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Daily Press Briefing

Sean McCormack, Spokesman
Washington, DC
April 7, 2008


President's Announcement of Colombia Free Trade Agreement
Op-ed on Colombia Free Trade Agreement by Secretary Rice
American Citizens Arrested and Jailed in Zimbabwe
Cannot Substantiate Reports of Mistreatment of Jailed Journalist
U.S. and International Efforts to Bring About Peaceful Change as Result of Elections
Sanctions / Humanitarian Assistance to Zimbabwe
Olympic Torch Relay / San Francisco Officials Have Lead, State Department Supporting Role
Fundamental Right to Peaceful Expression of Opinion in the United States
Management of Torch Relay and Associated Events by Officials in San Francisco
U.S. Differences with Human Rights Council and Its Agenda/Operations
U.S. Counsels Chinese Government to Reach Out to Dalai Lama
U.S. Position on Muslim Brotherhood
U.S. Encourages Lawful Participation by Those Wishing to Participate in Political Process
Will of People Who Voted Should be Reflected in Election Results
U.S. Is Steadfast Supporter of Political and Economic Reform in Egypt
Chris Hill Meeting in Singapore
All Members of Six-Party Talks Awaiting North Korea's Full Declaration
Meetings / Contacts with North Koreans Since Geneva Meeting
Incidents Occurring Last Fall Being Investigated by FBI
Decision to Renew Blackwater Contract / U.S. Sensitive to Concerns of Iraqi Government
Improvement of Management Controls In Iraq
Protection of U.S. Officials in Iraq / U.S. Goal of helping to Build a Better Iraq
Ambassador Ryan Crocker's Testimony
Acting Under Secretary Fried's Upcoming Meeting with His Counterparts
Secretary Rice's Future Plans
Elections / U.S. Congratulates on Running a Good Election / Waiting for Official Results
Indirect Fire in Yemen Landing in Area of Embassy Warden Message / State of Authorized Departure


1:11 p.m. EDT

MR. MCCORMACK: Good afternoon, everybody. I would just start off by noting the President’s announcement that the Administration is going to be sending up to Capitol Hill for its consideration the Colombia Free Trade Agreement. And for any of you who missed it, you can take a look at today’s Wall Street Journal for an op-ed by the Secretary of State for explanation as to why it is important for the Senate to provide its advice and consent to this agreement.

And with that, I’d be happy to take your questions. Anybody in the front row? Yeah.

QUESTION: Yeah. Do you have any comment on the fact or that the New York Times reporter was apparently seriously injured during his time in prison?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, as I understand it, the two American citizens who were arrested and put in jail by the Zimbabwean authorities are now out on bail, including the individual that you mentioned. And we have been in contact with him. We’ve talked to him. I can’t, at this point, substantiate any stories of mistreatment. I’d just leave it at that. I don’t have a Privacy Act waiver here. But I -- we know of nothing at this point that substantiates the story of mistreatment, other than the fact that, you know, he was -- he was arrested in the first place, and there are certainly questions about that.

QUESTION: Because his Zimbabwean lawyer is saying the opposite.

MR. MCCORMACK: I understand. I’m not going to try to serve as spokesman for this individual. But I’ll just let my statement stand.

QUESTION: Okay. So you’re not saying that because of -- you’re not saying that because of privacy reasons?




QUESTION: All right.




QUESTION: Is there anything that the U.S. is specifically contemplating to further show your displeasure with --

MR. MCCORMACK: With Zimbabwe?

QUESTION: -- with what’s happening in Zimbabwe?


MR. MCCORMACK: Well, you know, this is -- if you look back over the past several years, this is a case, Zimbabwean -- the Zimbabwean people, that we took up a long time ago. And it’s rather unfortunate what has happened to that country under the rule of President Mugabe and his -- his party. In terms of -- you take a look at the economy; you take a look at the ability of people to exercise fundamental human rights in Zimbabwe. It’s become a situation that has deteriorated over time.

And we have worked closely with many in the international community to try to bring pressure on the government in Zimbabwe to change its ways. That has not had much effect. Nonetheless, we continue our efforts working with partners in the international community, neighboring states, to try to help bring about a peaceful change as a result of this election. The first step is to see those election results announced. Everybody wants to see this play out in a way that isn’t violent, you know, people turning away from violence, because that serves nobody’s purposes.

