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Daily Press Briefing

Tom Casey, Deputy Spokesman
Washington, DC
June 17, 2008


Missile Defense Issues
Consultations with All NATO Members on Missile Defense
Reports of Ceasefire Agreement between Israel and Palestinian Militant Groups
U.S. Policy on Hamas
Israeli-Syrian Discussions
AQ Khan Network
Status of US-India Civil Nuclear Cooperation Initiative
Need for Comprehensive Effort to Help Improve Border Security
IAEA and Syrian Nuclear Facility
Irregularities in Re-run of Parliamentary Elections
U.S. Urges Macedonia to Ensure that Elections Meet International Standards
U.S. Supports Macedonian NATO Membership
Name Issue
Six-Party Talks / Assistant Secretary Hill's Travel
France's Role in NATO


12:41 p.m. EDT

MR. CASEY: All right. And a very good afternoon, everybody. Pleasure to be back with you. I can almost honestly say that.

QUESTION: Could you speak up so that we can utter these utterances?

MR. CASEY: No, you actually don’t want to do that, Charlie. Anyway, seriously, good to be back with you. I don’t have anything to start you out with, so what’s on your minds?


QUESTION: What – can you tell us about the U.S. talks with Lithuania, about putting interceptors there as part of the missile shield if it doesn’t work out with Poland?

MR. CASEY: Well, first of all, I think that would be a overstatement of any conversations we might have had with the Government of Lithuania. What we are focused on right now is concluding an agreement with the Government of Poland regarding our missile defense plans in the region in Europe, in addition to the radar-based facilities in the Czech Republic. Those agree – those discussions, excuse me, are ongoing. But we certainly are hopeful we can reach an agreement and do some in the near future.

I would note that we have had general conversations with the Government of Lithuania about missile defense issues. They are a neighboring country to Poland. They’re a country that’s concerned about the potential threats that are out there. But certainly, we expect and hope that we will be able to conclude an agreement with Poland in the near future. And I don’t think that there’s, at this point, any discussions about alternate sites.

QUESTION: Would you say that Lithuania is one of those countries that would qualify as an alternate site if it doesn’t work out with Poland?

MR. CASEY: If I had a specialization in rocket science and were a fully established technician on missile defense issues, I could probably tell you, you know, what locations might work as alternative sites. I know that the specific sites chosen for the interceptors in Poland, along with the sites chosen in the Czech Republic for the radar, were done not based on political considerations, but based on what technologically made the most sense. I am, frankly, not certain what those technical considerations are and whether there would be, or what would be alternatives if, you know, this agreement didn’t work out.

But again, I think from our perspective, the important thing here is that we are continuing our discussions with the Poles. We think we’re very close to an agreement. And we do expect it will work out, so I don’t think there’s a – going to be a need for any alternatives.

QUESTION: So if it’s not going to be an alternative site, why are you discussing with Lithuania and when did you begin discussions with them and --

MR. CASEY: We have had consultations with all the members of NATO about missile defense and about our plans for years now, both within NATO and on a bilateral basis. Again, my understanding is that Acting Under Secretary Rood was in Lithuania a couple weeks ago and had a broad agenda. And the general discussion about our missile defense plans and our intentions and the status of negotiations in Poland was one of a whole wide variety of issues that he was discussing with them. 

So it would be wrong to say that we have begun discussions, negotiations, or any other kind of formal contacts with Lithuania about them or any other country as an alternate site to Poland.

QUESTION: So you’re saying that his conversation – you just briefed them on where things stood?

MR. CASEY: My understanding is he will actually brief them on the discussions and the status of discussions in Poland. I certainly can’t tell you whether the Lithuanians raised any other issues from their side, but neither the purpose of his visit nor his discussions were to establish, you know, an alternate negotiating track or Lithuania as a potential alternative to this.

QUESTION: So it didn’t come up at all? The idea of --

MR. CASEY: Again, my understanding is he had a good discussion with them about this and a number of other topics, including, you know, the status of our negotiations in Poland, but did not ask for nor was seeking a -- support from the Lithuanians to use Lithuania or any other country as an alternate site.

