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State Department Briefing, October 21

22 October 2005

Syria/Lebanon, Department of State/Secretary Rice, Cyprus, Canada, Afghanistan, India, North Korea, Sudan, Iraq, Kosovo, Bosnia, Asia

State Department deputy spokesman Adam Ereli briefed reporters October 21.

Following is a transcript of the State Department briefing:

(begin transcript)

U.S. Department of State
Daily Press Briefing Index
Friday, October 21, 2005
12:32 p.m. EDT

Briefer:  Adam Ereli, Deputy Spokesman

SYRIA / LEBANON
-- U.S. Response to, and Position on the Mehlis Report / Contents of the Report
-- U.S. Calls for Accountability, Justice for Those Responsible /
-- US Working with Security Council Members to Determine Next Steps
-- US Focused on Peaceful, Negotiated, Diplomatic Solutions
-- Larson Report on Implementation Resolution 1559 Expected Next Week
-- Cooperation of Syrian Government
-- Independence and Sovereignty of Lebanon at Risk

DEPARTMENT OF STATE
-- Mr. Larry Wilkerson’s Comments on the Department of State and Secretary Rice

CYPRUS
-- Capacity in which Mehmet Ali Talat will Meet with Secretary of State Rice

CANADA
-- Secretary Rice’s Visit to Ottawa / Bilateral, Global Issues to be Discussed

AFGHANISTAN
-- Reaction to Reports of US Military Burning Corpses / U.S. Values/ Military Launched Investigation

INDIA
-- U/S Burns’ Meetings in New Delhi with Indian Officials Discussing Bilateral Issues, US-India Strategic Partnership, Implementing US-India Civil Nuclear Cooperation Agreement

NORTH KOREA
-- Timing of Six Party Talks in November/ Criteria for Continuing Talks
-- US Hopes Chinese President’s Travels to N. Korea Furthers Process

SUDAN
-- U.S. Aims to Further Comprehensive Peace Agreement, Facilitate Humanitarian Work in Darfur, Negotiate Peace Settlement

IRAQ
-- PKK is Designated Terrorist Organization / U.S. Working With Iraq and Turkey to Pursue and Act Against PKK

KOSOVO
-- Kosovo Moving Forward in Status Negotiations/UN Coordination

BOSNIA
-- Turning Over of Mladic and Karadzic to the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia / International Community’s Stance

ASIA
-- Update of Ambassador Hill’s Meetings and Travel

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING

FRIDAY, October 21, 2005
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)

12:32 p.m. EDT

MR. ERELI:  Good afternoon, everyone.  Let me begin with a comment on the Mehlis report, which was issued yesterday in which we've all had a chance to look at.  First we commend Judge Mehlis and his team for the professionalism and courage during the investigation, and for a report that is both factual and credible.

We also commend the extensive cooperation of Lebanon whose traditional and security authorities proved during the investigation that they can move ahead, and at times, take the lead effectively and professionally.  The Mehlis report is very serious and deeply disturbing.  It states that there is converging evidence pointing at both Syrian and Lebanese involvement in this terrorist act.  The report also makes clear that there are political motives for this terrorist act, which as the report notes, came to a head at a meeting between Rafik Hariri and Bashar al-Asad on August 26, 2004.

The report points to a conspiracy involving Syria.  It details false statements, lack of cooperation, and rehearsed testimony.  It also concludes that there's probable cause to believe that the decision to assassinate former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri could not have been taken without the approval of top rank Syrian security officials, and could not have been organized without the collusion of their counterparts in the Lebanese security services.

We stand with the people of Lebanon, the families of the victims, and the international community in calling for accountability for this terrorist act.  The people of Lebanon must also know that they will be free from executions, assassinations and threats and that the international community will not tolerate the use of such tools of repression to further destabilize Lebanon.

We have begun consultations with our friends in the Security Council and in the region on next steps to be taken by the international community.

QUESTION:  How about the unanimous diplomat who says Asad's brother-in-law, the Chief of Intelligence and potentially his successor, is the ringleader -- is the focus of the inquiry.  Can you say anything about that?

