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Daily Press Briefing

Sean McCormack, Spokesman
Washington, DC
October 12, 2007

INDEX:

IRAQ
Congressman Waxman's Letter On Corruption in Iraq and State Department's Provision of Documents / Classification of Documents / Information
Reported State Department Directive Regarding Provision of Broad Policy Assessments on Iraqi Corruption and Iraqi Governance
Congressman Waxman's Request for Information on Previous Blackwater Incident
IRAQ/TURKEY
U.S. Efforts with Turkey and Iraq Continue Against PKK
TURKEY
Passage of House Resolution 106 / Administration's Opposition to Resolution
Secretary Rice's Call to Turkish President, Prime Minister and Foreign Minister / Other Department Officials' Calls to Turkish Officials
Turkish Ambassador Asked to Return Home for Consultations
US-Turkish Bilateral Relations
VENEZUELA
Assistant Secretary Shannon's Meeting with Member of Venezuela's Opposition
GREECE/MACEDONIA
Greece and Macedonia Relations and Name Issue
Senator Menendez's Comments on US Assistance to Macedonia
RUSSIA
President Putin's Comments on Possible Withdrawal from INF Treaty
CHINA
China's Objection to Congressional Decision to Award Medal to the Dalai Lama
KOSOVO
Reported Albanian Government Decision to Give Albanian Citizenship to All Kosovars


TRANSCRIPT:

12:40 p.m. EDT

MR. CASEY: Well, good afternoon, everybody. Happy Friday, TGIF. As you can see my colleague Mr. Gallegos has started early since he's got his fishing vest on. I don't know whether that means the fly fishing's good this weekend or not, Gonz. But hope you get there soon.

MR. GALLEGOS: (Inaudible.)

MR. CASEY: Sounds good. I don't have anything to start you guys out with, so what do you have for me?

QUESTION: Today's letter from Chairman Waxman.

MR. CASEY: Well, yes, it's amazing, we've gotten another. I think the mail system is getting a little bit better between Capitol Hill and the State Department as this one I am aware of and I know that we've received. This letter is a follow-up to some hearings that occurred about last week concerning the issues of corruption in Iraq.

Let me just say that, first of all, nowhere in that letter does it say that the State Department hasn't provided all the information that the committee's actually asked for. Once again, and we've discussed this before, there are questions raised about whether information that is currently classified should not be classified and what kind of discussion should be had about classified information. These are normal kinds of procedures that we have for ensuring that the handling of sensitive information, of classified information, is treated appropriately. And we, of course, have made people available and made information available to the committee on these subjects. And certainly we'll take a look at the letter and see if there is anything more that we can provide or anything we might be able to offer by way of additional unclassified assessments or information related to corruption in Iraq.

But I think the one thing that is clear, and that I certainly don't think is at issue even in the letter, is the idea that the information that they've asked for they have received.

QUESTION: Well, I mean, I take issue with your characterization of what's in and isn't in the letter. I mean, it includes, right up at the top, the question of whether the State Department has prevented its employees from testifying -- "refused" to testify is the word. And it says the State Department has taken other steps to suppress information about the extent of corruption within the Maliki government.

MR. CASEY: Well, the -- that reference is to the fact that we don't wish to have discussions of classified information take place in unclassified settings. I don't see anything in there that says that documents that were requested weren't received or that officials that were requested did not, in fact, go and testify.

Yeah.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) speak quite extensively about the retroactive classification of documents and saying that, you know, this is basically a sort of trick of you to suppress information. I wonder whether you had any comment on the retroactive classification.

MR. CASEY: Well, I first of all would say that if the committee was provided information then it's hard to say how that information was being suppressed. But again, we covered this particular subject before the last hearing. We think it's important that we protect the names of individuals who have provided us information. We think it's important to protect the integrity of any ongoing Iraqi investigations that may take -- that are taking place on this issue. We think it's important that we be able to continue to work successfully with the Iraqi Government on a broad range of issues, including the very fundamental and important issue of anti-corruption.

