State Department Briefing, October 6
06 October 2005
Rewards for Justice program/Bali bombings, Iran/Iraq, Iran, Central Asia, Avian Flu Conference, China, South Korea
State Department spokesman Sean McCormack briefs the press October 6.
Following is the transcript of the State Department briefing:
U.S. Department of State
Daily Press Briefing Index
Thursday, October 6, 2005
12:50 p.m. EDT
Briefer: Sean McCormack, Spokesman
-- Statement on Rewards for Justice Program/Bali Bombings
-- Press Reports that Iran, Hezbollah Supplying IEDs in Iraq
-- Role of Iraq's Neighbors in Security/Transparent Relations Between
-- Concerns about Iran's Influence in Iraq
-- No Change in U.S. Policy
-- No Plans to Broaden US Diplomatic Engagement
-- Iran Must Reverse Course of Isolation from International Community
-- Secretary Rice's Trip to Region/U.S. Supports Region's Efforts for Democratic, Economic Reform
-- Avian Flu Conference/Global Effort to Fight Outbreak
-- Core Principles Developed at UN General Assembly: Transparency, Support from Donor Countries, Cooperation
-- Conference Kickoff Event October 6, Working Level Meeting October 7
-- Jailed Journalists, Human Rights, Religious Freedom Key Areas of Discussion
-- Korean Contribution to Six Party Talks Valuable
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
THURSDAY, OCTOBER 6, 2005
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
12:50 p.m. EDT
MR. MCCORMACK: Good afternoon. I have a brief opening statement that we will put out in paper form after the briefing for you. This concerns the Rewards for Justice Program and the recent bombings in Bali.
The Department of State has authorized rewards for two Jemaah Islamiyah members. A reward of up to $10 million is offered for Dulmatin who is believed to be one of the masterminds of the 2002 bombings in Bali, Indonesia. A reward of up to $1 million is being offered for Umar Patek.
Dulmatin, and electronics specialist with training in al-Qaida camps in Afghanistan, is a senior figure in the Jemaah Islamiyah terrorist organization. Patek is believed to have served as an assistant for the field coordinator of the 2002 bombings in Bali, Indonesia. Additional information on these two men as well as sketches are available at www.rewardsforjustice.net.
We'll put that out in paper form after the briefing.
QUESTION: Could you just spell (inaudible)?
MR. MCCORMACK: For Dulmatin, D-u-l-m-a-t-i-n.
MR. MCCORMACK: And the second person --
QUESTION: That's his last name?
MR. MCCORMACK: Don't know if it's a nom de guerre or -- it's a one-name person. Yes, one word. Yes, one-name person.
QUESTION: Okay. And the 1 million for?
MR. MCCORMACK: And then the other person's name is Umar, U-m-a-r; second name, Patek, P-a-t-e-k.
QUESTION: And that's correct -- $1 million for him and $10 million for the other one?
MR. MCCORMACK: That's right.
QUESTION: And do you have information on why so much more for -- is Dulmatin just considered to be more of a mastermind?
MR. MCCORMACK: Any time these decisions are made, you look at the person, what they've done, their position in the organization, and you make a monetary reward offer based on that. Thought this was the appropriate amount.
QUESTION: It has been a while since the first set of Bali bombings and, in fact, there's been another subsequent. What is the deliberating process for coming up with the decision? Why now?
MR. MCCORMACK: This is a process that takes some time. You want to identify the people involved in these acts. You want to be able to ensure that if, in fact, they are caught, they can be brought to justice. And that requires a bit of time, collection of information and coordination among various parts of the government.
Okay. Barry Schweid.
QUESTION: The White House touched on it briefly but really wasn't ready for a full answer, and maybe in the hours since there's more here. There are reports in Britain involving the Prime Minister that Iran and Hezbollah are responsible for a lot of terrorism activity in Iraq, new accusations. The thinking here, I thought, was that Syria, while not exclusively the facilitator, was the number one channel for these fighters to get into Iraq. Do you have anything on what has been coming out of London? It's a --
MR. MCCORMACK: There are a bunch of questions in that one question. Let me take the immediate one concerning press reports. There have been numerous press reports out of London concerning the idea that Iran via some intermediary, potentially Hezbollah, supplied material, know-how for IEDs that in one case resulted in the deaths of British soldiers.