QUESTION: But perhaps they volunteered it?

MR. CASEY: Well, if they volunteered it, you can ask them if they volunteered. I’m not aware that they did, though.


MR. CASEY: Yeah.

QUESTION: Jeff (inaudible), Al Jazeera.

MR. CASEY: Hey, Jeff, how you doing?

QUESTION: How are you? It’s good to see you. A couple questions about Israel and Hamas.

MR. CASEY: Okay.

QUESTION: We’ve seen a pattern where you had the Israelis talking to the Syrians, you had the Lebanon agreement, and now you have the Hamas-Israel deal, at least reportedly -- we’ll get your take on it in a moment. Each one of those junctures, the United States was not at the table. Is there a sense from the United States in terms of what its role is and whether or not it feels it’s no longer being seen as an honest broker?

MR. CASEY: Well, a couple of things. First of all, we’ve seen press reports that allege that there is an agreement or some kind of truce or calm or, whichever words, I’ve seen several out there, that has been reached or potentially reached between Israel and Hamas through the auspices of the Egyptians. I can’t confirm that for you. We don’t have any information that would support that at this point. Certainly, though, you know, the Secretary has spoken previously about the importance of establishing calm and the appreciation we have for Egypt’s efforts to facilitate peace between Israelis and Palestinians in a general way.

In terms of discussions that are ongoing, frankly, I think a lot of what has happened in the region is, in part, a result of the kinds of things that we’ve been working on, including, and most recently, through the Annapolis process. Syria was in Annapolis for those conversations. And so what you heard from the Secretary as well, that we fully support the idea of a comprehensive peace in the Middle East, and believe an important component of that is going to be a settlement of the issues between Israel and Syria. 

What we also believe, though, is that the Israel-Syria track is not a substitute for nor should be a distraction from what we believe is the more ripe track, if you will, or the one that is closer to achieving an agreement, which is direct negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians. And of course, the Secretary has just been out meeting with President Abbas, Prime Minister Olmert, and various other officials there, both bilaterally and trilaterally, to be able to help further those discussions. And I think that’s important.

I would hope that we would continue to see further work by all the countries in the region to try and support the peace process and try and support those negotiations.

In the case of the Israeli-Syria discussions, these are being supported or have been worked through in part by Turkey, and we’ve applauded Turkey’s role in that. This isn’t a zero-sum game here, and frankly, most of the efforts that we have made have not been about trying to somehow have the United States control the horizontal and the vertical on all of these discussions, but to build consensus in the region and build support in the region for these kinds of efforts and discussions. So I think there’s a lot of room there for countries like Egypt, countries like Turkey, and other players in the region to be able to contribute and support this effort. That’s something that we believe ultimately advances our own goals and interests. 

QUESTION: But the President himself – President Bush, you know, he sat aside and said, you know, do you want those who have created chaos to run your country or do you want those of us who have negotiated a settlement with the Israelis that will to lasting peace? That sort of begs the question in twofold. One, you know, you said that Annapolis has this – I guess if I’m characterizing it right, has fostered this coming together of the parties. Yet, these different scenarios that I laid out before my question indicate that the U.S. had nothing to do with that. So, one, you know, is – you know, what’s the role of the U.S. going forward? Did they even really play a role, even being seen as important to the process by the regional parties, in your view? 

And two, the whole notion of, you know, when you’re talking about whether or not Hamas is going to be accepted as a legitimate political and governmental role by the United States since they are negotiating, at least reportedly, with the Israelis and have a truce. 

MR. CASEY: Well, there are several pieces here. First of all, I don’t think any of the participants in the conversations – Israelis, Palestinians or other regional states – have any question about the importance of the United States and its role in this process. We believe that the best thing we can do at this point is to facilitate in a very direct and open way discussions and negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians. And that’s the track we’ve been working on very openly since the Annapolis conference and before then, starting with the Roadmap. And frankly, you could go back over many years and talk about the history of U.S. involvement in the region.

