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Daily Press Briefing

Sean McCormack, Spokesman
Washington, DC
July 10, 2007


Assistant Secretary Hill's Travel / Tokyo / Seoul / Beijing / Six Party Talks
Secretary's Travel Plans
Possible Resumption of Six Party Talks / Envoys Level Meeting
Raid on Red Mosque / U.S. Mourns the Loss of Innocent Life
It is for the Pakistani Government to Decide When to Take Action
Department Warden Message / Non-specific Public Announcements by Terrorists
Attacks Inside the Green Zone
July 15 Report / State Department Role in Production of Report
Ambassador Crocker's Comments to the New York Times
Progress in Areas Not Measured by Congressional Benchmarks
Importance for Iraqis to Meet Benchmarks
Positions in Embassy Baghdad Staffed by Well-Qualified People Doing a Great Job
Meeting Between Secretary Rice and Foreign Minister Milososki
President Abbas' Reported Proposal for an International Force in Gaza
Focus Should Be on Building Palestinian Forces
Former UK Prime Minister Blair's Role in the Region
Respected, Functioning, Democratic Institutions Necessary for a Palestinian State
Egypt's Responsibility to Stop Smuggling Along Border
Debate Within Ukraine About Its Relationship with the EU, NATO
No Formal Path to Ukrainian Membership in NATO


12:35 p.m. EDT

MR. MCCORMACK: Good afternoon, everybody. We don't have -- I don't have any opening statements, so we can get right to your questions.

QUESTION: Can you expand any more on what Tom said this morning about Chris Hill's travel plans?


QUESTION: No, okay.


QUESTION: Thank you. All right, well --


MR. MCCORMACK: I certainly do, but I'm not telling you.


MR. MCCORMACK: No, Tom -- let me run through the basic schedule once again for those who might have missed it. Chris Hill, our Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, not just the six-party talks, is going to be traveling to the region on Thursday, beginning Thursday, July 12th for consultations with counterparts regarding six-party talks. He'll be in Tokyo July 13th and 15th for those of you who wish to stalk him. (Laughter.) And on -- Seoul July 15th through the 17th and he'll arrive in Beijing on the 17th.

Now he's going to be having consultations with Chinese authorities. I think one might presume that if there were to be six-party talks, that he would be in place to have those six-party talks, but the Chinese Government has not yet made any official announcements in that regard and I think we're also still looking for what kind of momentum we can build up in terms of meeting the February agreement before we have an official announcement.

QUESTION: But you don't feel that it's necessary for the North Koreans to actually take some steps to shut down Yongbyon?

MR. MCCORMACK: We'll see. This is -- again, the 18th would be after, presumably, they have talked about the timeframe that they might shut down Yongbyon. They've talked about timing the shutdown of Yongbyon to the arrival of that first small tranche of the 50,000 tons of fuel oil. That is scheduled to happen, I think, this weekend on Saturday. So we'll see. We'll see what the timing is and we'll see if it is appropriate to have those discussions. As I said, Chris would be in place in the case that there were those discussions and in any case, it's useful for him to go out to the region in anticipation of some future six-party talks, whether that is next week or sometime thereafter.

QUESTION: But you continue to say that there's no link necessarily between the two; in other words, they can stiff you on Yongbyon and you might still have six-party talks?

MR. MCCORMACK: As I have said before, I'm not going to tie our hands diplomatically, but everybody agrees, I believe, among the five parties certainly, that it would be good to have that next envoys level meeting actually build on some momentum that was already there instead of relying upon just the meeting to develop some momentum.

QUESTION: Another subject.


