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Daily Press Briefing

Tom Casey, Deputy Spokesman
Washington, DC
May 16, 2007


Today's Mortar Attack in Baghdad / Reports of Casualties
Security of US Embassy and Personnel
Baghdad Security Initiative and Levels of Violence/Attacks
Possible Use of Rewards for Justice Program Regarding 3 US Personnel Held
Timing of US-Iran Talks
Reports Ayman Nour Beaten in Jail
US Discussions with Egyptian Government
Whereabouts of General Dayton
Status of Assistance for Presidential Guard and the Karni Crossing
Missile Attacks from Gaza into Israel
Plans for Russia to Build Nuclear Research Reactor in Burma
US Concern that Burma Lacks Safeguards to Support Nuclear Development
Situation in Pakistan / Level of Violence
Ambassador Neumann's Travel to Pakistan and Countries in Region
North Korea's Compliance with Agreements /Obligations on Nuclear Program
Status of North Korea's Nuclear Program
BDA Issue and Transfer of Funds
Reported North Korean Long-Range Missile Test in Iran
Former US Government Official's Views on Turkey
Possibility of Weapons Being Diverted to Darfur
UN Secretary General Ban's Diplomatic Efforts
Discussions at UNSC on Resolution


12:38 p.m. EST

MR. CASEY: Okay. Well, good afternoon, everybody. I don't have anything to start you out with today, so let's go. Anne.

QUESTION: Any update on the Green Zone mortar attack today? Any change in the number of injured or whether there were Americans among the injured?

MR. CASEY: No, I don't have any stronger reports on that than what we had this morning. There was an attack. An undetermined number of mortars fired into the Green Zone. They're still trying to do an assessment of the casualties involved. Obviously, it's a tragic incident. But we'll keep you posted in terms of what the casualty figures are.

QUESTION: Two Iraqis dead? Is that --

MR. CASEY: That's the last report that I saw, but I think they're still trying to make a final assessment of it.

QUESTION: Do you anticipate that there will be Americans among the injured?

MR. CASEY: I'm not sure at this point what the nationalities are of those involved. Whether there are any Americans involved at this point is something I'm still trying to get from the Embassy.

QUESTION: Are you concerned about the number and accuracy of the mortars? There were apparently quite a large number of them.

MR. CASEY: Well, certainly for Ambassador Crocker as well as for our military officials, force protection -- the security of our folks at the Embassy and elsewhere -- is a primary concern. There have been a number of attacks in the Green Zone recently. I think the general assessment is those have increased. But you know, this is something unfortunately that has been a factor and a safety concern for our people since the beginning. But certainly, we are always looking at what we can do to better protect our staff and our facilities.

QUESTION: Just one more on that.

MR. CASEY: Sure.

QUESTION: In following on that, do you anticipate then that there may be some further changes to plans for the new embassy as a result?

MR. CASEY: Well, I think Ryan Crocker has just gotten himself out there. I know he's looking very carefully at how we move forward as we go to move to the new embassy compound. Whether that would involve any adjustments to security procedures or to staffing levels or those kinds of things are frankly decisions that he's going to have to make in conjunction with the Department, so I don't want to anticipate anything for you on that.


QUESTION: Just to follow on this, should -- what inferences should observers draw about the viability of the Baghdad security initiative if these attacks on the Green Zone are, as you acknowledge, increasing?

MR. CASEY: Well, James, first of all, I think it's again important to point out that there have always been attacks into the Green Zone and it's one of the reasons why we've always been very concerned about the security of our Embassy and of our staff there. But at the same time, I think it would be wrong to try and draw any broader conclusions from the fact that there have been numbers of attacks going up or going down in terms of mortars fired into the Green Zone itself.

The Baghdad security plan is still in its early stages. I'll leave it to General Petraeus and our military experts to talk to you specifically about how that is having an effect on violence levels there. But we have seen hopeful signs, as you've heard him and other people say, and certainly I wouldn't try and draw any broader conclusions based simply on the fact that there's indirect fire into the Green Zone.

QUESTION: How come? Why wouldn't you draw the broader --

MR. CASEY: Well, because there's always been indirect fire of this kind into the Green Zone. It's been part of the operating environment for our officials there as well as for other people working there. And certainly, I think talking about a micro level of violence doesn't represent a full picture of what's going on in the --

QUESTION: Well, asking people to wear flak jackets isn't an inference. I mean, that's -- I mean, that's somebody deciding people needed to wear flak jackets and they didn't have to before.