But in terms of the other actors that are out there and the other players, again, this is a process that can only work if you have support from all of the various players in the region. One of the things that was important about the way Annapolis was structured was that even though it was there to help support fundamentally this coming together of the Israelis and Palestinians through direct dialogue and discussion, but it also was there to help build support among the regional players to help us ensure that as the Israelis and Palestinians moved forward, there would be a track for Israel, for example, to understand that it could have and achieve a different relationship with its Arab neighbors, to have the Palestinians know that the international community was there not only to support a political settlement, but through efforts by former Prime Minister Blair and others to help provide economic opportunity and jobs and help them develop their political institutions so that when there’s an agreement in place on a Palestinian state that they would have the kinds of institutions and structures to be able to govern themselves properly as well as to be able to provide real opportunity for their people, because democratic government in the form of the formalities and elections and process is always important, but it is very hard to keep that going if you don’t provide economic opportunities for the people.

So I think the U.S. role in this process has been important. I think it’s a continuing one, and I think it will continue not only through the length of this Administration but beyond.

QUESTION: What about Hamas, the exception of – the exceptions of Hamas?

MR. CASEY: Well, again, I think the U.S. policy on Hamas is quite clear. It hasn’t changed. Look, the future of Hamas is in Hamas’s hands. Hamas could very easily have a different kind of relationship with the international community. It could very easily have a different kind of relationship with the Palestinian Authority Government and structure. Prime Minister Abbas has laid out very clearly his terms and conditions for establishing a unity government or establishing a reintegration of all parts of the Palestinian people, and they sound pretty much like the Quartet conditions. But Hamas has a fundamental choice to make, and it’s also ultimately a fundamental choice that the Palestinian people as a whole have to make.

QUESTION: You don’t see – you don’t – my point, though, I was trying to drive at is that Hamas is – seem to – seems to have cut a deal here, and the President of the United States has said, you know, we don’t – do you really want to deal with these guys? These guys have cut the deal. And are you going – is the United States going to say, yes, they are a legitimate party, they are a part of the process, they are going to be accepted as part of the players on the table? Because the Israelis seem to have done it.

MR. CASEY: Well, but we would be happy to talk about that on the day when Hamas does what the Quartet laid out as conditions for us being able to engage with them, which is to support a end to violence and terrorism, to accept all of the previous agreements that have been reached between the Palestinian Authority and Israel, and to otherwise make themselves legitimate political actors. But that’s something that’s in their hands. It’s fairly easy to walk away from violence. It’s fairly easy to accept the fundamental terms and agreements and conditions that have allowed the nascent elements of a Palestinian state in the form of the Palestinian Authority come to exist. But those are questions that are really for Hamas and ultimately for the Palestinian people to answer. 


MR. CASEY: Yeah.

QUESTION: I think I missed the bit in there where you said that the United States would think – thinks it’s a good idea for there to be a truce or a calm between Hamas and Israel, or maybe I didn’t miss it and you don’t think it’s a good thing that --

MR. CASEY: No, you – no, Matt, look, the Secretary said previously that we believe that establishing calm in Gaza and elsewhere is a good thing and we’re supportive of Egyptian efforts and other efforts to achieve that.

QUESTION: Okay. So should this – should this actually come to pass, you would welcome it?

MR. CASEY: I would welcome anything that would keep innocent Israelis from being injured and killed as a result of Hamas violence, yes.

QUESTION: And the converse? What about innocent Palestinians who may get hit by Israeli --

MR. CASEY: Again, Matt, I’m happy to repeat our longstanding policy that Israel has a right to defend itself against terrorist attacks, but that in doing so it needs to always take account of the consequences of its actions.


QUESTION: New subject?

MR. CASEY: Sure. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: In the last 24 hours, there have been new, sort of, renewed issues raised about AQ Khan because of a report by David Albright that was kind of released yesterday. I’m wondering whether you fear that the easing of restrictions on AQ Khan might be a sign that the new government in Pakistan might be willing to let him out of house arrest? And are you going to renew your demands or your requests that you speak to him directly? What’s going on with these new revelations that computers have been found with data?


