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State Dept. Daily Press Briefing October 24, 2006

Daily Press Briefing
Sean McCormack, Spokesman
Washington, DC
October 24, 2006


Secretary Rice to Call UN Secretary General Annan / UN Force
Prerequisite Step to Improve Situation in Darfur / AU Force Would
Form Core of UN Force / Greater Numbers and Capabilities Needed on
the Ground
Secretary to Receive Briefing from Special Envoy Natsios /
Sudanese Government Must Allow UN Force Into Darfur / Arab League
and Sudan's Neighbors Need to Play a Role / Chinese Interest in
the Issue

Iraqi Government Reaching Out to Syria and Iran / Iran and Syria
Playing Unhelpful Roles in Iraq / Remarks by General Casey and
Ambassador Khalilzad / Iraq Compact Meeting / US Has Asked Syrians
to Stop Meddling / US Offered To Discuss Security With Iranians
Iraqi Patriots Working Hard on Behalf of Iraqi People / Conditions
are Difficult
Vigorous Debate is Healthy for Democracy / US is Standing with the
Iraqi People / Hydrocarbons Law / Political Compromise is
Iraqi Government Must Address Militias / Political Questions Need
to Be Answered

Possible Middle East Peace Conference / Palestinian Security
Forces / Gaza Access and Movement Agreement / Palestinian People
and Government Need to Come to Political Agreement that Meets
Quartet Criteria / Hamas-led Government Failing in Mission to
Govern Palestinian Areas
History of Iranian Interference in Area
Kidnapping of Journalist in Gaza / US Stands Ready to Help if
Minister Mofaz Meeting with Secretary Rice / Implementation of
Resolution 1701

Detention of Ship in Hong Kong
Chinese Invested In a Denuclearized Korean Peninsula / US-North
Korea Bilateral Approach Does Not Work

August 31 IAEA Report on Second Centrifuge Cascade / Iran Moving
Forward with Nuclear Program / International Community Must Move
Forward with Sanctions / UN Security Council Resolution Required
Secretary Rice's Meeting with IAEA Secretary General ElBaradei

Minister Bildt's Meeting with Secretary Rice / Health of
Transatlantic Relationship / Russia's Relationship with Neighbors


12:30 p.m. EDT

MR. MCCORMACK: Good afternoon, everybody. No opening statements, so we can get right into your questions. Who wants to start?

QUESTION: I do. There are a few things going on, Darfur for instance. Kofi Annan's rep is leaving, left --


QUESTION: Left, unwelcome clearly. And the Secretary mentioned yesterday she was going to -- hoping to call Mr. Annan. Could you bring up reflections on this or -- and whatever the U.S. might be doing in this – what? -- didn't she call it a deteriorating situation?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, I don't really have much to add to what I said yesterday, Barry, on the matter and what the Secretary said. She still does intend to call Secretary General Annan. Their schedules just haven't meshed up yet. But she does intend to call him and discuss the situation and talk about ways that we can get that UN force in there, get this Sudanese Government to allow in that blue-helmeted force because we believe that that is a prerequisite step in order to improve the situation both in the humanitarian sense as well as the political sense so you can move down the road in implementing the various peace agreements that are in place. So we're going to keep on working that, Barry, and I'll let you know when the Secretary makes that phone call to Secretary General Annan.

QUESTION: Do you any fresh ideas on how to do that, Sean, because, you know, in the last couple of months all of the sort of explicit calls, moral suasion just doesn't seem to be working.

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, the Secretary is going to hear from Mr. Natsios this afternoon. She's going to get a briefing from him and he's going to be able to report the situation on the ground, where the Sudanese Government is vis-Ã -vis allowing in this international force. And I'm sure that they will talk about whether or not there are any new approaches, new initiatives, new ideas that might have come out of Mr. Natsios' trip.

But fundamentally, it remains a question of this government in Sudan allowing in that force. You know, how do you get them to do that? Again, we believe that international pressure, persuasion, is the way to do that. All member-states from the United Nations have a role to play in that -- I would point out I think most especially members of the Arab League as well as Sudan's neighbors. They have a vested strategic interest in the situation in Sudan improving, getting better. And so we have talked to them. We will continue to talk to them. We'll talk to others, like the Chinese. I mentioned that yesterday. The Secretary brought this up on her trip to Beijing. We believe that the Chinese are very interested in working with others in the international community who are concerned about the situation in Darfur getting that international force in.