MR. CASEY: I assume you're referring to a couple of the stories there. Well, I would also, for those of us that have been out there and including quite a while ago as well, there are always security procedures that our guys are doing. One of the reasons why you get issued personal protective gear when you are assigned out to Baghdad temporarily or longer term is with the intention that you're probably going to wind up using it and wearing it. There are procedures that people do in response to levels of violence that occur or in response to particular attacks. Sometimes those are for a short period of time, sometimes those are for longer, but asking people to wear their personal protective gear isn't something new.



QUESTION: Isn't -- sorry, isn't something?

MR. CASEY: Isn't something new.

QUESTION: You know, the Baghdad security plan has been in place for more than two months, so for how long are you going to say that it's in its early phases? I mean, the troop peak is going to be reached within the next few weeks.

MR. CASEY: Well, again, I'll leave it to David Petraeus and our military commanders to talk to you about specific troop levels and the response to those. But I do think that all their reports indicate that the levels of sectarian violence have decreased. Certainly, though, no one's trying to sugarcoat it or pretend that there aren't serious problems in Baghdad, that there isn't serious violence, particularly some of these spectacular attacks and suicide bombings which are being fomented in part by al-Qaida in Iraq and partly as a way of trying to continue to incite sectarian violence. So this isn't easy, but I'll again leave the military judgments to the guys in the field.

QUESTION: But you still think it's in its early stages?

MR. CASEY: Well, again, I think it's hard to try and give a evaluation of the effectiveness of a program when the full number of troops scheduled to deploy and all the other components of it aren't yet in place. That's all I'm intending by that.


QUESTION: Since you mentioned al-Qaida in Iraq, is the State Department placing any kind of Rewards for Justice bounty in terms of the three U.S. personnel who are being held?

MR. CASEY: I don't think anything's been done at this point related to that. I'm not sure what might be planned. Part of it, of course, in terms of the Reward for Justice program, is that usually applies to seeking information on specific individuals, and in this instance I don't think we have specific individuals associated with it. Some of the members of al-Qaida in Iraq are on the Rewards for Justice list, in part because we want to see if there's ways of using that program to get some information that could lead to their capture.


QUESTION: Do you have any timetable or details yet for a meeting between Ambassador Crocker and Iranian -- his Iranian counterpart or some --

MR. CASEY: Yeah -- no, I don't have any updates for you on that. Certainly, we expect that meeting to occur somewhere in the next couple of weeks, but the details of that are all still to be worked out -- or the modalities, as James would say, since you're here, James. (Laughter.) I can't go a day without saying it.

QUESTION: But is it -- does it bode well for the productiveness of those talks that the Supreme Leader in Iran has said today that the subject of them will be the responsibilities of the foreign occupier and not of Iran in Iraq?

MR. CASEY: Look, I don't want to try and prejudge this. They can certainly bring to the table issues or concerns they have about Iraq. We will certainly present our concerns to them and we'll see what happens. Again, as I said when we discussed this a little earlier, the issue here isn't what people actually say. It's whether there's any change in Iranian behavior and the facts on the ground in terms of their support for militias, their continued provision of IEDs and other weaponry to those that are opposing the government.

QUESTION: Did you see those reports that I'm referring to?

MR. CASEY: I haven't -- I saw a quick report on them, James. I didn't see them in detail.

QUESTION: I have a new topic.

MR. CASEY: Sure.

QUESTION: This is on Egypt, on Ayman Nour. His wife this week said that over the weekend, he was roughed up in jail. I was wondering if you had been speaking to the Egyptians about his case. She has been -- she gave an interview and was speaking out very negatively against the United States. She said that the American priority is not to help her husband, but to make Mubarak help them impose the American hegemony on the region and not to safeguard democracy.

MR. CASEY: To be honest with you, Elise, I hadn't seen those reports. Let me check and see whether we've heard about this and let me also see whether we've spoken to the Egyptians, again, about his case. As you know, this is -- he is a subject and his situation as a subject that is raised frequently with Egyptians. But let me see if we've done anything in specific response to this.

QUESTION: So I mean, do you know if -- when Secretary Rice met with Foreign Minister Aboul Gheit on the sidelines of the Iraq conference if his case was raised?

MR. CASEY: I honestly don't. I didn't get a full brief on their meeting so -- I can check into that for you.