But you know, there seems to be some kind of assertion being made here that the State Department doesn't acknowledge corruption in Iraq or doesn't acknowledge that it's a problem. More important than what we acknowledge is what Prime Minister Maliki and his government acknowledge. They acknowledge that corruption is a serious issue for their country. They acknowledge it not only in a rhetorical sense but in the actions they've taken on the ground, and that includes establishing various kinds of oversight bodies, that includes working with us to try and deal with what is a problem not only in Iraq but in many countries throughout the world. So certainly, I don't think anyone could argue that the State Department or the U.S. Government or the Iraqi Government is trying to deny that corruption is a serious problem and is one that needs to be addressed. And that's why we've been working as has been acknowledged by the Special Inspector General for Iraq and others with the Iraqi Government on a program to try and deal with some of these issues.

What we don't think is appropriate and never have is the idea of taking information that could potentially make it harder for us to achieve those objectives or it could potentially endanger the safety of some of the individuals involved and discuss that in an unclassified setting.

But again, if you provide information and do so appropriately, following the guidelines that you have for handling information, it's hard I think to argue that there's any attempt to hide or suppress information here.

QUESTION: What they're saying is that you're misusing the classification procedures and that you're just kind of willy-nilly going back and classifying stuff if it doesn't suit your political intentions.

MR. CASEY: Well, again, I think that our intention is to have a successful and effective effort against corruption in partnership with the Iraqi Government. And we certainly want to be able to talk about that and discuss it in all appropriate ways with the members of Congress who is interested. That is certainly their right. We want to make sure that there is a clear understanding about this. But again, I don't think there is anything unusual about officials saying that we'd like to discuss classified information and confidential information in a closed-door session.

There's certainly, as I think any of you could find looking at your reporting over the years, ample public discussion of this issue and ample public discussion by U.S. officials of it, including my statement here.

Yeah, Zain. Oh, sorry, same thing?

QUESTION: Go ahead.

MR. CASEY: Either way.

QUESTION: Do Zain.

QUESTION: Different issue, same Congressman.

MR. CASEY: Sure.

QUESTION: Do you have the same --

QUESTION: Just a follow-up. But -- you mean you said it was important to protect names of the people and the investigations and so forth. But then how do you explain why you would make it public in the first place if it was an issue of endangerment and protection and then go back and classify that? (Inaudible)

MR. CASEY: Look, I will -- I'd refer you back to what I said on this issue a couple of weeks ago when this came up. There were some documents produced by some contractors for the State Department intended for internal deliberations within the embassy on how to continue to manage and adapt our anti-corruption efforts with the Iraqis. There was never a report. There was never any document that was released formally or informally. You know, some of these internal documents were leaked to a variety of different officials; that doesn't mean that they should be -- that their basic confidential nature ought to change because they got leaked.

QUESTION: So you've given every -- are you saying that every single document that has been requested by Waxman and his committee has been delivered to your knowledge?

MR. CASEY: My understanding is that all of the information that's been requested, including all the documents that have been requested were provided to the committee, and I believe were provided to the committee before the hearing took place last week. It's my understanding, based on this letter and what our officials tell me, that the contention here is simply over the fact that some of that information is classified and we have chosen to discuss that information in a classified setting.

Sue. Oh, sorry. Back to -- we're still on this. Okay.

QUESTION: Well, a week ago Chairman Waxman asked you to provide some information on the Blackwater issue on Moonen, the guard in the Christmas Eve shooting, by today. And I wondered whether that information has been provided and whether it will be released --

MR. CASEY: I'm not sure. I know people were working on that. I'm not sure whether it's all been provided or partly been provided. I can check for you, if you want.

Sue.