MR. ERELI:  I don't have anything to add to what Mehlis has put forward in his report.  The report doesn't say that, so it's certainly not -- I'm not in a position to do that.  I think what the report does say is that there's a need for further investigation and to follow up on leads and for more information.  And it calls very clearly on the government of Syria to cooperate with Mehlis and his team, and the Lebanese officials working this as they endeavor to gather the fact and to follow the evidence where it leads.  And that kind of cooperation, that kind of investigation can hopefully answer the questions raised in that regard.

QUESTION:  The view of , the U.S. Government -- you are saying that top intelligence officials, couldn't happen with their collusion, their laying the --

MR. ERELI:  Well, the U.S. Government is noting what conclusions Mehlis has come to in his reports, and is responding to those conclusions as very serious and deeply disturbing.

QUESTION:  Can you image, as a experienced State Department official, in Syria, intelligence officials being involved, and the Chief of Intelligence not being part of it and not knowing about it?

MR. ERELI:  I'm not going to speculate.  I'm going -- we will underscore the importance of Mehlis continuing his investigation and finding the facts to answer precisely those kinds of questions for the benefit of the international community, for justice, for accountability and for the Lebanese people to know without doubt that the international community is going to continue to stand by them and support them as they seek to take control of their country from foreign powers that have historically exercise influence for reasons other than the interest of the Lebanese people. 

Yes. 

QUESTION:  Didn’t you (inaudible) say that you're in consultation with the UN Security Council?  What does that mean and is it a UN -- new resolution imminent in punishing Syria further? 

MR. ERELI:  It means that our Ambassador to the UN, John Bolton, has began talking to Security Council partners about the Mehlis report, compare notes, discuss what appropriate next steps are.  It's something that obviously the Secretary is very much involved in, other members of the Administration, our ambassadors in the field, to take stock of what the report indicates and look at it also in a broader context.  Because let's remember, we've got a general issue to deal with, and that general issue is Syria and the independence of Lebanon and it's governed by a number of resolutions.  It's governed by 1559.  It's governed by 1595, which is the Mehlis report, and it's governed by other resolutions. 

So there is an issue that the international community is seized with:  Lebanese sovereignty, Lebanese independence and Syrian actions that compromise those goals.  And so in dealing with that issue, we've got a number of resolutions and a consultative process that has been set up.  The Mehlis report is one piece of that process.  There is another report coming out next week, the Larsen report on implementation of 1559.  So these consultations, which have begun, are part of a broader framework to deal with a problem that the international community is very concerned about.  And so they've begun today -- they will continue, obviously over the next couple of days, where they lead and what they produce is, at this point, I think, too early to say.

QUESTION:  Are we likely to see these new resolutions formed and implemented before the final report of Mehlis?

MR. ERELI:  I don't want to predict.

QUESTION:  Are you discussing or will you discuss military action?  This is a nervous capital.  People think this Administration resorts to force as a way of solving problems.

MR. ERELI:  I think the record of this Administration is clear and commendable, that we seek peaceful negotiated diplomatic solutions to problems.  That is certainly the course that has been set forth on this issue and that's where our focus is.

QUESTION:  So you are preparing a resolution about --

MR. ERELI:  I didn't say that.  I said we are seeking a diplomatic solution to this problem.  And that has been our approach from the beginning in consultation with allies and partners -- France, Syria's Arab neighbors -- from the moment that Hariri was assassinated, that has been the approach.

Yes.

QUESTION:  Can you give us a sense of the range of possibilities that you're considering at the UN --

MR. ERELI:  No.

QUESTION:  And also is there -- no? 

MR. ERELI:  No.

QUESTION:  All right.  And is there any discussion -- I think there's a second tranche of sanctions available to the U.S. under the Syria Accountability Act that have not been invoked.  Is there any discussion of that possibility?

MR. ERELI:  I think our focus right now is on multilateral collective action.

QUESTION:  So no?