And what needs to happen is that the Zimbabwean people need to have confidence in the results of the election in which they have participated. They need to have confidence -- they need to have renewed confidence in the institutions that govern them. So -- but in order to actually realize a better, different, more hopeful future for Zimbabwe, you have to start with the first step, and that first step is getting the election results announced.

QUESTION: Would it be helpful to have anything to sort of push that along or to --

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, we have in place -- you can go back and look at it. I don’t have the list. But we have in place various -- all variety of sanctions, not only on individuals but also with respect to the state. That said, at the same time, we have provided about -- in the last fiscal year, about $200 million in humanitarian assistance. That’s about 170 in food aid and about 30 million to help fight the spread of AIDS in Zimbabwe. So we have been very attentive to the humanitarian aspect of this, because nobody wants the Zimbabwean people to suffer as a result of non-democratic rule.

But at the same time, we have not shied away from using the levers at our disposal with respect to sanctions, with respect to travel restrictions and other kind of measures. All of that done, however, it has not substantially influenced, to this point, the decision making of President Mugabe.

Yeah, Libby.

QUESTION: New topic?


QUESTION: The Olympic torch relay --


QUESTION: -- and what’s happened in Paris and London over the weekend. Are you concerned about similar problems next week when it comes through San Francisco?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well -- well, first of all, we are working – we here at the State Department are working in support of local officials in San Francisco. Their law enforcement community as well as their local officials have the lead on making the preparations -- the logistical and security preparations for the torch to make its way through San Francisco. We’re doing everything that we can to try to help them out and provide support to them.

I think everybody, it goes without saying, wants to have this be an event in -- that is secure, that is one that helps reflect the Olympic spirit, but also respects people’s fundamental rights in this country to express themselves, to peacefully express themselves. So the folks in San Francisco have the lead in making sure that that balance is appropriate. And we here at the State Department and here in Washington are doing what we can to help support them.

QUESTION: Will you actually have agents on the ground next week providing security?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, our Diplomatic Security Service here at the State Department has people that have been working with the San Francisco Police Department and other agencies in San Francisco. I would expect that there probably will be some presence from Diplomatic Security, but that is, again, in a support role. We are there merely to provide whatever assistance we possibly can to the local officials who have the lead on this matter.

QUESTION: Do you know if that’s routine? I mean, has that happened in the past with other Olympic torch relays?

MR. MCCORMACK: I don’t know. I can’t tell you the history of the Olympic torch relays in the United States, but with – you know --

QUESTION: Well – but if Diplomatic Security is --

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, anytime you have the intersection of an international event with a local or state-led event who happens to be hosting something, we’re there working with them.


QUESTION: On the same subject, were you surprised by the reactions – the violence of the reaction in London and in Paris? Is it something you were expecting?

MR. MCCORMACK: Is that a security question or just a political question?

QUESTION: Political question.

MR. MCCORMACK: I mean, clearly, there has been a lot of emotion surrounding this issue worldwide. We’ve seen that. And it is – I guess you could look at it from its various constituent parts. First of all, people have the right to freely express themselves around the world. If they have a -- differences with the Chinese Government on any variety of issues, they should have the right to express themselves in a peaceful way.

There’s also another aspect to this issue with respect to China, and that is our, the State Department’s, role in this, and that is to talk to the Chinese Government and to counsel them to reach out to the Dalai Lama and the Dalai Lama’s people to start a dialogue. We have said it over again, we’ll say it again: We believe that the Dalai Lama is part of a solution. He is not a person who supports violence. As a matter of fact, he urges people to turn away from violence. He is somebody who has not called for independence for Tibet. He is somebody who has reached out his hand in an offer to talk to the Chinese Government about respect for Tibetan culture and finding ways to, within the context of China, allow for that.

So you have to look at its various constituent parts here, and there are various questions that are – that comprise the question that you asked. And in terms of the worldwide reaction, I mean, that’s difficult for me to gauge. It’s not something that, typically, we would keep track of.

Yeah, Nicholas.

