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State Department Briefing, January 13

13 January 2006

Turkey, Iran, India, Venezuela/Spain, Sudan

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack briefed the press January 13.

Following is the transcript of the State Department briefing:

(begin transcript)

U.S. Department of State
Daily Press Briefing Index
Friday, January 13, 2006
12:20 p.m. EST

Sean McCormack, Spokesman

-- Avian Flu/U.S. Sending Team of Influenza Experts to Assess Situation

-- Undersecretary Robert Joseph to Travel to Vienna/Undersecretary Nicholas Burns to Travel to London to next IAEA Board of Governors Meeting/U.S. Coordination with Other Countries/UN Security Council Referral/Hope for Diplomatic Solution/Comments by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan/Phone Calls Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has Made to Foreign Colleagues/U.S. Communication with the Iranians/Iranian Threat to Suspend Cooperation with the IAEA/Need for a Change in Iranian Behavior

-- Under Secretary Nicholas Burns' Upcoming Trip to India

-- Issue on the Sale of Spanish Military Equipment and Components to Venezuela/U.S. Denial of Licenses to Transfer Technology/Arms Export Control Act/Potential Effects Sale Could Have on Region/Implications for Bilateral Relations with Spain/U.S. Expression of Concern to Other Governments in Latin America

-- U.S. Support for AU Mission/Need for Effective Security in Darfur/Abuja Process/Implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Accord/UN Contingency Planning on Transitioning AU Mission to UN Operation



12:20 p.m. EST

MR. MCCORMACK:  Good afternoon.  I have one opening statement and then we can get right into your questions.  This concerns a U.S. avian flu influenza team being sent to Turkey.

As a friend and partner of Turkey, the United States would like to offer support to Turkey as they deal with the reported cases of avian flu.  To this end, the United States is sending a team, an interagency team of influenza experts, to Turkey to assess the avian flu situation there, see what lessons have been learned and make recommendations on what the United States can do to support efforts in Turkey to deal with and prepare for a potential outbreak of avian flu.  The team will consist of experts in animal and human health surveillance, laboratory capacity and public health communications from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agency for International Development, Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of State.

The team expects to arrive in Ankara on Monday to meet with Turkish officials and with representatives of international organizations, such as the World Health Organization, the UN Food and Agricultural Organization and the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control who are already working locally on avian influenza.  Members of the team will subsequently travel to Turkish regions affected by the flu to see firsthand efforts already underway.

Our goal is to learn about the actual state of the influenza so that we can support efforts to fight avian influenza and stop it from spreading.  In this regard, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control has already sent two experts to Turkey this week to work with the World Health Organization at its request.  This effort is part of our worldwide efforts by the United States to work against this global threat.

QUESTION:  Have you sent similar teams to other countries when there have been outbreaks?

MR. MCCORMACK:  I know that we have provided some support, Saul.  I'll check to see exactly what -- how that's manifested itself, whether that's been in the form of cash assistance, donations in-kind or teams.  We'll check on the teams.

QUESTION:  Is that team at the request of Turkey or was it initiated by the U.S.?

MR. MCCORMACK:  Well, we work closely with the Turkish Government on this and I think that they welcome our -- the step that we're taking.

QUESTION:  That doesn't answer whether they asked for it.

MR. MCCORMACK:  Well, any time you have these teams going out to help any government that's facing this kind of potential health -- serious health issue, then it's one that's done out of mutual accommodation.

QUESTION:  Can we go to something else, like consultations on what to do about Iran?  The President made it clear today that it's a decision still to be taken after talking to other folks.

MR. MCCORMACK:  Well, he -- what he talked about is what to do in the Security Council.

QUESTION:  That's what I meant.


QUESTION:  I hope that's what I -- well, that's what I meant.

MR. MCCORMACK:  That was what was in your head and I took that.  Yes, okay.

QUESTION:  Well, I don't quote myself in the stories; I quote what you say.  So out goes Burns, out goes Joseph.  We've got a sketchy account of who they'll see where.  Presumably you have more to say or know more about the process 24 hours later.  Anybody else going out?  Whatever details you can add to what you had yesterday.

MR. MCCORMACK:  Okay.  In terms of Bob Joseph's travel, he's going to Vienna.  I don't have -- yet have the list of other capitals that he's going to be traveling to.  We'll try to get those to you, Barry. 

Under Secretary Burns is going to be meeting in London with a number of other interested parties, with the UK, the French, the Russians, the Chinese and the Germans as well.  He's going to be continuing on a prescheduled trip to India and the South Asia region and we'll try to get you some more details on that as well.  That's the travel schedule as I know it.