MR. ERELI:  I didn't say that.  I said our focus right now is on multilateral collective action.

QUESTION:  Follow up on that.  Why is that, Adam, if the U.S. feels strongly about this, why wouldn't you have taken a stronger bilateral --

MR. ERELI:  I'm not taking it off the table, number one.  Number two, it's a tool that we have, if it's useful. Number three, I'm not aware that there's any immediate plans to take action under the Syrian Accountability Act, but that doesn't preclude such actions from being taken in the future.

QUESTION:  (Inaudible) Secretary Rice talk about military action also in (inaudible) with Iraq?

MR. ERELI:  Did who?

QUESTION:  Secretary Rice, in the testimony to the Senate.

MR. ERELI:  Well, look, when we talk about our possible actions, nobody ever takes anything off the table.  That's -- when you deal with any international situation.  So if you ask me, is that option off the table, never in any discussion do you take options -- that option off the table.  But that should not lead you in the direction to conclude that this is something that is being prepared or contemplated or worked on.  That's why I say our focus, our preferred way of dealing with this, is multilateral, is diplomatic.  That is where we are engaged.  That is what we are working on.  That is where we see things going.  And I urge you to, you know, keep that at the forefront of your thoughts when writing about how we deal with this issue.

QUESTION:  Did you have a future of Syria group that's working on something where you have a group of experts?

MR. ERELI:  Future of Syria group? 

QUESTION:  Yeah. 

MR. ERELI:  A FOSG -- no, not that I'm aware of.  (Laughter.)  I mean, the issue of Syria is dealt with as are, you know, other complex problems that we deal with all the time:  North Korea, Iran, others.  There's an interagency process, policymaking process, discussion process, that comes up with our positions and our approaches to problems and that applies to Syria, as it does to other international issues before us. 

Yes.

QUESTION:  And (inaudible), do you follow the discussions with the French on that? 

MR. ERELI:  Well, as you know, Under Secretary Burns was in Paris a few days ago, so that was an important issue of discussion.  Secretary Rice confers with her colleagues regularly.  She was in, as you know, Paris over the weekend last weekend.  Obviously this is an issue of discussion.  The National Security staff is in contact with their French counterparts.  So I would say that we are in regular and consistent, and close contact with our French partners on this issue, as well as on other issues.  And it's not just the French; it's the British.  Secretary Rice is, as you know, with Foreign Secretary Straw today in Alabama, and for the weekend.  And as I said, in the region we are in contact with our embassies, with foreign officials there. 

Yes, ma'am.

QUESTION:  When -- did you say Nick? 

MR. ERELI:  No.  I said that Nick was scowling, but if you want to defer to Nick. 

QUESTION:  All right.  Nick, you can go first. 

MR. ERELI:  I'm sorry, Nick.

QUESTION:  Thanks.  You'd said -- you talk about diplomatic solutions.  But I wonder, aren't you not interested in seeing those responsible for this act punished in any way? 

MR. ERELI:  Absolutely.  I think I said that we want to see those responsible identified and brought to justice and held accountable. 

QUESTION:  Well, when you talk about accountability, though, and bringing someone to justice, if there is -- if there is implication of President Asad himself, how would you expect or could you expect him to be making sure that people are held accountable if he himself isn't?

MR. ERELI:  That's not it.  You need to stick with the facts and you shouldn't get ahead of the facts, and that's why it's important for Judge Mehlis to continue his work and to gather a body of evidence that allows the international community to take concrete action in response to concrete facts.

QUESTION:  And you don't think any of the facts so far point to Asad?

MR. ERELI:  The answer to that question is in the report itself and I was referring -- which I referred to in my earlier comments where I said that there is evidence pointing to Lebanese and Syrian involvement, including involvement by the Syrian security services.  That's as far as the report goes.  There are other questions that Mehlis raises that he says he doesn't have the answer to and needs additional time and effort to determine.  So that's why it's important for him to continue and, why I also stress, it's important for the Syrian Government to cooperate more fully than it has in the past.

