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Military

Daily Press Briefing

Tom Casey, Deputy Spokesman
Washington, DC
May 24, 2007

INDEX:

IRAN
Strengthening Iranian Sanctions Regime / P5+1 Proposal Additional Measures
Graduated Approach / International Community Should Remain United
U.S. Will Negotiate Once Enrichment Ends / Sanctions Only One Aspect of Policy
Update on American Detainees / Individuals Should be Released / Unwarranted
Iranian Detainees in Iraq / Security Review Underway
Agenda for Ryan Crocker's Weekend Talks / Talks to Focus Only on Iraq Security
TURKEY
PPK Terrorist Threat / Cooperation with U.S., Iraq Best Way to Deal with Threat
U.S. Supports Turkey's Democratic Government and Institutions
U.S. Condemns Bombing / Turkish Investigation Ongoing
Responsible Parties Should be Brought to Justice
ISRAEL / PALESTINIANS
Arrest of Hamas Leaders / Israel Has Right to Defend Itself
Arrest of Elected Members of Palestinian Government a Concern
Israel Must Recognize Consequences of Actions
NORTH KOREA
Humanitarian Aid Shipments Independent of Six-Party Talks
No U.S. Request to Halt Shipments
BOSNIA
Request for Readout on Meetings with State Department
SRI LANKA
Status of Peace Talks / U.S. Working to Ensure Peace Process Continues
Parties have Obligation to Sri Lankan People
BALKANS
Administration Has Worked to Strengthen Stability and Security
U.S. Committment to Incorporating Balkans into Euro-Atlantic Institutions


TRANSCRIPT:

12:34 p.m. EDT

MR. CASEY: Okay. Well, good afternoon, everybody. I don't have any opening statements or announcements for you so let's see what you've got.

Okay, go ahead, Arshad.

QUESTION: The President said that he believed that the UN sanctions regime against Iran should be strengthened and he said he had discussed the matter with Secretary Rice, I think this morning. Can you shed any light on how it might be strengthened, whether it might, for example, seek to tighten up on foreign export credits or make the arms embargo mandatory?

MR. CASEY: Well, I don't want, again, try and get ahead of the diplomacy either in New York or more broadly with the P-5+1. But I think, as the President's statement made clear, we are now at a point where, unfortunately, because Iran hasn't complied with the requirements of the Security Council and the international community, we do need to move forward with another round of sanctions. And the P-5+1 in putting together their original proposal included, as you know, both the negative pathway of sanctions as well as the positive pathway of negotiations. And there's a wide range of measures I think that are still available for the Council to look at that would place some increasing pressure on the Iranian regime. And certainly if you look at the effect of the sanctions that have been imposed to date, a number of them have had an impact on Iran's ability to continue to do business as usual. And that also includes an impact that it's had on commercial banks and other kinds of private companies who are making their own decisions outside of the formal sanctions regime to restrict or cut off business with Iran accordingly.

So I certainly think we'll be looking at a variety of measures, including a number of economic issues that are out there. But what I don't want to try and do is try and start talking now before some of the formal diplomatic consultations have begun about what the specifics of those might be.

QUESTION: When you say economic measures do you think about oil?

MR. CASEY: Again, Sylvie, I'm not trying to signal you in one direction or another on this. The conversations are just at a very early stage on this. But we do want to look at what would be most effective in terms of having the international community take the next steps forward. I think you've heard us say repeatedly that this is going to be a graduated approach, so again I would look for the next steps to be in keeping with the kinds of things that we've seen over the past two resolutions.

QUESTION: Are you confident that you could retain the votes of Russia and China for tougher economic-based sanctions? I mean, if you were -- they're graduated, but if you were to take a pretty big step in that graduated plan, how long can you hold onto their votes?