QUESTION: On the same. Sean, so do you – are you doing all this – are you making all these efforts to make sure that what happened in London and Paris does not happen in San Francisco?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, first of all, you’re asking me, and I have tried to outline to --

QUESTION: Even if it’s only a supporting role that you’re playing – sorry. Yes.

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, yeah. Well, it is fundamental. You know, it’s important, though.


MR. MCCORMACK: Because this is -- the city of San Francisco and, to a certain extent, I guess you could say the State of California which is hosting this event. We’re not trying to intrude upon that fact. But since there is an international aspect to this, we want to make sure that we’re providing all the assistance that San Francisco, the state of California, would want us to provide. We think that that is appropriate. We have a field office out there in San Francisco, and we have a very good working relationship with the police department and San Francisco. So they are in the lead on this. We have good, transparent communications with them, and we are ready to provide whatever assistance that they think that they need. But at this point in time, I think that they have the issue in terms of the logistical planning well in hand.

QUESTION: So – because you’re talking about, you know, finding a balance and peaceful expression of views. And clearly, what happened over the weekend sort of crossed that line, in a way. So just as the Government of the United States that is involved with the Chinese Government, and perhaps there are talks with the Embassy here, I don’t know, but do you – would you like for such a thing not to happen in San Francisco, as it did over the weekend, or would it be embarrassing for the United States to have such a thing happen here?

MR. MCCORMACK: I don’t think it’s an embarrassment to allow people to freely express themselves in a peaceful way. But that said, you know, the people who are organizing this event have a right for it to be able to take place. They have done all the proper coordination with the city. The city is proud to be able to host this particular event. So like I said, you have on one hand the rights of people to have this event take place. And there is also – there are also the rights of people to be able to freely express themselves. Local officials are fully capable of working at their level in balancing these kinds of competing interests. I mean, you might say that local officials actually have more experience than anybody else at dealing with these kinds of events, because they have to deal with them every single day. It's part of American life and it's part of our political culture where you have people who disagree and they are able to freely express those disagreements and they're freely able to manifest their point of view in a peaceful way, whether those are marches or other ways of expressing themselves in public. You have other people with a different point of view who may take issue with them. They have every right to express the fact that they disagree with those people. And it's really -- like I said, it's really local officials who have the most experience in dealing with these kinds of things, if you want to really get down to it.

QUESTION: I guess I'm trying to figure out what would be crossing the line in terms of peaceful and non-peaceful.

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, you know, officials on the ground have their own rules of engagement, I'm sure, that they have set up for this particular event. And I am sure that those rules of engagement are very similar to other kinds of events that have taken place in San Francisco. You know, this is -- you know, our cities aren't new to important international events and people maybe having a different point of view and peacefully expressing it.

QUESTION: But putting out the flame, as they've done in Paris, I mean, I don't know if that's what you're getting at. But is that -- I mean, if a protestors do that, is that considered --

MR. MCCORMACK: Look, you can talk to the French officials about how they handled the situation in Paris. You know, I don’t know who exactly was responsible for this. I haven't -- you know, I, frankly, haven't been briefed up on the details of what went on there. And frankly, it's really a question better put to the French Government, not us -- and Parisian city officials.

QUESTION: Well, what if that were to happen in the United States?

MR. MCCORMACK: Look, you want -- city officials have clearly said, and we support this, that they want this event to be able to take place. Of course, we do. It’s a celebration of the Olympic spirit and the fact that athletes are going to be gathering in Beijing to compete in the Olympic Games. But we also have, as a core and fundamental value here in the United States, that people should be able to express themselves peacefully. So the city officials, I'm sure, are going to balance all of those interests in executing the plan that they have in place.


QUESTION: Freedom of expression, to freedom to vote in Egypt?


QUESTION: What does this say about progress toward democracy there, the Egyptian clampdown on opposition candidates?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, what you're really asking in your question is -- you're really asking a question about the Muslim Brotherhood, and you know what our position is with respect to the Muslim Brotherhood. We have, obviously, encouraged lawful constitutional participation in Egypt's political process by all those who want to participate in the process, again, according to Egypt's law and constitution. People should be able to vote for the candidates that are legally and constitutionally on the ballot, and that the will of the people who vote in those contests should be reflected in the results.


QUESTION: On this issue, the Muslim Brotherhood movement has said today that they -- it will boycott the municipal election after it was allowed to field only 20 candidates over -- for thousands of seats. Do you have anything on this?

