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Daily Press Briefing

Sean McCormack, Spokesman
Washington, DC
May 10, 2007


Details/Expectations From Nick Burns' Meeting With P5+1 In Berlin
No Updates On Women Held In Iran
No Updates On Mr. Levinson, Missing American Citizen
Embassy Workers Required To Wear Flak Jackets As Safety Precaution
Ambassador Patrick Kennedy Visits Baghdad, Assesses Size/Staffing
Margaret Beckett, UK Foreign Minister, Will Receive Palestinian Foreign Minister
U.S. Will Not Cut Contact With Those Who Support Quartet Principles
Secretary Rice Sat Down With Salam Fayyed, Palestinian Finance Minister
Refer To White House For President's Comments On UK Prime Minister
U.S. Supports Democracy And Constitutional Process In Turkey
Embassy Confirmed No Attempt To Link U.S. To Allusions Of Third Reich
U.S. Encourages Dialogue Between South Ossetia And Georgian Government
Secretary Rice Mentioned Her Personal High Regard For Paul Wolfowitz


2:05 p.m. EST

MR. MCCORMACK: Good afternoon, everybody. Afternoon, Lambros. No opening statements so we can get right into your questions. And Sue's first off the mark.

QUESTION: Do you have any details on the P-5+1 meeting in Berlin? Were any decisions taken? What was discussed? Any new sanctions?

MR. MCCORMACK: A swing and a miss. I haven't talked to Nick about the meeting, so we'll check into it for you and we'll try to get something and post it later.

QUESTION: So just to phrase it another way, what would you have liked to have come out of this? (Laughter.)

MR. MCCORMACK: Why don't we wait until we actually see what has emerged, rather than my speculating on it?

Samir, in the back.

QUESTION: Is the meeting today or tomorrow?

MR. MCCORMACK: I think it's today. Yeah, the P-5+1, yeah.

QUESTION: It's today?


QUESTION: Not tomorrow?

MR. MCCORMACK: No, it's today. Today. They had -- yesterday was the G-8 political directors. What they did is they took advantage of the fact that you had five of the six political directors there in Berlin and they conferenced in a Chinese representative, so it was today. Yes.


QUESTION: The front offices announced today that Margaret Beckett is going to receive the Palestinian Foreign Minister for meetings and that seems to be a kind of a step and a half ahead of what you've been willing to do so far with a meeting with the Finance Minster in which Secretary Rice just dropped in and it wasn't really a formal meeting. I mean do you not think, given the problems that are confronting this peace process, that maybe it is time to kind of step up a notch as the British seem to be doing at this point?

MR. MCCORMACK: You know you are going to see different contact policies, for example, that Russia, a member of the Quartet, has had contacts with Hamas. We have a different approach clearly. But you're going to find a variety of different contact policies with different governments. I think the British Government would argue that this does not fall outside the bounds of the Quartet principles. For our part, we have said that we are not going to cut off contact with individuals who may be in the national unity government solely based on their membership in that government if these are people who have a record, a demonstrated record of actions as well as rhetorical support for the Quartet principles as they are stated. Salam Fayyad is the example that you used with the Secretary. She had a meeting with him. It was about half an hour. She dropped in David Welch's meeting, but it was about a half hour that she sat down with him. This is somebody who clearly does meet those criteria. So at this point, that is a person within the national unity government with whom we have met. Margaret Beckett has made another choice, but I think that falls within the realm of there will be some slight differences in contact policy, but I don't think it is something that falls outside the lines of the Quartet principles.


QUESTION: Just a follow-up, did you (inaudible) meeting with him?

MR. MCCORMACK: I don't know that we had any conversation with him about -- I wouldn't be surprised if we did prior to, but I personally am not aware of any conversation about that meeting.


QUESTION: Does Secretary Rice plan to travel anywhere after Moscow, or is she just going to be coming straight home?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, we'll keep you up to date if there are any additional stops.


QUESTION: Speaking of the British Government - since the President has now named the next British prime minister, do you expect Margaret Beckett to stay as Foreign Secretary?

MR. MCCORMACK: That is going to be a decision for the next British Prime Minister.

QUESTION: Well, I'm glad you said this because it is highly unusual for the President of the United States to name a leader of another country before he's been elected. So I'm wondering whether you plan to send some sort of an apology to the British Government or the Embassy or anything that --

MR. MCCORMACK: I have to confess to you I have not seen the remarks that you're referring to you, so --

QUESTION: The President said that Gordon Brown is going to be the next Prime Minister, so --

MR. MCCORMACK: I would expect, Nicholas, then, that since the President said it, you might ask the White House about this question.

QUESTION: Okay, thanks.

QUESTION: (Inaudible).

QUESTION: He did, but --

MR. MCCORMACK: I'm not disputing it, Nicholas. I just have -- I haven't seen it myself, and I would also encourage you to ask the White House about any questions involving the President.


QUESTION: Mr. McCormack, two questions on Turkey.

MR. MCCORMACK: Okay. Only two? Is that it?

QUESTION: I'm not going to interrupt you. I need your help on it.

MR. MCCORMACK: Okay, keep your questions short.

QUESTION: Short in time, yes, because I'm short. (Laughter).

QUESTION: Former Under Secretary Richard Holbrooke earlier today during his speech at the Brookings Institution was praising secular democracy in Turkey up to the heavens in an obvious effort to influence the general elections against the popular Prime Minister of Turkey Recep Erdogan. I'm wondering if the U.S. Government will favor secular democracy or solely democracy -- as (inaudible) will say, dhmokratia in Turkey -- functioning by any government elected democratically by the Turkish people in the upcoming general elections of July 22.