MR. CASEY: Nicholas, you know, I’d refer you-- the intelligence community can talk to you about what they, you know, know or don’t know in terms of the details of AQ Khan’s network. I think the most important thing, though, is that AQ Khan’s network is out of business, and that it isn’t in a position to engage in proliferation activities, and that the international community has been working effectively not only to respond to the challenge it poses, but more broadly to deal with nonproliferation concerns. 

In terms of his status and issues within the Pakistani Government, again, I think we’ve, you know, always expressed our belief that anyone associated with this network should not be free to be able to walk the streets and engage in either continued proliferation activities, or to try and restart anything that might be there. Certainly, that’s always a concern and always something we talk with Pakistani officials about. 

I don’t think at this point, though, I have anything new to offer you in terms of an assessment by the U.S. Government about what the network did or didn’t do and/or what, you know, at what level those kinds of proliferation activities took place. I think the record on that is fairly substantial and fairly clear. I’m not sure whether anything that people have written about recently is a surprise to those that have been working on this for a length of time.

QUESTION: Well, as you may know, he has been allowed to, first of all, make and receive calls. He’s been allowed to meet with former colleagues and friends in the institute where he worked once, and he physically, actually was allowed to go there, meaning that his house arrest is not as strict as it used to be. And do you think those moves were a good idea?

MR. CASEY: You know Nicholas, I’m not sure what kinds of – the exact status of his detention is. Here’s the bottom line. The United States has confidence that the Government of Pakistan is not engaging in proliferation activities. We’ll continue to work with the Government of Pakistan, as well as with other governments, to make sure that they are not doing so. Certainly, if we have any concerns that either Mr. Khan or any Pakistani citizen is engaged in proliferation activities, we will raise that forcefully and directly with the Government of Pakistan. We also expect that the Government of Pakistan will continue as it has in the past to be able to work with us to ensure that it – neither it as a country, as a national government or any of its citizens are taking actions that would, frankly, not be in the interests not only of the United States, but of Pakistan itself.

QUESTION: Just one last thing, Tom. I’m sorry for all this, but you said that since 2004, the network’s been out of business, but in fact these new revelations point to something that has happened in 2006. So I’ll have to put the timeframe --

MR. CASEY: Nicholas, again, I -- which is why I would refer you to the intelligence community. I’m not aware of any information that would support that. I’m not aware of any information that would indicate that as the Director of Central Intelligence, the President and many other officials have said, that this network was active beyond the point at which we knew. Certainly, again, if they believe that there’s anything that is in these press reports that is substantive or that would in any way indicate that Pakistan is being used as a proliferation center, then that would be something that would be immediately and forcefully raised with government officials.

QUESTION: When was the last time that Ambassador Patterson raised the issue of AQ Khan or somebody higher than her? Was there anything recent?

MR. CASEY: Oh, for God’s sakes, Lach, you know I’ve been out in Western Tennessee all weekend, and you want me to tell you about Anne Patterson’s meetings with the Pakistani Government ? God, how demanding of you.

No, look. I know that certainly we have regular conversations with the Government of Pakistan about, you know, a broad range – a broad range of issues. Certainly, proliferation concerns are always something that’s on the agenda with any of our major partners, including Pakistan. I’m not aware of any specific conversations that might or might not have taken place with the new government on this subject. Certainly, it’s a matter of general concern, though.


QUESTION: On this – just, I want to go back to the idea that this is some kind of new – you know, more than a month ago this all came to light because of the case against the Tinners in Switzerland. You’re familiar with that, yes?


QUESTION: And the destruction by the Swiss of all sorts of sensitive -- you know, going back then, it was never really made clear whether the United States had asked the Swiss to destroy this or not.

MR. CASEY: Matt, I have no – absolutely no idea. No, and it wouldn’t be – that would probably be something that you’d need to ask other folks. As far as I know, there was not any particular State Department involvement in that.