MR. MCCORMACK: It's essentially the same question that Lachlan was asking, and I don't have any different answer to it.


QUESTION: Sean, staying in the Middle East, the UN Human Rights Council today began webcasting the reviews of human rights situations in countries in the Middle East, and began with Bahrain. Apparently, it turned into a huge praise for the situation in Bahrain. But I wonder if you know anything about it, whether you support the idea or whether you know how this event today went.

MR. MCCORMACK: I don’t know. I really don’t know. We have had our very clear differences with the Human Rights Council and its agenda in the past, and we haven’t been shy about enunciating those differences. We are not on it. We are not participating on it. We have chosen not to -- not to seek election to the Human Rights Council because of our real differences with the way it has operated. We had high hopes for it when it came into being. But sadly, those hopes have not been realized.

As for this particular event, I don’t really have much insight to it.



QUESTION: Tell us about this Chris Hill meeting tomorrow.


QUESTION: How key do you think this is? Do you think we’ll see any real progress? Do you --

MR. MCCORMACK: We’ll see. The ball is in the North Koreans’ court in that regard. We as well as the other members of the six-party talks have been looking to them to provide a declaration that is acceptable to all members of the six-party talks. We’re, I guess, a bit into overtime now. We were looking for this declaration back in -- you know, back at the end of the year. They haven’t -- they have yet to produce it. We still believe that there is life left in the diplomacy; hence, Chris’s meeting with them in Singapore. We’ll see what it is that they produce.

QUESTION: Who requested the meeting? Was it him or was it the North Koreans?

MR. MCCORMACK: You know, I honestly don’t know who sent the invitation. We’ve been open to meeting with the North Koreans in the context of the six-party talks and have done so since Chris’s Geneva meeting as well. And, you know, the bottom line is nothing is done until everything is done with respect to the declaration, so we don’t yet have a final declaration that has been handed over to the Chinese as -- in their capacity as chair of the six-party talks.

QUESTION: And the -- sorry, may I just -- one more?


QUESTION: There’ve been some news reports that the U.S. and Israel is now concerned that the North Korean proliferation has spread to Iran. Is that something you care to comment on?

MR. MCCORMACK: I don’t have any information on it.

QUESTION: Is he still headed to Beijing afterwards?

MR. MCCORMACK: Chris? I don’t have any update to his travel schedule. I feel like, you know, Carlson and Wagonlit sometimes, (inaudible) -- working on Chris’s travel schedule.

QUESTION: Sean, you said that --


QUESTION: -- you have been open to meeting with the North Koreans and that you have done so since the Geneva meetings.


QUESTION: Can you tell us what meetings you’ve had since Geneva other than -- I mean, as you recall, Sung Kim stayed behind.


QUESTION: Has there been anything other than --

MR. MCCORMACK: I think we’ve -- we’ve had contact with them through the New York channel.

QUESTION: Okay. But meetings or just contacts?

MR. MCCORMACK: I think we have actually met with them through the New York channel.

QUESTION: Do you know who did that?

MR. MCCORMACK: No. I mean, my policy with respect to the New York channel is that on any given day there is some contact, whether in person, fax or phone, with the North Koreans through the New York channel; I just don’t comment on it.


QUESTION: Yes. I wasn’t here on Friday, so perhaps you addressed --

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, neither was I, so that’s okay. We’re -- so we’re even. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: Actually, in regards to the Blackwater contract renewal, today -- or not today, really, more like yesterday, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said that the State Department renewed Blackwater’s contract without the approval of the Iraqi Government. And Mr. al-Askari said on Friday that Blackwater operates under Iraqi -- the rules of the Iraqi Government. So what laws does Blackwater operate under?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, this is a source of continuing discussion with the Iraqi Government. There was a -- some incidents last fall in which people lost their lives and we’re still -- those are still being investigated by the FBI. They don’t -- there’s not yet a conclusion to that investigation.

The fact that you have these questions out there is something that we have been quite concerned about for some time and, hence, the working group with the Iraqis and also the FBI investigation. The decision to renew the Blackwater contract was really done on the basis of the need to protect our people in doing their jobs. That doesn't mean that, at some point, pending the final results of the FBI investigation, you can’t go back and look at that investigation.