So fundamentally I think it does remain a question of international persuasion, international pressure on that. Now, if there are any other tactical changes and nuances to that out of Mr. Natsios' meeting with the Secretary, then we'll keep you up to date.

QUESTION: The Arab League suggested that maybe the EU force could be kept but financed by the UN, so it wouldn't be blue hats but it would be financed by UN. Would --

MR. MCCORMACK: Again, certainly member of the Arab League should be lauded for thinking about creative ways to make this happen. But I think it is our belief and it is the belief of many others that you do need a UN force. You need for a number of different reasons and some of them very practical reasons to transition that AU force into a blue-helmeted UN force.

Now the AU -- it would be envisioned that that AU force would form the core of a UN force, but for a couple very practical reasons, as well as some others dealing with UN Security Council resolutions, it's better to have a UN force, one, to ensure that funding stream. If it were an AU mission we have seen the problems along the way of when the AU mission mandate gets renewed looking for the funding. The United States has provided a great deal of that funding. And if this were a UN peacekeeping operation mission, we would still provide a great bulk of the funding just because of our percentage of contribution to the UN peacekeeping operations.

The second thing is that while the AU mission would still form the core of that UN security force, you would be able -- if it were a blue-helmeted force -- draw in other countries as well. So you could make more robust the mission on the ground there. And I think everybody agrees that you need greater numbers and greater capabilities on the ground. So those are two very practical reasons why this should be a UN force. But again, the Arab League should be lauded for engaging on this, thinking creatively about it, but I think the answer still is with a UN blue-helmeted force.

I've exhausted you already?



QUESTION: General Casey and Ambassador Khalilzad have said today that Iran and Syria are trying to undermine the American efforts to stabilize Iraq.


QUESTION: Since three years and the American officials are saying the same words on Syria and Iran, what are you doing to prevent Syria and Iran from undermining the democracy in Iraq and the region?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, importantly, the Iraqi Government's trying to reach out and have normal good neighborly relations with both of those countries, both Syria and Iran. Our forces on the ground, working with the Iraqi forces, have taken steps in the past and I would assume continue to take steps now to address Syrian and Iranian meddling in Iraq. Now, the sort of unhelpful roles these two states might play in Iraq can take different forms, from being passive to allowing their territory to be used for those from the outside to enter into Iraq to fight and kill Iraqis as well as multinational forces can take different forms as well, as actually actively providing technologies that are used to kill Iraqis in Iraq.

So there are a variety of different ways that they can play an unhelpful role in Iraq; they are. I think General Casey and Ambassador Khalilzad talked a little bit about that. They probably are in a better position on the ground now to describe for you in detail what specific characteristics those unhelpful roles may take on the ground, but they still are playing an unhelpful role and we would hope that as neighbors of Iraq that these two countries would see it in their interest to help promote stability and peace in Iraq.

They were -- the Iranian representatives, the Syrian representatives were at the UN. I saw them, sitting there along with a number of other states, along with Iraq's other neighbors, talking about the Iraq Compact. And this is an arrangement whereby the Iraqi Government would meet certain conditions that would be expected of it by the international community, and in return the international community would provide various types of support, whether that's political or diplomatic or economic or other kinds of support.

But at the core of it is a bargain between the international community and a new Iraqi Government and having those states on the outside, those states in the international community, help out the Iraqi people on a new pathway toward building a democracy. So the presence of Syria and Iran at that compact meeting, you would think, would indicate a more hopeful note with respect to the relationship of those two countries with Iraq. Sadly, they do continue to play an unhelpful role, as I said, in a variety of different ways in Iraq and we would hope that that would change.

QUESTION: Sean, can you describe what are some of the technologies to kill people in Iraq that Iran and Syria are actively providing?

MR. MCCORMACK: I think the people on the ground, especially our military commanders, would be in a better position to talk about those things.

QUESTION: Do you have any detail though? Is it IED technology or is it --

MR. MCCORMACK: Again, I'm going to refer you to the folks on the ground there. They're in a better position to talk in specific terms about those things.


MR. MCCORMACK: Yes, Samir.

QUESTION: It is said that Iran is playing a double role: on one side, they cooperate in the Iraq compact meeting; and on the other side, they continue to help the insurgents.

