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Daily Press Briefing - December 4

Daily Press Briefing - December 4

Thu, 04 Dec 2008 11:58:11 -0600

Daily Press Briefing

Robert Wood, Deputy Spokesman

Washington, DC

December 4, 2008

INDEX:

PAKISTAN

Secretary Rice’s Meetings in Islamabad on Cooperation with India

Secretary Puts Emphasis on Finding Perpetrators and Preventing Future Attacks

ZIMBABWE

U.S. Concerned Over Health, Economic and Political Situation

SUDAN

Prosecutor for International Court asks UN to arrest President of Sudan

ALBANIA

World War II Issues on Properties of Albanian Nazi Collaborators

IRAQ

Attacks in Fallujah / U.S. Condemns Attacks Against Innocent Civilians

Presidency Council Ratifies Strategic Framework Agreement and Security Agreement

ISRAEL

Evacuation of Hebron

TRANSCRIPT:

View Video

10:36 a.m. EST

MR. WOOD: Good morning, everyone. I don’t have anything. We can go right to your questions.

QUESTION: I have nothing.

MR. WOOD: Matt has nothing.

QUESTION: Any update on India?

MR. WOOD: I’m sorry?

QUESTION: Any update on India?

MR. WOOD: Sure, let me – well, the Secretary was in Islamabad today. She met with President Zardari, General Kayani, Prime Minister Gilani, and Foreign Minister Qureshi. And the purpose was to underscore the need for the Pakistanis to cooperate fully in trying to find out who carried out these attacks.

QUESTION: How is the investigation so far?

MR. WOOD: Well, from discussions with the Indians, investigations are – the investigation is underway. We are trying to be cooperative and supportive, as best we can. And the Secretary’s message in Islamabad was that Pakistan, as I mentioned, needed to provide full, complete, and transparent cooperation with the investigation.

QUESTION: Are you satisfied so far from the response from Islamabad?

MR. WOOD: Well, President Zardari has said all of the right things. What’s important now is that we have action. And so the Secretary stressed the need for Pakistan to follow through on its pledges, and we’ll see how things progress.

QUESTION: Well, what kind of leverage do you have over Pakistan? I mean, I know it’s a close ally, but if they don’t cooperate, are you considering any measures? Is this going to affect your bilateral relationship with Pakistan?

MR. WOOD: Pakistan, as we have said many times, is on the front lines of terrorism. It understands what’s at stake here. The Secretary came away, I think, from her conversations with Pakistani officials satisfied that Pakistan viewed this as a very serious issue and, you know, they plan to cooperate fully. And that’s what we want to see happen.

Charlie.

QUESTION: Robert, just as a follow-up, can you say what kind of information the Secretary or any other U.S. officials might have delivered to the Pakistanis?

MR. WOOD: Well, I don’t think she was there, Charlie, to deliver any kind of a message, but it was primarily to get the – to talk to Pakistan about the need to provide that full and transparent cooperation that’s essential to getting to the bottom of this. And also we can’t forget the fact that it’s important to try to do what we all can to prevent these types of attacks from taking place anywhere in the world.

QUESTION: So in this conversation, it’s all carrot and no stick with Pakistan?

MR. WOOD: Well, it’s – what we’re all trying to do is try to find a way to track down these perpetrators, and then, of course, as I said, to try to prevent these types of attacks from happening again. It’s going to take more than just cooperation between India and Pakistan, the United States, India, and Pakistan. It’s going to take the cooperation of, you know, the entire international community because terrorism is a global threat. And so we’re all going to do what we can. Terrorism, you know, is a very difficult thing to deal with in the 21st century, the world that we live in, and so cooperation is going to be key.

QUESTION: Do you know if the – or can you say if the U.S. thinks that LeT is the organization or the people behind this attack? And if so, did the Secretary urge the Pakistani leadership to go after or arrest any particular leaders of LeT?

MR. WOOD: Well, Charlie, I don’t think – again, we don’t know yet who is responsible for this. But what we have said to the Pakistanis is that we need to make sure that Pakistan is doing everything it can to prevent any kinds of attacks like this from taking place from their – originating from their soil. And so the investigation is still underway, and we’ll obviously be having discussions with Pakistani and Indian officials as we go forward.

QUESTION: But, Robert --

MR. WOOD: Yes.

QUESTION: If the investigation is still underway, then why the emphasis on Pakistan and the need for them to cooperate, unless you have certain knowledge that the terrorists and those responsible emanated from Pakistan?

MR. WOOD: I can just say that Pakistan has a special responsibility with regard to dealing with this issue.

QUESTION: But why would they regarding this – after this particular attack? Like, why – why not say that to Afghanistan? Why not say that to any countries that possibly have terrorist groups? I mean, why the emphasis on Pakistan?

MR. WOOD: Well, with regard to this particular attack, I mean, there are some concerns – again, there’s been reporting – I think officials in Pakistan are concerned that there may have been some involvement by either Pakistanis or elements operating somewhere on Pakistani soil. But as I’ve said, and I think the Secretary said this as well, it’s going to be very important for Pakistan to show action with regard to this, with responding to these incidents. So again, that was the purpose of her trip to Islamabad today. That was the purpose of Admiral Mullen’s trip – I believe it was yesterday.