QUESTION: But I mean just in a general sense in terms of his case over the last several months, I mean, you know, in the past the Secretary has spoken out very strongly about the case and we haven't heard anything for a while. I mean, do you --

MR. CASEY: Our view --

QUESTION: What about the criticism that the United States is, you know, back-peddling on its desires for democracy in the region because things are getting difficult in Iraq?

MR. CASEY: Well, again, we've talked about this before. The issue of democracy, the issue of political freedoms is a regular feature of our discussions with the Egyptian Government and others in the region, both at the level of the Secretary as well as throughout our discussions and with our embassies. Again, I know this is -- the general issue has been raised, including in her recent visits to Egypt. I just don't know whether specifically there was a discussion about his case in the Secretary's meetings on the margins of the Iraq conference and I can find out for you.

QUESTION: But you wouldn't take issue with her comments that you don't care -- Mrs. Nour that you don't --

MR. CASEY: Well, certainly I haven't seen her remarks. But again, we do maintain and continue our commitment to promoting peaceful democratic change in the Middle East. We believe that ultimately one of the ways to resolve some of the other issues in the region is through the development of a democratic system of more democratic societies. Again, obviously that's something and that change has to be led internally by the people of the region, but our support for it continues and it continues without any break or any change.


QUESTION: Change of subject?

MR. CASEY: George, were you on the same thing or were you --

QUESTION: Different.

MR. CASEY: Okay.

QUESTION: The violence in Gaza, do you have any details on the whereabouts of General Dayton and what he's doing?

MR. CASEY: Well, General Dayton is, in fact, in the region still. And along with our Ambassador in Tel Aviv and the Consulate General in Jerusalem is in regular contact with Israeli and Palestinian officials. Someone had asked me this morning -- I can't remember if it was you or someone else -- about plans for assistance or additional assistance --

QUESTION: That was my next question.

MR. CASEY: -- for the Presidential Guard and the Karni crossing. At this point, we're still in the early stages of contracting for that and it's going to be a number of weeks before any activities on the ground are ready to begin. At this point, I can't honestly tell you what impact if any the current violence there might have on those programs.

QUESTION: But it could have an impact? The program could be suspended because of the violence?

MR. CASEY: At this point, I really can't predict. Our main focus at this point is to call on all the parties there to refrain from violence. It's clear that everyone needs to work with President Abbas to calm the situation down. It certainly isn't helpful, again, for the aspirations of the Palestinian people to have this kind of internecine fighting going on.

QUESTION: And do you think that President Abbas does enough to calm the situation down?

MR. CASEY: Well, we believe that President Abbas is committed to the path of peace and committed to reforms in the Palestinian Authority that are necessary to move that process forward. Again, he has legal standing and obligation as the President of the Palestinian Authority and we think it's appropriate for everyone to work with him to help calm the situation down.

QUESTION: Do you think he's doing enough to stop the missile attacks from Gaza into Israel?

MR. CASEY: Again, he's committed to doing so. I think part of the problem in terms of being able to address the issue of violence against Israel, terrorist attacks against Israel from Gaza, is that it's awfully hard for Palestinian security forces to do anything about that if they're engaged in ongoing hostilities or battles within the Palestinian community.

George, do you have something else?

QUESTION: Do you have more on what I asked this morning about the Russian nuclear deal with Burma?

MR. CASEY: Right.

QUESTION: And you -- you said that Myanmar, or rather, Burma has neither the regulatory framework nor the legal framework of the kind that you would like to see in such cases.

MR. CASEY: Yeah.

QUESTION: Could you put that in laymen's terms?

MR. CASEY: Could I put it in laymen's terms? Well, they don't have anything like the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. They don't have any standards for safety. They don't have any oversight or management system for nuclear power. In short, we would be concerned about the possibility for accidents, for environmental damage or for proliferation simply by the possibility of fuel being diverted, stolen or otherwise removed simply because there are no accounting mechanisms or other kinds of security procedures. So this is something that Burma does not have any systems in place to be able to handle, and that certainly is cause for concern.

QUESTION: So it's not a good idea for the --

MR. CASEY: That would be the short answer, Sylvie. Yeah, it's not a good idea.

QUESTION: So the Russians didn't have a good idea by putting this agreement --

MR. CASEY: Again, I'm not familiar. I know they signed a memorandum of understanding. I'm not sure what the contents are of that or whether -- how preliminary this is, but again, we have concerns about this. We wouldn't want to see a project like this move forward until some of those concerns are addressed.


