Scoop has an Ethical Paywall
Work smarter with a Pro licence Learn More

World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search


State Dept. Daily Press Briefing October 30, 2006

Daily Press Briefing
Sean McCormack, Spokesman
Washington, DC
October 30, 2006


Secretary Rice's Meeting with Walid Jumblatt
UN Security Council Resolution / Lebanon's Restoration of
Democracy / Disarming Hezbollah

Death of American Citizen in Oaxaca / Situation in Oaxaca


Status of UN Security Council Resolution
Bushehr Project and UN Security Council Resolution
Report Iran Has Doubled its Capacity to Enrich Uranium

Proliferation Security Initiative Interdiction Training Exercise
in Persian Gulf

UN Report Regarding Ethiopia and Eritrea Troops in Somalia
Update on Situation in Somalia

Results of Second Round of Presidential Elections / President
Lula's Reelection

Reports Pakistani Air Strike Hits School

Serbia's Constitutional Referendum
Future Status of Kosovo

Reports of North Korean Preparations for a Second Nuclear Test
Reports of Interdiction of North Korean Ship

Report of Venezuelan Involvement in Company that Produces Election

Reports of Possible Israeli Operation into Gaza Strip


12:35 p.m. EST

MR. MCCORMACK: Good afternoon, everybody. I don't have any opening statements, so we can get right into your questions. Who wants to start? Go ahead, Sylvie.

Advertisement - scroll to continue reading

Are you getting our free newsletter?

Subscribe to Scoop’s 'The Catch Up' our free weekly newsletter sent to your inbox every Monday with stories from across our network.

QUESTION: The Lebanese leader Walid Jumblatt is in the building today and he's supposed to meet with the Secretary.


QUESTION: Why it's not on our public schedule?

MR. MCCORMACK: I don't know. We don't control -- we don't control exactly what comes down from the Secretary's office in terms of what's on the public schedule or not. So she is meeting with him. She's met with him before. They're going to talk about the situation in Lebanon, the current political situation.

She wants to get a feel for the situation on the ground, reiterate our support for Prime Minister Siniora's effort at economic as well as political reform and our full support for implementation of 1701 and also for the Lebanese people in helping to rebuild some of the infrastructure that was damaged or destroyed during the course of the conflict. We have extensive USAID operations there. Randy Tobias, who heads up our efforts on foreign assistance, was just there in Lebanon. We also have a U.S. public-private partnership that is deeply involved in getting together the funds to help our the Lebanese people for reconstruction.

So that's essentially what she's going to be talking about. Also express our full support for implementation of UN Security Council resolutions looking into the assassination of former Prime Minister Hariri and for the efforts of Mr. Brammertz to get to the bottom of that.

QUESTION: Is there any progress on that?

MR. MCCORMACK: Refer you to Mr. Brammertz. I know that he is continuing his work. That is an independent investigation and they are really the only ones I think it's appropriate should be talking about -- talking about the investigation. We'll look forward to his report when it comes out.

QUESTION: And she's also meeting with the social affairs minister of Lebanon this afternoon, so it's two Lebanese?

MR. MCCORMACK: Not that I'm aware of. I'll look into it for you.


QUESTION: Just on implementation of the resolutions, there's still some kind of glaring holes -- the two soldiers who haven't been released. And what's happening with the disarmament of Hezbollah?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, on the first one, we want to see their immediate unconditional release. That is up to Hezbollah. They are the stumbling block in that regard. And also we would like to see the Lebanese Government over the course of time in its own way address the issue of disarmament of Hezbollah. You can't have a state within a state. We all know that. In any sort of fully functioning democracy you can't have armed groups, militias, operating outside the control of the state. The state needs to be the only authority that has resort to use of force in the interest of the state.

So these are questions that the Lebanese are going to answer. The Security Council resolutions lay out very clearly what is required of them, what the international community expects of them. But this issue is also wrapped up in Lebanon's politics and so the Lebanese people need to come to terms with how they're going to move forward down the pathway of fully restoring their democracy after a couple of decades worth of Syrian occupation.

QUESTION: Concretely, in terms of the soldiers' release, what's being -- I mean, to say you wish that they'd be released is --

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, the United States is not involved in any sort of mediation, any mediation attempts. Again, this is a terrorist group that is holding two Israeli soldiers and we would call upon -- call for their immediate unconditional release. I believe that there have been many international public statements in that regard and I think that Resolution 1701 also calls for that as well.