MR. CASEY: Well, again, I think when you look at the last resolution, which Russia and China voted for as well as the other members of the Council, it makes clear that everyone's committed to taking additional steps should the Iranians not comply. We now have a very formalized report from the IAEA saying what we've all known, which is unfortunately that they haven't. So we expect to be able to move forward with additional sanctions in the Security Council. And again, that's something that the Russians and Chinese and the other members of the P-5+1 have committed themselves to. Now, as we know from past discussions on this, I'm sure there will be a lot of different ideas exchanged. I'm sure there'll be a number of different points of view, but we believe that the international community does remain united on this, and that there is certainly support for being able to move forward with additional measures.

QUESTION: Tom, just a follow-up.

MR. CASEY: Yeah.

QUESTION: From these sanctions, as the President said today, how they will work against Iran, which in the past it has not worked as those sanctions are concerned, also not on many other countries. So where are we going, sanction by sanction? It's not working and they are moving ahead with their nuclear program and the international community keeps going -- further sanctions.

MR. CASEY: Well, the path that we have put ourselves on is a pretty clear one. And it's not just sanctions for the sake of sanctions. It's sanctions designed to give the Iranians appropriate incentive to change their behavior. And remember, the sanctions aren't the only aspect of our policy. The other aspect of our policy is a willingness to negotiate, not only on their nuclear program, but on other issues that they might wish to bring to the table in good faith so that they can achieve what they say their stated objective is, which is a civilian nuclear power program.

So the goal here is not simply to just continue to apply sanctions. The goal here is to have those sanctions ultimately convince the Iranian regime that it's in their interest to take up what is a very attractive offer for negotiations that will allow them to achieve the full range of civilian nuclear activities that most countries have and that we think would be appropriate.

QUESTION: But, Tom, again, the Iranian President has not moved an inch. The more the global community, the UN community talks about it, the more he goes against the community and he said, I'm challenging the international community. And nothing -- where are you going?

QUESTION: Well, again, Goyle, I think if you look at what's happened inside Iran, there is certainly that perspective that President Ahmadi-Nejad is -- has stated publicly, but there are also other voices in the Iranian regime who are clearly questioning whether this is the right policy for them to pursue. And again, what we are doing is ratcheting up the sanctions in a gradual way in an effort to make that calculus change. Has it worked yet? No, it hasn't. But again, we believe it's the right policy to pursue. I certainly don't think there's anyone out there that wants to live with a nuclear Iran, to live with Iran with a nuclear weapon, and I don't know of anyone out there that's suggesting that somehow removing sanctions or proceeding down a different path would cause the Iranians to change their behavior and negotiate in good faith.

QUESTION: Well, I mean --

MR. CASEY: Yeah.

QUESTION: ElBaradei suggested today that sitting down with them is another path, and I know you have a structure in which you're willing to do that. But as I read his comments, he seemed to be saying, just talk -- just go ahead and get it over with.

MR. CASEY: You mean like the talks that Mr. Larijani and Mr. Solana will be having next week?

QUESTION: I --

MR. CASEY: Again --

QUESTION: Presumably, he already -- he knows that, so I think he was looking to go farther than that.

MR. CASEY: There are discussions that the international community is having with Iran, and there is a channel for discussions, and those are moving forward. What we have said though is there is no value in trying to hold negotiations in which the Iranian Government can stall, play for time, and in effect operate in bad faith; all the while they continue to develop their nuclear program. I don't think that's a scenario that anyone would support.

And again, we've made it clear, and we've reiterated again in light of this IAEA report that the international community stands by the decisions of the Security Council and by those resolutions. We want to see Iran take a very simple, good faith step, which is to suspend uranium enrichment. Not eliminate their program completely, not make further changes to it, but as a simple, good faith gesture to show that they're actually willing to negotiate in good faith. Simply halt what they're doing, exactly right where they are. I don't think that there's any sense in the P-5+1 or the international community that that strategy is in need of change right now.

Yeah, Elise.

QUESTION: Just to get back to the idea of the types of sanctions that you're looking at. When you were putting sanctions on North Korea, you were pretty clear about the fact that in addition to having some economic component, there would also be efforts to make it uncomfortable for the regime. In addition to travel bans, you were adding things that, you know, that the regime, like, shouldn't enjoy, you know, perks or benefits such as, you know, particular goods, things like that. Are you also looking at trying to make it uncomfortable for the regime in terms of imports that don't necessarily have an economic component, but a quality of life issue?