So we’re very sensitive to the concerns of the Iraqi Government in this regard. But, again, we have we have a requirement to do our job. We have a requirement to provide protection to our people. And I know that the Iraqi Government wants us there and wants us doing our job.

QUESTION: Just to follow up on that really fast, the -- so you’re -- I guess your comments

Nouri al-Maliki, what he said about the State Department not going through the Iraqi Government before renewing the contract. And also his advisor (inaudible) said that because Blackwater has committed acts of aggression, killed Iraqis and has not been resolved, they're not happy with Blackwater operating there and is actually impending -- it's prolonging the problems in Iraq.


QUESTION: I just --


QUESTION: I guess your comment on that.

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, first of all, it's fundamentally a decision for us to take about how we protect our people. That's the -- you know, the authority and responsibility with making those kind of decisions has to reside with us. Now, of course, we are going to consult very closely with the Iraqi Government in how we do our jobs. But fundamentally, we have -- we're responsible and solely responsible for protecting our people. We're also very concerned about ensuring that innocent life is protected in Iraq. That's why we have the number of troops we have there. That is why we have people on the ground in PRTs and at the Embassy doing their work.

So one of the results of this -- the incidents that took place this fall is we put in place better management controls over people doing their jobs in Iraq. And we think in place -- we have in place right now a better system. And we think it allows for people to do their job in protecting our people, but also making sure that we have the best possible management feedback that we can possibly have. So at the end of the day, everybody's working for the same goal, and that is a better, safer, more prosperous, more free Iraq. That's the Iraqi Government, that's us, those are -- and the security contractors that are helping us do our jobs.

QUESTION: And just a last comment. I read this in the transcription Friday, if the FBI investigation does come back that they should be -- all these members of Blackwater should be prosecuted for their (inaudible) on September 16th , how will they be prosecuted? Is this in U.S. courts or in Iraqi courts?

MR. MCCORMACK: You're getting ahead of where we are. Let's let the investigation take its course. Let's see what the results are. If there's any further action that's required, then the Department of Justice is going to have the answers to those questions.

QUESTION: Can we stay on Iraq?


QUESTION: Can we stay with Blackwater?

QUESTION: Do you want to stay on Blackwater?

QUESTION: Yes. Just to get -- try to get an answer. Did the U.S. Government seek -- did the U.S. Government consult the Iraqi Government about the decision to extend the contract?

MR. MCCORMACK: You know, I don't know. You know, I don't know what liaison there was with the Iraqi Government concerning the decision. But like I said, fundamentally, it's a decision that only we can take ourselves. We can't -- this is not something we can ask somebody else to participate in. It's talking about protecting our people and how we go about doing it. Now, of course, we're going to respect the Iraqi sensitivities, the government and the people in how we go about doing our jobs. We are there, fundamentally, to try to help them build a better Iraq. And certainly, we don't want to do anything that harms their ability to do that.

QUESTION: But if they object, that's too bad; this is your decision?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, you know, again, this is the best way to do our job and to protect our people.

QUESTION: I just have a quick follow-up on that and also another question on Iraq. Sean, was this an interagency decision or was it just the State Department who had the --

MR. MCCORMACK: You know, I don't know, Elise. I -- it is only -- it is a decision that we are charged with taking. It is our contract. It is our people that this -- that these people are protecting. We have, obviously, a very close dialogue with DOD about these issues. And you know, part of -- you might check with the Embassy because a very significant input to the decision-making process was the assessment of Ambassador Crocker.

QUESTION: Right. But given the magnitude of the work that Blackwater does -- I mean, not only do they provide the manpower but a lot of the equipment for implementing this contract -- so if you were to -- if you didn't renew the contract, feasibly there would have been a lot of kind of planning and work involved in handing over to another contract. So how long -- I mean, was there any kind of contingency planning for the fact that if you didn't implement the contract, I mean, some people have suggested that how seriously could you really have thought about cutting the contract if you would have had so much work by now and the end of the contract to hand over to another contractor.