QUESTION: Sean, you have any comments on the standoff that is now over* in Pakistan? And also, well, this is similar to -- in India, the Golden Temple in Amritsar in 1984. The terrorists entered the Golden Temple, now the terrorists are in the mosque here. So what is now the future as for terrorism, dealing with terrorism is concerned entering the religious places and terrifying the innocent people?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, Goyal, I'm not going to try to make any linkage between these two events. I think you have to deal with them in their own right and their own unique circumstances. As I understand it, it still is an ongoing matter with respect to the Red Mosque. The Pakistani security forces have gone in there after exercising a great deal of patience and restraint in offering every possible opportunity for innocents that may still be in the mosque to leave, as well as offering those who have threatened to use violence and, in fact, have used violence in an opportunity to resolve the situation peacefully. And I understand that there have been 40 to 50 deaths of violent extremism -- violent extremists who were in the mosque, as well as about eight Pakistani soldiers and certainly, we mourn the loss of innocent life and those brave people who are trying to bring law and order -- maintain law and order in Pakistan.

Of course, everybody wants to see these kinds of situations resolved peacefully. It's everybody's optimal solution. But it is fundamentally a matter of the -- for the government to decide when negotiations end and when action needs to take place to bring some sort of resolution to the situation. My understanding, it was a situation where they had exercised any number of opportunities for these individuals to resolve peacefully, yet they persisted and they persisted to the point of using children as human shields. So in terms of any update on the situation, as it stands -- operational update -- I think the Pakistan authorities can offer that to you. And if there's anything finally to say about it, any sort of lessons learned, if any, then certainly, we'll offer those if we think it's appropriate.

QUESTION: And just a quick follow-up. If U.S. played any role in the stand -- or in ending this or (inaudible) ask for any help?

MR. MCCORMACK: Not that I know of. I don't -- I doubt it.


QUESTION: Sean, do you have any update on mortar fire inside the Green Zone?

QUESTION: I have a follow-up to this.

QUESTION: Oh, yeah, sorry.

MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah, sure.

QUESTION: Were there any -- can you give us a list of contacts between the Pakistanis in this building, regarding the mosque incident? Were there any at all?


QUESTION: Yeah, with-- out of the building or just out of the embassy?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, I mean, it's not really an accurate measure. I mean, you know, contacts with them, asking them what happens to be going on, I'm sure occurred, just to get a status update, so people could report back. But, I am not aware of any sort of operational linkages and certainly, we are not in the business of telling the Pakistani Government when they should or should not end negotiations.

QUESTION: But you are concerned about attacks, future attacks. You want to elaborate on that Peshawar?

MR. MCCORMACK: There's a Warden Message that we just put out. We can -- if you all don’t have it, then we can make it available to you. It went out from Islamabad, I believe, today. And to boil it down, it asked -- recommended American citizens limit their movement in the Peshawar area for several days, due to non-specific public announcements by terrorists elements in the Bajaur, B-a-j-a-u-r, tribal agency, that they plan to unleash attacks on Pakistani Governmental police and army institutions in retaliation for recent events at the Lal Masjid complex in Islamabad.


MR. MCCORMACK: What's that -- oh, okay, sure.

QUESTION: Could you just find out if our Ambassador in Islamabad has spoken with his Chinese counterpart on this mosque incident?

MR. MCCORMACK: Sure. We can track that down for you. Yeah.

QUESTION: Can I go to Iraq?

MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah, sure.

QUESTION: Did you have any update on the mortar fire inside the Green Zone?

MR. MCCORMACK: Nothing that I can offer right now. Let me see if there is anything that we can offer. Typically, we tend not to get into too many details when there is indirect fire that comes into the Green Zone that may affect U.S. personnel, simply for the reason we don't want to give those who are using this indirect fire a sense of what they have or have not done. But I'll see what we can offer. Right now, I can't offer you anything.

QUESTION: You say this is indirect fire? My understanding was that it was, you know, a dozen mortar shot directly into the --

MR. MCCORMACK: It's a term of art; indirect fire, meaning it's lobbed in from elsewhere, not point blank. Mortars, rockets, that sort of thing.


QUESTION: And when you say there's no Americans who are hurt --

MR. MCCORMACK: I didn't say that. I said that typically in these situations where you have indirect fire incidents, we don't get into a lot of details about who may have been --

QUESTION: But you wouldn't rule that out, right?