MR. MCCORMACK: Right. Well, I think what -- you know, again their presence there I said was a hopeful note. One would hope that they would play a positive role in the future of Iraq, and I think that as neighbors of Iraq the Iraqi people would want them to play a positive, hopeful neighborly role with respect to Iraq. But as you heard from Ambassador Casey and Ambassador -- and General Casey and Ambassador Khalilzad, that isn't the case right now. But this isn't new. I mean, this is not something that has never been said before about concerning Syria and Iran.

QUESTION: Is there going to be another compact meeting soon?

MR. MCCORMACK: There certainly are a lot of discussions about when -- how the compact process is going to be moving forward.

QUESTION: Sean, a follow-up. Are you considering any steps to stop them from interfering in Iraq -- militarily?

MR. MCCORMACK: Again, our people on the ground are working with the Iraqis and other multinational forces, from a military standpoint look at that every single day. From a political and diplomatic standpoint, we have made it clear in public to both of those states our hope that they would play a helpful role in Iraq, and most directly the Iraqi Government has spoken to both of those states, those governments, about playing a helpful role in Iraq.

QUESTION: Could I have just one more follow-up on this? You said -- as you noted yourself, this is not new. This has been said for years now. Do you have any -- and yet, both Ambassador Khalilzad and General Casey were pretty strong in their comments. Do you have any new or fresh -- do you have any evidence of new or fresh such meddling that you can point to?

MR. MCCORMACK: I don't have anything that I can share with you, Arshad.

Anything else on Iraq? Okay, we have more on Iraq. James?

QUESTION: Sean, it is one thing to speak in terms that the Syrians and the Iranians are being unhelpful or that they're meddling. My question is more bluntly put, do those countries by virtue of their activities inside Iraq have American blood on their hands?

MR. MCCORMACK: James, I think that is a question better put to the people on the ground. I think they can -- they are in a better position to answer those questions for you.

QUESTION: Can I try it once more a different way?

MR. MCCORMACK: Sure. You might get the same answer.

QUESTION: I might bet on it. Is it the view of the State Department that those countries have been responsible for American casualties in the course of -- since the Iraq war started?

MR. MCCORMACK: Same answer. See above.

Yes, ma'am.

QUESTION: But forgive me if this was something that was already answered. I couldn't quite hear an earlier question. But given how unhelpful the role is that Iran and Syria are playing, why not sit down and talk with them? Why not have negotiations with them?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, there are a lot of different reasons, and we stay here for several hours and go through them for you. But succinctly, we have in the past talked to the Syrians, for example, about this. Deputy Secretary Armitage just after the 2004 election went to Syria and delivered a very strong message and -- asking the Syrian Government to stop in the sort of unhelpful behaviors in a variety of different areas in the region. And if so, then Syria could realize a different sort of relationship. But right at that point Syria and the U.S. did not have a very good relationship.

Well, they did nothing really as a result of that. They made some -- they did some sort of changes around the margins, sort of cosmetic. They took some cosmetic steps but nothing that really fundamentally addressed the core problems there. So we have in the past engaged with the Syrian Government. They have persisted in the sort of unhelpful behaviors in the region.

Now over time -- over the past couple of years, this has earned them the enmity of others in the region now. So the Syrian Government finds themselves relatively isolated. They know what they have to do. We would certainly welcome a change in behavior, but I don't think it is through merely sitting down and engaging in "dialogue" that is going to change their behavior. It may make people feel good from the process standpoint, but I don't think it would be very satisfying from a standpoint of actually producing any results.

Now with respect to Iran, we have a very different relationship with Iran. We don't have diplomatic relations with Iran. You know the whole story going back more than a quarter century about that. We did offer to engage the Iranian Government on issues related to security in Iraq. Ambassador Khalilzad was offered as that channel to engage with his counterpart to talk about issues related to security in Iraq. We had made the similar kind of arrangement with Iran in Afghanistan. It actually proved quite useful. I think both sides would tell you that they found it quite useful. The Iranians decided not to take us up on that offer to talk about security issues in Iraq through that channel.

So there have been efforts to communicate to both of these states about their role in Iraq. And most importantly, put the United States aside, most importantly the Iraqi Government has talked to them about their role in Iraq, and yet some of the troubling behaviors persist.