It just underscores that there are a number of different issues with respect to Hezbollah and its actions and its current status that need to be addressed by the Lebanese people and the Lebanese Government.

Yes, sir.

QUESTION: With regard to Mexico, the situation in Oaxaca is getting worse. An American citizen have died. Are there any specific concerns of the State Department in regards with what is going on over there?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, anytime you have resort to violence which results in the death of a citizen, whether it's an American or any other nationality, that's a source of concern. But that is really going to be up to the Mexican Government to deal with, how they deal with this.

I understand this originally started out as a series of protests. They turned violent and the Mexican authorities are dealing with them. We are deeply saddened by the loss of innocent life.

There was an American independent journalist who was working down there. He lost his life in the course of doing his work. Ambassador Garza has put out a statement in that regard and we share in the sense of loss from his family and friends.

And we have folks that are down on the ground there from our Embassy and our Consular Affairs sections who are -- section, who are working with his family. There are various issues that need to be dealt with. But certainly our thoughts and prayers go out to his family.

QUESTION: Do you have any report of when the body of this American citizen is going to be transported to the U.S.?

MR. MCCORMACK: I don't, and I don't think we normally get into those sorts of things either.


QUESTION: Change of subject?


QUESTION: Do you have any comment on the Congo's elections? There were some attacks on two -- actually, two election officials were killed and a horde of ballot papers were burned or the polling station was burned.

MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah, there were -- there were, as I understand it, some isolated incidents of irregularity and you point out two incidents of violence. And certainly you don't -- in a -- under optimal circumstances, you don't want to see those kinds of incidents occur.

But this is -- in terms of the way this election unfolded, given the obstacles that were present, this election was light-years beyond anything we've seen in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. And I think the Congolese people should be congratulated on the kind of election that they have held. It was virtually free from violence. You pointed out two incidents which are unfortunate. We don't like to see those things and nobody wants to see that. Nobody wants to see violence during an election period.

And there have been some reports of some irregularities. Various international monitoring groups have talked about these. There have been news reports about them. And you don't like to see those in an election. But if you consider the circumstances, this was really an election for which the Congolese people and the people who organized the election should be congratulated.


QUESTION: Change of subject, please. On Iran, when we talked about the draft that's underway last week, you mentioned that you felt that the Bushehr issue could be handled discreetly from the other dual-use issues that are being worked on. What is it about the Bushehr project or its providence that gives you confidence that it can be handled in a way -- when you're dealing with a resolution that focuses on dual use technologies where this could be allowed to proceed?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, again, we haven't gotten to that point. Our belief is that it shouldn't pose an obstacle to passage of the kind of resolution that we, as well as others, think needs to be passed in this regard.

There are a lot of different characteristics of this particular project that could possibly make it so that we could deal with it in the resolution. The first of which is that the Russian Government has, over a period of time, in response to its own concerns as well as the concerns of the international community, and this is over the course of many, many years. This project's been going on for quite some time -- redesign this deal, this arrangement with the Iranian Government so that there are some kinds of objective safeguards for the deal which would allow for the fuel -- well, first of all, the construction to take place. Second of all, the fuel to be delivered, monitored and then returned once it had already been used. So there's -- we believe, and again if we do in fact get to this point, passage of a resolution which addresses this issue, that you could construct a deal in the UN Security Council resolution that would take all these things into account. Essentially what you would be talking about is dealing with a preexisting construction project in which there are some objective guarantees.

Now, I don't want to get ahead of myself because the fuel has yet to be delivered. The earliest possible date, I believe, which it could be delivered is the springtime. So we'll see. There's a lot of time between now and then. We'll see what Iranian behavior brings us, and we'll see what the final outcome is with regard to this particular resolution, but we think --

QUESTION: And so the effort is to create a carve-out for Bushehr specifically by name?

MR. MCCORMACK: Like I said last week, you can either deal with it specifically or generally, and we'll see. We'll see what the results are from this resolution, but we don't think that this particular issue will be an obstacle to getting the kind of resolution that we think is required and is necessary to make sure that Iran does not -- is not able to advance its nuclear weapons program.

QUESTION: Are we dealing with it specifically or generically, do you know?

MR. MCCORMACK: James, we'll see what the final resolution comes out to be. We're not going to talk about our specific negotiating stance here in public but other than to say that we think we can deal with it.