MR. MCCORMACK: I'm not going to point you in any particular direction right now. Let's --

QUESTION: (Inaudible) functioning (inaudible)?

MR. MCCORMACK: I'm not trying to -- look, this happens on a not irregular basis, so any details that we might offer you on this -- these particular incidents, I'll try to get those for you. But I just wanted to put that caveat up front that in case you're looking for, sort of, fine-grained detail on this, you're usually not going to find it from us for the reasons I talked about.

QUESTION: Mr. McCormack, on FYROM. Anything to say about this --

MR. MCCORMACK: (Inaudible.)


MR. MCCORMACK: Okay, okay.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.) Anything to say about the -- today's meeting between Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and the Foreign Minister of FYROM Antonio Milososki?

MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah. They had a good meeting and they talked about a wide range of topics. They talked about the neighborhood. They talked about Kosovo. They talked about bilateral relations between Macedonia and Greece. And one of the things the Secretary underlined was the importance of Macedonia working in the UN process to resolve the name issue, including Greece. As you know, we have made our own decision on that, as have other countries, but it's an important issue to resolve.

QUESTION: She emphasized?

MR. MCCORMACK: Excuse me?

QUESTION: She -- the Secretary emphasized that --

MR. MCCORMACK: It is one among a number of different things. She -- and look, there is no pushback from the Foreign Minister. He said that this was something that they are engaged in, they are willingly engaged in, and actively engaged in.

They also talked about the fact that Macedonia has contributed troops and is contributing troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Secretary thanked him for those contributions.

What else? That was basically it. It was mostly neighborhood issues, Afghanistan, Iraq and bilateral relations between Greece and Macedonia.

QUESTION: Mr. McCormack, who asked for the meeting -- the Secretary or Mr. Milososki? And how long lasted?

MR. MCCORMACK: It lasted half an hour, as they typically do, as these foreign minister meetings do. I can't tell you who asked for the meeting. It's a mutual consent. I mean, she -- Secretary Rice wanted to see him.

QUESTION: Okay. And the last one. Did he invite the Secretary to visit Skopje, and how soon?

MR. MCCORMACK: I don't think that there was a specific invitation during this meeting, but the Secretary at some point, I am sure, looks forward to visiting Macedonia.

QUESTION: Another subject? In the Palestinian territories, President Abbas called for the deployment of an international force in the Gaza Strip. Do you think it's a good idea and how he’d work and --

MR. MCCORMACK: I'm not sure that we’ve taken a hard look at that. Anything that President Abbas proposes with regard to maintaining law and order, I think people have to take a look at though. I'm not sure that you're going to find too many forces willing to go into what I expect is a non-permissive environment.

The focus should be on building up functioning, capable, responsible Palestinian security forces that are capable of functioning in both areas. Now, I know that right now that's a difficult proposition with respect to the Gaza, but that's really where the main weight of our focus is and the main weight of our effort.

QUESTION: But it's not the first time this subject comes up --

MR. MCCORMACK: It's an idea that has been circulating. I'm not sure it's gotten a lot of traction at this point. But look, people, serious people, come up with ideas and they float them. Of course, we'll take a look at them. I can tell you where the main weight of our effort is right now, and I think where the focus of our efforts will be. The Palestinians want to see Palestinians help maintain law and order. They want to have their own state. They want to have their own institutions that function. They want to be able to take pride in the fact that those institutions are functioning on behalf of the Palestinian people. So that's really where our focus is, and I think for President Abbas as well as the Palestinians—Palestinian leadership.

QUESTION: Thank you.


QUESTION: Speaking of the Palestinians, we have a report out of Jerusalem saying that Tony Blair is pushing for a broader mandate and role in his, you know, newly announced position as the Quartet envoy, that he doesn't want to be limited just to the sort of technical matter of capacity building among the Palestinians and that he wants a more explicitly political role to try to help negotiate on issues of peace.