QUESTION: Also on Iraq. I read an analysis today by a private investment risk analysis group called the Eurasia Group which suggested today that the collapse of the Maliki government would not necessarily jeopardize the flow of oil from Iraq. But I was struck by the idea that some knowledgeable observers are even talking about the potential collapse of the Maliki government. Do you regard that kind of talk as far-fetched? How stable is the Maliki government? How solid is its grip, in your view?

MR. MCCORMACK: I have not heard any such analysis by anybody in the U.S. Government, James. We believe that there are Iraqi patriots who are working very hard on behalf of the Iraqi people in this Maliki government, in the Iraqi parliament, and these people represent the whole breadth of Iraq and they are, for a change, actually working -- trying to work on behalf of the Iraqi people. So the conditions are very difficult, admittedly. We see that every single day -- the deaths and the destruction that is caused in Iraq. But this government is working on behalf of the Iraqi people. It was elected by the Iraqi people. And from everything that we can tell, it continues to have the support of the Iraqi people.

QUESTION: Do you think it makes them feel more confident with all of these calls for the Administration to adopt new strategies, new tactics, questions being raised about the engagement, the extent of the U.S. engagement in Iraq? Isn't that dispiriting to the people in Iraq who are trying to keep things together?

MR. MCCORMACK: You would have to talk to them, Barry. All I can say is a couple things. One, in any democracy you are going to have a healthy, vigorous debate any time issues of war, peace and security are involved. That's only natural and that's healthy for a democracy. But what is clear and what is very important and what the Iraqi people should hear is what President Bush has said, that the United States is standing with the Iraqi people.

Now, the Iraqi Government, the Iraqi leadership, they have to make some hard decisions and hard compromises, political compromises, on behalf of their country and on behalf of their people. They know what those issues are; for example, a hydrocarbons law. This really gets to the core of a lot of the issues in Iraq right now in dealing with the issues related to hydrocarbon law as well as other attendant issues. They are difficult political issues. We can hearken back to our own founding in terms of constitutional conventions which we had to wrestle with -- they had very difficult issues -- and come up with political compromises that ultimately have stood the test of time. Others haven't and we have gone back and adjusted those.

So that is the situation in which the Iraqi people find themselves right now. They find themselves in an even more difficult circumstance since you do have the level of violence in Iraq that exists right now. So what they should be hearing is what President Bush has said, and that is that we stand with the Iraqi people.

QUESTION: Could I ask you about something else?

MR. MCCORMACK: Anything else on Iraq?


MR. MCCORMACK: Go ahead, Joel.

QUESTION: How do you view firebrand Muqtada al-Sadr with his Mahdi army? He claims to have social services, courts, police and he seems to have caused nothing but persistent troubles, I guess since Fallujah and Najaf. Is he at the heart of some of this trouble?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, certainly the -- on the issues of militias, Joel, that is at the top of the list in terms of issues that this Iraqi Government needs to deal with. You can deal with militias in a military or police sense, that's one way to deal with them. The government should be responsible for providing safety and security for its people, and it's really a core tenet of a democracy that that should be the sole domain of an elected government. But really to deal at the heart of the issue with militias you need to come to those hard political comprises that we were talking about, one example of which was the hydrocarbons law.

So at its root these are political questions that need to be answered in which you have all segments of Iraqi society buying into the social compact with its government. And that's what this government is currently engaged in. That is the process that it is engaged in right now, and that's what we're talking to them about.

QUESTION: Can I try you on something else?

MR. MCCORMACK: Anything else on Iraq?


QUESTION: Junior British officers about two weeks ago in The New York Times were quoted as saying they weren't finding any Iranians while they were patrolling the border. I'm sure that's just their small part of the universe. Have we found any Iranian or Syrian agents recently in Iraq? Can you comment on that?

MR. MCCORMACK: Talk to the folks on the ground there.


QUESTION: The Spanish Foreign Minister -- long experienced in the Middle East, he was the European envoy I believe -- talking about the U.S. and the Europeans and Spain -- I guess they're the prospective hosts – setting up -- there was one before, at least one, an international Mideast peace conference -- says the roadmap isn't working. Is the U.S. engaged in discussions on a Middle East peace conference?

MR. MCCORMACK: Barry, I know that I've seen this idea bouncing around out in public. Our focus is right now on what we can do in working with both the presidency of President Abbas as well as with the Israeli Government to try to address some of the issues of common concern to them.