MR. CASEY: Well, I do think there are separate cases and there were some specific reasons why people thought those actions would be effective in terms of North Korea. I think in terms of Iran, what we've done is tried to make it very difficult for the regime to first and foremost be able to advance its nuclear programs, and then secondarily try to take actions that we do believe causes the regime to pay a price for its defiance of the international community. And certainly we'll take a look at any kinds of actions that we believe will help give them incentives to make the right decision here.

QUESTION: So would that include expanding the travel ban for officials not necessarily related to the nuclear program, but other Iranian officials in other agencies?

MR. CASEY: Again, I don't want to try and talk about specifics at this early stage, but I think we'll take a look at both what measures we have taken already, how effective they've been, what we might be able to do in terms of enhancing those, as well as new measures that we might also be able to bring to the table.

Yeah.

QUESTION: On North Korea.

MR. CASEY: Are we -- we done on Iran?

QUESTION: Just one quick one.

MR. CASEY: Thought you had one on Iran still.

QUESTION: Do you share ElBaradei's assessment that between three and eight years is what basically the period is for Iran to -- if they wanted to they would have the capabilities to build a weapon?

MR. CASEY: I'm not sure what he's basing his assessment on, but I don't have anything to change what the intelligence community has offered already on this.

Yeah, Kirit.

QUESTION: It's about the nuclear issue on Iran. There is a report coming out from Human Rights Watch that there's another Iranian-American being detained in Iran. Do you have any confirmation on this at this time?

MR. CASEY: No, I don't. Sorry. Nothing beyond what I've -- the individuals we spoke about yesterday.

QUESTION: Is there any more news about this latest detainee, or whatever you call it, from the sources?

MR. CASEY: Other than simply confirming the fact that we've seen those reports, we certainly heard from his employers that he has in fact been detained. I expect we'll be seeking consular access to him as well, though I would note that in previous -- the previous instance, we haven't been granted that to date either. So we'll see what happens, but yeah, we can confirm that he is, in fact, being detained by the Iranian Government. We don't have any details on the specific reasons why for that, but --

QUESTION: Can I just ask a follow-up on the whole --

MR. CASEY: Sure.

QUESTION: -- issue of detained Americans? Obviously, it took quite a while, but the British were able to get their soldiers and marines released through dialogue with the Iranians. Are there any lessons that you can learn from how they handled the situation to see if you can get these Americans out?

MR. CASEY: I'm not sure there's really any equivalency between the cases. In the instances that we're talking about here, again, what we've got are private individuals doing things separate from one another with no U.S. Government connection to them; in fact, oftentimes, having engaged in travel for the simple purpose of visiting friends and family back in the country.

Again, I think we are doing what we would do in the case of any Americans who have been either detained, arrested, or otherwise in -- come into the custody of foreign governments -- see what we can do. But certainly, we want to see them released as soon as possible and we'll do whatever we think is appropriate to have that happen.

QUESTION: Tom, is there any link between the individuals that -- reportedly, the Woodrow Wilson scholar confessed under interrogation that Woodrow Wilson Center was partly funded by the Soros Foundation and she, in turn, gave the name of the Soros representative which presume -- in Iran, which presumably is this guy that's been now picked up. I mean, what's the level of concern? I mean, these seem to be pretty flimsy charges that these - that are being levied at these people.

MR. CASEY: Well, I don't --

QUESTION: You know, they're involved with the Soros Foundation--

MR. CASEY: I think flimsy is being too generous. There's absolutely no reason to try and go after people for the crime of -- you know, visiting their elderly mother or for conducting scholarly research in a country. And again, we want to see these people all be able to go home and be released as soon as possible. But I think the main point though is that we are concerned by the fact that there appears to be a pattern here of harassment against private citizens and against private Iranian Americans and that's something that I guess the Iranians will have to offer an explanation for. But as we've said previously, these are individuals who certainly pose no threat to the Iranian Government or to anyone else. They're simply individuals of Iranian-American heritage who have gone back and forth between Iran and the United States before. They're doing the kind of -- at the most basic level people-to-people contacts, means being able to talk to your family members who happen to live in a different country. And we certainly hope that the Iranian Government wouldn't find that to be a threat. It's pretty hard to understand under any circumstances how they would be.