QUESTION: So has the Secretary given the Russians any guarantees on Bushehr when she spoke to President Putin last week and also to the foreign and defense ministers? Did she provide any specific --

MR. MCCORMACK: I think we're -- let's just say we think we can address the issue. Our hope is that we can address it. Getting the kind of resolution that needs to be passed, a strong resolution that sends a message -- not only sends a message to Iran but also has a practical effect of not allowing it to further its development of a nuclear weapons program.

QUESTION: But are you looking at this as something that you can deal with later because it's in the springtime? I mean you don't really have to focus on it right now?

MR. MCCORMACK: No, I'm just -- no. I'm sure it will be an issue for discussion right now. I'm just pointing out to you that the construction has not been completed and that you don't have the actual -- under the contract -- delivery of the fuel for some time. So it's not as though it is an issue of fuel being delivered next week or two weeks from now. It's --

QUESTION: But you don't see this as an immediate sort of thing to fight --

MR. MCCORMACK: No, it's a -- because of where we are in the diplomatic process, it needs to be addressed and dealt with. But in terms of whether or not the reactor actually starts operation and the fuel -- meaning the fuel having been delivered, that's not happening this month or next month.

QUESTION: How are you in a position to cite from what the contract says or about the --

MR. MCCORMACK: I think the Russian Government has talked about it.

QUESTION: So you're just relying on published reports when you talk about the contract?

MR. MCCORMACK: No, we've talked to the Russian Government. This is -- we have talked about this particular issue with the Russian Government going back to the Clinton Administration. So this has been going on for quite some time. And the Russian Government, as their concerns about Iran's real intent in their nuclear program have become more and more acute and more and more questions have been raised by the international community and the Russians themselves about the Iranian program, they have gradually put -- they have restructured this deal. And they've talked about this in public and we've talked about it with them in private.

Yeah, Sylvie.

QUESTION: Do you mean that the Russians could decide themselves not to deliver the fuel if they decide to -- the situation worsen?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, again, you -- between now and then many things can change. You can have a Security Council resolution that gets passed; you can have a change in Iranian behavior. So we'll see -- we'll deal with those circumstances when the time comes. And I'm sure that the Russian Government's decisions will be based on its international obligations as well as what it sees in its national interest as well. So they themselves will make those decisions.

Of course, in any sort of arrangement like this, and we'll see how it ultimately comes out, you put -- you're asking states to be responsible states on the outside, like Russia as well as other states, to be responsible in terms of their actions and also to comply with the existing international obligations. And I think that there will be a new one coming up here as we pass a Security Council resolution that imposes sanctions on Iran.

So whatever that resolution says, I'm sure that the Russian Government will be faithful in complying with its obligations and enforcing it.


QUESTION: I just couldn't let it pass, though I know you don't like to have time restrictions put on things, but do you think it might happen by Thanksgiving?

MR. MCCORMACK: (Laughter.) We'll see.

QUESTION: That's almost another month away.

MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah, we'll see, Charlie. You rightly point out that we don't like to put timeframes on things. We would hope that it would get done sooner than that. We think that -- we think we should be able to run through this given the fact that you do already have an agreement in principle among all the parties that sanctions should be imposed in a resolution. And we'll talk about what the specifics are. We have a draft that's circulating among the P-5 and I would expect that there's going to be more conversations in New York as well as between capitals in the coming days here.

Yeah, Elise.

QUESTION: Just to kind of put a finer point on this. The purpose of this resolution -- is this -- do you see this as the kind of punitive measure that you imposed on North Korea in the sense that you want to stop the flow of possible technology into Iran to further develop their program or proliferation? Or is this -- do you see this as an opportunity to further pressure Iran to get back to the table to sort of negotiate the kind of deal that you offered earlier this summer?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, I think it's both. I mean, it has practical as well as diplomatic -- you know, it has -- the practical effects, we would hope, would be to impose a set of international obligations through the passage of this resolution that would make it much more difficult for the Iranian Government to further its nuclear weapons program. So that's the practical side of this. And certain states, and states from around the globe, would have certain obligations to prevent the flow of technology know-how as well as other means to develop this nuclear weapons program, so that's the practical side of it. You want to try to, at this stage as best you can, impede their progress towards a development of a nuclear weapon.