MR. MCCORMACK: Okay, two things, Lambros. One, I've talked about this issue quite a bit, and you can go back and look at the transcripts for the United States Government's position about democracy and constitutional processes in Turkey.

As for Richard Holbrooke, he is a private citizen. He can express his own views.

QUESTION: Democracy, not secular democracy.

MR. MCCORMACK: Go back and look at the transcript, Lambros.

QUESTION: Okay. (Inaudible), you're saying that secular democracy --

MR. MCCORMACK: Lambros, go look at the transcript. That's it. Done. Done.


QUESTION: You consider the AHP a secular democratic party?



MR. MCCORMACK: It is a party that is established within the confines of Turkish law and the Turkish constitution. I will leave it to others to describe their political platform.


QUESTION: Do you have anything to say about these reports that embassy workers are required to wear flack jackets now in the Green Zone?

MR. MCCORMACK: Nothing other than the fact that the security officials at Embassy Baghdad are going to take the steps that they believe are prudent in order to safeguard -- best safeguard our people on the ground, who are serving in difficult conditions. We all know that. It's not unprecedented that they would put out this sort of request to embassy personnel. I understand from time to time it has happened. It did -- I understand, this particular request did come in the wake of some indirect fire incidents. But it's merely a step that the security people on the ground in Baghdad decided was the right move to take in order to safeguard our people, which is the utmost priority for the Secretary as well as the Ambassador there on the ground.


QUESTION: I was wondering if you can expand at all on what the Secretary mentioned this morning that Ambassador Patrick Kennedy was going over -- or already is there in Baghdad, assessing the U.S. Embassy and the staffing and the numbers. You know, both sides -- both senators said this morning, Republican and Democrat, that they're worried about the exploding size of the U.S. embassy. Just wondering what his assessment is going to entail and what his work is.

MR. MCCORMACK: I'll leave it to Ryan to explain a little bit more what he'd like Pat Kennedy to do. This is something that he was interested in and Pat taking a look at, as well as the Secretary. She wants to make sure that we use our resources effectively, that we match resources with objectives, so he's going to take a look at that very question -- do we have the right match between resources and means and policy objectives.

QUESTION: Is he over there now?

MR. MCCORMACK: I don't know. I'm not sure. If he is not already, I expect that he will be there in the near future. I can't tell you if he's on the ground right now.

No. Lambros, you're done.


QUESTION: Do you have any update on these women being held in Iran at this point?

MR. MCCORMACK: No updates.

QUESTION: Nothing new. Nothing you can say about the third person (inaudible) --

MR. MCCORMACK: Nothing new on that.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) Levinson?

MR. MCCORMACK: Mr. Levinson, no. No updates on that.

QUESTION: And you couldn't say if you've requested consular access yet at this point, either?

MR. MCCORMACK: Again, I addressed that yesterday -- addressed that question yesterday.

Yes, Gollust.

QUESTION: I understand there was some diplomatic interchange between the Russian Government and our embassy in Moscow about the now famous Third Reich allusion by Putin. I wondered if you could describe it any further.

MR. MCCORMACK: Only that our embassy confirmed with Russian officials that there was no attempt to link allusions to the Third Reich with the policies of the United States Government. I know that some who reported on President Putin's speech did so. But the Russian Government assured us that there was no intent in any way to do so.


QUESTION: Did they say what the intent was?

MR. MCCORMACK: No. You can talk to them, Nicholas, about President Putin's speechwriters.

QUESTION: You accepted the explanation and this is it.


Yes, sir, in the back.

QUESTION: Another topic about Georgian-Ossetian conflicts.


QUESTION: The Government of Georgia has appointed Tbilisi-loyal South Ossetian leader, Sanakoev as head of the provisional administrative unit in South Ossetia. The new leader is going to address the Georgian parliament tomorrow. I was wondering if you could give me any reaction on that. So how can it help the peace process?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, this is -- I don't have any particular comment on the appointment. But we do have a long track record of encouraging constructive dialogue between South Ossetia and the South Ossetians and the Georgian Government. It's in the interest of everybody to work out any political differences, via political means. And we are very firm in the idea that the territorial integrity of Georgia is not something that should be in question.


QUESTION: I missed the gaggle this morning. But I believe you talked about Wolfowitz
and --

MR. MCCORMACK: You missed the gaggle?

QUESTION: I did. I was on the Hill. I was at the hearing. (Laughter.)

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, okay, since you did make the choice, you made the choice to go see the Secretary's testimony as opposed to coming to see my gaggle, okay.

QUESTION: But anyway, what has her message been to some European leaders about Paul Wolfowitz and why is she getting involved?

MR. MCCORMACK: This is something just over the course of the past couple of weeks, in a couple of her conversations in the course of her ongoing conversations with some of her counterparts, she mentioned her personal high regard for Paul Wolfowitz and the work that he's doing at the World Bank. She further underlined that she fully understood that there was a World Bank administrative process that is underway and that that process would follow according to the rules, regulations and procedures of the World Bank. That was it.

QUESTION: So was this just an aside to regularly scheduled talks?



QUESTION: Has Secretary Rice contacted Paul Wolfowitz lately to express her support for him?

MR. MCCORMACK: Not to my knowledge, no.

QUESTION: Does she speak to him fairly regularly? I mean, is she someone -- is he someone with whom she has regular contact?

MR. MCCORMACK: No. They have -- they were obviously colleagues for four years in the first term. I know that they have met in their official -- respective official capacities, I think. I can't remember exactly when, but I do recall a meeting right after Mr. Wolfowitz took over the World Bank, but I'm not aware of any other contact that she's had.

Okay. Thanks.

(The briefing was concluded at 2:17 p.m.)

DPB # 84

Released on May 10, 2007

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