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Daily Press Briefing

Sean McCormack, Spokesman
Washington, DC
August 9, 2007


Secretary Rice's Meeting with Japan's Defense Minister
Japanese Troops in Afghanistan
Reports of Russian Aviation Activity
Secretary Rice Telephoned President Musharraf
The United States Knows of No Plan to Declare State of Emergency
The United States Supports a Free Election
Pakistan's Current Events are Followed as Other Countries' Are
The United Nations Has Expressed Interest in Expanding its Mission to Iraq
The United States Encourages Such an Expansion
Secretary Will Express Support for Siniora Government to Charge d'Affaires
Peace and Security of Korean Peninsula Working Group Will Meet Soon
Bilateral Meeting with South Korea Will Not Detract from Six Party Talks
United States Sent a Delegation to Observe Iraq Security Meeting in Syria
U.S. Encourages Saudi Arabia to Act in the Working Group Process


12:36 p.m. EST

MR. MCCORMACK: Good afternoon, everybody. I don't have anything off the top to start with, so we can get right into your questions.

QUESTION: Do you have a readout on the Secretary Rice meeting with the Japanese Defense Minister?

MR. MCCORMACK: They talked about a number of different issues, not surprisingly focused on the U.S. defense -- or U.S.-Japan defense cooperation relationship, touched on a number of different items there. In particular, the Secretary expressed the United States' thanks for Japan's efforts in fighting the war on terrorism, especially with respect to their mission out in the Indian Ocean in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. They touched a little bit about some of the other issues regarding basing, the basing agreement that was agreed upon. That was pretty much it.

QUESTION: Any assurance from Japan about trying to maintain their forces in Afghanistan?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, she expressed her thanks and she also made it clear that this is, of course, a Japanese decision. But we welcome all Japan's continuing support for the mission.

QUESTION: And any questions on Japan's interest for the F-22s?

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

QUESTION: We have a report that Russian strategic bombers have resumed a cold war practice of flying long-haul mission --

MR. MCCORMACK: What kind?

QUESTION: That Russian strategic bombers have resumed a cold war practice of flying to areas patrolled by NATO and by U.S. forces and there's an incident in which a Russian bomber flew over a U.S. military base in Guam and then apparently made some kind of exchange --

MR. MCCORMACK: This is the --

QUESTION: Pardon me?

MR. MCCORMACK: The bear bomber? Is that it?

QUESTION: I don't know if it's the bear bomber, but --

MR. MCCORMACK: I was just curious whether they're flying those things.

QUESTION: Yeah. What I'm wondering is, is this -- does this -- you know, does this trouble you guys at all? Are you even aware of it? I've flagged it to people this morning. Is it just sort of, you know, friendly --

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, as I said, you know, they're still flying those things? Look, if -- you know, I'll leave it to the military to ascribe any particular significance or non-significance to this event. Beyond that, I don't think I have anything really to say.

QUESTION: Sean, you seem to be awfully dismissive of the Russian aviation -- of Russian aviation capabilities. Why --

MR. MCCORMACK: No, no. He's just saying cold war bombers are continuing to fly --

QUESTION: A cold war practice.

MR. MCCORMACK: Oh, a cold war practice. Like I said, I'll leave it to my colleagues at the Department of Defense to see if they believe that this is a significant act.

QUESTION: Do you want to expand on any of your comments this morning on the Secretary's phone call with President Musharraf?

MR. MCCORMACK: No, not really.

QUESTION: You don't want to go any further than it did?

MR. MCCORMACK: No. No, look, they did speak last night. They talked about the ongoing and evolving political developments in Pakistan. They had a good conversation. Beyond that, I don't think I'm going to offer any other details.

QUESTION: Why did you not say that this morning, that they had talked about the ongoing --

MR. MCCORMACK: I thought I'd liven it up a bit for you at the briefing. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: Well, you led us to believe that they might have been talking about the weather or something.

MR. MCCORMACK: I don't think you seriously believed they were talking about the weather, Matt. Though it was quite hot here yesterday. Very hot.

QUESTION: Was there a state of emergency declaration --

MR. MCCORMACK: Beyond -- I'm not going to go beyond that. I've already sort of advanced the ball for you guys for the briefing.

QUESTION: As I know you just heard in the hallway, there are some in Pakistan -- some Pakistani officials who are saying that the talk that they had influenced President Musharraf not to declare a state of emergency.