QUESTION:   About where it was yesterday.

MR. MCCORMACK:  About where it was yesterday, Barry.

QUESTION:  I'm sorry, I may have missed it.  The Chinese were not included in the London list or --

MR. MCCORMACK:  No, they are.

QUESTION:  They are?

MR. MCCORMACK:  They are.  Yeah.

QUESTION:  And that meeting is on Monday?


QUESTION:  What's the format for the meeting?  Is it that countries will individually meet with the EU-3 or all those countries you named will be around the same table?

MR. MCCORMACK:  I'll check, Saul, on the modalities.  And my understanding is they're all going to be there at the same time. 

QUESTION:  Can you give us some dates on the Burns trip to India and Asia?

MR. MCCORMACK:  He's going to be -- he is -- in terms of the stops, I'll try to get you all the stops.  I know that he's going to be in India and Sri Lanka.  I'll try to get you some more. 

QUESTION:  And China? 

MR. MCCORMACK:  I don't -- I'll check for you on his travel schedule.  That's all I have right now.  Their trip was originally planned as primarily focused on U.S.-India relations.  The India stop, he's going to be talking about certainly the U.S.-India agreement on civil nuclear affairs that was signed and how we go about implementing that.  Certainly, Iran is going to be an important topic that he discussed -- that he discusses with the Indian Government.  Last time around at the Board of Governors, they voted with other countries to find Iran in noncompliance.  And this -- at the upcoming emergency session of the Board of Governors, we'll see how these other countries vote.  We're not going to prejudge the -- how any particular country is going to vote at this time, but as the Secretary has said, we believe we have the votes in the IAEA Board of Governors to send this matter to the Security Council. 

QUESTION:  Angela Merkel will be in Moscow, I think, on Monday, to see President Putin, Iran -- there are other issues, Ukraine, et cetera, but Iran is an issue clearly.  You know, she doesn't need advice from a third country.  But is there some advice that you would like to suggest ever so courteously? 


QUESTION:  Do you think Russia's aboard on Iran? 

MR. MCCORMACK:  In terms of Iran, Barry, I'm not going to prejudge or -- how any country, any one country is going to vote.  At this point, we are in close consultations with the Russians.  The Secretary has spoken with Foreign Minister Lavrov.  At Under Secretary Burns' level, they've been in regular contact over the past weeks and months on this issue.  We're working closely with them.  We would hope that the IAEA, the countries of the IAEA Board of Governors choose to send a strong signal, a strong clear signal to Iran that their behavior, their defiance of the international community is unacceptable. 

As Secretary Rice pointed out yesterday, Iran's behavior has followed a very clear pattern of trying to face down the international community. That appears to be -- that appears to be their strategy.  If the international community retains a united front on this issue, it sends a clear message to Iran.  We retain every hope that this will be resolved through diplomatic channels.  That is our focus now and that is our focus in going to the IAEA Board of Governors for a referral to the Security Council. 

Yes.  Libby. 

QUESTION:  After we heard from the EU-3 and Secretary Rice yesterday about the growing consensus on referring Iran to the Security Council, the Secretary General came out and talked about a call he initiated to the Iranians.  It was a 40-minute phone conversation saying that they were serious about coming back to negotiations.  So what's the U.S. reaction to hearing from the Secretary General after, you know, hearing from the EU-3 and Secretary Rice and saying that, you know, sort of appearing to undermine really what we had just heard all day? 

MR. MCCORMACK:  Well, I certainly don't take it that way.  Look, this is an important issue and you would expect that the Secretary General of the United Nations speak out about it, be interested in the issue.  Absolutely.  Everybody shares the common goal of trying to resolve this through diplomatic means.  That's what we're working to do.  But you see the Iranian comments just today and even yesterday.  They talk about the fact that they still want to engage in serious negotiations, yet in the same breath they talk about the fact that they're not going to give up enrichment technology.  This is more of the same that we have seen from them over the past months.  The Iranians continue to throw up a smokescreen, to try to divert attention from what the real issue is.  The real issue is the fact that Iran has gotten themselves into a position where they are on the verge of being referred to the Security Council because of their behavior, because they have under cover of a civilian nuclear program sought a nuclear weapon, and now the international community is speaking out very clearly in that regard. 

In all of our consultations that we have had up until this point, there is a common thread that runs throughout all of them, and that is that Iran's behavior needs to be addressed in some form, that the world is shocked by Iran's continuing defiance of the international community on this issue and it needs to be addressed.