QUESTION: All right. And just, again, the idea that these are new - quote/unquote “new revelations” - you said that there was nothing in that should be a surprise to people who have followed, and you said that --

MR. CASEY: No, I’ve said that you would have to ask the intelligence community if they would find anything --

QUESTION: Well, in this building, is there anything --

MR. CASEY: I’m not aware that anyone has raised any special concerns about the press reporting that’s occurred over the last few weeks.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MR. CASEY: Yeah.


QUESTION: Across the subcontinent, in the India civil nuclear, Richard Boucher said some time ago that the Indians would have to wrap up their side by the end of May. Obviously, we’re past that threshold. Does that mean that the Administration basically now views this as an issue for the next administration? 

MR. CASEY: Well, look. Fundamentally, we think that the India Civil Nuclear Agreement is something that’s in the interests of both countries. But, you know, the obstacle has been that the Indian Government has some internal political issues that it needs to resolve before it can move forward with it. You know, I guess we could all get out our calendars and figure out how many more days Congress is actually in session between now and January 20 th, and how likely it would be that should an agreement be reached at a certain point, you could get it on the calendar and move it to vote and have those votes take place in time, and all that other great stuff.

The bottom line is, from now until January 20th, we’ll continue to work to support this agreement. We’ll continue to encourage the Indian Government to approve it. And if such time, it is approved, whether that is today, tomorrow, or January 19th, we will make every effort to move it through Congress. And we would certainly hope that the next administration, whoever comes to office in January, would also see this agreement as something fundamentally in America’s interest and want to move forward with it as well.

QUESTION: And you wouldn’t say now it’s unlikely?

MR. CASEY: I would say that it’s less – it’s – we have fewer days now to do it than we did yesterday, and fewer days now than we did two days before it. But I really can’t handicap for you, you know, how likely or less likely it is, whether the chances went down half a percent, one percent or zero percent between yesterday and today.

QUESTION: Can you rank it with the Polish missile defense? Which is more likely sooner?

MR. CASEY: Which is more likely sooner? Gee, Matt, I don’t know. I don’t know about that. That’s a really tough one. I think maybe if we got Poland, Lithuania and India together, we could resolve all of them at once. No, seriously, I can’t handicap them for you.

Yes, ma’am.

QUESTION: Nazira Karimi, correspondent for Ariana Television from Afghanistan. I need to ask about the new dialogue on – topic between Afghanistan and Pakistan. As we know, President Karzai has warned very seriously to Pakistan to send their Afghan forces to fight against insurgent and Pakistani Taliban. Unfortunately, they are – there was a very serious reaction from the Pakistan officials, and they said they are going to fight against Pakistani Talibans. And they said they don’t give permission – Afghan Government to fight and attack the Pakistan – to fight against the Pakistani Taliban. So in case if President Karzai sent their forces in Pakistan to fight against them, what will be the U.S. reaction, and what do you think? Do you have any special comments?

MR. CASEY: Well, I thought the President answered it very well yesterday, but --

QUESTION: (Inaudible) very seriously.

MR. CASEY: But no – and I thought President Bush --

QUESTION: Bush, yeah.

MR. CASEY: -- answered this well as well. Look, the important thing is that both Pakistan and Afghanistan do everything they can to help fight against extremists, including the Taliban, wherever they are, whether they’re on the Afghan side of the border, in the FATA, or in Pakistan proper. One of the things that we believe was important in helping to facilitate cooperation between Afghanistan and Pakistan included the Jirga process from last year. We’d like to see that continue. 

But certainly, we want to see the actions that are taken on both sides of the border be strong and robust, be serious efforts to confront extremism, but that they be done cooperatively between the two countries, as well as with the full support of the United States, of NATO, and of the international community. Because it’s in all our interests to see that the Taliban has no safe haven either on the Afghan side of the border or the Pakistan side of the border.

QUESTION: Well, the Pakistan support them and they say we are going to fight against – why they did not yet – and so the Taliban continue to attack the --

MR. CASEY: Well, again, I’ll let the – you know, let the Pakistani Government speak for itself. We’ve certainly raised our concerns with them regularly about the importance of being able to work with us to fight extremism in the FATA, we believe. And they have publicly expressed their belief that it is important to eliminate the threat caused by extremism. And obviously, the parties that are currently in power in the Pakistani Government have suffered directly at the hands of their own internal extremists, so they have a – certainly, a desire to combat terrorism, and we intend to be able to work with both of them to try and achieve that objective.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MR. CASEY: Samir.