MR. MCCORMACK: I'll leave it to Pakistani officials to describe President Musharraf's thinking and how that thinking may have evolved.

QUESTION: In a very general sense, in a real -- and probably any other day, you would probably answer this question frankly and forthrightly. I don't know if you will today, however (inaudible). In a general sense, though, U.S. national interests are served by a stable Pakistan, yes? Politically, militarily?

MR. MCCORMACK: We have an interest in a Pakistan, as we have said before, that is on the pathway to greater economic openness and freedom and reform, greater political openness and freedom and that's the pathway that President Musharraf has set Pakistan on --


MR. MCCORMACK: -- starting in 2001. We fully support that effort.

QUESTION: And states of emergency or marshal law don't really contribute to that attitude?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, Matt, I'm -- last I saw, from the Pakistani Minister of Information, he said that there is no plan at this point to declare a state of emergency.

QUESTION: Well, right -- you know, but again, in general, states of emergency and marshal law --

MR. MCCORMACK: Hypothetically speaking, in other words?

QUESTION: Yes, exactly.

MR. MCCORMACK: No, thank you. (Laughter.)


QUESTION: As far as the phone call is concerned, did Secretary said that it is better that there should be a free and fair election rather than emergency or did General Musharraf said anything that -- whether he will impose or not emergency?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, again, I refer you back to what the Pakistan Minister of Information said. I believe that he said that there is no plan for -- at this point, for a state of emergency and that they do plan to hold the elections on a schedule. We have stated in the past we support those elections moving forward so that you do have free, fair, and credible elections in which the Pakistani people can express their will as to who will lead them and that those elections should reflect that will.

QUESTION: Sean, yesterday, the Minister of Information in Pakistan told the Pakistani television, which I heard myself, that there may be to see -- under the circumstances, internal and external in Pakistan, there may be imposed emergency in Pakistan.

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, I think he's revised and extended his comments to say that there is no plan at this point to impose a state of emergency.

QUESTION: Let's say -- one more thing. Let's say today -- today, there is an emergency imposed in Pakistan and let's say General Musharraf said it might refer (inaudible).

MR. MCCORMACK: Is this a hypothetical question, Goyal?

QUESTION: (Inaudible) yes or no.

MR. MCCORMACK: It sounds like one. It sounds like one, Goyal. I don't answer hypothetical questions.

Yes, ma'am.

QUESTION: On the Iraq resolution up at the UN, can you elaborate a bit more on the reason behind the timing of introducing the resolution and can it be taken as an indicator that the UK and the U.S. feel that the rest of the international community should be doing more vis-à-vis helping the Iraqis out?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, I think -- there is an expressed desire on the part of the United Nations and their staff to expand the mission to see what they can do to help the Iraqis, for example, reach the political compromises, achieve the kind of national reconciliation that they're seeking, and certainly, that is positive and we support the United Nations in their desire to do that. And I expect other members of the Security Council will as well when they have an opportunity to vote on a resolution doing just that; that would expand, in terms of the size, the UN mission in Iraq. I don't know that we have yet a vote scheduled on that resolution, but I would expect in the next few days, we're probably going to see that.

QUESTION: So you're saying that because it's an expressed desire on the part of the UN staff, so rather than this being a U.S.-UK initiative, that it was more brought about because of the UN staff expressing --

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, I'm just -- I'm referring back to some comments I saw in The Washington Post just a couple of days ago from the Under Secretary General for Political Affairs Lynn Pascoe up in New York in which he talked about the fact that this is something that the UN and his directorate supported and that he had talked to the Secretary General about it. So it was a UN initiative. Certainly, we support that effort and we would encourage that effort. We think that it's important that the international community come together and offer whatever assistance it can to the Iraqi Government. Certainly, the UN, who has a lot of experience in dealing with these issues of political reconciliation, working with various parties to resolve political differences, can play a very real role, as well as on the development side and the reconstruction side.


QUESTION: This afternoon, the Secretary's going to be meeting with the Libyan -- sorry, not Libyan, the Lebanese --

MR. MCCORMACK: Lebanese Chargé d'Affaires.

QUESTION: Anything that we can expect from this meeting other than expressions of support for the government?