QUESTION: One other thing. In this letter which was actually signed by three other Democratic congressmen, all chairs of their various committees, (inaudible) not just Waxman. They say that they believe that endemic corruption in Iraq may be fueling the insurgency, endangering troops and undermining the chances for success. Would you agree with that statement?

MR. CASEY: Well, I think -- I'm not sure whether they were -- that was their statement or whether they were referring to something a previous witness had said. What I can tell you, Sue, is that corruption is a serious problem in Iraq. It's a serious problem in many countries. The Prime Minister and the Government of Iraq recognize it as a serious problem. We do as well. And we are working with them in a number of ways to ensure that corruption doesn't become a bigger issue and that, in fact, we take actions to correct it.

Certainly, when you look at the nature of the issues that are here, it's very clear that, you know, you do need to have the development of those kinds of institutions that can best serve the interests of the Iraqi people. One of the things that's critical for any society, developing, developed or otherwise, is that it has institutions that function and that function in a transparent way and that there are mechanisms in place to ensure that and to deal with those who walk outside the lines and who do engage in corrupt practices. That is something that the Iraqis are working on and need to continue to work on in order to ensure that their people can be guaranteed that their institutions are working effectively for them and providing services adequately as well. And that's a key priority for the U.S. Government. It's a key priority for the Iraqi Government.

QUESTION: Just one more thing.

MR. CASEY: Sure.

QUESTION: On September 25th, they say that the State Department issued an order, ordering its officials not to answer sort of broad questions in an open setting that asks questions about corruption, Iraqi governance in general. Was this order issued on September 25th? And Waxman plans to introduce a resolution on Monday asking for it to be rescinded.

MR. CASEY: Sue, there's no such directive. My understanding is that two working-level officials were asked not to provide broad policy assessments and that our -- policy officials ought to do that. That's hardly a directive for people not to comment on corruption. Again, a broad assessment might be me standing here saying, "Corruption's a serious problem in Iraq and it's a serious problem that the United States and the Iraqi Government intend to work on together and have been working on together."

I don't think, again, we're trying to hide any basic facts. I think it would be pretty obvious based on the public statements, again, of the Prime Minister and other Iraqi officials that this is an issue. The whole reason why we have an anti-corruption program that, again, has been discussed and reported on in any number of places is because we acknowledge that this is an issue and it's an important issue for both us and the Iraqis.

QUESTION: So in your view is it then pointless for him to put out a resolution asking for you to rescind it when it wasn't there in the first place?

MR. CASEY: Look, Sue, you know, I'll leave it up to the individual members of Congress to make their decisions on what they want to do. I'm just trying to provide you with what the facts are here. Certainly, we will make every effort to respond appropriately to the -- any requests, current or future, that are made on this or other subjects by the Hill. Again, I think we'll take a look once more at this issue and see if there is any more information that could be provided in a unclassified manner or an unclassified setting, maybe through redacting documents or doing some other kinds of things. But again, what we want to make sure that we do is preserve our ability to help the Iraqis effectively deal with corruption and we also want to make sure that we don't put forward any information in public that might either make it harder for that job to get done or potentially endanger the safety of some of the individuals involved.

Michel.

QUESTION: Change of subject? PKK has issued a statement today saying that they are moving back into Turkey from northern Iraq and that they will target Turkey's ruling party AK, and main opposition CHP. Do you have any reaction on that?

MR. CASEY: Haven't seen it, Michel. But look, the PKK is a terrorist organization and the PKK needs to be put out of business. The United States is going to work with the Government of Turkey and going to work with the Government of Iraq to make sure that we do everything we can to prevent them from engaging in violent acts against the people of Turkey, and I expect that we'll be continuing to do so over time.

So I, unfortunately, don't think it's surprising to see threats emanating from this terrorist organization, but I don't think that's going to stop us from working and working effectively with the Turkish Government and the other parties involved to deal with it.

Mr. Lambros, something tells me you're on the same subject.

