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Daily Press Briefing

Sean McCormack, Spokesman
Washington, DC
March 11, 2008


U.S. Looks Forward to Working with Government After its Formation
Common Interest of Fighting Against Terrorism
Power-sharing Arrangement Up to Pakistani Political Leaders
Will Continue the Use of Military-to-Military Contacts
Stability and Democracy Go Hand in Hand
Important Efforts Going to Be Made in Broadening and Deepening Political and Economic Reform
There Are Going to Be Tensions in Any Democratic Political System
Assistant Secretary Hill's Travel to Geneva / View Meeting as Moving the Process Forward / Diplomatic Process Still Has a Lot of Life
Name Issue / U.S. Supports the UN Process Led By Ambassador Nimetz
Encourage All Sides to Come to a Solution
Unfamiliar with What Russian Government Has Done on Issue of Trade With Abkhazia
U.S. Supports Georgia's Territorial Integrity
U.S. Views Olympics in China as a Sporting Event


12:18 p.m. EDT

MR. MCCORMACK: Good afternoon.

QUESTION: Good afternoon, Mr. McCormack.

MR. MCCORMACK: I don’t have anything to begin with. We’re going to have Secretary Rice down here at 1 o’clock to roll out the annual Human Rights Report, so you can reserve all of your questions about that particular topic for her and those who follow.


QUESTION: Yes. Thank you. Good morning, Sean. Quick question - as far as democracy in Pakistan is concerned, they are ready now, two biggest parties, to form the government and any role U.S. is playing from here, or what you – are the – Secretary’s ready to congratulate the new government in Pakistan?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well I know, the latest I had, the government had not – actually not been formed yet. We look forward to working with the government once it is formed. There are a number of issues of common interest here. And certainly, one of the areas that we will focus on is the continuing fight against terrorism, our counterterrorism efforts. I know that that is an issue of interest to the Government of Pakistan and certainly to the people of Pakistan.

In terms of U.S. involvement, no, that is completely up to the Pakistani political leaders to decide upon how they are going to arrange themselves in terms of power-sharing arrangements, who has what cabinet portfolios and all of the things that come along with forming a government. We, of course, are doing our normal diplomatic work. We are in contact with political leaders from across the political spectrum in Pakistan. But no, the decisions about forming a government and who sits where and who does what, entirely up to the Pakistani political leaders.

QUESTION: A quick follow-up, if I might. As far as fighting terrorism and because of U.S. interest, U.S. troops are there and interest is there, have you spoken or anybody from here have been in touch with the new leadership and how – what you have not accomplished in the past under the military government, now what you want from them - how they can achieve more than what we had?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, they’ve come a long way in fighting terrorism. There’s always room for improvement. You could say the same thing about us as well as others around the world. We have military-to-military contacts that go back some ways, but that’s not some – as I said, that’s not something that’s new. It goes back quite some time, and I would expect that they would continue in the future.

Yeah, Charles.

QUESTION: Yes. Sean, we know Chris Hill is going to Geneva later this week --


QUESTION: -- to meet with his North Korean counterpart. Do you consider the talks in trouble – the six-party process in trouble? Do you consider this just another meeting in a long line of meetings?


QUESTION: What’s the status?

MR. MCCORMACK: Let’s hope that it’s a meeting that moves the process forward. And by moving the process forward, I mean taking some positive steps towards the – or talking about positive steps towards completing dismantlement, to providing a complete declaration, which the North Korean Government has promised to do in the context of the six-party talks. We are prepared, along with our other partners in those discussions, to fulfill our commitments. So -- but this is a discussion that is based upon the principle of action for action, so the other five members of the six-party talks are looking for North Korea to fulfill their commitments, and all the while we are going to continue to fulfill ours.

As to the first part of your question, we believe that this diplomatic process still has a lot of life left in it. We are focused on trying to move the process forward. We’re devoting a lot of energy and focus to it, as are other members of the six-party talks, most notably the Chinese Government.

So the diplomacy continues to move forward. While it may not move forward at the pace that we would have originally wished, we believe that there is the possibility to succeed in completing this phase and then move on to a new phase in which we would start to talk about actually dismantling the North Korean nuclear program and other aspects of the September 2005 agreement that talk about peace and security on the Korean Peninsula.

QUESTION: But you don’t think it’s in trouble?

MR. MCCORMACK: No, we still think that this process has a lot of life in it.


QUESTION: Mr. McCormack, on FYROM, it was reported that your Ambassador to NATO has been sent to Skopje in a kind of mediation between Greece and FYROM on the name issue. Since there is no progress due to the upcoming summit in Bucharest, do you have anything on that?