Yes.

QUESTION:  What do you make of the Syrian Ambassador of the UN saying it's a very political analysis and that Syria remains innocent.  What is the U.S. have to say on that?

MR. ERELI:  I'd say those -- he's in the minority of one on that score.  All the other reaction has been similar, that these are disturbing -- it's a disturbing report.  It points to Syrian involvement.  It is factual and credible.  Look, Mehlis interviewed 400 people.  He collected over 60,000 pages of evidence.  That's not political; that's thorough, exhaustive, and meticulous and factual.  So let's be clear:  This is an independent investigator, appointed by the UN pursuant to a UN Security Council resolution.  This is not the result of any vendetta or a conspiracy, or unilateral move by one country on another.  This is an international response to an act of terror.  And in the age in which we live, those who commit acts of terror should know that they are going to be held accountable, not by one country or another country, but by the international community.  And that's what we're seeing taking place here.

Yes.

QUESTION:  On the case, for example, of Iran.  Despite the fact that Iran's pursuits of nuclear weapons perhaps threaten more countries than this case, the U.S. and the EU have not been able to get a resolution passed at the IAEA, for example, with real teeth in it.  You've had to back off.  How do you expect on a matter like this that is more narrowly focused?  How would you expect the countries to line up behind you? 

MR. ERELI:  Well, I think you're comparing apples and oranges here.  I don't think they're --

QUESTION:  I'm not comparing the cases, I'm comparing your ability to get

MR. ERELI:  I think the approach to each case depends on the facts of the case.  And, you know, Iran's 20-year pursuit of nuclear weapons is materially different than the assassinations are -- about a bomb of the Former Prime Minister of Lebanon --

QUESTION:  That's my --

MR. ERELI:  And the way you deal -- I'm sorry -- the way you deal with an act of terror and one country's domination of another country is different than dealing with one country's clandestine pursuit of nuclear weapons.  Now, in both cases, you work through multilateral, through international institutions, through multilateral diplomacy to throw the light on infractions and violations of international norms, which have occurred in both cases.  In both cases you seek to redress those violations.  But the nature of the violations are different.  The nature of the acts are different.  The nature of the programs are different and therefore the actions that you're going to take are different. 

In the case of Iran, I guess I would take issue with the fact that we haven't gotten the resolutions we want out of the board of governors.  In fact, we've got a resolution that declared that Iran in noncompliance.  That's very significant.  But what we're seeking with Iran is different than in Syria in the sense that Iran -- we are working with the EU-3 cooperatively successfully in partnership with the EU-3 and the lead in, trying to work through a negotiated solution to this problem.  Syria -- we're not going to be able to negotiate with Syria over its involvement in or its purported involvement in an act of terror.  That's not an issue for negotiations, it's an issue for investigation and, based on the evidence, prosecution. 

Yes. 

QUESTION:  Looking at this in a different aspect.  Syria's just below Turkey.  Turkey, of course, is at the southern border of NATO and is a perspective candidate for the EU.  And it's more geopolitics in that I would imagine the Syrians and Iranians, unfortunately, are working together.  Is this also being taken into consideration, not just over Lebanon, but geopolitically? 

MR. ERELI:  What we're trying to do in all of this is to get Syria to act as a good neighbor and as a responsible member of the international community.  That obviously has implications for Lebanon, but it also has implications for Iraq, as we've seen, and Turkey and Jordan, and the Palestinians and Israel, and, you know, the list goes on.  One of the reasons why I think the international community is so concerned about Syrian behavior is because of the neighborhood that it lives in and because of its potential for destabilizing the efforts of other countries and undermining the aspirations of other people, whether that be Lebanese people for independent sovereignty, whether it be the Palestinian people for an independent state that lives in peace with Israel, whether it be for the Iraqis who are trying to develop a peaceful and stable democracy, but are having to fight a determined but unprincipled insurgency, or whether it be for Turkey that obviously has its own issues with -- it's own issues.  So we are mindful of the importance of Syria in the region and I think that's why we are so determined -- we, the international community are so determined to work together to affect responsible behavior and responsible decisions by the Government of Syria. 