On the Palestinian side, we are very interested in seeing what we can do to help President Abbas build up the capabilities of the security forces under his control. That in turn has a -- would have a positive effect on the ability to more fully implement the Gaza access and movement agreement, would give the Israeli Government more – have more confidence in the ability to keep open some of those crossing at Karni and Rafa on a more regular basis. And it would also help reassure the Israeli Government regarding attacks on its territory emanating from Gaza. So that is absolutely one of the keys.

And we are also working on the Israeli side to see what we can do to ease the daily plight of innocent Palestinians who are just trying to move about, live their lives, go to work, go to the grocery store, go to school. And so that's where our focus is right now, Barry.

But the most important thing right now that has to happen is that the Palestinian people and the Palestinian Government need to come to whatever political arrangement or political accommodation they are going to arrive at that meets the criteria laid out by the Quartet. If you have a situation like that, you have a qualitatively different situation in terms of the international community's ability to deal with a Palestinian Authority. Right now that is severely, severely limited because you have a Hamas-led government, and that government has refused to meet the criteria laid out for it by the international community. And as a result, they broke with more than a decade's worth of Palestinian Authority behavior and policy. The international community reacted, and we now see that that Hamas-led government has failed in its mission to try to govern the Palestinian areas.

QUESTION: Those criteria -- you know, just sparing us repetition -- those criteria are the ones, the familiar ones?

MR. MCCORMACK: Right. Yes, in the London Quartet statement.

QUESTION: Okay. Maybe this is jumping too far ahead -- that's a condition for negotiations, acceptance of those criteria?

MR. MCCORMACK: As a condition for any sort of engagement with the international community --

QUESTION: That's the question. Exactly.


QUESTION: Those are conditions also from sitting down at an international peace conference, isn't it?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, that's presuming there is an international peace conference.

QUESTION: No, I said -- of course, presuming.

MR. MCCORMACK: They're conditions for any sort of interaction with -- between international entities, whether it's the U.S. Government or the EU or you name it, and a Palestinian government. If the Palestinian government meets those criteria and they're judged to have met those criteria by the Quartet and the international community, you have a qualitatively different situation. We don't have that right now.

QUESTION: Can I try one fast one?


QUESTION: After --

MR. MCCORMACK: Don't try to pull a fast one.

QUESTION: The Israeli Deputy Prime Minister is also the Transportation Minister, after seeing Secretary Rice and Mr. Burns, came down and expressed the usual concern about Iran and specifically about the Hamas visitor Siyam -- I can't pronounce his name -- to Tehran, which resulted in reports that Iran promised even greater deliveries of trucks and other equipment to Hamas. Have you been able to -- has the State Department been able to verify that type of intensifying -- if that's the word -- Iranian support for Hamas? Do you have any feelings about it? Did the Secretary? Can you tell us anything about what might have been said to the Israelis in response to their concern?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well with regard to that, Barry, you know, anything that we might or might not know about that would deal with information I just couldn't talk about from here.


MR. MCCORMACK: But there has been a history of Iranian attempts to get a foothold in Palestinian areas and supply arms to those areas. The most well known example of that in the past was the Karine A and that was the example that exposed the link between Yasser Arafat and Iran in terms of receiving weapons and support for terrorist activities. That would be of great concern to us. But at this point, nothing that I could share with you, Barry.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: Sean, if we can stay in the Middle East. There is a photographer for the Associated Press who's been kidnapped in Gaza. I believe he's a Spanish citizen --


QUESTION: -- so it isn't necessarily something you have a direct interest in, but he does work for a large American news organization. Have you any comment on that? Have you made any efforts to try to put out feelers to secure his release? Are you doing anything about it?

MR. MCCORMACK: In cases like this, although it does not involve an American national, we of course are ready to help if his country of nationality requests help or assistance. We always stand by to help in these kinds of situations.

QUESTION: But you have not been asked as yet?

MR. MCCORMACK: I'm not going to get into whether or not we have been asked. I'd prefer to not get into those kinds of details.

QUESTION: Do you want to get into at all what you might know about it?


QUESTION: Sean, can you give us a readout on the meetings the Secretary had with Mr. Mofaz and also Mr. Burns?