Libby, you had a follow-up?

QUESTION:  Could that have been seen -- you know, the Secretary General not wanting the problem at his doorstep at the UN?

MR. MCCORMACK:  I don't view it that way. 

QUESTION:  Following on that, Annan also said that he hoped that the matter could be resolved at the IAEA level but the U.S. is already talking, obviously, about the Security Council.  Do you believe that any IAEA resolution is -- that we're already beyond that?

MR. MCCORMACK:  Our focus is on the IAEA Board of Governors meeting that will be coming up.  We haven't set a date yet with the other members of the Board of Governors and Director General ElBaradei, but we'll be working on that in the coming days. 

The focus of that meeting will be to refer Iran, the Iranian Government, to the Security Council for a finding of noncompliance with their NPT obligations.  So that's where our focus is and that's where the -- certainly our European partners and some other members of the IAEA Board of Governors is right now and that's where we're focusing our diplomatic efforts.

QUESTION:  Just to clarify, you don't believe that there's a resolution still available -- I mean, a referral is not a resolution to the crisis, obviously.  You don't believe there's a resolution available any longer at the IAEA level?

MR. MCCORMACK:  We are entering a new phase, a new diplomatic phase.  The EU-3 negotiations, in their own words, had reached a dead end.  And they had reached a dead end because of Iranian intransigence, their failure to come clean with the IAEA and their defiance of the international community.  So that diplomatic phase has ended.  We are now in a new diplomatic phase, and the elements of those phases -- this phase that we see right now before us -- are the IAEA Board of Governors and then a subsequent referral to the Security Council. 

QUESTION:  Just one more.  Could you update us on the last 24 hours in the life of Secretary Rice?  Who has she talked to?  Have there been any phone calls?  Is there another phone call with Lavrov?  You just mentioned she had talked to him. 

MR. MCCORMACK:  Recently.

QUESTION:  Yesterday? 

MR. MCCORMACK:  No, she spoke with him on Tuesday and she has spoken with Brazilian Foreign Minister Amorim.  She spoke with him last night.  And this morning she spoke with Chinese Foreign Minister Li.  This is all part of the consultative process that the President talked about.

I'll try to keep you updated on these phone calls, but I'm not going to get into the details of these conversations other than to say this is part of the consultative process that leads up to the IAEA Board of Governors and also looks ahead to what potentially the Security -- what potential action the Security Council may take. 

QUESTION:  Didn't she speak with Lavrov also yesterday, or no?

MR. MCCORMACK:  Oh, she -- on Tuesday.  Tuesday. 

QUESTION:  Yes, but she spoke with him yesterday?

QUESTION:  Yeah.  It was reported yesterday that she had spoken to --

QUESTION:  I believe the Russian Foreign Ministry said they spoke yesterday.

MR. MCCORMACK:  I don't have that on my list.  I'll check it out.  But the last time I have her speaking to him was on Tuesday. 

Okay.  Yeah, Charlie, you haven't had one. 

QUESTION:  The question I have relates to the U.S. and Iran.  It seems to me a few days ago from the podium, there was a reference to we've communicated something -- sent a piece of paper to the Iranians.  Would you elaborate on that or how that went -- through whose offices that went and have there been any further communications? 

MR. MCCORMACK:  I don't have the details on it, Charlie.  It's through our mission in Vienna to the IAEA. 


MR. MCCORMACK:  And I'm not sure the exact mode of communication, but -- whether it was faxed over or sent over via courier or sent through a third party.  I don't know.  I don't have the details of it.  The --

QUESTION:  Do you know which day it was? 

MR. MCCORMACK:  I think it was Friday or Saturday -- last Friday or Saturday. 

QUESTION:  Can you confirm it was one document, one common letter or was it different letters? 

MR. MCCORMACK:  It was from the United States. 

QUESTION:  China's Ambassador to the UN said referring Iran to the Security Council would complicate the issue?  Is that the kind of message just in general terms that Foreign Minister Li conveyed in the phone call? 

MR. MCCORMACK:  As I said, I'm not going to get into the details of these conversations that she's having. These are all part of -- this is all part of our diplomacy.  She's going to be on the phone.  Under Secretary Burns and Under Secretary Joseph they're going to be working the phones as well as our embassies around the world.  Nick and Bob are also going to be hitting the road to visit capitals as well.  So, but in terms of the phone calls, I'll try to keep you updated on what her activities are, but I'm not going to get into the details of the conversations. 