QUESTION:  On the one hand, you say you want to resolve this diplomatically with Syria, but then on the other, you say that you're not going to negotiate with Syria over an act of terror.  So my question is are you planning any direct bilateral discussions --

MR. ERELI:  No. 

QUESTION:  -- with Syria over this, and what kind of diplomatic channels are you going to use apart from --

MR. ERELI:  I mean, this is not a bilateral -- the point here is it's not a bilateral issue.  Syria -- the assassination of the Former Prime Minister of Lebanon is not an issue between the United States and Syria.  It is an issue for the international community because, as I said before, it's an act of terror.  So the question is not why won't the United States negotiate with Syria, the question is , what can the – what should the international community do in response to an act of terror that has broad implications for security and stability.  And that’s why you see a number of UN Security Council resolutions in response to this action and a concerted effort on the part of the United States, France, member – Britain, members of the Security Council - Arab States to find out what happened and to take action to prevent it from happening again.

And let’s not forget in all of this – to stand by and protect and preserve the independence and sovereignty of Lebanon, because that’s what most directly at risk here.

QUESTION:  Do you think you will get the support of Russia in the Security Council on this subject?

MR. ERELI:  (Inaudible) Russia, to date, has been very supportive in this and I don’t see any reason to – I don’t see any suggestion that that support has lagged in any way.

QUESTION:  New subject --

QUESTION:  Yes.  Nowadays, is that – Turkey and Syria has very warm relations.  Did you ever --

MR. ERELI:  I don’t know – no, anyway, go ahead.

QUESTION:  Yeah.  Excellent, actually.  Did you contact with the Turkish officers to urge the Damascus or the Syrian officers on the subject?

MR. ERELI:  Not that I’m aware of, no. 

Sir.

QUESTION:  (Inaudible) on Cyprus.  Your invitation to Mr. Mehmet Ali Talat for a meeting with Secretary Condoleezza Rice October 28th,[2005] whether this is as Turkish civil leader or as a head of state?

MR. ERELI:  It was addressed to Mr. Talat in the capacity that we’ve dealt with him in previous meetings with the Secretary.  There’s been no change in that approach.

QUESTION:  It was through writing or verbally?

MR. ERELI:  I don’t know.

QUESTION:  Can you check for me because there are a lot of reports to the different -- 

MR. ERELI:  If I had anything to let you – to say about that, I’ll let you know, but I’m not sure that I will.

QUESTION:  And any response to the Greek protest regarding the existence of non-existent minorities in Greece, as it was stated by DOS representative in (inaudible) September 28th?-

MR. ERELI:  No, no.  Nothing on that.  Yes, ma’am?

QUESTION:  I’m sorry if I missed this yesterday, but do you have any comment on Larry Wilkerson’s – Powell’s ex-chief of staff’s comments that “I’m not sure the State Department even exists anymore.  I’m not sure you get around the non-utility of the State Department,” and his description of Secretary Rice, in her former capacity, as an extremely weak national security advisor?

MR. ERELI:  These are remarks of a former official and a private citizen, and certainly do not reflect one individual’s views, certainly not the view of the U.S. Government or those of us working at the State Department.

QUESTION:  I mean, he was – you know, a pretty key guy under Secretary Powell.  I mean, is --

MR. ERELI:  Was.

QUESTION:  So, stressing that he’s no longer – okay.

MR. ERELI:  Yes?

QUESTION:  On Syria, I have just one quick question.  Has Secretary Rice talked to anybody in the past – you know, since the report came out last night, any other international partners besides with Jack Straw?

MR. ERELI:  I don’t believe so.

QUESTION:  Okay.

MR. ERELI:  Yes?

QUESTION:  Secretary Rice goes to Ottawa next week?

MR. ERELI:  Yes.

QUESTION:  Can you tell us what will be the subject of the --

MR. ERELI:  Well, I don’t know that we’ve made an announcement on that, so I’m not going to –

MR. CASEY:  Yes, we have.