Prime Minister Blair has answered questions about this. He has, I think, given as complete a readout of the state of the British investigation of the particular matter of the deaths of the eight British soldiers and who might have been responsible and who might have supplied the materials as well as the know-how. He did mention that there were real concerns regarding Iran and potentially Hezbollah. So I leave it to his remarks for a description of exactly what connection, if any, there is between the deaths of the British soldiers and Iran and Hezbollah.
For our part, certainly we share those concerns. We stand with the British Government as they investigate this matter. We have over time talked about the importance of Iraq's neighbors playing a positive role in Iraq's development along the pathway to greater stability, prosperity and democracy. We have urged Iraq's neighbors to play that role in a transparent way with respect for Iraq's sovereignty. There have been some concerns about Iranian attempts to exert various influences in Iraq. We have spoken out about those.
You mentioned Syria. Our military commanders on the ground have expressed serious concern about Syria and infiltration of foreign fighters across the Syrian border. That remains a very serious concern for us. We have spoken out repeatedly against -- about that. Certainly, there are some concerns about Iran and I think the Iraqis are dealing with the Iranians and urging them to establish a transparent relationship with the Iraqi Government that is based on mutual respect.
QUESTION: I mean, you've spoken out pretty specifically about what you believe Syria is or is not doing in terms of allowing insurgents to cross the borders. Do you believe -- regardless of whether they were involved -- the Iranians were involved in this particular incident with the British soldiers, do you believe that Iran is arming the insurgency?
MR. MCCORMACK: What I would say is we have previously expressed some concerns about Iran's activities in trying to exert influence in Iraq in a variety of different manners, and beyond that I'm just not going to -- I'm not going to go any further.
QUESTION: A question on Iran. Today, there was an article in The Wall Street Journal about the high-level meeting at the White House on deciding how to deal with the Iranian Government. Your reaction to it, please?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, I will say that there is no change in our policy with respect to Iran. I think that over the past, if anything, over the past weeks and months you have seen an even tougher-minded U.S. policy as well as a tougher-minded policy from the international community with respect to Iran's behavior. So we -- this is a regime that is seeking nuclear weapons, that supports terrorism and that oppresses its people. So -- and I think that what we are seeing from the Iranian regime now in these past several weeks, and most especially when you take a look at President Ahmadi-Nejad's recent speech at the UN, you see this regime kind of revealing its true face and, you know, continuing its defiance of the international community. So there is no change in U.S. policy.
QUESTION: What about the idea of opening up an Interests Section in Tehran, as it was said in the article?
MR. MCCORMACK: Again, Secretary Rice, senior policymakers in the U.S. Government, are not broadening U.S. diplomatic engagement with Iran. There are already existing diplomatic channels that are long established and well known. We have an Interests Section in Tehran in which the Swiss Embassy represents our interests. They have an Interests Section here in Washington and there is representation at the UN.
So, again, let me be very clear that Secretary Rice and senior policymakers in this government are not broadening diplomatic engagement with Iran. There are those existing diplomatic channels. If we have a need to convey information through a diplomatic channel, we already have channels at our disposal.
QUESTION: Just a quick follow-up. Is there any difficulty in getting your message to Iran that you know of? Is there any need for normal diplomatic contact -- what you'd have normally with a normal country?
MR. MCCORMACK: I think that, again, we have these diplomatic channels. As I said, senior policymakers aren't looking -- are not broadening those diplomatic channels. So if we need to get a message across, there are numerous ways to do that. I've outlined some of those. We can also do them in public.
QUESTION: A quick follow-up, can you comment on the specific line in The Wall Street Journal article that says the State Department is circulating a document that proposes expanding the contacts and it's considering a list of incentives, that there's actually this document being circulated, even if there is no policy change yet?
MR. MCCORMACK: What I would say is that Secretary Rice, senior policymakers are not contemplating any new incentives, any incentives for Iran to change its behavior. Iran, through its own actions, has isolated itself and I think it is now up to Iran to demonstrate that it wants to reverse the course that it is currently on, and that is a course of greater isolation from the international community.
QUESTION: New topic?
MR. MCCORMACK: Yes.
QUESTION: This is about the gentleman that was arrested allegedly for spying in the White House and some reports that he worked at some point for Secretary Rice when she was the National Security Advisor.
MR. MCCORMACK: I haven't seen those reports.