I've also seen comment from a number of people that I think has been backed up by what I understand to be the case, which is the Wilson Center has certainly been a place where far from being a location where opponents of the regime have full sway, there have been plenty of people there who, in fact, are somewhat close to the regime or who, in fact, represent viewpoints or share viewpoints with the Iranian Government on a number of issues. So it's pretty hard, again, particularly in her case, to understand how one could argue that she is somehow some implacable hostile foe of the Iranian Government out to subvert it. It just makes no sense at all.

QUESTION: There's been a school of thought for some time now, especially in the media, that Iran is trying -- is engaged in kind of tit-for-tat though concerning, you know, the five -- the Irbil five, as we're now calling them, that they're, you know, amassing you know, perhaps a group of five Americans to make some kind of exchange and what do you think of that theory?

MR. CASEY: I don't know. I'm not that good at math, but that's not one that makes any sense to me. Look, no one's drawn any connections between them. I certainly haven't seen the Iranians draw any connection. And again, how you would try and claim that any of these five -- any of these four individuals, excuse me, are linked or connected or pose some kind of threat to the Iranian regime, it's just absolutely impossible to understand. It's absurd that anyone would view them as anything other than what they are, which is private individuals who are trying to pursue both their own family ties as well as some very basic kinds of individual and group exchanges.

QUESTION: I just finally can ask you what's the state of play with Mr. Levinson? Have you had any response from --

MR. CASEY: Unfortunately, we've had no response to our last diplomatic note to the Iranian Government for information about his case and we have not gotten information through any other sources that give us a clear sense of his whereabouts.

Anne, sorry.

QUESTION: Can you offer any further detail on Ryan Crocker's meeting this weekend, if there are any particulars and what -- is it at all possible that this issue of the American detainees could come up as part of that discussion?

MR. CASEY: Well, I don't really have much new to offer you on that. Certainly the meeting will take place. And again, we view this as an outgrowth of the neighbors' conferences and an opportunity for us to again try and elicit support from the Iranian Government to help the government and people of Iraq both deal with the security situation and deal with some of the very well-known concerns that are out there. But this is a meeting that's going to be focused exclusively on Iraq and I don't expect extraneous issues to come up.

QUESTION: Well, the -- from the Iranian side you might expect them to bring up the Irbil detainees.

MR. CASEY: Yeah. And we've spoken about that before and there's a process underway that is standard for anyone who's a security detainee in Iraq in terms of reviewing their status. You can check with MNFI in terms of when that's next coming up -- I think somewhere in the next month. But certainly that's an issue that if they choose to raise, I'm sure that will be open for discussion in terms of the policies and the ways we will be handling that case, but I don't expect that to become an issue.

QUESTION: But not in terms of -- yeah, but you guys are also going after our people --

MR. CASEY: Well, again, let's kind of take a step back here. The five people that were detained in Irbil were detained in Irbil by U.S. and coalition security forces and Iraqi security forces for active involvement in support for militant groups, for people -- put it in the simplest terms -- they were involved in activities attacking our soldiers, attacking Iraqi soldiers and attacking Iraqi civilians. I would be hard-pressed and just would certainly have to note a distinction between people who were engaged in hostile activities against security forces versus individuals visiting their elderly mother. It's pretty hard to see that there's an equivalency there.

Yeah.

QUESTION: Were the Iranians granted access to these five Iranians detained in Irbil?

MR. CASEY: Not that I'm aware of.