MR. ERELI:  Have we?  Okay.  Stand corrected.  Obviously, Canada is one of our closest partners, closest allies, and largest trading partner.  We have a long and close relationship, long and close border too, but it will be an opportunity for Secretary Rice to meet with Foreign Minister Pettigrew and Prime Minister Martin to discuss the full range of our bilateral issues and global concerns on which we work together.  Obviously, counterterrorism cooperation is important.  Trade issues will figure prominently on the agenda.  There will be other issues such as Afghanistan, Iraq, promoting a democracy that, I think, we have common cause with Canada on.  So expect a broad and full dialogue that is reflective of the kind of relationship that we have. 

QUESTION:  (Off-mike.)

MR. ERELI:  Well, nothing more that I'm prepared to share with you at the moment.

Yes, Teri. 

QUESTION:  Can we update on the story from yesterday on the burning of corpses?  Any feedback yet?  Any concern about demonstrations? 

MR. ERELI:  We've acted aggressively to let the world know that the pictures in the video were abhorrent to those in the U.S. Government and those in America who saw them, that they do not reflect our values or our beliefs, that we are committed to upholding the rule of law, that the acts, as depicted in the video are contrary to our military's Code of Conduct and for that reason, the military has begun an immediate investigation and has pledged to find out what happened and who's responsible and to hold those responsible accountable.  I think we've also moved aggressively to let the people of Afghanistan know, let the government of Afghanistan know that we are part of a broad coalition in Afghanistan to help bring peace to Afghanistan and help the Afghani people, and that the purposed acts of a few should not overshadow that broader truth.  I think we, from the beginning, have been working closely with the government of Afghanistan in response to this incident, and that we're coordinated in that, and that we will stay together as partners, the way we have in the spirit that guides our overall relationship. 

QUESTION:  And any sign that there are going to be problems on the ground in the streets? 

MR. ERELI:  Not so far, no. 

Yes. 

QUESTION:  Do you have any guidance on Nicholas Burns' meetings in New Delhi today on the civilian nuclear plan?  If you could sort of say what the snag is there?  Why does he have to keep having discussions on that? 

MR. ERELI:  Well, I wouldn't say that there is a snag.  And the fact that he continues to have discussions, frankly, is a sign that we've got a broadening and deepening relationship and that is reflected by talks and dialogue, and working out details of a complex and interrelated series of steps designed to move forward on civil nuclear cooperation, on scientific cooperation, on agricultural cooperation, on promoting entrepreneurship. 

So you've got a broad agenda, moving towards a deepening relationship, and a more strategic partnership and for that reason, Under Secretary Burns is there.  For that reason, you know, we've got engagements with the Secretary signed an agreement with India earlier this week.  We've got senior officials from across the government working closely with their Indian counterparts on a ever-broadening array of areas of cooperation. 

Now, as far as Under Secretary Burns' latest activities are concerned, he met in New Delhi yesterday -- today and he will meet tomorrow with a number of senior officials and these include Foreign Secretary Shyam [Saran], Foreign Minister Singh, National Security Advisor Narayanan, as well as the opposition leader Jaswant Singh.  The purpose of these meetings, as I mentioned earlier, is furthering the U.S.-Indian strategic partnership and a specific issue of discussion would be implementing the U.S.-India Civil Nuclear Cooperation Agreement.  And I think we’re moving forward on that well and amicably.

Yes.

QUESTION:  In North Korea, after meetings with Bill Richardson, the North Koreans are apparently saying – well, via Richardson, anyway, that they – that six-party talks will resume in early November or at least they’re willing to come back then?

MR. ERELI:  Yeah, that’s – and the question is?

QUESTION:  Is that news to you?

MR. ERELI:  No.

QUESTION:  Okay.

MR. ERELI:  That’s what was agreed to when we broke up at the last round.

QUESTION:  But they have now apparently dropped this pre-condition that they came up with after the talks recessed on --

MR. ERELI:  I don’t know if it was ever a pre-condition.