QUESTION: Yes, to be more visible. Mr. Casey, on Turkey, a bunch of reports in international media and the press are insisting over and over since yesterday that the whole issue of the Armenian resolution is a big game between the Executive Branch of your government and the Congress for geopolitical (inaudible) against the territorial integrity of Turkey and the northern Iraq area. How do you respond to those criticisms?

MR. CASEY: Well, I'm not sure who's saying that, Mr. Lambros. But look, we've been very clear on this subject. We the Executive Branch/we the Administration have opposed this resolution. We've done so publicly and actively. We regret that the resolution, in fact, was passed by the committee and you heard from us and from the White House that we are committing ourselves to working with Congress on this again to try and ensure that that resolution, in fact, is defeated when it comes to the floor.

Secretary Rice, as I mentioned earlier this morning to some of you, had conversations with a number of Turkish officials at the highest levels to make sure that she personally was able to convey our regret that this resolution had passed the committee and our desire to continue to work to oppose it.

Certainly, I am not aware of anyone in the Administration or in Congress or anywhere in the U.S. Government that believes that this resolution should have any impact or is intended to have any impact on the territorial integrity of Turkey or any other country.

QUESTION: Mr. Casey, did the Secretary Rice spoke to Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan, to the Turkish President Abdullah Gul and to the Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan?

MR. CASEY: She did make a call to Foreign Minister Babacan, and she also requested the opportunity to speak and was granted the opportunity to speak with both the President and Prime Minister.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

MR. CASEY: Well, again, I talked about this this morning, but she conveyed our views on this. Again, I think I'll let the Turkish Government speak to their own understanding of this. But it was a positive discussion. I think they understand that we are making the efforts that we can to convince Congress that this is not an appropriate step and that this resolution should not be approved.

In terms of though -- I'd leave it to them, though, in terms of how they received that message or how they would interpret or how they feel about it.

QUESTION: Since your request is pending since yesterday to speak to Mr. Erdogan, to Mr. Gul, any response (inaudible) the Secretary?

MR. CASEY: Well, again, she did speak with both the Prime Minister and the President yesterday in addition to the Foreign Minister, so she has had conversations with all three of them.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MR. CASEY: Zain.

QUESTION: Were there any additional phone calls beyond what you told us this morning from Nick Burns to the Turks or otherwise from this building?

MR. CASEY: Not that I'm aware of. Again, the Secretary spoke with her counterpart as well as with the Prime Minister and President yesterday. Nick did speak again with the Turkish Ambassador yesterday afternoon just to clarify his situation and status. As I told you this morning, our understanding from him is that he has not been withdrawn or recalled, but has been asked to come back home for a brief period of time for consultations. Nick stressed in his conversation with him his desire to continue to work with the Ambassador and to continue to be a good interlocutor for him, particularly as we move forward on this issue as well as on the broader range of issues on which we work with Turkey.

I would hope that people would not lose sight in all of this discussion about this resolution the fact that the U.S. and Turkey have a broad range of common interests, whether that's in fighting the PKK or whether that's in cooperating more broadly on counterterrorism issues, whether that's supporting the efforts of the Iraqi Government to stabilize the country. And as you know, the Turkish Government has generously offered to host the next round of the neighbors conference to try and coordinate those actions. Turkey, of course, is also a longstanding friend and NATO ally with the United States. Their troops have participated in operations in Afghanistan and in other peacekeeping operations that have been NATO-led. And certainly, we would expect and hope that despite the very strong feelings on this issue that we would be able to continue to have that kind of good allied friendly relations between our countries.

Yeah, Anne.

QUESTION: Can you think of any other examples of a country with that kind of close and friendly relations or a NATO member recalling its ambassador with -- or calling home its ambassador for consultations?

MR. CASEY: I think you'd have to check with any of the 25 NATO allies on that. But I would think that it would be a relatively common occurrence for ambassadors to go back home for consultations. I'm not trying to tell you that the passage of this resolution by the committee isn't the approximate reason for that. What I'm trying to emphasize is in the parlance of this building and for those who spend their time dealing with diplomacy, there's a rather strong difference between being invited back home for consultations, versus being withdrawn, versus being recalled.