MR. MCCORMACK: Look, you always have Plan B. You know, there’s always a Plan B, there’s always a Plan C. But at the end of the day, you have to do what is best in terms of protecting your people and allowing your people to do their job. This was the decision that was arrived at here at the State Department among a variety of different offices, and, significantly, including Ambassador Crocker’s office, about the best way for us, at this point in time, to protect our people.

QUESTION: Just one more on Iraq. Could you give a little – kind of, what you expect to hear? I mean, I know that, as you’ve said, that this is his independent testimony. But based on the fact that Secretary Rice does know Ambassador Crocker’s views, can you at least say what – touch upon the themes that you expect him to address tomorrow?

MR. MCCORMACK: No, I’m not going to – I’m not going to preempt Ambassador Ryan Crocker. He’ll be here in less than – what, 24 – 24 hours up there on the Hill testifying. So no, I’m not going to try to provide a preview other than --

QUESTION: But I mean, what areas – without – I mean, without getting into his perceptions and impressions, I mean, what do you expect him to hit upon in terms of the situation – the political situation?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, you know, again, I can’t get any more specific than the fact that as the ambassador on the ground, he’s going to be testifying with the commanding general, General Petraeus, on the ground. He’s going to focus primarily on the political aspects here, what are the political and economic developments in Iraq and what are the trend lines and what are the specific developments that inform those trend lines in his view. But, you know, again, I’m not going to try to preview his testimony.

QUESTION: Do you expect, given – over the last couple of weeks, though, you’ve said that you think that there is more equipment, IEDs, explosive devices coming from Iran, do you expect the testimony to touch upon Iran’s role in the situation on the ground there?

MR. MCCORMACK: I’m sure that is one aspect of the Iraq equation that people on the Hill are going to be interested in hearing about from both Ambassador Crocker and General Petraeus. I’ll let them provide you a detailed read on how they see Iran and what Iran – what the role – what role Iran is playing in Iraq right now, positive or negative. So let me just leave it at that.

QUESTION: Can we continue with Iran for a second?


QUESTION: Forgive me. I missed the top of the briefing, so if you addressed this, you know, I’ll go back and read the transcript. But were you able to nail down when Acting Under Secretary Fried is likely to meet his political director counterparts?

MR. MCCORMACK: Right. I can only narrow it down to mid-April. We’re going to wait. We’re going to let our hosts announce the meeting, so --

QUESTION: And – okay. Well, that’s helpful, even mid-April. And can you tell us whether this meeting is to discuss the possibility of amplifying on the incentives that were proffered in June of 2006?

MR. MCCORMACK: We’ll have more to say about it after we have the announcement of the meeting.

QUESTION: Would you be surprised if that’s what came up?

MR. MCCORMACK: (Laughter.) I’m sure they’re going to talk about it. Let me – let me do this for you. They’re going to talk about the disincentive path, they’re going to talk about the incentive path, and the balance between those two.

QUESTION: Just quickly, do you know what Crocker’s movements are today? Is he going to come to the State Department?

MR. MCCORMACK: I don’t. Did we check on that? No.

MR. CASEY: We did not, and to be perfectly honest --


MR. CASEY: -- he’s preparing testimony --

MR. MCCORMACK: All right.

MR. CASEY: (Inaudible.)


Yeah, Michel.

QUESTION: One more question on Egypt. Do you have any reaction on the demonstrations against the rising cost of living? Protestors clashed with security forces and dozens of people were injured or arrested.

MR. MCCORMACK: Where was this?


MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah. I haven’t seen the reports, Michel. I’m sorry.

Yeah, Libby.

QUESTION: For all the political junkies, we talked about this this morning. But Secretary Rice and the vice presidency: You said she’s not interested; no, she’s going back to California.


QUESTION: So what are we to make if we were analyzing this? What are we to make of -- in the past week, we’ve seen a meeting with Grover Norquist’s group.


QUESTION: We’ve seen expansive comments on race and education in America to The Washington Times editorial board.


QUESTION: And we’ve seen an up-close and personal spread in Fitness Magazine.


QUESTION: Secretary Rice lifting weights and looking very human --


QUESTION: -- or super-human. (Laughter.) So --


QUESTION: I just – I’m just wondering, you know, this --

MR. MCCORMACK: With a C on her chest? (Laughter.)

QUESTION: This – I think this has led some to believe that she is actively kind of campaigning for the vice presidency. So why shouldn’t we look at this as unusual from a Secretary of State?