QUESTION: Some of the things that albeit anonymous officials are saying is that it wasn't necessarily -- that some of the information that was obtained by this gentlemen wasn't necessarily of a national security nature but more of an embarrassment for the Arroyo government in terms of what her situation was, her chances of winning the election and things like that. Do you think this potentially could be an embarrassment for U.S.-Philippine relations?
MR. MCCORMACK: I'm not going to have any comment on an ongoing criminal investigation.
QUESTION: Have you talked to --
MR. MCCORMACK: I think you understand that.
QUESTION: Have you talked to the Philippine Government about this?
MR. MCCORMACK: I'm not aware of any contacts we've had with the Philippine Government. But again, I'm not going to have any comment on this matter, as it is an ongoing criminal investigation.
QUESTION: Mr. McCormack, your representative to OSCE, Felice Gaer, G-a-e-r, raised the issues of ethnic minorities nonexistent in Greece. She stated September 28th in Warsaw, Poland: "Greece's poor treatment of its ethnic Turkish, Albanian and Macedonian minorities is still a concern of the United States of America. Greece continues to displace (inaudible) communities in a manner inconsistent with the Greek law." Any comment on that?
MR. MCCORMACK: I think you've been working your Lexis-Nexis account overtime there. I don't -- I'll look into it for you. I don't have any particular comment at this moment.
QUESTION: But two related questions. Since in Greece we have only Albanians, who are immigrants, legal or illegal, I'm wondering, do you really consider the presence of the Albanians in Greece as a minority?
And the other question, Mr. McCormack, is since your representative for the first time in history and (inaudible) emphasize, spoke about "Macedonian minority," I'm asking you, do you recognize the existence, too, of the so-called "Macedonian ethnicity," which does not exist?
MR. MCCORMACK: We'll have to get back to you on those things.
QUESTION: The Organization for Cooperation in the Central Asia, which groups Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan, is meeting today and tomorrow in Moscow with Russia, just before the trip of the Secretary in the region. How do you see that?
MR. MCCORMACK: I think that countries in the region are, of course, free to have whatever associations they want to have and discuss whatever they want to discuss in whatever forum they want to discuss it. The Secretary's trip is, as I talked about, designed to send a message not only to this region but to those individual countries that we support their efforts, some of them initial efforts, some of them a bit more advanced, to open up to the rest of the world through increasing democratic reforms, support for freedom of speech and freedom of religion and other freedoms, as well as economic reforms, opening up to the world in economic regard.
Certainly, we would expect all the countries of the region to have good, neighborly relationships with their neighbors. But it is also, we believe, important for these countries and their future to open up to the rest of the world. And certainly, we want to make it clear to them that the United States is prepared to have a different kind of relationship with the countries in this region if they continue down the road of implementing and championing these -- the kinds of reforms that we talked about.
QUESTION: Okay. My question was more -- does it -- would you say, would you recognize that there is a struggle of influence between Russia and the USA in this region?
MR. MCCORMACK: I would say that there is not one. As I've said and as I've tried to make clear, our goals in this region are to build new kinds of relationships with the countries of this region. They are, many of them, developing democracies. Many of them are -- have started economic reforms where they are opening up to the rest of the world. And we think it is an important region and Secretary Rice very much looks forward to going there and to talking about -- talking with leaders in each of these countries about change in that region and about their individual relationships with the United States and how they might be different.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MR. MCCORMACK: Charlie.
QUESTION: Sean, do you have any statement or any information about the conference that's going to start here later today on avian flu? And --
MR. MCCORMACK: Yes, we talked a little bit about this yesterday. There are 65-plus countries and organizations that are coming here to the State Department as one effort, I would say, in the global effort to address the potential for an avian flu -- avian influenza pandemic or outbreak. And this effort, this particular effort, really coalesced, I would say, up at the UN. There was a lot of diplomatic effort that led to the statement and to the signing of the Core Principles that we talked about yesterday up at the UN.
What you have now is many of the countries that signed on to those Core Principles several weeks ago up at the UN when we were up there for the General Assembly are now here for this meeting. And the idea here is to establish a network, if you will, and procedures to address and be -- to be able to address and respond to any potential outbreak or pandemic of avian influenza. And one of the -- what's at the heart of these Core Principles is transparency, accurate and timely reporting of any cases, support from donor countries to those countries that either have been affected or that might be affected, and to working closely with the World Health Organization.
So there's a kickoff event tonight that Health and Human Services Secretary Leavitt will host with Under Secretary Paula Dobriansky across the street at the National Academy of Sciences. That will be followed tomorrow by a really working-level meeting of representatives from these different countries and organizations.