QUESTION: Well, yes, but I mean, it still is an unusual occurrence, even -- I mean, I can't think of another example and I'm just wondering if you can.

MR. CASEY: Well, let's put it this way. I can think of many examples on a regular basis in which we ask our ambassadors to come home for consultation. Sometimes that's simply because they haven't been back in a year and we want to make sure we've talked to them. Sometimes it's related to a specific event that's occurred. I would be -- I'll let the Turkish Government speak to how they want to categorize this or qualify this. I'm not trying to tell you that they do not -- they have not had a strong reaction to the passage of this resolution. You've heard statements from the President and Prime Minister and others about that. All I'm trying to say is at least for those of us in this building, a recall or a withdrawal of an ambassador implies some change in the diplomatic relations or the status of diplomatic relations between the two countries and that in fact is not the case, at least as we understand it from the ambassador.

Yeah, Charlie.

QUESTION: Are the conversations with the Turkish officials dealing with additional assistance that the United States can make in the terrorism fight for Turkey?

MR. CASEY: Well, look, I think it's very important that we all do everything we can to deal with the problem that's posed by the PKK. Our desire to do that and our desire to work with the Turks and the Iraqis on this hasn't changed and we're going to continue to do so. I don't think that there is any higher priority for us in terms of our working with both those countries together than to deal with this problem. We recognize it's a very serious issue and we've put a good deal of effort into it and we're going to continue to do so.

QUESTION: But Turkey doesn't feel as though the U.S. has treated it as a high enough priority and has been the source of the tensions between, you know, the two countries in recent weeks and months. And I mean, when you're providing -- when you talk of providing more assistance or cooperating with them, does that -- will that translate into destroying more bases of the PKK in northern Iraq or handing over some --

MR. CASEY: I think I'll let the Iraqi army and MNFI and the Turkish general staff talk about military operations.

QUESTION: Did you give them any assurances that that would be something that --

MR. CASEY: Again, I think you're operating under a false premise, though, because your premise is that we aren't and haven't been dedicated to taking strong actions.

QUESTION: But Turks -- from the Turkish point of view.

MR. CASEY: Well, again, I think we've made clear over time our views on this. We have said and offered any number of opportunities where we can and will cooperate. We have established a variety of means of communication. We've been working cooperatively on the ground between the military forces of the countries. We've been operating at the diplomatic level, including at high levels, both through regular channels as well separate ones that are designed specifically to deal with this issue. So I'd simply just take issue with the idea that we aren't concerned or haven't been, and certainly we want to do everything we can. And if the Turkish Government or the Iraqi Government or anyone else involved in this process has additional ideas on how we can make this more effective, we certainly want to hear about them and certainly want to be able to discuss them and work together on this. Because again, this isn't a Turkish issue, it's not an Iraqi issue, it's not a U.S. issue, it's one where all three of us are engaged and involved. And we are just as interested as the Government of Turkey or the Government of Iraq in seeing that this terrorist group does not pose a threat to innocent people anywhere.

QUESTION: Can you give any examples of action that has been taken by the U.S. against the PKK?

MR. CASEY: Look, if you want to do a blow-by-blow of military actions in northern Iraq against the PKK, my friends at MNFI can help you. Again, you've got a wide range of cooperation between both on the ground military forces. You've had special envoys working and dealing on this issue and you've had high level diplomatic conversations on it. I think if you talk with those on the ground in northern Iraq, they can tell you about some of the specific raids, arrests, and other activities that have been designed to disrupt and affect PKK operations there. Obviously it's still a problem; otherwise, we wouldn't be here talking about it now, and that means we all have to continue to work on it and probably have to see what other means we can come up with to deal with it. But again, I'd just strongly contend the fact -- or contest the fact that we are somehow haven't been serious about this or haven't been engaged in it, because we really have.