The other side of it is -- I wouldn't use the word penalties, but of course for -- there are certain costs to their behavior and to make it clear to the Iranian Government that there are costs to their behavior, costs to their failure to heed the will of the international community as expressed in Security Council resolutions, as expressed in the IAEA Board of Governors statement. So there will be -- part of this is to follow through on the diplomatic strategy that we've been pursuing, to gradually ratchet it up -- pressure on the Iranian Government as they -- if, in this case, as they have continued to defy the will of the international community. The objective of this exercise is thus twofold: One, to impede their ability to develop a nuclear weapon and; two, to try to get them to reassess their calculations that are going into whether or not they would engage in negotiations with the P-5+1 or the international community on their program.

Yep, Kirit. We'll get back to you, James.

QUESTION: Could we change the subject?

MR. MCCORMACK: Any more on this?

QUESTION: Well, while you wouldn't use the word penalty, would you say the use of the word penalty is wrong?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, it's -- you know, it would encourage -- they would have sanctions imposed upon them. So you could use different words, yeah -- penalty, cost, sanctions, yeah.

QUESTION: Next we'll move onto adjectives. Do we know any more today than we did last week when we were asking you about this, whether Iran has completed its installation of a second cascade?

MR. MCCORMACK: That's really a question for the IAEA to answer in public.


QUESTION: Do you have any assessment of how this interdiction exercise is going in the Persian Gulf? And then specifically with regard to a legal justification for the interdiction.

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, first of all, we are on the topic of Iran, and it would -- the PSI, Proliferation Security Initiative, exercise that is ongoing in the Persian Gulf right now. It's October 30th and 31st. It's not directed at any particular country, so just to correct any misperceptions out there. But it's the 25th exercise of PSI -- 25th PSI-related exercise in which a variety of different countries have participated in, a variety of different configurations.

This one is being held in the waters of the Persian Gulf, and it is an opportunity for the countries in -- that either are members of the Proliferation Security Initiative or associated with the Proliferation Security Initiative to, at an operational as well as policy level, get accustomed to working together. It's a really innovated program that uses existing national laws to try to prevent the proliferation of WMD missile technology know-how and resources. You have a variety of different countries involved in this one. There's a long list of countries that we can provide you after the briefing, but I'll give you a little sampling here: Australia, Bahrain, Canada, France, Qatar, Poland, the United Arab Emirates, the United States, the United Kingdom. Australia, Bahrain, France, Italy and the United Kingdom and the U.S. have provided operational assets for the exercise phase which includes ships, aircraft and special teams.

So this is -- this is a really important initiative that President Bush started a couple of years ago and it's had real world effects, you know, real world effects in terms of stopping and preventing those countries which seek illicitly WMD technology and know-how and prevented them from getting it.

QUESTION: Can you tell us about how far the exercise has gone today?

MR. MCCORMACK: I don't have an operational update for you, but it's scheduled to go today and tomorrow.

QUESTION: And do you know about the legal justification for this interdiction? I thought that was something they were still trying to work out over the weekend.

MR. MCCORMACK: I -- as for the specifics of the exercise and how they defined it, you know, I don't have the details for you. But PSI is -- PSI is designed to use existing international as well as national laws in order to -- in order to stop the trafficking in WMD technology. Now, you get -- it gets into the Law of the Sea and all that -- all those sorts of things. So I'm sure that they would tailor their scenario, whatever it may be, so that you would be operating within existing national as well as international laws. You know, you -- we can try to find out some more information inasmuch as we'd release* it about the specific scenario.

Yeah, Sue.

QUESTION: Change of subject? Somalia?


QUESTION: The Islamists are saying that they will not meet with the interim government until Ethiopian troops withdraw. This is in the light of fears of a sort of a regional war. Also, there was a report over the weekend, or leaked over the weekend on a UN report which said that both Eritrea and Ethiopia had sent thousands of troops into Somalia.

MR. MCCORMACK: It's -- it is unfortunate that they have placed those conditions on meeting with the Transitional Federal Institutions. We continue to support those institutions. They are not very well developed and rather weak, but the only way that you're going to improve the situation in Somalia for the Somalian people is to try to have the various constituent groups come together with -- for a common solution that benefits all of the Somali people.

Now, we have -- we do have concerns about some other countries -- outside countries' involvement in Somalia, various troop activities. Now, this is -- there have been reports about the Eritrean Government providing the Islamic Courts weapons and then there have been reports about Ethiopia having troops in Somalia as well. Now, these things are all -- these things are all interlinked and there's also, as you know, a -- you know, boundary disputes between Ethiopia and Eritrea. So these things all play into one another and we would hope that states not try to use Somalia as a proxy for any of their -- any of their disputes. And it is -- would be rather, rather unfortunate for Somalia as well as other countries in the region.