Are you open to former Prime Minister Blair having a bigger role in this?

MR. MCCORMACK: I'm not sure we've heard that from Prime Minister Blair. People sort of dismiss this idea of merely working with the Palestinians to build up their institutions. Well, let me tell you, that is as important as -- what goes in the container is as important as defining what the container is of the Palestinian state, if you want to look at it that way.

So from our perspective, the idea of helping to -- helping the Palestinians to build up respected, functioning, democratic institutions is one of the necessary conditions for a Palestinian state. Of course, we've talked about the political track and that is very important as well, and I expect that Secretary Rice and President Bush are going to remain focused on that.

Of course, Secretary Rice is going to talk to Prime Minister Blair about his thoughts, his insights. I think that's only natural. But I think all in the region and around the world are really going to look to the United States and Secretary Rice for leadership on pushing forward the political tracks, whether that's between the Israelis and the Palestinians or between the Israelis and the Arabs.

QUESTION: You said you're not sure you heard that from Prime Minister or former Prime Minister Blair that he wants a wider role. Can you check whether you've heard that from him?

MR. MCCORMACK: Sure, I'd be happy to. To my knowledge, we haven't. But I'd be happy to.

QUESTION: And then just so it's clear, I mean, the way I read your comments is that even if he was pushing, as we understand him to be, for a wider role, you're not that, sort of, hot on that, you feel like the main emphasis is the institution-building or did I misunderstand you?

MR. MCCORMACK: I think if you go back and look at the transcript to what I said, it's pretty clear.

QUESTION: Wait a minute, no, I'm sorry. It's not clear to me. So you like the idea of him having a wider role or you don't like the idea of him having a wider role?

MR. MCCORMACK: I think I've given you the answer I'm going to give you.

QUESTION: Ukrainian President Victor Yushchenko is visiting Hungary today and one of the discussions is going to be on the NATO membership. Besides that, Ukraine is hoping that Hungary and Poland is going to support its membership. In addition to that, Russia noted that it's concerned about having a NATO expansion and a base close to its borders. What is the United States' stand on that?

QUESTION: Is the United States --

MR. MCCORMACK: Our view, first of all, is that Ukraine needs to decide its own policies and politics. There's a debate within Ukraine about Ukraine's orientation and relationship with Europe and with NATO; the EU as well as NATO. And our view, whenever this question comes up concerning any state that has, in any -- expressed aspirations for NATO membership or interest in exploring NATO membership is that the door to NATO is open.

Now there are certain standards that countries have to meet and then there are formal steps along the way. I think, checking memory here, if it serves, is that Ukraine has not entered into any formal pathway to membership, although there is a NATO-Ukraine Council. So fundamentally, it's going to be up to both sides. The Ukraine Government is going to have to decide for itself how it wants to proceed and what relationship it wants with Europe, what relationship with -- it wants with NATO.

QUESTION: But just to follow up.


QUESTION: Would the United States support the membership?

MR. MCCORMACK: I'm not sure the question has come up. That would be a question that would come up after you've proceeded multiple steps down the way through a formal process. So I don't think anybody's talking about that at this point.

Yeah, Samir.

QUESTION: Is the Secretary planning another -- a separate trip to the Middle East after the -- next week's visit?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, Samir, we will keep you up to date on her travel schedule. It's hard enough to get out one travel announcement, so -- you know, we're still recovering from that process.

QUESTION: Is the --

MR. MCCORMACK: We'll -- so we'll keep you up to date on her travel, Samir. She's going to be in the Middle East quite a bit during the next 16 months, so --

QUESTION: Can you give us a readout on the talks with the Egyptian Foreign Minister yesterday? Did you reach any understanding on any security arrangements on the border between Egypt and Gaza?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, I'll let the Egyptian Government speak for themselves as to what steps that they are going to take along that border. They understand that it's an issue. They understand, for their own security, that it is an issue. So they understand that there is a responsibility for the Egyptian Government to take every effort that they possibly can to stop the smuggling along that strip. But I will let them speak for themselves about decisions they themselves have arrived at.