QUESTION: Yes. Director ElBaradei said today that there is no evidence for the IAEA that Syria had the capability to have a nuclear facility, which means it’s contradicting the U.S. position.

MR. CASEY: Well, now, there’s a shock, isn’t it? Look, Samir, I think we’ve made clear, both in public with you all and with Congress as well as with the IAEA, what our concerns are about the nuclear facility that Syria had. We believe it’s important that the IAEA be allowed to fully investigate that facility and any one – any other one that they might find of interest to them. 

But the reality here is that there’s some pretty strong evidence out there about what Syria was doing, and we’re certainly glad that that is out there and comes to light. And we hope that the Syrian Government has many, many, many more opportunities to explain directly and in detail to the IAEA exactly what they were doing and what their activities were and how they were engaged in nuclear technology.

Yeah, Mr. Lambros.

QUESTION: On FYROM, Mr. Casey --

MR. CASEY: Well, there’s a surprise, too.

QUESTION: Mr. Casey, do you recognize finally the results of the June 15th partial re-runs of early parliamentary elections in FYROM, since you noticed again serious irregularities, as Mr. Gonzalo Gallegos told us yesterday?

MR. CASEY: Well, the esteemed Mr. Gallegos told you that we agreed with the assessment that was done by the OSCE monitors who were there, which noted that those runoff elections were a substantial improvement and did correct some of the problems that were there. But of course, there were some irregularities that continued. That said, we certainly appreciate the efforts that have been made to make those improvements by the Government of Macedonia.  

We expect that they will continue, however, to take actions to find those responsible for some of the violence in the first round of elections and to prosecute them so that the people of Macedonia can understand that not only in this electoral process, but in the future, that this kind of intimidation and violence won’t be tolerated. Certainly, though, we continue to support and recognize the Government of Macedonia, continue to support its efforts to deal with a wide variety of issues, including its continued efforts to achieve membership in NATO, as well as, importantly for all of us, their efforts to work through the UN auspices and to Ambassador Nimetz to resolve the name issue.

QUESTION: Last Friday, there was --

MR. CASEY: That wasn’t enough for you, Lambros?


MR. CASEY: Keep going. What do you got?

QUESTION: Okay. Last Friday, the talks on the name issue between Athens and Skopje in New York failed again, producing no results and I was told that there were (inaudible) in the last ten years. I am wondering, Mr. Casey, if you are concerned for the continuing deadlock and if you have any affirmative action in place for the two sides to reach an agreement.

MR. CASEY: Well, Mr. Lambros, I think, fundamentally, this is about the two countries being able to come to an amicable settlement on this issue. We’re going to continue to support the discussions and the process that Mr. Nimetz is leading, but I think at this point, that’s where our focus is. I certainly wouldn’t lead you down the path of any alternatives to that UN-sponsored process at this point.


QUESTION: Change of subject?

MR. CASEY: Sure.

QUESTION: Anything on the Six-Party Talks head-of-delegation meeting coming up?

MR. CASEY: Okay. Well, don’t have anything for you on that. I think, as Gonzo said, and let me get the exact “where Chris moves when” list here for you, because I wouldn’t want to give you Tuesday when I meant Wednesday. But I think as Gonzo mentioned this morning, Assistant Secretary Hill is going to leave Wednesday – that would be tomorrow – for consultations on how to move the six-party talks forward. He will be arriving in Tokyo on Thursday, on the 19 th, and will be having both bilateral and trilateral discussions with his Japanese and South Korean Six-Party counterparts. He will then go to Beijing on Friday, the 20th, and will have discussions with the Chinese there.

Now beyond that, I think the details of his schedule are still being worked out, so I’m not in a position to confirm any additional meetings for you. But we’ll certainly keep you updated as his schedule evolves.

QUESTION: Could you just tell us who he’s meeting with in China. Which Chinese counterparts?

