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Daily Press Briefing

Tom Casey, Deputy Spokesman
Washington, DC
September 20, 2007


Canada's Recognition of Macedonia / Effect on NATO and EU Recognition
State Makes Every Effort To Respond Appropriately to All Members of Congress
Unaware of Status or Contents of Letter from Chairman Waxman
Query on Possible Turkey-Iran Energy Cooperation
Now Is Not the Time For New Energy Investment in Iran
Comment on President Ahmadi-Nejad's Proposed Visit to Ground Zero
Query on Countries Whose Officials Have Restrictions When Attending the UN
Security Contractors Have to Follow State Department Rules Of Engagement
There is Review / Accountability By Security Officials For Any Violent Incidents
Usama bin Laden's Threats to President Musharraf
Will Not Deter the U.S. and Pakistan from Combating Terrorism Together
U.S. Position On Cyprus Remains Unchanged


12:51 p.m. EDT

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

QUESTION: I don't have anything either.

MR. CASEY: That's a happy coincidence.

QUESTION: I think that that means since you don't have anything and I don't have anything, the world is a peaceful place.

MR. CASEY: We could all go have lunch.

QUESTION: Exactly.

MR. CASEY: There we go.

Mr. Lambros, I know. Go ahead. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: Mr. Casey, FYROM/Canada. Ever since recognizing FYROM as "Republic of Macedonia" in November 4, 2004, the then-Secretary of State Colin Powell, the State Department position is (inaudible) includes Greece and FYROM negotiate a mutually accepted solution to their bilateral dispute. How does Canada's decision to also recognize the country as "Macedonia" help the U.S. Government encourage Skopje to even negotiate the compromise?

MR. CASEY: I'm not familiar with the Canadian Government's decision, but that's their decision to make. There are issues, as you know, in this between Greece and Macedonia. The name issue is one that's important to both of them. And I expect that those negotiations and discussions will continue and I can't tell you whether decisions made by other governments will or won't have an impact on it, but certainly that's Canada's decision to make.

QUESTION: One follow-up on the -- Mr. Casey -- a follow-up.

MR. CASEY: One follow-up.

QUESTION: Do you think that such a decision, including the U.S. one help FYROM to become a NATO and EU member?

MR. CASEY: I think those are individual decisions made by individual countries about the status and the specific name under which the country is recognized. I'm not aware that they have any particular impact one way or the other in terms of EU and NATO membership.


QUESTION: Just a question. Chairman Waxman sent another letter to the State Department. Apparently, some documents and some interviews were due by yesterday. He hasn't received them. Do you have any information as to why that hasn't been sent over or know if they will comply with the Chairman's request?

MR. CASEY: I'm sure you'll be shocked to know that whatever that letter is, it's not something I've seen. I'm not sure whether it's been received in this building or not. Certainly, we make every effort to respond appropriately to requests from all members of Congress. Chairman Waxman is certainly no exception to that. He's chairman of an important committee. And I'm sure to the extent that we are able to meet his request, we will do so.

QUESTION: This is apparently a letter that was sent earlier this month. Do you know why they haven't sent any information over to him yet?

MR. CASEY: Kirit, I don't even know the subject of the letter so, you know, I don't have any information about it.

QUESTION: It was about corruption in Iraq was the subject of his letter.

MR. CASEY: Again, I'm not sure. I'm happy to check and see if we have, in fact, received any new correspondence from the Chairman. Again, we certainly make every effort to comply with requests from Congress. We certainly make every effort to respond appropriately to requests that are made. In this instance, whether there is anything that we in fact are supposed to be on the hook to provide, have agreed to provide, have not provided, I don't know. But I'm happy to check for you.


MR. CASEY: Tom, did you -- it may not have been possible, since he may be in the air, but did you get an answer to my question about the Turks saying that they could not cut off their energy cooperation with Iran?

MR. CASEY: Well, again, I've seen the press reports that you've provided me and I've seen from others. Look, I think what I'd say about this, Arshad, is as you know we're pursuing a diplomatic strategy towards Iran with respect to its nuclear program. And one of the things we're looking to is our partners around the world, including Turkey, to help convince Iran to comply with the various UN Security Council requirements, including the most important one, which is that they suspend their nuclear enrichment-related and reprocessing activities and enter into negotiations with the international community. For that diplomacy to be effective, we certainly think it would be helpful to have the support of all countries in that effort and Turkey's no exception to that.

And certainly, as you've heard us say many times before, we do not think that now is the time for people to be contemplating new investments in Iran's petroleum or energy sector. That said, as far as I know, all that has happened to date is the July 24 preliminary agreement that was signed between Turkey and Iran. I'm not aware that there has been any final arrangement or final deal reached. And, you know, again, we've seen a lot of instances, too, where the Iranian Government has made great efforts to highlight the fact that they have an agreement to agree, or an agreement to potentially do something in the future. So I don't think at this point, anyone's talking about a major new investment or a major new initiative taking place in the immediate future.

Yeah, Charlie.

