of the North Korean Government to listen to what they had to say.
QUESTION: And what do you expect him to do after Friday?
MR. MCCORMACK: He will – I guess the plan now is Friday, local time, he will travel over land to Seoul, and then Seoul – from Seoul, travel to Beijing, have some discussions and consultations there. And I think now, the plan is for him to be back in Washington on Sunday. That concludes the Carson Wagonlit portion of the briefing.
QUESTION: When – so he goes to Seoul, then he still goes to Beijing and --
MR. MCCORMACK: Yes.
QUESTION: -- he stops in Tokyo on the way home?
MR. MCCORMACK: I’m not aware of his stopping in Tokyo on the way home.
QUESTION: Any initial indications that the North Koreans are willing to be flexible on the verification procedures?
MR. MCCORMACK: Like I said, we haven’t gotten a full, substantive readout from Chris on his discussions. The five parties know what they need to see from North Korea. We’ll see if they take those decisions that lead to the process moving forward.
QUESTION: One other thing. The South Korean media are reporting that Hill plans to – is ready to offer a compromise on the verification protocol. Robert last week said that he was going there with some ideas on how to work this out. To use your word, you know, you talked about it being an irreducible component.
MR. MCCORMACK: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: But the question is what you need out of that, whether that is irreducible or if, in fact, it can be reduced and you can perhaps be less extensive in your request for verification.
MR. MCCORMACK: I talked a little bit about this yesterday in terms of a differentiating between, “choreography” and the substance. Chris was not – Chris was not going to Pyongyang with any new proposals regarding the substance of a verification regime. North Korea has before it a verification regime that includes components that are recognizable in a variety of different, you know, agreements around the world that include an inspection component; standard issue kinds of things that will allow the five parties to assure themselves that the declaration that North Korea provided is full and complete and verifiable.
In terms of choreography, without getting into any of the details, of course, Chris went there listening to any ideas that North Koreans might have regarding the choreography of this. There have been various plans in the past where instruments, declarations, et cetera have been deposited with Beijing and then shared subsequently with the other five parties while other commitments from the five parties move forward. So again, Chris is prepared to listen to those things. But in terms of the substance of the verification protocol, he was not going there with any proposals from our side or, I believe, anybody else.
QUESTION: Just one more thing on the choreography. To extend your metaphor, I mean, this was supposed to be a two-step dance.
MR. MCCORMACK: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: And the first step in this particular phase was for them to produce the declaration and the second step was for you to lift them – remove them from the state sponsors list. Is there any flexibility on the choreography of that? In other words, might you take that step first?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, I would insert a step to the original dance that --
MR. MCCORMACK: That’s right, yeah. Is the – part of the – part of the declaration, in the view of the five parties, included a verification protocol. You know, given the nature of the North Korean regime, it stood to reason that you needed to have a verification protocol to ensure everybody that the declaration was full and complete. So that step has not been completed, and we have reiterated to North Korea numerous times – and we can do so again and I’m sure Chris is doing so in Pyongyang – that we intend to fulfill our obligations as North Korea fulfills all of its obligations. There’s still an outstanding component in the verification protocol.
QUESTION: Sean, just so – this question has been asked before, but is the U.S. prepared to be flexible on the verification?
MR. MCCORMACK: Again, the verification protocol that is before North Korea is one that is – includes standard components for these kinds of international agreements. Look, this process is a matter of trust building. An important – part of this process is trust building. An important component of that is going through and being able to verify that declaration. And from that point you can proceed forward, all the parties meeting their obligations, and trust is gradually built up. And the Secretary has made it clear that verification is a central component of this process moving forward. And for us, we are going to – we, as well as others, are demanding that that step be fulfilled. And we’ll see what the North Korean Government decides in that regard.
QUESTION: Sean, Iran is throwing a gas conference in a couple of days in Tehran, and their media are, I would say, touting the participation list: Shell, Total, BP, OMV which is partially owned by the Austrian Government. I think implicitly they’re saying that this is a show that the sanctions regime isn’t working. Would you concur with that?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, with respect to the specific conference, I’ll try to provide you – we’ll try to provide you a very specific answer. But just going – very quickly going down that list, Total pulled out of its investment in the South Pars gas field, so that is hardly a vote of confidence in doing business in Iran. With respect to OMV, I know that we have talked to the Austrian Government about any investments that they would be considering in the Iran oil and gas industry. I’ll see if we differentiate between participation and any other activities.
I would say though, in general, that now is not the time to be discussing with Iran investments in its oil and gas industry, given its status in the international community regarding its behaviors which are clearly outside the norm and have been judged by the Security Council to be outside acceptable international behavior.
QUESTION: On Iran?
MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah.
QUESTION: Reports in Iranian websites have said that the U.S. Government has authorized U.S.-based NGO to open up an office in Tehran.
MR. MCCORMACK: I’ll check for you. I don’t have anything on that.
QUESTION: Back on India. Given the fact that there’s a civil nuclear deal, would you say that the – that given that the U.S. wants to further integrate India with the rest of the world, would you say that India might play a greater role in the UN Security Council? Is that something you’re --
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, you know, there are a lot of questions with regard to the Security Council. I know India has previously expressed an interest in a seat on the Security Council. And those are all issues that have had a long history of discussion, and I would expect that discussion will continue out into the future as well beyond this Administration.
QUESTION: On Greece, Mr. McCormack. Any readout on the meeting between Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and the Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis last week in New York City, to your best recollection?
MR. MCCORMACK: You know, Lambros, I don’t have one. We’ll see if we can generate one for you.