So yeah – Libby.

QUESTION: I wanted to ask about Zimbabwe. How is the U.S. responding at all to the health crisis that’s unfolding there?

MR. WOOD: Well, we’re obviously very concerned about the health situation in Zimbabwe, as well as the economic and political situation, and so it’s incumbent on the Zimbabwean Government to cooperate with the international community in trying to deal with some of these issues. But I don’t have anything further beyond that.

QUESTION: There’s no specific U.S. effort right now?

MR. WOOD: Well, I mean, USAID has certainly taken a strong interest in seeing what we can do. But again, you know, it’s really going to be incumbent on the Mugabe regime to – first and foremost, to sit down with the opposition and work out some kind of political arrangement that represents the will of the Zimbabwean people, and then allow the international community to provide the type of assistance that’s necessary. But it’s a very difficult situation in Zimbabwe. We’re obviously very, very concerned about the reports of these cholera deaths. And so that’s where we are.

Yes.

QUESTION: Back on India for a second.

MR. WOOD: Yeah.

QUESTION: Did Secretary Rice take a position urging the Pakistanis or advise them on – make suggestions about whether they should hand over any of these 20 suspects that India wants extradited?

MR. WOOD: Well, again, it’s not for us to basically get involved or to tell the Pakistanis specifically how they should respond or not respond. What’s important here is that Pakistan do everything it can in its power to cooperate with this investigation and help all of us bring to justice these perpetrators of the Mumbai attacks.

QUESTION: So she didn’t give them any advice on that?

MR. WOOD: The Secretary was basically sitting down with Pakistani officials and pointing out the importance of cooperation here. Because again, we have a special interest in seeing – you know, in getting to the bottom of this because of the deaths of six Americans, and so she’s very concerned. She expressed that concern and the importance that we place on finding these terrorists and also preventing these, you know, attacks from happening again – these type of attacks from happening again.

Samir.

QUESTION: Yes. The prosecutor from the International Court is asking the UN to arrest the President of Sudan. What’s your reaction to this?

MR. WOOD: Well, I mean, the most important thing for us is holding people accountable for crimes that, you know, have been committed. That’s always been the U.S. policy with regard to, you know, atrocities that may be committed anywhere in the world. But beyond that, I don’t have anything more.

Mr. Lambros.

QUESTION: On Albania. Mr. Wood, Prime Minister Sali Berisha stated that Albania and Greece are involved in negotiation “at the legal level” concerning World War II issues on properties of Albanian Nazi collaborators. It was reported, however, that the Department of State plays a role in that process. Could you please comment on your role and elaborate specifically on your involvement?

MR. WOOD: I’m not aware of any involvement in the Department of State.

QUESTION: So you take this question --

MR. WOOD: We can see if we can find anything on that.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MR. WOOD: You’re welcome, sir.

Samir.

QUESTION: Do you have anything on the attacks in Fallujah today? Is al-Qaida returning back to the Al Anbar province?

MR. WOOD: I saw the reports about attacks in Fallujah, but I don’t have anything more on that. We obviously strongly condemn attacks against innocent civilians, so – as we – as we always do everywhere in the world. But I don’t have anything more for you on that at this point.

QUESTION: Do you have anything on the Israeli evacuations of Hebron?

MR. WOOD: I’ve just seen the reports, but I don’t have anything for you on that.

Lach.

QUESTION: Yeah. Does the State Department have to take a decision by, say, January, early January, about the case of the People’s Mujahedin or the political wing of that group? Is that --

MR. WOOD: I’ll have to look into that.

QUESTION: Okay.

MR. WOOD: I’m not sure at all.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MR. WOOD: Thank you all. Oh, by the way, one thing I should note I’ve been meaning to note. Since no one asked the question, I thought I would just raise it. Today, as you know, is the ratification of the – by the Presidency Council of the strategic framework agreement and the security agreement. So we welcome it, and there will be an exchange of diplomatic notes, and then the agreement will go into force January 1, 2009.

Samir.

QUESTION: Yeah. How is the process now to remove Iraq from Chapter 7? How are you going to do that?

MR. WOOD: Well, let’s see how things play out on that. I don’t have any update for you on that, Samir, at this point. We’ll see.

QUESTION: Well, doesn’t it just expire if it doesn’t get renewed?

MR. WOOD: You’re talking about the --

QUESTION: He’s talking about the UN –

MR. WOOD: Yeah, the --

QUESTION: (Inaudible) there was --

MR. WOOD: He’s talking about that particular agreement. I was a little confused by that. It expires December 31, so --

QUESTION: You don’t have to do anything, though? It just expires?

MR. WOOD: As I said, we just have this exchange of notes, it expires, and there we go.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MR. WOOD: You’re welcome.

(The briefing was concluded at 10:46 a.m.)

ENDS

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