QUESTION:  While we're on conversations, Mr. Sharon seems to have taken a bad turn --

QUESTION:  Can we stay on Iran? 

QUESTION:  Oh, go ahead. 

QUESTION:  Given the -- given that there's at least one view of a major power that it might complicate the issues, is that something that you also acknowledge?  Iran responded to the concerted to effort to have them refer to the Council by saying, look, we're going to stop inspections.  And so it's almost like your move has created a negative reaction, has moved you further away from stopping them getting, you know, more technology. 

MR. MCCORMACK:  Well, in terms of the Iranian pronouncement that they intend to suspend cooperation with the IAEA, I think it only further makes the point that we have been making and that is that Iran is continuing to defy the will of the international community in what one can only discern is as a strategy to try to face down the international community.  And it is now incumbent upon the member-states of the international system of the IAEA Board of Governors and we hope the Security Council to send a clear message to Iran that that will not be allowed, that they cannot be allowed to obtain a nuclear weapon.  They can't be allowed to obtain a nuclear weapon that, while violating their obligations under the NPT.  So that is where our diplomatic focus is and we hope that as Secretary Rice talked about it yesterday that with referral to the Security Council, that comes with it an additional weight, that may not come with activities within the IAEA Board of Governors. 

Certainly the IAEA is a respected institution.  They recently won the Nobel Peace Prize -- shared the Nobel Peace Prize with their Director General for the work that they have done.  But still, the Security Council is a different issue and we have talked before about the fact that we do not believe that the Iranian people want to find themselves isolated from the rest of the world and yet that is where -- that is the direction in which their government has taken them.  So we'll see, should the IAEA Board of Governors vote for referral to the Security Council, what sort of change in behavior that evokes from the Iranian Government.  We hope that it leads to a decision on their part to return to the negotiating table or use other diplomatic means to resolve this issue.  We hope that it causes a change in behavior.  But at the moment, we don't seem to have seen any change in behavior from the Iranians.  We'll see what the coming days and weeks bring. 

QUESTION:  Okay.  When was the last time the Secretary spoke to either Annan or ElBaradei? 

MR. MCCORMACK:  For Director General ElBaradei, I'll have to check for you.  I'll have to check for you, Saul.  On Secretary General Annan, off the top of my head, I can't tell you. 

QUESTION:  Can we switch to -- can I just ask that -- she spoke to Brazil.  South Africa is often grouped with --

MR. MCCORMACK:  She was -- she met with the South African Minister while she was here, Foreign Minister Zuma, I believe, on Wednesday. 

QUESTION:  So does -- that won't preclude another phone call or you're saying, well, that sort of (inaudible) diplomacy was done (inaudible?)

MR. MCCORMACK:  It doesn't preclude a phone call, but they did talk about Iran. 


QUESTION:  Any recent contacts with Israeli?  The Prime Minister probably has taken a bad turn.

MR. MCCORMACK:  From the -- at the -- from the Secretary? 




QUESTION:  Do you have anything on the opposed arms deal between Spain and Venezuela which the U.S. opposes and that Spain wants to go ahead with anyway? 

MR. MCCORMACK:  We did inform the Spanish Government that the United States has denied licenses to transfer U.S. technology used in planes, that Spanish companies contracted to sell to Venezuela after determining that these transfers are not consistent with U.S. foreign policy interests.  We're concerned that this proposed sale of military equipment and components to Venezuela could contribute to destabilization in Latin America and have made that view clear to the Spanish, Venezuelan and other governments in Latin America. 

QUESTION:  Denying that license is a way of blocking the sale of the planes that include U.S. technology.  Is there any way you can block the Spanish Government or Spain from going ahead with what it now plans to do, which is sell the same planes, but without -- but with some kind of substitute technology?  Can you block that? 

MR. MCCORMACK:  I'd have to check, Saul.  This particular action was based on the Arms Export Control Act in which we would review -- retransfer requests of U.S. -- U.S. origin technology or equipment in accordance with U.S. law.  And part of this request, it wasn't just airplanes, it had to do with armed patrol boats, as well as some maritime patrol aircraft, just as one point. 

Yes, ma'am.

QUESTION:  Just to follow up on Venezuela, did you express the same concern to Brazil on -- related to the aircraft sale to Venezuela? 

MR. MCCORMACK:  We have, as I have just said, expressed similar concerns to other governments in Latin America and I believe that includes Brazil. 

QUESTION:  And this is -- there is any particular reason for that?  It is because of Venezuela supports Iran's position? 