QUESTION: Can we talk about the Blackwater incident? Just looking for your reaction to reports in The Washington Post today, that the State Department provided too much latitude to Blackwater in their employ in guarding their convoys and officials; that they exempted them from various procedures and reporting requirements.

MR. CASEY: Well, I guess my basic reaction is: Don't believe everything you read. We talked about this a little bit and let me just give you a general review of this. First of all, all our contractors in Iraq have to follow the State Department rules of engagement. These include the rules on the use of force. They are the same rules that our Diplomatic Security officers have to follow and those rules are established through the ambassador in each country.

Certainly, there is accountability for any actions taken. Just like any police force out there, if there's an incident in which force is used, if there's an incident in which violence occurs, there is a review of that incident by our security officials. And to the extent that there are any procedures violated or rules broken, then people do receive consequences for that. That may be disciplinary action in some cases. But certainly let me assure you that if in any instance the United States feels that any employee, whether it is a State Department contractor, whether it is a direct-hire employee, whether it is anyone associated with us, has broken a U.S. law, then we will fully and completely work with law enforcement officials in this country to make sure they're held accountable in a court of law.

QUESTION: And following up on an earlier question referring to the incident in May, the shooting of a driver outside the Interior Ministry in Baghdad, and a pledge apparently for a State Department investigation, do you have anything? Was that investigation --

MR. CASEY: I am still trying to get some facts on that for you, Charlie. But point of fact is again, in any instance where use of force has occurred, there is a review that is done if that review concludes that there were any violations of laws or procedures or rules then there's action taken; again, that may be disciplinary action. That may be, in an extreme case, referral for prosecution.

Yeah, Nina.

QUESTION: I asked about bin Laden's threat to Musharraf, has this made you even more concerned about Musharraf's personal safety?

MR. CASEY: Well, gee, I guess it's shocking that Usama bin Laden doesn't like countries working together to confront the kind of radical extremism and perversion of Islam that he represents.

I don't think it changes at all our cooperation or our desire to work with President Musharraf and the people and Government of Pakistan to confront al-Qaida and confront extremism in that country. I know I've seen comments from the Government of Pakistan saying it doesn't change their position either. So he can threaten whoever he wants. We are going to continue to work with Pakistan as well as with our other friends and allies throughout the world to confront him and make sure that we keep ourselves and our friends safe from attack from him and those like him.

Yeah, Joel.

QUESTION: President Ahmadi-Nejad, of course, is coming to the UN this coming week and there's talk that he wanted to visit, of course, Ground Zero and it was denied. And are there any regulations that you've heard about or want to enforce to permit him just his speech at the UN and curtail the rest of his visit? He then wants to go down to Venezuela and meet with Hugo Chavez. And is this belligerent on his part? How do you view this?

MR. CASEY: Joel, I think I'd leave it to President Ahmadi-Nejad and his government to restrict people's freedom of speech, freedom of movement, freedom of access. As you know for countries that we don't have diplomatic relations with, the United States, fulfilling our obligations under the Headquarters Agreement, will allow officials from those countries to visit here. They are restricted to a 25-mile limit around UN headquarters, within those confines they are free to act in accordance with their own wishes and the needs of security in the area.

I understand that the President -- Ahmadi-Nejad did put in a request with the New York City police department to visit Ground Zero. That I understand is a request that was denied because of the understanding of the New York City police that they did not feel they would be able to provide adequate security for him at that. That's an appropriate decision for -- to be left in their hands.

I will say as I said to some of your colleagues yesterday, though, that it does seem to be rather appalling and the height of hypocrisy for an individual who is one of the world's leading state sponsors of terror to want to visit a place where so many people, Americans and those from more than 80 other countries, lost their lives in a terrorist incident.

QUESTION: Tom, can I just -- on a technical thing about --

MR. CASEY: Sure, Matt.

QUESTION: You said that countries that you don't have diplomatic relations with -- that's a very small list of countries and it's even smaller than it was, you know, it seems to go down. Now it's gone down in the last -- is it -- am I correct that it's just Iran and North Korea?

MR. CASEY: That's a good question, though.

QUESTION: Even though you do have some diplomatic relations with --

MR. CASEY: Cuba is --

QUESTION: Do they fall under --

MR. CASEY: -- restricted, North Korea, Iran. I would have to check if there were any others out there. It's a good question. Let me check for you.

Mr. Lambros.

QUESTION: On Cyprus. Mr. Casey, the new President of the Republic of Turkey Abdullah Gul stated yesterday that the Cyprus solution is the political equality and the settlement must be based on the existence "of two states." Since U.S., UN and the Cyprus Government supports (inaudible) Federation position expressed once again clearly last week at the Atlantic Council by Under Secretary Nicholas Burns, may we have your comment?

MR. CASEY: My comment is that sounds like a statement reflecting his views and the views of the Government of Turkey. The U.S. position on Cyprus hasn't changed.


QUESTION: Do you have anything new on the six-party talks?

MR. CASEY: Nothing beyond what I said this morning. We look forward to seeing Chris make a trip to Beijing and meet with his counterparts next week.

(The briefing was concluded at 1:03 p.m.)

DPB # 166

Released on September 20, 2007

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