QUESTION: Has the U.S. been involved in arrests of PKK, suspected PKK members?

MR. CASEY: Where are those stars on my shoulder? I think you can talk to the U.S. military in Iraq about specific operations they may or may not have been involved in.

QUESTION: Surely, if there had been that would have filtered to the State Department.

MR. CASEY: Again, I will let the Pentagon and the military on the ground talk to you about specific actions. I think the Iraqis have spoken to this. I believe Major General Bergner has spoken to it in a number of his briefings. I simply don't have details on the specifics of that and I don't think my friends at the Pentagon would be appreciative of me trying to step into their turf on it. But I'm sure your correspondents over there can ask them about this and they'll be happy to tell you about it.

Yeah.

QUESTION: Do you have any details on Tom Shannon's meeting this morning with the Venezuelan opposition leader, please? What they discussed.

MR. MCCORMACK: I've actually got something on that and I'm somewhat surprised. No, seriously, let me tell you what's happened. Tom Shannon, our Assistant Secretary for Latin American Affairs, met this morning with Governor Rosales of Zulia state in Venezuela. As you know, he is a member of the opposition in that country and a rather prominent one at that. Tom had a good discussion with him about the general political situation in the country. He continues to hear from a wide range of people in and out of politics in Venezuela about happenings there. I'd note that he did also have a meeting with the Venezuelan Foreign Minister a couple of weeks ago up in New York.

I think Tom's main points in that discussion were to emphasize the desire of the United States to have a good and positive working relationship with Venezuela and that's in keeping with the longstanding friendship between our two countries. He also reiterated, as I think he did for some of your colleagues who were there on the scene, the fact that the United States remains committed to a democratic future and the development of democracy in Venezuela.

QUESTION: Did you offer any funding to the opposition?

MR. CASEY: Sue, we don't fund political parties or "opposition" groups. We provide support, as you know, for civil society organizations in a non-partisan way. The United States does not back any individual candidates or parties in Venezuela or anyplace else.

Mr. Lambros.

QUESTION: Yes, on FYROM. Mr. Casey, the top U.S. negotiator Matthew Nimetz -- excuse me -- the top U.S. diplomat Matthew Nimetz, who is the UN chief negotiator on the name issue between Greece and FYROM stated a public note in an interview to a newspaper in Skopje, "I personally am not the greatest admirer of Alexander the Great. He was certainly a great conqueror, but he massacred thousands of innocent people and destroyed many towns. He was not a promoter of democracy and civil life. And in my view, he did not leave behind the most (inaudible) empire." What is the U.S. Government (inaudible)? Do you trust him to be a negotiator since Mr. Nimetz is bias against Greece and his motive and status is under a big question under such a statement?

MR. CASEY: Well, I don't think the United States Government has an opinion on Alexander the Great. You know, we sort of came about as a country fairly recently in history, so I don't think we were around to comment at the time.

Look, in terms of relations between Greece and Macedonia and the name issue, as you know, what we think is extremely important is that there be a resolution of this issue by the two parties. We understand it's an emotional issue and one of great importance for people in both those countries. And we want to see it resolved through the auspices or through the support of UN mediation. I certainly haven't heard those comments and can't speak to them. But fundamentally the issue remains the same and we certainly want to encourage our friends in Greece as well as our friends in Macedonia to be able to come to an agreement on this.

QUESTION: One more question. (Inaudible) on the same foreign ambassador community, he held up and threatens to terminate $7.5 million in American aid to FYROM unless FYROM stops its nationalistic tactics against Greece, the propaganda and the refusal to adhere to U.S. and UN policy regarding the (inaudible) with Greece. I'm wondering, Mr. Casey, what is the Department of State produces American new program aid to FYROM will not be released next time according to Senator Menendez.