MR. MCCORMACK: I don't know what was discussed between the Minister and Nick. I wasn't in that meeting. In terms of the Secretary's meeting with Minister Mofaz, they've known each other a long time. He was here in his capacity as Minister of Transport as well as his capacity as the person leading the U.S.-Israeli strategic dialogue on the Israeli side. They touched on a lot of different issues. Mostly the ones that you would expect, talking about the Israeli-Palestinian issues, talking about the general situation in the region, talking about implementation of UN Security Council 1701. They touched on Iran as well.

QUESTION: How about the overflights, the Israeli overflights?

MR. MCCORMACK: They didn't talk about that specifically.

QUESTION: Did the Secretary raise the question about U.S. citizens wishing to go to the Palestinian territories?

MR. MCCORMACK: Not in this meeting. Not in this meeting, but she did when -- on her last trip to the Middle East.

QUESTION: Another subject? North Korea. As you are well aware, Hong Kong has detained a North Korean cargo ship. I don't think you got asked about it at the briefing yesterday. There are reports from a South Korean newspaper suggesting that Secretary Hill had given information to the Hong Kong authorities, which led them to search and then detain the ship. Is that true?


QUESTION: Did you have any involvement, to your knowledge, in leading up to the inspection and detention of this ship?

MR. MCCORMACK: I'm not aware of the details surrounding the detention of the ship.


QUESTION: Sean, go to -- sort of back to Iran. The published reports that came out yesterday it seemed to me were a bit unclear as to whether they were suggesting that Iran has opened up a second pilot enrichment facility outside the well known well at Natanz or whether those reports were merely suggesting that Iran has begun work on a second cascade, perhaps still at Natanz. What is your understanding of these issues?

MR. MCCORMACK: I don't know the exact locations, James, and I'm not in a position to confirm these things for you. Although I can point you back to previous IAEA reports. The August 31st report mentioned an installation of a second 164 centrifuge cascade was proceeding, and it was unclear at that point whether or not it was up and running. So just based on these public documents, it is clear that Iran is moving forward, full steam ahead, with its nuclear program. And I think this underscores the importance of the international community acting, acting in the way -- by way of passing a resolution which imposes sanctions on Iran in an effort to get the Iranians to change their behavior and to underscore that the international community means business. This is serious, serious business because nobody, nobody wants to see a nuclear-armed Iran in the heart of the Middle East.

QUESTION: Did Director General ElBaradei discuss with Secretary Rice whether the Iranians have indeed started on a second cascade or a second facility?

MR. MCCORMACK: Don't think that came up in that meeting.


QUESTION: Did you have a chance to look at his remarks from yesterday about whether he said that on the issues of proliferation that it's better for the United States to not get hung up on modalities about six-party talks or with the Iranians, things like that, that they need to be more flexible in terms of dealing with the --

MR. MCCORMACK: I didn't see the remarks, but I think you can probably guess my answer to that. I would point out, and again I have not see his remarks, I'm just responding to the way that you phrased it, that the six-party talks is more than a modality. I mean this is not just window dressing. The fact that you have five other states equally invested aiming towards the same goal telling North Korea that they have to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula is a fundamentally different situation than the U.S., the United States, wagging its finger at North Korea alone while everybody else is standing on the sidelines.

So it's much -- that is a fundamental shift. And when you have China voting in favor of a Security Council resolution, and a resolution that passed 15-0, putting sanctions on North Korea when there hasn't been a Security Council resolution on North Korea in 30 years, is a qualitatively and fundamentally different situation. And the reason why you have that situation is because we, working with the Chinese, started the six-party talks. The Chinese are now invested in this, in this issue. They have an investment along with everybody else in seeing that North Korea can't benefit in any way from traffic in WMD and WMD technology and missile technology, so it's a little bit more than just a modality.

QUESTION: I mean, I guess it remains to be seen whether the sanctions are effective and whether that six-party approach and this international condemnation is what brings North Korea back to the table. But they seem to say the only thing that they want is a one-on-one with the United States. You think that's bluffing and they're just using that as an excuse?

MR. MCCORMACK: It's an excuse. It's an excuse. They have one-on-one contact in the context of the six-party talks with the United States. One thing we do know, one thing we know for certain is that the approach, the bilateral approach, U.S. and North Korea, doesn't work. It didn't work. We saw that with the Agreed Framework. I mean the Agreed Framework was essentially a deal between the United States and North Korea. There were others that were participating on it and provided certain materials for the KEDO. But fundamentally it was a U.S.-North Korea deal. And, again, the people who negotiated that deal were doing what they thought was the right thing at the right time.