QUESTION: Why -- can you explain, because some people might be perplexed, why it would be unhelpful or counterproductive or not a good idea when the United States holds a relatively rare direct bilateral contact with the Iranian Government to raise the matter of U.S. citizens who are being detained, in your view, unjustifiably by Iran. Why -- just simply stated, why is that not a good idea?

MR. CASEY: Because this is a meeting to focus exclusively on Iraq issues and that's where we believe it's appropriate to keep it.

QUESTION: No, no, I get that, but why is it that it is a meeting that should not go to anything else?

MR. CASEY: Well, because anything else would include things like their nuclear program or other issues on which there are separate channels for discussion and separate processes underway. And again, we do have a means for talking to the Iranian Government through the Swiss channel in Tehran and these are, as far as we are concerned, consular cases of individuals who, for reasons that only the Iranians could possibly explain to you, have been picked up and held for basically the simple reason of going to visit family members or trying to do jobs that they've been doing for quite a long time.

QUESTION: So it goes back to the idea that the Secretary expressed -- you know, in public numerous times before the United States decided to undertake these kinds of talks with the Iranians that there is a fear that the Iranians will use non Iraq-related issues as bargaining chips in a discussion about Iraq. Is that fundamentally what it comes down to?

MR. CASEY: Well, what it fundamentally comes down to is that they're apples and oranges. We have decided to do this meeting as part of the neighbors' process. We've decided to do this specifically to assist the Iraqi Government in trying to deal with the concerns that they have and that we share with them about the security situation, about some of Iran's negative activities there, and this is the appropriate channel for that kind of issue. It's not a forum for discussion about other events.

Elise.

QUESTION: On Turkey.

MR. CASEY: Yeah.

QUESTION: There's a lot of talk in Turkey now about an invasion of northern Iraq, given the recent bombing in an Ankara shopping mall and a lot of the violence from the PKK coming through, that there's talk about a Turkish invasion of northern Iraq to wipe out the PKK. What are your thoughts on this and what are your discussions with the Turkish Government on this?

MR. CASEY: Well, first of all, as far as I'm aware, neither the Turkish Government nor its security forces have come to any specific conclusions about the bombing.

QUESTION: Well, actually, the head of the Turkish army just said that he's ready to -- the troops are ready to attack what he calls Kurdish terrorist camps in northern Iraq.

MR. CASEY: Yeah, I understand that, but in terms of the bombing which you referred to earlier, as far as I know, there's still an ongoing investigation into that and there hasn't been a claim of responsibility.

But look, Elise, in terms of our position with respect to Turkey and its relations with Iraq, we've been quite clear. We believe, as does the Iraqi Government, that the PKK represents a real threat and it's a threat that needs to be dealt with. That's why we've had General Ralston assigned as a special envoy to work on issues related to the PKK with the Government of Turkey, as well as with the Government of Iraq. But certainly the best way to deal with the threat that's posed by the PKK is through continued cooperation between us and the Turkish Government and the Iraqis. And we certainly don't think that unilateral military action from Turkey or anyplace else into Iraq would solve anything.

QUESTION: A follow-up on --

MR. CASEY: Yeah.

QUESTION: A follow-up on Turkey. Mr. Casey, General Yasar Buyukanit is claiming after his statement April 12th that the Turkish army has intended to invade northern Iraq prior to the elections of July 22nd. But under the Turkish constitution, elections are postponed for one year if Turkey enters the war. What is the U.S. position vis--vis to this crucial issue on the invasion of northern Iraq by Turkey prior to the election of July 22nd?

MR. CASEY: Mr. Lambros, I'm sorry -- Mr. Lambros, our position is that the Government of Turkey and the Government of Iraq should work together to deal with the challenges posed by the PKK. We intend to continue working with them. We believe it's important that we all work together on this question, but that means that everything that's done needs to be done in a cooperative fashion and in the spirit of good neighborly relations between those countries.

And certainly, in regard to Turkey's own internal elections, you know our position on that. We fully support Turkey's democratic institutions and leaders. We want the people of Turkey to be able to decide on their president and their other leadership. That's who needs to be in charge of decisions about who rules Turkey.