QUESTION: Tom, could you tell us a little bit about what the business of Ambassador Ron Neumann is? He appears to be in Islamabad, was in Kabul. And the latest violence in Pakistan -- is there concern in this Administration maybe that Musharraf may be kind of losing the handle on the situation?

MR. CASEY: Well, in terms of Ambassador Neumann, I can get you a little more information about it. But basically, Ambassador Neumann has been working with states in the region to help find additional means of supporting Afghanistan, helping to deal with some of the problems there, trying to make sure that there's adequate support for President Karzai and his government as they try and move forward.

In terms of the situation in Pakistan itself, again, we're pleased to see that the violence that had occurred in Karachi has stopped. The issues that are there in the Pakistan political system are ones that need to be resolved peacefully and through their own legal and constitutional procedures. There is going to be an important election coming up in Pakistan. It is, as Richard Boucher likes to say, in everyone's interest to see that Pakistan develops as a moderate Islamic country that continues to be a good ally with the United States in the war on terror and continues to help support its neighbor in Afghanistan deal with the ongoing threat posed by the Taliban and other violent extremists there.

But again, I don't think our assessment has fundamentally changed about him or his role in Pakistani society.


QUESTION: On North Korea. I know we discussed this a bit yesterday, but does the fact that North Korea, more than a month after it was supposed to shut down the Yongbyon reactor, has not done so not validate the concerns that were raised principally by John Bolton but by conservatives generally about the February agreement and the provisions it had or did not have for mandating North Korean compliance?

MR. CASEY: Well, James, first of all, as we've always said, how you need to judge this deal is not by the terms of the February 13th agreement. It's by whether we get to the end goal. It's by whether we get to the goal line of having a denuclearized Korean Peninsula that was called for back in September of 2005. This is just a first step in that process and it's a step that, as we've seen, has been more difficult than I think we anticipated. It has been because the BDA issue became a much more difficult nut to crack than anyone thought it was going to be.

That said, we still have a commitment from the North Koreans to follow through on the shutdown of Yongbyon, which is what was called for in that February 13th agreement, and to do so as soon as the funds are transferred out of BDA. We all wish that that had happened sooner, but at this point, I think it's inappropriate to try and judge the outcome of a process when we're still in the second quarter of the game.

QUESTION: If I may, do you believe that it requires technical expertise in order to determine whether or not North Korea has used this period since April 14 to enhance its nuclear arsenal?

MR. CASEY: James, I'm sure that there are technical experts that have looked at that, but as far as I know, we don't have any indication that they have made advances in their nuclear program during this period. Either way, though, the important thing is, is that they have not done what they had committed to do, which is to shut down the reactor -- and again, not just to shut it down temporarily, but to shut it down in anticipation that will then take the next step, which is the disabling and ultimately the permanent dismantling of this. And that's how we're going to ultimately be able to judge this agreement.

QUESTION: Yongbyon has been functioning since April 14; correct?

MR. CASEY: That is correct. But if your question is am I aware of anything that they have done there that has added to our understanding of their nuclear capabilities, the answer is no.

QUESTION: Wouldn't the mere continued functioning of Yongbyon, in fact, contribute to an enhancement of their nuclear capability?

MR. CASEY: Well, James, I think the main point is that they have not done and taken any steps that we would consider to be provocative or be intended or designed to undermine the goals either of the February 13th agreement or the overall September 19th, 2005 accord. But again, are we concerned that this agreement hasn't been fully implemented? Of course we are. And we certainly would have liked to have seen all the commitments honored within the initial 60-day timeframe that people have laid out.

I think, though, that what's important, though, is to see the BDA issue put in our rearview mirror and then make sure that the North Koreans honor the commitments they have said they will honor and honor the commitments that they recently said they would undertake, which is to shut down the reactor in accordance with their previous agreement as soon as that money transfer is complete. We all wish that banking regulations and the financial transactions involved here had gone a lot faster, though.

QUESTION: Well, do you really think that it's an issue of banking regulations? I mean, does it give you any confidence that North Korea is not going to find something else or some other reason not to adhere to its commitments? I mean, you know, if you say that the real determination is the endgame and not making a deadline, then why do you have agreements and deadlines to begin with?

MR. CASEY: We have to have some way of trying to measure commitments, and I think Chris spoke rather clearly about this when the February 13th agreement was signed. You can't do everything all at once, so you have to do it in stages. And this is like his video game analogy: We're just at the first few levels here and those levels have been very difficult, and that certainly means we're going to have an even harder time making sure that we go down the next steps in this road. Nobody said this was going to be easy, but again, the BDA issue has been something that has simply taken much longer and been much more difficult than other people had thought it would be at the beginning.