QUESTION: (Inaudible) a ministerial meeting? Do you still expect that to happen at the end of the month or early next month?

MR. MCCORMACK: We'll see. We are a few steps away from that. I think you want to see the February 13th accord fully implemented, which was a condition that was outlined back when Chris signed the agreement on our behalf. I expect it -- I expect that it's going to be happening, that it's going to happen. I can't tell you when. But in order for it to happen, we're going to have to have that February 13th accord fully implemented.

Yeah, Matt.

QUESTION: Can I go back to Iraq for a second? There is apparently a draft of this July 15th report floating around the town, getting commented on before it goes -- I don't know if that's true or not, but if it is, can you tell us what the --

MR. MCCORMACK: They didn't hand out your (inaudible) yet?

QUESTION: No, I keep waiting for it. But you know, what exactly was the -- or is the Secretary's and Department's role in putting that together, or any revisions to it? And then after that -- you answer that question, which I'm sure I'll be satisfied with the answer, you can perhaps tell us what's in there --

MR. MCCORMACK: It’s a boring answer. Well, on the second, the second of those, I'll let the White House talk about that. It's going to be a report that they themselves issue. We'll talk about it at that point, but I think the focal point would be over at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

The answer to the first part is actually pretty boring interagency process stuff where you have a focal point at the NSC, they collect the information from the Department of Defense, the intelligence community, the Department of State comes in both from here, C Street, as well as the embassy and the regional offices and the PRTs. That all gets fed in. The information gets racked up against the various benchmarks that are required -- the required elements to this report that were put in place by Congress. There's drafts. I can't tell you how many drafts it's gone through. And we comment on the drafts. I'm not sure if the Secretary has seen a draft yet. I think she's talked quite a bit about its major elements. I know other senior members of the staff here have seen it. It's really the standard process that one goes through in writing reports here in Washington.

QUESTION: Can I follow up on that?


QUESTION: Ambassador Crocker gave an interview to the New York Times on Saturday, which they wrote up in today's paper. Probably the most striking comment that he made was comparing the timing on decisions about U.S. deployments in Iraq to movies and in Washington it's as if you're in the third reel of a three-reel movie; whereas in Baghdad, it looks like you're in the first half of the first reel of a five-reel movie, and regardless of how ugly that first reel has been, the next four are going to be even uglier. A pretty harsh and pessimistic analogy for him to use. Does the Department subscribe to that view that you're only 20 percent of the way through here in Iraq and that the next 80 percent is going to look even worse than the violence that one has witnessed in the past four years?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, I'm going to let Ryan speak for himself. I think the -- basically, what he is saying here is that the Washington clock and the Baghdad clock are not synched up. I think that is not a secret. And that the work in Iraq is hard work fighting against violent, determined enemies, fighting against al-Qaida elements that are determined to stoke sectarian tensions. And you're also working with a relatively new government, and not only a relatively new government but people in a political system who are in the process of defining how their political system works. So this is all very difficult work. I think that is the main point of what he is trying to say. I'm not trying to walk anything back that he said, but I'd prefer to let him speak for himself.

He also talked a lot in that interview -- and I haven't seen the full transcript of the interview -- about how there's been a lot of progress in areas that aren't necessarily measurable or measured by the benchmarks that the Congress has put out. For example, the fact that you now have many of these Sunni groups that are allied -- allying themselves with the efforts of those who are fighting al-Qaida and turning against al-Qaida. It happened in Anbar Province. It's happening in Diyala Province as well. And that's very promising. As well as some of the positive political ferment that's happening at the local level, some of the bottom-up things that we had hoped would occur. And some of the area of focus that our PRTs devote energy to in terms of working with local governance councils down at the neighborhood level. So he talked a lot about that.

So you know, we're all going to get an assessment of where we are here in July. This was always meant as a, as I understand it, sort of the midway point assessment of where we are on the way towards a more significant September assessment at which General Petraeus and Ryan would weigh in in a formal way with their assessment of how the surge is going.