MR. MCCORMACK: You know, I think if you look back at her tenure in terms of her activities, you will find all of these activities perfectly normal and consistent with the way she has done her job over the past three years or so. So like I said this morning, if – if she is actively seeking the vice presidency, then she is the last one to know about it. She plans on going back west of the Mississippi to Stanford once she’s completed her work as Secretary of State.

QUESTION: Why not a Shermanesque denial?

MR. MCCORMACK: I think – you know, I think in her view, and certainly in my view, she’s given that many times over whenever she’s been asked this question. She was asked it most recently by Mr. Kralev’s institution, The Washington Times, and I think she gave a pretty definitive answer. She said, you know, not – not interested, time for new blood. She’s looking forward to going back to Stanford when she’s completed her work as Secretary of State.

QUESTION: All I’m saying is the simplest way to stamp out these reports would be to issue an airtight --

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, next – tell you what --

QUESTION: -- definitive --

MR. MCCORMACK: Tell you what, next time – next time – next time you have a chance to ask her a question, you ask her that question, I’m sure she’ll give you a no. I’ll tell you no right now, but you can get it from her when you see her next.


QUESTION: Do you think she’d consider running for California Governor?

MR. MCCORMACK: (Laughter.) I think what she is considering is focusing on her work as Secretary of State because -- you may have missed it -- but there’s actually quite a bit to do. There is quite a bit left to do here as Secretary of State.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah, there are a few things left on the burners right now, so she’s focused on that. And she’s – once her job as – her work as Secretary of State is done, then she looks forward to going back out to California to resume her activities at Stanford. Keep in mind, she is actually on leave from Stanford. She is still a tenured professor at Stanford University.

Yeah, Gollust.

QUESTION: As is well known, Montenegro had an election over the weekend.


QUESTION: A – the president was reelected, but there’s some concern being expressed that this country has, essentially, one-party rule. I wonder if you had any reflection on the situation.

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, it’s a new country and we will congratulate them on the fact that they have, according to international monitors, run a very good election. We congratulate them on that fact. The results have not yet been tabulated, so I’m going to withhold any comment about the final results in terms of congratulating people. But by all accounts, they’ve run a very good election, not only in the run-up to election day, but on election day as well.


QUESTION: Yemen? Rocket attack – any details on it and what’s the security threat to American citizens there?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, we – we have a Warden Message that has been put out, so that details what we know about it. There were, I think, three rounds of indirect fire that landed in the area of the Embassy. Nobody was hurt. Nobody was – no injuries. We still are in a state of authorized departure for people on the ground at the Embassy, so I would just point people to the previous Travel Warnings and Warden Messages that we have put out in public about the situation as we see it. We are working quite well and quite closely with the Yemeni Government on it.


QUESTION: This is in regards to the Egyptian elections. Not only are members and supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood planning on boycotting this election, but a majority of the Egyptian people in general. So, I guess, what does it mean to democracy in Egypt, given the fact that we're one of the major supporters, financially, of Egypt, the Egyptian Government, that a majority of the Egyptian people plan on boycotting the elections for not being free and fair? Do you plan on speaking with Hosni Mubarak about a lot of the crackdown that they’ve been doing?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, -- while we -- I don't think that there -- it's been any secret that we have talked to the Egyptian Government about the importance of political and economic reform in Egyptian society, we have emphasized the fact that this is fundamentally going to be a question that the Egyptians have to answer for themselves within the context of their laws and within the context of their constitution.

So we have been steadfast supporters of the process of economic and political reform in Egypt. You know, we -- we always encourage countries in the region and around the world to do everything that they possibly can. Is there more to do? Absolutely, there's more to do in Egypt. There's more to do in other countries around the world.

But fundamentally, they are going to have to arrive at their own decisions about the pace and the direction of this reform. What is important is that they continue to push for political and economical reform.

QUESTION: Is there a chance that perhaps the American Government could penalize the Egyptian Government for not participating in free and fair elections, as the majority of the Egyptian people believe?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, let's let the elections take place before anybody talks about what you do in reaction to them.

Okay. Thank you.

(The briefing was concluded at 1:46 p.m.)

DPB #62

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