That, I don't think, is a reason to call into question the fundamentals of the agreement, but certainly, we want to see this move as fast as possible. And we are concerned that we get this done because if we don't, then we are going to lose the momentum that we had built up and the real test of this is, again, not even whether these commitments are honored, but whether we can move beyond that to a full completion of the September 19th accords.

QUESTION: But are you now not hostage to an assertion of linkage that was never envisioned in the original agreements?

MR. CASEY: Look, everybody understood on February 13th when they walked out of the room that the North Koreans needed to have the BDA issue resolved before they would take these steps. And the BDA issue has been what it's been. Again, I think everyone would have liked to have seen it move faster, but the process of dealing with BDA was much more complicated.

QUESTION: But aren't these supposed to be separate tracks, the financial and the nuclear?

MR. CASEY: Ultimately, James, this was the understanding that everyone came out of on February 13th and that's the basis on which everyone's proceeding.


QUESTION: Tom, you said that you're not aware of any indications that there's been any advancement in the nuclear program. How likely is it that if there were, then you or anybody in the U.S. Government actually would know about it?

MR. CASEY: I think there are many other agencies in the U.S. Government you can pose that question to.

QUESTION: But -- so you have talked to those agencies and you are not aware of --

MR. CASEY: Nicholas, I'm telling you that I have not gotten a degree in nuclear physics since the last time I talked with you. But as far as anyone I've talked to in this building, no one's aware of any fundamental changes in their program.

QUESTION: And just one other question. I don't remember this being answered at the time, but when you agreed to unfreeze the $25 million, why did you do that? What changed the --

MR. CASEY: Well, we didn't agree to unfreeze the $25 million. We passed -- the Treasury Department implemented a rule respective of BDA. An agreement was then reached with the parties involved that the money would be then unfrozen by the Macanese authorities and would then be put to use for specific purposes that the North Koreans committed to, specifically for humanitarian needs, food, and other things to benefit the North Korean people.

QUESTION: So that's why you lifted your objection to the money being frozen, because of the use that it was going to go to?

MR. CASEY: Well, again, this was the arrangement that was made at the time. I'd refer you back to what Chris and others said relevant to it. But this was what everyone believed made sense. The important thing in terms of the upholding of U.S. law is that the ruling that Treasury passed basically took a money-laundering center out of business. And that's what is necessary to protect the U.S. financial system. It was never envisioned -- and as far as I know, there's no Macanese asset forfeiture law in place, I would check with them -- that all the funds held would somehow be permanently frozen.

Yeah, James.

QUESTION: One thing I don't understand, and I'll try and use an analogy to help us arrive at a better understanding together --

MR. CASEY: Oh, the dangerous analogy. Okay.

QUESTION: Yeah, I know, which gives you the ability to pick it apart.

MR. CASEY: It's almost as good as a modality, but not quite.

QUESTION: But if I were operating an oil well for a month longer than I was supposed to be doing, presumably at the end of that month I would enhance my reserves of oil. I don't understand how you can possibly claim that the continued operation of Yongbyon for a month beyond the shutdown date doesn't serve to enhance the nuclear stockpile of North Korea.

MR. CASEY: You know, James, these are the times when I want a little phone-a-friend thing here so I can call up someone who's an expert in nuclear policy.

QUESTION: Well, I'm not, but --

MR. CASEY: But seriously -- no, seriously, look, as I understand it -- and I accept that it is a limited understanding of the process -- there has been no harvesting of additional resources or anything else that would indicate that the North Koreans have made steps towards expanding their nuclear arsenal. Now, I can't tell you that that is based on a thorough and authoritative review of all U.S. Government information, but my understanding is they have not taken steps that would indicate that they are intent on either breaking this deal or that would raise into question our fundamental understanding that they intend to comply with it.

Let's go in the back here.

QUESTION: I want to follow up on that.

MR. CASEY: Yeah.

QUESTION: There's been some reports that North Korea tested a long-range missile in Iran. Is that an issue?

MR. CASEY: That North Korean tested a long-range missile in Iran?

QUESTION: Yeah. And it's coming out of a South Korean news reports about that.

MR. CASEY: Sorry, I don't have anything on it. I would assume anything of that would touch on things that the intelligence community knows and I'd just leave it to them to address.