QUESTION:  Okay, so this is just – you’re not --

MR. ERELI:  I’ll put it this way.

QUESTION:  This doesn’t change anything?

MR. ERELI:  Gov. Richardson has, I guess, finished his trip to North Korea.  I expect that we’ll have a chance to talk to him when he comes back -- look forward to that debriefing.  As you know, he was traveling – he is not traveling as a representative of the U.S. Government.  He is not carrying a message.  We are, in terms of the six-party talks, where we left it at the end of the fourth round, which is coming – we’ve got a statement of principles, an agreement of principles.  We’re going to come back in early November on the basis of that agreement of principles, which – you know, lays out clearly what everybody’s understanding is and what our goals are and we’re going to work on implementing and flushing out specific steps related to those agreement of principles.

QUESTION:  No dates?

MR. ERELI:  I don’t have anything new to tell you on dates.

QUESTION:  So you’re not seeking a debriefing?

MR. ERELI:  I just said we’re looking for --

QUESTION:  Well, you said – you were kind of diffident about it.  I mean --

MR. ERELI:  I didn’t --

QUESTION:  Richardson – couldn’t Richardson, considering his engagement – I realize he’s a Democrat -- but considering his engagement, couldn’t he contribute somewhat to this baffling mystery of whether North Korea can be induced to end its nuclear program?

MR. ERELI:  It’s not a baffling mystery.  It’s a stated --

QUESTION:  Well, they haven’t done it.

MR. ERELI:  It’s a stated goal --

QUESTION:  Of course, it is.

MR. ERELI:  -- from the fourth round, so what’s the mystery? 

QUESTION:  (Inaudible)

MR. ERELI:  There are a lot of complicated steps between now and full dismantlement and that’s what we’re going to talk about in the next round of the six-party talks.

Yes.

QUESTION:  Do you know anything about a 10-page FBI report that was given to the Kyrgyz Government, alleging that ousted President Akayev and his family may have been involved in money laundering?

MR. ERELI:  Hadn’t heard about that. 

Yes.

QUESTION:  (Inaudible) have to look into it.

MR. ERELI:  It would be an FBI report; I would refer you to the FBI. 

Yes.

QUESTION:  The Israeli Defense Minister says that pressure from Washington forced Israel to freeze a major contract with Venezuela to upgrade its F-16 fighter jets.  Can you confirm that?

MR. ERELI:  No, I can’t.  We obviously have an ongoing dialogue with our friends in Israel about arms deals and arms transfers, but I don’t have anything for you on that one.

QUESTION:  Okay.  Thank you.

QUESTION:  Representative Wolfe sent a letter to Secretary Rice yesterday complaining about a waiver being granted by the State Department to allow U.S. lobbyists to represent the Sudanese Government.  I think it’s – this person actually is a former employee of the State Department.  I just wondered whether you had any reaction to the letter he sent and whether this – and about the waiver.

MR. ERELI:  I’ll look into it.  I would say that frankly, without getting into the specifics of this case, our decision-making on Sudan is governed by a desire to further implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, to engage with the Government of Sudan to take responsible actions with regard to the violence in Darfur and to facilitate and assist humanitarian work in Darfur, and to negotiate a political solution to the violence in Darfur, and that whatever decisions, waivers, or other decisions were made with regard to assistance to the Government of Sudan, that that’s what – that’s the thinking behind the actions we take.

QUESTION:  Well, he thinks it’s ill-advised.

MR. ERELI:  Well, like I said, let me look at the letter and see if I can get you a response to the specific step, but my remarks are intended to put the issue in a broader context.

Yes, ma’am.

QUESTION:  As the Chinese President Hu Jintao is scheduled to visit North Korea on the 28th [of October 2005], and do you have any comments on this and expectations on the impact it might have on the six-party talks?

MR. ERELI:  Obviously, the President of China’s trip to North Korea is something that I refer you to the two governments concerned, to comment on.  From our point of view, we would hope that President Hu’s visit will help move the six-party process further and we look at it in that light.