I think Ryan also made the point too that you're really now -- we are really now only at the point where all the elements of the surge are in place and they have only been in place for a couple of weeks, so I think his argument would be let's look and see where we are in September as something that was agreed upon in the law.

QUESTION: I was also struck by his comments about benchmarks because he was essentially questioning the utility of benchmarks for -- of the benchmarks in the legislation, but also benchmarks that the President himself emphasized in his January speech in terms of measuring progress in Iraq. And it makes me wonder if it is the State Department's view that those benchmarks, as enunciated by Congress and by the President earlier this year, are really just not that useful in terms of figuring out what's happening with the direction of the country.

MR. MCCORMACK: As I understand it, his comment was more by way of emphasizing there are other developments that are very difficult to measure, by benchmarks that are very difficult to get your hands on or touch or feel without being there on the ground and to see the progress that is being made. I don't think he was arguing against the benchmarks. I mean, these are things the Iraqi Government has laid out for themselves and that are enshrined* by Congress that we talked about as well.

And more important, they're -- it's important that the Iraqis meet these benchmarks for -- if not for a political measurement in Washington, for their own sake, in terms of allocation of resources, coming to some sort of reconciliation over the division of assets and how that gets distributed, coming to terms with a very ugly past, recent past in terms of de-Baathification and how that's going to work. It's a very emotional issue. So, I mean, put aside the political discussions here in Washington for their own sake. These are important benchmarks. I don't think Ryan would argue with that.

QUESTION: It would seem to me like he was questioning them or their utility. I mean, he said you could miss every benchmark and have the country actually be heading in the right direction in terms of its eventual return to security or you could make every benchmark conversely -- he used the word "conversely" -- you could have them make every benchmark and still have it be going in the wrong direction.

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, it's -- again, it gets to the point I was talking about. It's -- you have a lot of these benchmarks that are very top level, that are, you know, very national level assessments of where you are in terms of passing laws that measure political arrangements at a capital level. But there is -- I think what he is saying -- and again, I don't want to speak for Ryan, but I think what I understand him to be saying is that while you have discussions that are going on in a capital and a national capital, there is also, separate from that -- we understand this from our own system -- going on out in provinces and cities and town councils that are actually very positive that are -- unless you have a set of benchmarks that looks like the New York City telephone book, it's very difficult to measure.

And what he's saying is that there is -- so he sees some progress on the ground in those areas. And again, you've seen a lot reporting coming out of Iraq over the past couple months in this regard, you know, what's happening in Anbar, what's happening in Diyala, what people hope might happen in Baquba. So I think that's what he's referring to. I don't think he's -- he's not throwing out the benchmarks that are already there. Those are benchmarks the Iraqis have laid down, it's benchmarks that Congress has laid down. I think what he's making an argument for is that there are also other measures of progress that may be difficult to measure in a political document or in a set of easily digestible benchmarks that actually matter. I think -- you know, I think that's the argument that he's making.

QUESTION: Sean, just looking at where we are today, which is, what, the 10th, what benchmarks have the Iraqi Government met? Have they -- what have they met?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, no, no --

QUESTION: I just want to know, you know, as you stand there right now, and forget about the fact that there's a report that's supposed to be coming out on the 15th or in September, which ones -- which --

MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah. Well, I can't. I can't forget that, Matt.


MR. MCCORMACK: I can't. That is a reality. There is a report. There is a formal -- a formal process that we're going to go through.


MR. MCCORMACK: You can -- again, you -- these things are publicly available. You can take a look at what the Iraqis have done, what they haven't done. They have made progress on an oil law. It's not done yet. They have made progress on the revenue sharing law. It's not done yet. De-Baathification is farther behind. And they're -- I can't tell you where they stand with respect to provincial elections, which is sort of the big three that people talk about, but there are others as well. But you'll have a formal assessment from the U.S. Government.