MR. CASEY:  I would have to check with you. Usually, he meets with a variety of officials and does both Six-Party consultations and occasionally will meet at a bit of a higher level as well in the foreign ministry to talk about some bilateral concerns. We will try and get you details on who his exact meetings --

QUESTION: Thank you.

MR. CASEY: -- are going to be with.


QUESTION: Thank you. 

QUESTION: On Bulgaria?

MR. CASEY: All right. We’re not – nice try, Charlie. Go ahead, Lach.

QUESTION: Reaction to France moving back within NATO and reorganizing its armed forces?

MR. CASEY: Well, anyone that’s been familiar with this issue – I’m going to give a shout out right now to a gentleman named François Le Blévennec, who just retired from NATO last year who was actually hired for that great institution, just as de Gaulle had suggested that NATO move its quarters elsewhere, and managed to retire shortly before France finally took steps to reintegrate itself in the military command. Certainly, it’s a welcome thing. We very much have always appreciated France’s role in the alliance. But full reintegration of France into the NATO military command structure has been a goal for many for a long time, and certainly pleased to see it happen. I think it reflects very much the important role that France is playing within the alliance and also the increasing cooperative efforts and integration between NATO and the European Union as it also seeks to develop its own security capabilities. 

QUESTION: Oh, wait, Tom --

MR. CASEY: Yeah.

QUESTION: You’ve always appreciated France’s role within the alliance. Did you appreciate it when de Gaulle threw NATO out of Paris?

MR. CASEY: I’ve personally always appreciated – well, you know, I might not have been quite cognizant of NATO’s role in the world at that particular --

QUESTION: (Inaudible) you said we --

MR. CASEY: -- juncture in time.

QUESTION: -- meaning the United States. Is that --

MR. CASEY: Well, I could have been using the royal “we” on that.

QUESTION: Are you absolutely sure that you have always appreciated France’s role in NATO?

MR. CASEY: Hey, Matt, you know – can’t we just, you know, let bygones be bygones among good friends and allies? Seriously, look, France is playing an important role in NATO. It had – it has historically. It certainly did during the Cold War. And I’ll just leave it at that.


QUESTION: Tom, I hate to --

MR. CASEY: That’s okay. (Inaudible.)

QUESTION: We’re going to beat this one more time. Because you essentially set a standard in saying the Quartet, apparently, is the bar – the Quartet conditions are the bar --

MR. CASEY: Yeah.

QUESTION: -- for either welcome Hamas to the table to – you, meaning the U.S. Is that – (a) is that the case and (b) with all these changing movements on the ground, especially the overnight developments, and the desire of the United States to play a central role or to have a peace deal, specifically the President of the United States when he -- by the time he leaves office, isn’t he willing to look at the fact that this is -- you know, things are changing and to – and welcoming Hamas as a player is something that you’d like to, you know, entertain this time as opposed to what he said before?

MR. CASEY: Well, look, we’d love to see Hamas, as well as other terrorist groups, get out of the terrorism business and engage in legitimate political activities and be participants in the process.

QUESTION: And this isn’t?

MR. CASEY: Well, again, we’ll see, first of all, whether there’s actually an agreement because I can’t confirm that there is. But a – saying you’ve got a loaded gun to my head but you’re not going to fire it today is far different than taking the gun down, locking it up, and saying you’re not going to use it again. So, you know, even if this, in fact, is a true report, I think, unfortunately, it hardly takes Hamas out of the terrorism business and it hardly meets the terms that the Quartet has laid out for what, I think, one would expect. It also doesn’t meet the terms that President Abbas has laid out for a reincorporation of Hamas or Hamas political elements into a political union or political dialogue, as well.

QUESTION: Even if the Israelis are cutting the deal?

MR. CASEY: Well, again, I’ll leave it to the Israelis to talk about what they are doing. Our policy on Hamas is pretty clear.


MR. CASEY: All right. Thanks, guys.

QUESTION: Thank you.

(The briefing was concluded at 1:14 p.m.)

DPB # 107

Released on June 17, 2008

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