MR. MCCORMACK:  No.  I don't think I would draw any particular line between those two things. 

QUESTION:  And any update on the agreement on -- cooperation agreement on the drug trafficking between Venezuela and the U.S.?  Do you have any update on that? 

MR. MCCORMACK:  No updates for you. 

QUESTION:  Can you say how that sale would destabilize the region? 

MR. MCCORMACK:  Well, this is -- I don't have the analysis in front of me, George.  This is the policy judgment of the United States Government.  This is -- these are things that are reviewed carefully with input from a variety of different agencies, from DOD, from the intelligence community, from the Department of State, as well as other agencies around the government.  But I think that when you're talking about armed patrol boats and maritime patrol aircraft, as well as aircraft, other kinds of aircraft, it raises a lot of questions about their potential use and what effect that may have on the stability in the region. 


QUESTION:  Don't you think this kind of reaction could aggravate the relations between the U.S. and Spain, which are not excellent since the new government? 

MR. MCCORMACK:  Well, the U.S.-Spanish relations certainly are much broader and deeper than one particular sale of patrol boats or aircraft.  Certainly, we hope the Spanish Government understands the decision that we have taken.  As I stated, we believe that the decision we have taken is in the policy interests of the United States Government.  We would hope that the Spanish understand that.  We have explained our decision to them and if they would like to discuss the matter further, certainly we're open to that.  But U.S.-Spanish relations are certainly much broader and deeper than one sale of military equipment. 

QUESTION:  The travel for Mr. Shannon to Latin American region.  Did he discuss this issue with his Brazilian counterpart? 

MR. MCCORMACK:  I haven't talked to Mr. Shannon concerning his discussions. 

QUESTION:  Do you have any update on Mr. Shannon travel to Latin America? 

MR. MCCORMACK:  His past travel or future travel? 


MR. MCCORMACK:  Past travel.  No, I don't have any updates for you.  You might check with his office. 

QUESTION:  On Venezuela also.  On the one hand, preventing this sale would you think stop this destabilizing factor, but aren't you preventing them from doing what's a key job for that type of equipment which is the anti-drug fight you supposedly support, you know, the Andean region in its anti-drug fight and this equipment could be used for that. 

MR. MCCORMACK:  Saul, I don't have the details whether or not the Venezuelans actually intended to use it for that purpose or not.  I don't have any information on that. 

Yes, ma'am. 

QUESTION:  The Brazilian President (inaudible) Brazilian Government will take this case to international national forums, as there is no (inaudible) sanctions against Venezuela.  What are the basis for blocking the sale from (inaudible)?

MR. MCCORMACK:  U.S. law.  U.S. law, as I just stated, the Arms Export Control Act, is what guides our policymakers and decision makers on matters of transfer of technology of either U.S. origin or U.S.-based technology. 

QUESTION:  Can you say if Secretary Rice spoke about that with Minister Amorim last night? 

MR. MCCORMACK:  They did touch on the issue, yes. 

QUESTION:  And can you give more details about that? 



QUESTION:  Yes.  Mr. McCormack, the so-called rebel actually terrorist Kosovo-Albanian Hashim Thaci, leader of Kosovo Liberation Army, is in Washington, D.C. and stand before the International Court of Justice of Carla del Ponte.  I'm wondering with whom he is going to meet here at the State Department.

MR. MCCORMACK:  I'll check into it for you. 

QUESTION:  Okay.  And also why the U.S. government protects an (inaudible) person like Hashim Thaci accused for a series of killings in the Balkans against the Serbs to be free in the American capital, not only that but to be received by also by U.S. officials? 

MR. MCCORMACK:  I'll try to get you any information we might have on the potential visit of this gentleman to the United States and the State Department. 

QUESTION:  And the last one with the same issue.  Yesterday in the Washington (inaudible), Mr. Hashim Thaci was screaming for full independence of Kosovo with the presence of a bunch of U.S. officials.  And I'm wondering if you agreed, due to the upcoming talks in Geneva January 25th with U.S. participation, too.

MR. MCCORMACK:  Okay.  See my answer to the previous question. 


QUESTION:  Yes.  Thank you.  It's on Venezuela.  In applying this policy with the sale of the airplanes and boats, is there besides the military concern, is there any hint of a political concern on this decision?

MR. MCCORMACK:  I can only tell you what the decision of the experts is, that they look at that -- look at these decisions within the confines of American law and acting within the confines of American foreign policy interests.  In their judgment, these sales could have served as a destabilizing action in the region. 