QUESTION: On the explosion, day by day, the recent explosion in downtown Ankara looks like a conspiracy than a terrorist attack, targeting the general election of July 22nd and more specifically, the popular (inaudible) Prime Minister Tayyip Recep Erdogan who, according to the polls, is ahead from the other candidates. Since nobody from the U.S. Government so far condemned this brutal and barbaric action carried out by terrorists or others, I'm wondering, Mr. Casey, if you could condemn this attack even today just for the record.

MR. CASEY: Well, Mr. Lambros, we certainly don't know who is responsible for this attack. And again, as I understand it, the Turkish authorities are involved in an investigation that's ongoing. But certainly, we condemn this attack and any other acts of violence. There were innocent lives lost in this attack and there were innocent people injured. And our hearts go out to them and their families and we extend our condolences to the Turkish people for that. Certainly, there is no cause that would justify any act of terror or act of violence.

Now again, that said, I just want to make clear that our understanding is that the Turkish authorities have not come to any conclusions as to who is responsible for this. As for some of the conspiracy theories that you were alluding to, it certainly isn't anything that we've heard from Turkish authorities, but I'd leave it to them to describe to you their investigation in what they think or who they think might be responsible. But we do want to see a thorough investigation done and certainly, whoever is responsible for this needs to be brought to justice.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MR. CASEY: Sylvie.

QUESTION: In Gaza, the Israelis have arrested several dozens of Hamas leaders and militants. I wanted to know if you think it's helpful.

MR. CASEY: Well, I think we talked about this a little bit this morning and I've gone back and looked at this too. In terms of the specific issue of the detention of Hamas legislators, certainly, Hamas is a foreign terrorist organization and engaged in ongoing attacks on Israel. But we have previously noted, when this kind of issue has come up before, that the detention of elected members of the Palestinian government and legislature does raise particular concerns for us. I'd also just again note that our approach to the Israelis on these kinds of issues has always been to stress that while we understand and respect Israel's need to defend itself, we do wish to have them take into consideration the consequences of their actions, including its effect on the ability to promote the kind of dialogue that we want to see happen and that would ultimately be able to lead to a two-state solution that the Israelis favor, that President Abbas favors, and that we have certainly been trying to achieve.

QUESTION: So do you think they should release them?

MR. CASEY: Well, again, as I've said, this is an issue that raises particular concerns for us. But I'm not going to try and offer any prescriptions to them.

QUESTION: Have you conveyed that to them?

MR. CASEY: Yes, I understand we have via our Embassy and consulate.

QUESTION: Another follow-up?

MR. CASEY: Let's go back. This woman has been waiting for a while. I'm sorry, I apologize, I --

QUESTION: That's okay.

MR. CASEY: I got to you earlier and then we switched around, so.

QUESTION: That's all right. I'm fine. On North Korea, it is reported that the United States had requested South Korea to hold any rice shipment toward the North Korea unless North Korea fully observes with the February 13th agreement on their nuclear dismantlement.

MR. CASEY: That we've -- sorry, that we've asked South Korea to do what?

QUESTION: South Korea to hold any rice shipment toward North Korea.

MR. CASEY: Well, again, I know that South Korea has made a variety of decisions concerning assistance or humanitarian support for the North Korean people. That's independent of the six-party process and I'm not aware that there's been any change in U.S. policy on this.

QUESTION: But if -- unless North Korea fully observe on their nuclear dismantlement is before that --

MR. CASEY: Well, there are obligations that North Korea has under the February 13th agreement and there are things that accrue to them meeting those -- the terms of that agreement, including heavy fuel oil and other things. I -- as far as I know, this is a separate issue. And I'm not aware that we've made such a request to the South Korean Government.

Okay, David.

QUESTION: Sean, I -- Tom --

MR. CASEY: One of us, you know.

QUESTION: Can you give us any progress report on these talks with the Bosnian, Serb and Muslim leaders this week trying to break this constitutional deadlock that they have?