So what we need countries to do is take steps so that you don't escalate the tensions in an already very, very difficult situation in Somalia and make it even harder to try to move forward a nascent political process in Somalia.

QUESTION: What sort of diplomatic moves is the United States taking to convince both Ethiopia and Eritrea not to interfere in Somali affairs?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, we're -- you know, we are -- we are in contact with both governments as well as governments in the region regarding -- regarding Somalia, the situation -- the situation there. Again, I would -- we would just urge all the countries that have an interest in seeing a better day for Somalia take steps to deescalate tensions as opposed to -- as opposed to escalate tensions. That includes groups in Somalia not -- you know, reversing course and moving away from the use of force in order to gain political advantage. That is probably a difficult thing to do in a place like -- a place like Somalia, which has known two decades worth of real severe conflict and violence.

So that gets you back to the original point is that the political groups in Somalia, including the Islamic Courts and the Transitional Federal Institutions, need to try to come together and have a political dialogue with respect to what is -- what is the best future pathway to Somalia -- for Somalia.

QUESTION: Do you think that Sudan is the right mediator in all of this?


QUESTION: I mean, well, the talks are taking place in Sudan and Sudan is providing the venue. Do you think that that's the right --

MR. MCCORMACK: We would just hope that any country in the region would want to play -- that would play a positive, above-board, transparent role.

QUESTION: Change of subject?


QUESTION: Would you have any reaction to the reelection of Lula in Brazil?

MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah. We congratulate President Lula on his reelection. We look forward to working with his -- with his government. Brazil is an important country not only globally but in the hemisphere, and we've worked very well together with President Lula and his government. Look forward to doing so in the future.

QUESTION: On Pakistan. Do you have any -- what's the latest information on the air strikes that the embassy is getting maybe? And also, a leading Islamist figure is saying that the U.S. is responsible for this. He told a press conference that, apparently. So do you have any reaction to that?

MR. MCCORMACK: I haven't seen the press conference. We -- we're still going to get in contact with the Government of Pakistan to find out a little bit more about this action. So I don't have anything to offer you right now.

Yeah. Well, no, we've got a few. We got a few more. David. We'll move back here.

QUESTION: The new Serbian constitution which the European Union has welcomed despite the unilateral statement on sovereignty, including Kosovo, what's your response?

MR. MCCORMACK: Right. Well, the constitution was, I think, originally -- the original intent behind having a constitutional referendum at this point was the dissolution of the union between Serbia and Montenegro. As far as the question of Kosovo that you raised, that process is governed by a UN Security Council resolution and right now Mr. Ahtisaari is working on coming up with a solution that we would hope bring the differing views of Serbia and Kosovo closer together. But that process, again, is a separate process guided by the UN, and the trust has now been placed in Mr. Ahtissari to come with a solution that he has been working on with several months with all the parties that are interested including the United States.

QUESTION: Do you welcome the fact that Serbia now has a constitution?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, again, it's part of the democratic process in Serbia. And you know, again, it was brought about as a result of the dissolution of those two -- the dissolution of the union. So certainly it's a positive step forward for the Serbian people in terms of having a democratic process to deal with what could have been very heated political disputes, and they were dealt with in a clear, rational manner within the confines of their democratic process.

Yes, sir.

QUESTION: I have a question related to ASEAN in China. Wen Jiabao said that he's hoping to expand military dialogue exchanges, conduct to institutionalize defense cooperation with ASEAN. Is that issue of any interest or concern to the United States?

MR. MCCORMACK: I would have to -- let me look into it for you. Off the top of my head, I don't have an answer for you.

Yes, ma'am.

QUESTION: On North Korea?


QUESTION: There were reports in South Korea media about there have been movements towards a second test. Also General Bell, in South Korea, said that he could only surmise that they would conduct one in the future. Is the State Department treating that as a likely -- something likely to happen?

MR. MCCORMACK: We don't know. There have been no promises as far as we've been able to discern from the North Korean Government not to test. We would hope that it's not the case. And we would hope that they would make the strategic decision to return to the six-party talks.

As for whether the likelihood or whether or not North Korea will conduct another test, I'm not in a position to share any information in that regard.