Yes, Joel.

QUESTION:  Sean, Kofi Annan is suggesting a large European-U.S. force for Darfur and yet the Sudanese Government says a U.S. contingency force amongst that group would be unwelcome.  Would you still call for an enlargement of that force?  Kofi Annan is saying that the AU is incapable of ending the violence that's happening -- that's happened over the two years in -- at Darfur region.

MR. MCCORMACK:  Well, we certainly applaud the efforts of the AU mission in Darfur.  They have saved lives.  The level of violence in the areas in which they were operating during certain periods of time reduced.  But we also see that there are troubling developments in the western part of Darfur as well as in the southern parts.  So we certainly do support the mission of the AU. 

We also are very interested, as is Secretary General Annan and other concerned parties, in effective security in Darfur.  That is -- that's important for many different reasons:  first of all for humanitarian reasons so lives can be saved; also, so humanitarian aid can be delivered.  And all of those things are important to help stabilize the situation in Darfur so you can move forward on the political process.  Ultimately, it's the political process that is going to resolve any differences that there may be among the various -- large number of various groups involved in this situation.  So we continue to push forward on the Abuja process as well as implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Accord.

As for the issue of what may happen with security forces in Darfur, today the African Union agreed in principle to seek a transition from the African Union mission in Sudan to a United Nations operation.  Secretary General Annan noted that the United Nations has begun contingency planning to "blue hat" the African Union mission in Sudan and our position is that we are going to work with the United Nations Security Council and other international partners on this issue.

Our concern here is to see that there is effective security in Darfur.  That is our desired goal so we will be having discussions, I anticipate, in the coming days and weeks on that matter. 

QUESTION:  Is the U.S. willing to send troops to Darfur?

MR. MCCORMACK:  Again, this is where we stand, Saul, on the matter. 


QUESTION:  On Venezuela --

QUESTION:  Can we go back to Darfur? 


QUESTION:  Isn't that to some extent, though, sort of acknowledging a failure of the AU mission if it's going to need to be re-hatted, if the AU itself is saying it doesn't have the support to continue?

MR. MCCORMACK:  No, not at all.  They have -- as I pointed out to Joel, they have done an extraordinary job in mobilizing the forces, getting the forces there, planning a mission and carrying it out.  That is not to say that they haven't requested assistance, for instance, from NATO for airlift capacity. 

QUESTION:  (Inaudible) more specifically.

MR. MCCORMACK:  The situation -- what we are all interested in is seeing effective security in Darfur, and the AU mission has contributed to a great extent to achieving that goal.  There are still some troubling security developments in Darfur.  Now, I would hope and we certainly encourage the members of the AU that their mission continue.  We fully support that.  We are continuing to work to fund that mission.  It's very important that that continue.

At the same time, we are going to look with our other international partners at how best to ensure an effective security environment in the area. 


QUESTION:  Venezuela again.  The Brazilian Government was, according to the Brazilian press, negotiate with the United States (inaudible) to Venezuela.  Is there any room for negotiation or the American answer is no? 

MR. MCCORMACK:  At this point, I don't have any update for you on our position. 


QUESTION:  The Foreign Policy Chief of the EU Javier Solana is going to be in Washington next week?  Is there any meeting scheduled with Secretary Rice? 

MR. MCCORMACK:  I'll keep you updated on her schedule.  I don't have anything in particular to report at this point. 


QUESTION:  You used the word re-hat.  I mean, will this largely be the same people protecting Darfur under a different command or do you expect people from a large number of countries to be independent in the peacekeeping force, now that this change is being undertaken? 

MR. MCCORMACK:  Well, what Secretary General Annan said is that they are looking at contingency planning, regarding "blue hatting."  They're planning so that if there is a decision to go that route, then they might be prepared.  Under those kind of operations, you do have contributions from others.  Usually, there's an entire process that the UN goes through in looking for different contributions, but that's not the point at which we find ourselves right now.  Secretary General Annan talked about contingency planning.  We certainly appreciate his efforts and his comments on this issue.  He's been an important voice in drawing international attention to the issue, along with the United States. 


QUESTION:  Same region.  Assistant Secretary Jendayi Frazer will travel to Ethiopia and Eritrea.  If they start the war, will you consider stopping aid for both countries considering the shortage that --

MR. MCCORMACK:  That's not where we find ourselves right now.  That's a hypothetical question I'm not going to get into. 

QUESTION:  Thank you.

MR. MCCORMACK:  Thank you.

(The briefing was concluded at 12:52 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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