MR. MCCORMACK: At two points here in July as well as September.

QUESTION: Exactly. But what you've just said now is that none of those that you've just mentioned have been met. You said that there have been progress made on them, but they haven't been met.

I'm not saying that they were expected to meet them by this mid-term* date, but --

MR. MCCORMACK: No. I'm giving you very rough cut. There are a lot of people who spend every single waking hour dealing with the Iraq issue, both here in the U.S. Government in Washington and in Baghdad as well. And I think I owe it to them an opportunity to lay out in a formal, considered way, in a document that everybody can use as a common reference point, where we stand. So I can give you those very rough-cut assessments, but I would point you to the more formal assessment that is going to be coming out here at the end of this week as well as in September.

QUESTION: But if, as you say, and I believe it is true that all of this stuff is out there, it's public knowledge, I don't -- I'm not sure I understand why -- your reluctance to -- you know, to say right now, from the point of view of July 10th, which of the benchmarks have been --

MR. MCCORMACK: Because -- because you can't remove me from the overall process that is going on here. I mean, that's just not the way it works. You know, I can't speak in isolation from a process that is ongoing, that has been mandated by Congress, that the Administration is applying a lot of thought and energy to. So I would advise all to stand by, take a look and see what the White House has to say about it, the Administration has to say about it, in a few days.

QUESTION: Well, is it your -- in answering Arshad's question, is it your feeling or the Administration's feeling or the Department's feeling that progress, significant progress on items at the provincial level, small -- things that are not set-out benchmarks, is equally as important as --

MR. MCCORMACK: You know, I'm going to let -- I'm going to let the report speak for itself, and then we can have people like Secretary Rice and the President and Secretary Gates talk to those issues, let Ryan talk to those issues.

Okay. Better wrap this up here. Yes.

QUESTION: Another question about Ambassador Crocker. Has Ambassador Crocker recently told Secretary Rice that he doesn't feel that the Embassy is adequately staffed with well-qualified Foreign Service members?

MR. MCCORMACK: What are you getting at?

QUESTION: Is the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad adequately staffed, and in the next cycle of postings will you have to move beyond using just volunteers to actually assigning well-qualified --

MR. MCCORMACK: I haven't checked recently. I know this was an issue that came up -- it came up, I don't know, was it about a month ago?

QUESTION: A couple of months ago.

MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah, a couple months ago. And we talked about it then. You know, I know that there are people who like to selectively leak things, like to cast the worst possible shadow on our efforts in Iraq. The bottom line -- the bottom line is that you have a lot of people in Baghdad who are doing a great job under very difficult circumstances. And not only are they doing a good job, but they're well-qualified people. And you know, I don't have the statistics here in front of me or off the top of my head, but if you look at the top-level management of the Embassy, they're all staffed by ambassadors or former ambassadors. You have, I think -- what is it? Eight-five percent are mid-level and senior-level officers. There's always a mix: senior-level officers, mid-level officers and junior officers. And if Ryan wants something else, he's going to get it. It's as simple as that. He made a request to beef up the political and economic sections. We're going to do it.

So it's not a matter of contention. Secretary Rice has said that if he needs it, he makes the legitimate case, he's going to get it. That's how the President operates with his commanders in the field. That's how Secretary Rice operates with her ambassador in the field.

I'm going to take one more question, but I've got to go.

QUESTION: On Turkey.


QUESTION: Mr. McCormack, your office said yesterday on the following quote, "Secretary Rice spoke by phone with Foreign Minister Gul Friday. They discussed Turkish concern about the PKK and its operation based in northern Iraq. Secretary Rice restated U.S. commitment to working with both Turkey and Iraq to counter the PKK," unquote. My question, Mr. McCormack, is as follows for the counter*. Prior or after the elections of July 22nd in Turkey?

MR. MCCORMACK: What are you talking about, Lambros? All right, thanks a lot.

(The briefing was concluded at 1:07 p.m.)

DPB # 121

Released on July 10, 2007

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