QUESTION: No confirmation on the activities of --

MR. MCCORMACK: In as much as we know anything about North Korean nuclear activities, that would be derived from intelligence information which is not something that I could share with you.

QUESTION: Last one.

MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah, sure.

QUESTION: Sorry. In the Aegean Sea by Greece, a North Korean ship was intercepted. It was smuggling tobacco. What's the State Department's stance on the illicit activities that North Korea is involved in and, you know, whether that relates to WMD production?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, we do know that they are engaged in illicit activities. You've seen numerous circumstances of that. Various countries have taken steps to enforce their own laws, which are based in part on what North Korean ships may be doing in their territorial waters. So as for this specific report, I haven't seen it. I can't tell you about it. But there have been instances in the past where states have taken steps based on their national laws and have found that Korean ships were engaged -- North Korean ships were engaged in illicit activities.

Yeah, Elise.

QUESTION: There was a story over the weekend about Venezuelan involvement in the company that produces election equipment. Do you have any information that perhaps the Venezuelan Government is involved in some of these election --

MR. MCCORMACK: That's probably a question best answered by the Treasury Department.

Yes, sir.

QUESTION: Just one more on Mexico. Is U.S. demanding the Mexican Government, some specific embassy agent, to find out what the responsibility death of these American citizens?

MR. MCCORMACK: We don't -- we're not aware that a specific individual or group of individuals has been identified yet. We would hope that the matter's investigated vigorously to determine who's responsible. And that if -- in the case that there were laws violated that that person be brought to justice.

QUESTION: Are you concerned that maybe in the situation of Oaxaca there can be committed some human rights violation when the police intervenes?

MR. MCCORMACK: I have no indications of that. I can't -- nobody's brought any indications of that kind of activity to my attention.

QUESTION: And maybe what about Oaxaca as a possible source of destabilization just a month before the swearing in of the new president? Are you concerned about that?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, you know, it is unfortunate any time you have peaceful political protests that get out of hand that result in violence. That happens in the United States. It happens in countries all around the globe. We're certainly sorry to see that. The right to protest is a fundamental right. It's part of freedom of expression. It's healthy for any democracy. But Mexico has been tested over the past months in terms of its democracy, and I think that you can't say anything else but that it has -- in the run-up with -- the run-up to and the post-election that it has really stood that test; that its institutions have withstood the test put to it and that they have showed themselves independent enough and flexible enough to deal with these situations that have arisen over the past months in Mexico. So as for the violence in Oaxaca that is -- it's a matter for the Mexican authorities to look into and deal with as they see appropriate.

Yeah, Sylvie.

QUESTION: Middle East. The Prime Minister of Israel Ehud Olmert said today that he's thinking about launching a big operation into Gaza Strip. I wanted to know if the U.S. has been informed of these plans and if it's with the support of the U.S.

MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah, we always get into this question. This is sort of a -- it keeps coming up every single time that Israel talks about or is engaged in military operations. I can't make it any clearer to you: It's a sovereign state. It doesn't seek or need the permission of the United States to act in its own self-defense. We don't do stoplights here, you know, red, yellow or green.

QUESTION: Yeah, but the U.S. is a member of the Quartet and -- to my knowledge, the Quartet doesn't encourage military operations between the two parties.

MR. MCCORMACK: Again, we don't -- when states need to act in their own self-defense, those are the decisions for those states. Now, with respect to the purview of the Quartet, which is the roadmap and associated matters, yes, we do support the roadmap and we do support associated agreements. And in that regard both sides, the Israelis and the Palestinians, have responsibilities and they know what those responsibilities are. And, you know, one of those responsibilities is for the Palestinian Authority to unconditionally release the soldier that is currently being held by groups or a group within the Palestinian areas. And Secretary Rice has also talked about various other responsibilities of the Palestinian Government.

We're doing what we can to try to look to see how we can help President Abbas with the issue of security forces. And on the Israeli side, we've also talked to them about what we would hope they might do in terms of easing the plight of the Palestinian people in their daily lives, you know. People just want to go about their lives. There are those who are engaged in terrorism and violence and they need to be dealt with. But they're probably best dealt with by Palestinian officials.


(The briefing was concluded at 1:10 p.m.)

DPB #175

Released on October 30, 2006


© Scoop Media

Advertisement - scroll to continue reading
World Headlines


Join Our Free Newsletter

Subscribe to Scoop’s 'The Catch Up' our free weekly newsletter sent to your inbox every Monday with stories from across our network.