Yes, sir.

QUESTION:  Yes, you are very energetic to punishing the Syrian terrorists.  On the other hand, in the several thousand PKK terrorists is living under the U.S. Army-controlled area in Northern Iraq.

MR. ERELI:  I don’t think that’s a fair comparison.  You make it sound like the U.S. military is aiding and abetting the PKK, which is – which would certainly be a wrong assertion.  The fact of the matter is that we have clearly and unequivocally stated our view -- that we view that we consider the PKK a terrorist organization, and our actions are taken with that view in mind.  Specifically, we work with the Government of Iraq, both our embassy and our military authorities, and the Government of Turkey to pursue and to act against the PKK with the common aim of confronting and fighting terror.

Since we’re dealing with Turkish issues --

QUESTION:  Any update on Kosovo upon the completion of the grand tour in the Balkans by Deputy Secretary of Political Affairs Nicholas Burns?

MR. ERELI:  Under Secretary of Political Affairs.

QUESTION:  Under – I thought it’s Deputy Secretary for Political Affairs.

MR. ERELI:  His title is Under Secretary.

QUESTION:  Okay, I accept this.  And the arrival for talks in the U.S. of Madam (inaudible)?

MR. ERELI:  No, I don’t have anything really to add to what Ambassador Burns has already said quite extensively on his trip.  I think our views have – are well-known that it’s time to – for the people of Kosovo to move towards negotiating their status, that the UN and the U.S. are going – that the UN is going to be, I think, naming its coordinator for those negotiations soon.  We look forward to that.  We support it.  And as far as Carla Del Ponte goes, I think you know very clearly that it’s time – that the time is long overdue for those with knowledge or the ability to turn over suspects wanted for the International Tribunal to do so.

QUESTION:  (inaudible.)  October 13 in Pristina, Serbia, Under Secretary Nicholas Burns, certainly said accepting the (inaudible)-- he has not arrested Mladic and Karadzic and therefore, he has no possibility of relations with the European Union or members.”  I’m wondering if Mr. Burns is also a special representative (inaudible) potential for the European Union.

MR. ERELI:  That’s not a threat.  The fact of the matter is until Mladic and Karadzic are turned over, one should not expect countries with obligation to do so, to be embraced fully by the international community.

Who has – you had another question, yes.

QUESTION:  The Chinese Special Envoy on North Korea went to North Korea and he is visiting there and he is reported to come to the U.S. early next week.

MR. ERELI:  Right.

QUESTION:  I wonder if you have a schedule for his visit.

MR. ERELI:  Let me give you an update on – basically, I won’t update other officials’ travel.  I’ll update Ambassador Hill’s comings and goings and maybe that can help you --

QUESTION:  Thank you.

MR. ERELI:  -- with that.  On Monday and Tuesday of this week, Ambassador Hill met with his Republic of Korea counterpart, Deputy Foreign Minister Song Min Soon and the purpose of that was to discuss next steps on the six-party process.  He will meet on October 24th in Honolulu.  The Ambassador for the Korean Peninsula Affairs from the People’s Republic of China, Mr. Li Bin -- Ambassador Li will then travel on to Washington October 27th[2005], for additional meetings.  I don’t have a schedule of those meetings for you.

And then following Ambassador Hill’s participation in the East Asia and Pacific Chiefs of Mission conference, he will travel October 26th[2005], I believe, to Papua New Guinea for the post-forum dialogue of the Pacific Island forum.  And then he’ll go on to Tokyo for consultations on October 31st [2005] with his Japanese counterpart, Director General Kenichiro Sasae.

QUESTION:  Does he come home before the – we don’t have a precise date for the talks, but is it – does he --

MR. ERELI:  That’s all I’ve got.  That’s all I’ve got.  Maybe he took his bed with him.

QUESTION:  Could be.  He’s a very inventive fellow.

MR. ERELI:  We’ve got to move on to another briefing, so we have to wrap it up. 

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

(end transcript)

(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)



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