Mr. Lambros.

QUESTION: On France.

MR. CASEY: Not on Turkey? (Laughter.)

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

MR. CASEY: Oh, okay. I feel better now.

QUESTION: Mr. Casey, did you have a chance to talk to your Ambassador in Paris to find out if the new President of France Nicolas Sarkozy, prior to resuming his duties today at the Elysee Palace, has been approved by the Chairman of the French armed forces General Jean-Louis Georgelin, like in the case of Turkey with a dictator-to-be General Yasar Buyukanit who's going to do that in the upcoming election in the name of national security?

MR. CASEY: Boy, there's a stretch for you, Mr. Lambros. I'd refer you to the French Government for anything about President Sarkozy. We certainly look forward to working with him and his administration. I know Deputy Secretary Negroponte was just in Paris and I believe had an opportunity to meet with a couple of members of the then President-elect, now President's staff.

In terms of Turkey, Mr. Lambros, it's the same answer as it's been before. We support democracy in Turkey. We support Turkey's democratic systems and procedures and believe the Turkish people are the ones who can, should and will decide who the rulers of the country will be.

QUESTION: Former Under Secretary Richard Holbrooke is talking here in Washington, even publicly, Mr. Casey, for secular democracy in Turkey, praising the job of the Turkish armed forces under the chairmanship of the dictator-to-be General Yasar Buyukanit. I'm wondering to which extent Mr. Holbrooke could influence the policymakers in this building vis--vis to Turkey since he is a prominent American diplomat and politician.

MR. CASEY: I believe last time I looked, Mr. Holbrooke is a former U.S. Government official, so his opinions are his own and who they might influence or not -- other than you -- I'm not sure. (Laughter.)


QUESTION: Tom, the Amnesty International spotted Russian and Chinese planes where they're not supposed to be. They still have the white markings indistinguishable from UN-type humanitarian carriers. And they spotted heavy weapons artillery and other type of no-nos. It's blatantly in violation of 1591, and what are you perhaps doing at the United Nations as well as in talks with the Sudanese to rectify this situation?

MR. CASEY: Joel, we've talked about this several times since that report comes out and I'd refer you back to some of those comments.

Certainly, we are concerned about any actions that would violate international norms, including things like disguising military aircraft as humanitarian or UN aircraft. And that's something that I think people have spoken to before.

In terms of what I think you were referring to, which is the possibility that armaments have been diverted to Darfur in violation of UN Security Council resolutions, that certainly is a concern. We are concerned about both the possibility and our understanding that weapons have, in fact, been diverted out to Darfur in violation of Security Council regulations. I know this is a matter that is being looked at by the UN and by some of their technical experts and I'm sure will come up in discussions in New York.

QUESTION: How close are you to giving up on Secretary General Ban's efforts to get the Sudanese to move along and imposing your sanctions?

MR. CASEY: I don't think we've gotten an update from the Secretary General very recently. But certainly as the President said, we were going to give him some time for him to conduct diplomacy on this. I don't -- I'm not going to tell you when the clock is going to run out, but certainly I think the time is going to be coming soon.

QUESTION: He -- because he said he would give them a short -- and emphasized the word short -- period of time.

MR. CASEY: Yeah. Again, I think the President's made it clear that this is not a open-ended commitment that we were giving the Secretary General the opportunity to conduct his diplomacy to try and see if he could make a difference. He asked for that for us and we were willing to give that to him. But what we certainly haven't seen is any fundamental change in the view of the Sudanese Government. They certainly have not agreed to accept the full range of hybrid force that is required and frankly is fundamental to being able to deal with the violence and deal with the situation in Darfur.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: On Kosovo. Any update on Kosovo issue since the case is pending on -- at the Security Council in the United Nations. (Inaudible) you told us yesterday?

MR. CASEY: Mr. Lambros, there's still discussions going on in the United Nations on this. I believe the French have put forward a draft resolution. I understand and you can look at what the Secretary and Foreign Minister Lavrov said in Moscow yesterday. This was a discussion -- part of the discussion that the Secretary had with Russian officials. So we're still working on it. But again, we believe that the time has come to move forward with approval of the Ahtisaari plan in the Security Council.

QUESTION: Any progress with the Russians?

MR. CASEY: Again, I'd refer you to what the Secretary said with Foreign Minister Lavrov.

QUESTION: Thank you.

(The briefing was concluded at 1:11 p.m.)

DPB # 88

Released on May 16, 2007

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