QUESTION: When is that?
MR. MCCORMACK: Tomorrow.
QUESTION: Will you issue a statement after the --
MR. MCCORMACK: What we will try to do is we will try to get you a readout of the discussions and the activities that go on tomorrow. I believe there is press coverage of tonight's event.
And let me just add also that this is just one meeting among a variety of activities that are ongoing. One other thing that I mentioned yesterday is that Secretary Leavitt and Secretary Dobriansky are going to be traveling out to the region in the coming weeks as well, I believe. Also in the coming weeks there will be other international meetings that certainly we will attend and others will host on this topic.
The focus of these meetings is on -- I guess these are what you could refer to as preventative measures in the case that there is an outbreak or a pandemic of this flu that we and the world are prepared to respond. And I know the White House has also talked about other -- what other parts of the government are doing, but this is the State Department's contribution to that effort.
QUESTION: Do you think there will be concrete conclusions coming out of this or is this just something that's going to be talked about tomorrow and then in the coming weeks?
MR. MCCORMACK: I would expect that this is more of a discussion. They have the Core Principles and I think that what -- from that, what they're going to try and do at these meetings is try to establish -- flesh those out a little bit. What are the procedures, you know, establish the linkages that are important in addressing any potential outbreak of a disease or virus like this.
QUESTION: Can you make the -- I think the remarks are pooled. Could you make the remarks that are made tonight available?
MR. MCCORMACK: We'll do everything we can to get those out to you.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MR. MCCORMACK: Yes, ma'am.
QUESTION: On China. U.S.-China human rights dialogue was suspended last year and I think early this year from March -- in March the Chinese indicated that they were ready. They want to resume this human rights dialogue with the U.S. And yesterday the U.S. -- no, I'm sorry -- the Chinese Ambassador to the U.S. gave a speech at the Georgetown University. He also indicated that China wants to resume the human rights dialogue with the U.S. I'm wondering if you are discussing about this resumption for dialogue with the Chinese and do you have any plan to resume it?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, we speak very often with the Chinese Government about human rights issues. We discuss with them the cases of selected journalists who have been jailed. We talk to them about religious -- the importance of religious freedom. So it is a topic to which we devote quite a bit of discussion with our Chinese interlocutors. It is one part of our very broad and deep relationship with China but it is an important part. As for the human rights dialogue specifically, I'll look into it and see exactly where we stand on that particular forum.
Let's move around. Yes, sir.
QUESTION: In yesterday's briefing there was a question about the Taiwanese, former Taiwanese President's visit to the United States. Do you have anything to share with us today?
MR. MCCORMACK: We posted an answer to that.
QUESTION: Oh, I didn't check it.
MR. MCCORMACK: Yes, okay. No problem. Thank you.
QUESTION: On Cyprus?
MR. MCCORMACK: You had yours. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: There's some reports in Japanese media about Ambassador Christopher Hill's comment on the role that South Korea has been playing during the six-party talks. I'm wondering if you have some comments from this podium.
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, we very much appreciate the role that the South Korean delegation played in Beijing. Assistant Secretary Hill has an excellent relationship with his counterpart from South Korea. They made a valuable contribution to the outcome that we did achieve and we very much appreciate the efforts of the South Korean -- in working with the South Korean Government on this tough issue and we look forward to continuing to work with them on it.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MR. MCCORMACK: Yes. Okay, thank you.
QUESTION: A question, a last one on Cyprus. According to Associated Press, Turkish Cypriot leader, Mehmet Ali Talat, said any push for Ankara to recognize Cyprus before a solution could cause a civil war. Any comment on how this threat for a civil war affects your policy to end the isolation of the Turkish Cypriots?
MR. MCCORMACK: I'm not sure what you're referring to. Cypriot membership in NATO?
QUESTION: The Turkish Cypriot leader, Mehmet Ali Talat, stated to Associated Press that any push to Ankara to recognize Cyprus before a solution could cause a civil war. So I would like you to comment on this and how this threat for a civil war by Mehmet Ali Talat affects your policy vis-à-vis to end the isolation of the Turkish Cypriots.
MR. MCCORMACK: Okay. First thing, I haven't seen those comments so I can't comment specifically on what might have been said. Second, our policy on this issue is unchanged.
(The briefing was concluded at 1:15 p.m.)
(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)
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