MR. CASEY: You know, I'm going to have to look into that for you, David. I know they did have some meetings with Dan Fried yesterday, but I didn't get a chance to get a readout on them. So let me go back and get that for you.

QUESTION: And I understand that Under Secretary Burns might have gotten involved in them as well.

MR. CASEY: I think there was a possibility that he might have also met with them today, but let me just check for you and find out what the status is on that.

Arshad.

QUESTION: I asked you this morning about the new violence in Sri Lanka. The violence appears to have accelerated in the last several months and I'm aware that Assistant Secretary Boucher has been there recently --

MR. CASEY: Yeah.

QUESTION: -- to try to get the peace process back on track. But it doesn't seem to have gotten back on track. Do you have any comment on the (a) on the violence and (b) can you tell us what else you're trying to do to try to tamp down the fighting and to get people back into peace talks?

MR. CASEY: Sure. Well, first of all, again as we said this morning, the level of violence that's gone on in Sri Lanka is unfortunate, and we're continuing to urge both sides to find a political solution to this conflict. Certainly, we think that the Sri Lankan people deserve an opportunity to live in a peaceful, democratic country and one that is not subject to the kinds of activities that we've seen. Richard Boucher was just there -- in May 8th to 10th, I believe were the dates that Richard was there. And he did talk with government officials and a wide variety of civil society representatives and urged them to develop the kinds of power-sharing proposals that would allow them to move the peace process forward.

And we're going to keep working with Sri Lanka Government officials as well as the Norwegians and the other co-chair partners to be able to encourage a peaceful resolution to this conflict. And I know we'll be conveying messages to them again on this subject, but it is a situation that is a difficult one. But the parties have an obligation to the Sri Lankan people to be able to come together, develop a power-sharing arrangement that can gain the support of the majority of the population and be able to put this issue to rest.

QUESTION: And just a follow-up on Sri Lanka.

MR. CASEY: Yeah.

QUESTION: Their officials have been visiting Washington back and forth -- like Mr. Boucher was there so were the Sri Lankan officials here.

MR. CASEY: Yeah.

QUESTION: Have they asked any kind of intervention as far as military or any UN intervention or any extra help to bring parties together, like you said of power sharing and all that? What kind of role do you think U.S. is playing, or they have asked to play?

MR. CASEY: Well, again, we are trying to use our good offices as well as those of the other co-chair partners to be able to help foster this kind of dialogue and to provide what support we can. I'm certainly not aware though of any request for military intervention or the creation of some kind of peacekeeping force or anything like that though.

Okay, Mr. Lambros.

QUESTION: This is on the Balkans. Mr. Casey, to my surprise, I was told that Mr. Gregory Copley is better analyst than Richard Holbrooke, Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz, Douglas Faith, Morton Abramowitz, and the list is going on. Besides that, he's very well-known by the Secretary of State Rice and Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte. General Hague has endorsed this into his book. After your -- yesterday response on the Balkan, his statement writing today: "There is no doubt that the Department of State has been driving the agenda of Southeast Europe, and that the Department of State's agenda is exactly the same as the former Clinton administration agenda. This has proven to be very counterproductive for U.S. strategic interests in the past, and the situation has now worsened." How do you respond to those charges against the Department of State?

MR. CASEY: I respond the same way I did yesterday, Mr. Lambros. He's a private citizen, he's entitled to his opinion. Our policies are well known. I believe that this administration has done a great deal to help bring about the stability and security of the Balkans. I believe, as represented by the meetings that we've been having the last couple of days with Bosnian officials that it's clear that the United States is committed to helping the countries of the region achieve some of their aspirations, including some of their desires to be incorporated into Euro-Atlantic institutions such as NATO. We certainly have been working very hard with respect to Kosovo to try and achieve a resolution of that longstanding conflict. And again, I think our policies on this are quite clear and I think the people of the region understand that we are supporting them in their aspirations for a better future.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MR. CASEY: Thanks, guys.

(The briefing was concluded at 1:10 p.m.)

DPB # 94


Released on May 24, 2007



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