But the fact of the matter is two things. One, as soon as the deal was signed, the ink was dry on it, the North Koreans were cheating on it, starting up an HEU program. And I have seen some reporting recently that called into question whether or not the Koreans actually informed us of whether -- that it confirmed for us that they had an HEU program. I guarantee you, you talk to everybody that was in that room on the American side, they heard that North Korea confirmed for them an HEU program.

The second thing is the way the Agreed Framework was structured was that there -- the benefits to North Korea flowed up front. So the benefits in this agreement for North Korea were front loaded. And when it got to the point where they actually had to start dismantling things, that's when the agreement broke down.

So again, it is all -- I say all that to point out the fact that it's much easier for North Korea to engage in that kind of behavior if it's just the United States. But when you have all of its neighbors, as well as now the rest of the world in the form of the Security Council resolution, saying you can't engage in this behavior, this behavior will not be tolerated and there will be a cost for that behavior, you are in a fundamentally different, and I would argue better, situation to getting a solution. We have not yet arrived at a solution, absolutely not. It's a hard problem. It's a tough problem. But our thinking is that we have an infinitely better opportunity to arrive at a solution, an agreed upon solution, diplomatic solution, where you have a denuclearized Korean Peninsula, using this approach than any other.

QUESTION: Can we have a readout of the meeting with Carl Bildt?

MR. MCCORMACK: Oh, yes. They talked about a number of different things, talked about the Balkans. Mr. Bildt has long personal experience in the Balkans. They talked about the -- what the possibilities are for moving forward. They both noted that Mr. Ahtisaari is working hard on the issue of Kosovo. They talked about, in general, the health of U.S.-European transatlantic relations. They both agreed that the -- both sides -- on both sides of the Atlantic were putting this relationship to work on the ground in various places around the world. They talked about Russia, talked a lot about the Middle East -- the situation in the Middle East and the Israeli-Palestinian situation.

QUESTION: What about Russia?

MR. MCCORMACK: Just -- it had more to do with Russia's relationship with some of its neighbors like Georgia and the tensions that exist in that relationship.

QUESTION: Speaking of the Europeans, typically the Secretary has a ministerial meeting with the EU at the time of the NATO Ministerial in December in Brussels. But this year because of the NATO summit in Riga there's not going to be a ministerial NATO. Is she still planning to have some sort of a ministerial meeting with the EU at a different time before the end of the year, do you know?

MR. MCCORMACK: I don't know. I haven't looked that far ahead in the calendar.

QUESTION: Also on the European Union, the European Union today reportedly endorsed the exchange of information between EUROJUST and U.S. prosecutors today. Do you have any reaction to that and is there any plan to send a permanent liaison officer to EUROJUST at this point?

MR. MCCORMACK: I'll have to get you an answer on that.

QUESTION: Okay, thank you.

MR. MCCORMACK: All right. Thanks.

(The briefing was concluded at 1:15 p.m.)

DPB #172

Released on October 24, 2006


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Tensions over vehicle licence plates and anti-smuggling operations, between authorities in Kosovo and Serbia, in recent weeks, may contribute to unravelling “steady but fragile progress made in rebuilding trust among communities” in Kosovo and Serbia...

ITUC: Nobel Prize In Economics Explodes Minimum Wage And Jobs Myth

The prize was awarded to David Card, Joshua Angrist and Guido Imbens for real-world research in the 1990s that demonstrated, empirically, that the idea touted by conservative economists that higher minimum wages mean fewer jobs is not based on fact... More>>

Focus On: UN SDGs

UN: With Clock Ticking, Sustainable Transport Key To Global Goals
From electric cars and buses to zero-carbon producing energy sources, new and emerging technologies along with innovative policy changes, are critical for combating climate change. But to be effective, they must ensure that transport strategies benefit everyone, including the poorest... More>>

COP26: 7 Climate Action Highlights To Remember

A September to remember, a pivotal month for climate action commitments. From the United Nations General Assembly week to the final pre-COP meeting, last month was an important time to build momentum... More>>

UN: Global Leaders Set To Act To Increase Energy Access While Reducing Emissions At First UN Energy Summit In 40 Years

Significant new commitments for financing clean energy, increasing renewables and improving access to electricity are expected to be announced on 24 September at the UN High-level Dialogue on Energy... More>>