MR. MCCORMACK: That's basically it. He's recently arrived, I think, at the end of July, and he is the credited representative, the most senior representative of the Lebanese Government here in the United States. The Secretary wanted to take the opportunity to meet with him here and I would expect that she's going to talk to him about the United States' continuing support for the efforts of the Siniora government to more firmly entrench Lebanese sovereignty and independence and expand political and economic reform and to support Lebanon in any attempts to rebuff those forces that want to encroach upon Lebanese sovereignty and independence.

Yes, ma'am.

QUESTION: Thank you, Sean. Reported by Korean press, they said full party summit talks, South and North Korea and United States, China at the -- to hold this meeting very soon. What do you expect for that full party summit talks?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, there are going to be various working groups that are part of the six-party talks and some of those -- one of those working groups deals with peace and security issues on the peninsula. I'm not -- they may have scheduled a date for that meeting, but I'm not aware of it yet. But I think the plan was to have it during the month of August. I don't have any other details.

QUESTION: Do you think that it's possible before the minister meeting in -- next month that --

MR. MCCORMACK: That the working groups meet? I expect that the working groups will meet.

QUESTION: I mean summit talks for parties.

MR. MCCORMACK: A summit?


MR. MCCORMACK: Meaning the leaders? I don't --

QUESTION: Leaders.

MR. MCCORMACK: -- expect that. I don't expect that, no.

QUESTION: Before any -- August the 28th, between -- South and North Korea leaders meet, after that?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, that's something different. Now that's a bilateral effort between North Korea and South Korea and that is separate from the six-party talks and we've talked about -- talked about that a little bit yesterday, that we have encouraged and we certainly welcome this dialogue and engagement between the North and South. We always have. But we don't think that, in any way, detracts or is a substitute for the six-party process, which really remains, in our view, and I think that it's the shared view of others in the process, that that's the real center of gravity -- center of diplomatic gravity in the region right now.


MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah. Samir.

QUESTION: What's your reaction to the Saudi boycotting the Iraq security meetings in Syria?

MR. MCCORMACK: You can talk to the Saudis about their reasons for not being at the meeting. Our representatives were there as observers and I think the basic takeaway from the meeting, from our perspective, was that there was a good and useful discussion among the participants in the meeting. But what's really important here is that we see some actions that follow these discussions, actions that follow words in terms of helping to prevent the flow of foreign fighters and the funding for foreign fighters that are coming in from abroad into Iraq and that serve only to destabilize Iraq. So that's our bottom-line takeaway out of the meeting.

QUESTION: Do you see the absence of Saudi Arabia from such a meeting a bit odd, in the sense that, you know --

MR. MCCORMACK: You know, you can talk to them about their reasons for not being there. We certainly encourage the Saudi participation in the working group process as well as the neighbors process. They were very full and active participants at the Sharm el-Sheikh meeting, and I would expect that at the various other working groups that they have chosen to participate in, that they will engage. I can't tell you why they didn't show up at this particular group meeting in Syria.

Yes, Goyal.

QUESTION: Sean, one more two-part question, quickly, on Pakistan. This morning at Carnegie Institution there was Ambassador -- former Ambassador of Pakistan to Washington Mr. Tariq Fatemi and others and they're saying -- they were discussing about the situation in Pakistan.

What he said was that he's experienced 30 years or so in the Foreign Service in Pakistan, that -- situation today is very tense, and as far as U.S. is concerned -- U.S.-Pakistan relations, U.S. should be worried because their interest there, like you said. And he said that Pakistan is not yesterday's Pakistan, but today things have changed. But Musharraf has no choice but to -- maybe to declare emergency.

My question is about what he was saying: How seriously the U.S. is watching the situation in Pakistan? And also, second, if Secretary has spoken -- looked in the situation in Pakistan? Anybody in India have a cause of concern in the area?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, of course, Goyal. Pakistan is a good friend and a good ally in the war on terror, and we follow, on a daily basis, events in Pakistan, just as we do follow the events of close friends and allies around the world, whether that's in Indonesia or in Western Europe or Japan or India, for that matter. So I'm not sure that I would separate out Pakistan from any other important relationship that we have around the world in that regard.

QUESTION: I mean, if Secretary, in this connection, has spoken to anybody in India, watching the situation?


QUESTION: Thank you.


(The briefing was concluded at 12:50 p.m.)

DPB # 142

Released on August 9, 2007

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