QUESTION: Back to the trip for a second --
MR. MCCORMACK: Sure.
QUESTION: -- and then on Kazakhstan.
MR. MCCORMACK: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: They’re taking over the Chairmanship of the OSCE, if they haven’t already done so.
MR. MCCORMACK: I think that’s next year.
QUESTION: Oh, next year. Well --
MR. MCCORMACK: I think so, or 2010. I think it’s 2010.
QUESTION: You mentioned that you wanted – that she would talk to them about democratic reforms and human rights.
MR. MCCORMACK: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: How concerned are you by the situation as it exists there right now and what Nazarbayev has done? There have been a lot of complaints from human rights groups and others that the situation is, in fact, not improving, but it’s deteriorating.
MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah, I guess I can’t give you a one-word answer, Matt. They have taken some steps, but we have encouraged them to do more and would wish that they would do more. And that will be part of the conversation the Secretary will have.
QUESTION: And do you have –
MR. MCCORMACK: I don’t have any specifics for you.
QUESTION: No, I know. But is it possible to – you know, to find out what specifically she --
MR. MCCORMACK: In terms of specific cases?
QUESTION: Specific cases or specific areas. I mean, human rights encompasses a lot of --
MR. MCCORMACK: No, I understand. You’re right; there are a lot of component parts to it. It gets down to how you treat people who voice opposition to the government, freedom of speech issues, freedom of the press issues, political reforms so you open up a political space for participation, government – you know, parties that are part of the government, parties that are outside the government. So it’s that whole collection of issues.
As for specific cases, I’ll see if there are any specific cases that she intends to --
QUESTION: Are you not at all concerned that her going there will be an endorsement of an imperfect – a far, far, far from perfect --
MR. MCCORMACK: No, no, because she’s gone there before, first, and I think the readouts from her meetings and her explanations of what she raised in the meetings made it very clear that she raised these issues. She set a certain set of expectations of the international community, just not the United States, for Kazakhstan. They have come some way. Again, as you pointed out, it is an imperfect effort and there’s a long way to go. And it – I don’t think there’s much of a question in terms of the Secretary going in and, in some cases, having to deliver some tough messages.
It’s also a message, too, that we want to work with Kazakhstan. It can play an important role in the Central Asian region, as well as play a wider role in the world. As the OSCE – the future OSCE Chairmanship indicates, they can play a wider role in the world. But again, they’re going to have to come more than halfway, meet the rest of the world in terms of some of the kinds of reforms that the world is looking for.
QUESTION: Can we go back to the – on the trip again, on India specifically you mentioned that she’s going to be meeting with the opposition leader?
MR. MCCORMACK: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: Can you tell us something about what’s the purpose of that and what purpose she’s looking for?
MR. MCCORMACK: It’s very typical. When she takes these trips, she meets with leaders from the – across the political spectrum. Obviously, she’s going to meet with Government officials, but also to meet with important opposition leaders and -- you know, she’s done it in Europe, she’s done it in countries all around the world, I think, in virtually every continent she’s traveled to.
Way in the back here. Yes, sir.
QUESTION: Thank you. I am from Public Television Company of Armenia. Just – very recently, there was a meeting between Armenian President and Condoleezza Rice in New York. I’d like to -- if possible, to get some information about the meeting. And as well as, do you have any explanations concerning trilateral meeting between Armenia, Turkey and Azerbaijan, which also took place in New York? Thank you.
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, there were, I guess, three basic components that they talked about. They talked about U.S.-Armenian bilateral relations and those are in a good, solid state. She talked a little bit about Armenia’s discussions with Turkey, and she referred specifically to President Gul’s travel to Armenia for the soccer game and discussions between government officials around that event. And she also talked about, from our view, the importance of working to resolve outstanding issues in the Caucasus.
You know, you referred to a trilateral meeting involving Azerbaijan, Turkey and Armenia. I’ll leave it to the participants to describe that meeting. But certainly, that is a positive step in looking for solutions to some issues that have caused quite a bit of difficulties in the Caucasus and bringing wider stability to that region.
QUESTION: Can we go back to the India deal? Pakistan is now saying publicly that they want a similar kind of deal. Is there any prospect of this?
MR. MCCORMACK: At the moment, I’m not aware of a contemplation of a similar such deal at this time with Pakistan.
QUESTION: But it does – does the Pakistani call not seem to vindicate the concern of nonproliferation advocates who suggested that having cut a special deal for India, other nations would seek to obtain civil nuclear cooperation without checking all the boxes that had hitherto been required in the global nonproliferation regime?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, of course, some may ask for similar such treatment. The India case, however, we believed was unique and was unique in the respect of a long history of Indian behavior that was there for all to see.
QUESTION: But can I – I mean, you say that there’s no deal – similar deal with Pakistan, you know, in the works or --
MR. MCCORMACK: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: Have they -- in your discussions with the President recently and with the Pakistanis, have they expressed an interest to you for such a deal?
MR. MCCORMACK: In the most recent meeting with the Secretary, that’s the only one I can personally speak to at this point. That issue did not come up. I know that the issue has come up periodically in public. I think I’ve had to answer questions about it before and our position is the same.
QUESTION: Totally different subject. I just – you may not – I’m just asking. If you don’t have an answer, please see if you can find it. Do you know anything about a USAID order that went out to NGOs in Africa barring them from distributing U.S.-funded contraceptives?
MR. MCCORMACK: We do have an answer for you and we’ll post it up for you, Matt.
MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah.
QUESTION: Thank you.