MR. MCCORMACK: No, I don’t. You’re saying Tory has been sent to Skopje?


MR. MCCORMACK: I have no information on that. Check with our mission down there. We support the UN --


MR. MCCORMACK: -- the UN process that’s being led by Ambassador Nimetz to come up with a solution to this issue.

QUESTION: Any recent U.S. initiative to this effect?

MR. MCCORMACK: We’ve supported the process. I know that we’ve encouraged -- at the most recent North Atlantic Council meeting at the level of ministers, we have encouraged all sides to come to a solution on it.

Yeah. Yes, in the back.

QUESTION: On Pakistan. Today, there were two bombings in a major Pakistani city and, you know, representing the challenges the new government will face. And this is about stability and democracy. Yesterday, Henry Kissinger said that both can be achieved – both should be goals, although the timelines can be different. So what are your priorities in Pakistan in terms of stability and democracy as it faces many challenges?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, we think stability and democracy go hand-in-hand. We believe that it is vitally important that the Pakistani people have faith in their governing institutions as well as their government and their political processes. That is going to be something that is a bulwark against violent -- violent extremists and terrorists. Sadly, violence is not something that’s new to Pakistan. The -- over the past six years, the Pakistani Government has made great strides in fighting violent extremists and fighting terrorists. There’s still more left to be done. They are going to -- there’s a certain core element that you’re going to have to deal with in -- with security services and security means.

But the -- some of the most important efforts are going to be made in broadening and deepening political and economic reforms so that you have more of the Pakistani population bought in to the political process, more of the Pakistani people that have a stake in the Pakistani economy. That ultimately is going to provide your best guarantee against the spread of terrorism and violent extremism.

In terms of the United States Government, we are going to work with the new Pakistani government once it is formed on issues of mutual concern, and certainly fighting terrorism is one of those.

Yes, sir.

QUESTION: Yesterday, President Musharraf in an interview says that any confrontation between the Parliament and Office of the President will be catastrophic. Are you concerned bout this increasing confrontation between the Parliament and the President’s Office in Pakistan?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, in any democratic political system, there are going to be tensions. That’s the way political systems are set up. Usually, there is a balance of power. Now how those questions are decided, in terms of what the outcomes to the questions are, those are going to be entirely up to the Pakistani people and Pakistan’s political leaders.

Lambros, you had yours.


QUESTION: One on North Korea. Do you still expect their talks to be just one day?

MR. MCCORMACK: Right now I think they’re scheduled for a day, but if they need a few hours more to discuss additional agenda items or to go deeper into the discussions, I’m sure they’ll take that time. That will be up to Chris and his counterpart.

QUESTION: And have the North Koreans given any indication that they might provide a declaration or something to move this forward?

MR. MCCORMACK: You know, I’m not going to offer any particular comment. You can get comment from the North Korean Government as to their expectations for the meeting.

Yes, sir.

QUESTION: Do you have anything to say about the decision of Russian Government to abolish all financial economic trade restrictions for breakaway Abkhazia?

MR. MCCORMACK: In terms - the recent action that was taken – the action that was taken last week?


MR. MCCORMACK: I’m not too familiar with exactly what the Russian Government has done. But just let me state our -- the United States Government’s unequivocal support for Georgia’s territorial integrity as well as for the application of the sovereignty of Georgia’s government over all of Georgian territory.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: On Serbia --

QUESTION: On China. A lot has been going on right now - written about Olympics in China, that they are arresting human rights activists and also lawyers and others. Now India is also blocking protestors in India against China as far as (inaudible) are concerned and other protests. Where are we standing as far as the Olympics in China is concerned, all those crackdowns and arrests and human rights (inaudible)?

MR. MCCORMACK: I’ve answered this question many times over, Goyal. You can go back and look at the transcripts. Very basically, we believe the Olympics are a sporting event, but it is also an important international event at which time it can put its best face forward to the world.

QUESTION: How about this India blocking protestors not --

MR. MCCORMACK: Talk to the Indian Government. That’s their prerogative.

QUESTION: One question on Serbia. Mr. McCormack, Serbia’s caretaker government asked President Boris Tadic to call early parliamentary election in May after the resignation of Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica in the political impasse over Kosovo (inaudible) the European Union. Any comment?

MR. MCCORMACK: I answered this question the other day.


MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah, thanks.

(The briefing was concluded at 12:27 p.m.)


Released on March 11, 2008

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