MR. CASEY: Look, I'll let Senator Menendez speak for himself. Certainly again, we want to see the issue between these two countries resolved in a positive way. The United States firmly believes it's in both countries' interests to have a reasonable settlement of this issue. It's certainly important to the Euro-Atlantic future of Macedonia that they be allowed to be included in a number of organizations that they've sought membership in, and Greece will have a very important say in that.

QUESTION: You (inaudible) the institution under the present name, you recognized?

MR. CASEY: Yes, we certainly do. But that is not -- we don't make decisions on behalf of organizations that include many member states.

Yeah.

QUESTION: Do you have any reaction to President Putin's hints that Russia might pull out of the INF Treaty?

MR. CASEY: Well, I think you've heard from our two secretaries recently and I'll leave it to them to talk in any detail about issues related to their trip out there.

In terms of the INF Treaty, I think our views on that have been consistent and clear. There have been a variety of statements by Russian officials indicating that they might -- or were contemplating in some way withdrawing from the treaty. There's never been any action taken on that. Certainly, we intend to continue to adhere to this treaty. We think it's a very important one and we'd regret a decision by any of its signatories to withdraw from it.

Let's go to Charlie, first.

QUESTION: The Chinese Government is objecting to Congress awarding the Dalai Lama a gold medal next week, an event possibly attended by President Bush. The Chinese ministry's said they've made solemn representations to the United States in this regard. Have you received them and what's your response?

MR. CASEY: Well, inasmuch as this involves a question of congressional action and of issues of presidential meetings, I'll let my friends at the White House deal with that. In terms of our general view on the Dalai Lama, though, as you know, we regard him as a spiritual leader of his people and someone who has inspired many individuals. As far as I know, there is nothing about the decision by the Congress to award this medal to him that changes that basic view. This is certainly an issue that the Chinese raise with us from time to time. I'm not sure at what level or how they have done so in this particular instance. But again, I think what our response generally is is that we regard the Dalai Lama as a very important and significant spiritual leader and that is how we treat his visits here to the United States.

Okay, Mr. Lambros, on Kosovo.

QUESTION: On Kosovo. The Albanian Government has decided to give Albanian citizenship to all Kosovars. What is the U.S. position since this move is a big step for the creation of "great Albania."

MR. CASEY: Mr. Lambros, I'm not aware of what the Albanian Government may or may not have -- have chosen to do. Certainly each country is entitled to determine who is or isn't entitled to citizenship under their own appropriate laws and regulations. But the important issue for us, of course, with Kosovo is that we continue to work through the Contact Group and the troika on discussions between the Government of Serbia and the Kosovars on an equitable solution that's agreeable to all sides to the situation there.

Certainly, as we've said, if by the end of the established negotiating period in December the parties have not been able to come to an agreement, what we expect would happen would be a decision to move forward with supervised independence for Kosovo that is in keeping with the outlines of the Ahtisaari plan. I am not aware of anyone in this country or anyplace else that believes that independence for Kosovo would somehow result in or would lead to some kind of greater Albanian state.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) FYROM Prime Minister Ljubco Georgievski and the Albanian leader of FYROM Ali Ahmeti declared the other day the unification, "great Albania" all the Albanians in FYROM. Any comment?

MR. CASEY: No.

QUESTION: Because that contradicts whatever you are doing in order to find a solution (inaudible) --

MR. CASEY: Mr. Lambros, you're -- I think you've exceeded your quota for today. But look, we support the territorial integrity of the states in the region, of Albania, of Macedonia, Greece, the other players. Kosovo, as you know, is a unique circumstance. It's a unique circumstance because of the way the conflict occurred. It's a unique circumstance because of the current status of it, which falls under the outlines of UN Security Council Resolution 1244. No one views Kosovo and its probable independence as a precedent for any other conflicts. We certainly are not trying to reopen discussions that I think most of us believe were long settled over other borders.

Thank you.

(The briefing was concluded at 1:15 p.m.)

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