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Briefing on the Situation in the Middle East and the Six-Party Talks on North Korea

Ambassador Alejandro D. Wolff, Acting U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations
Remarks to the media following a Security Council Stakeout
New York City
February 13, 2007


Ambassador. Wolff: Good afternoon, everyone. I'm running a little bit late for lunch -- a luncheon meeting. So if -- maybe I'll take two or three questions.

Reporter: Ambassador, looking at Ambassador Mansour's remarks to the Security Council, he said the formation of a national unity government should provide for the lifting of the financial blockade imposed against the Palestinian people. How does the U.S. feel about, you know, relaxing financial pressures with the unity government coming?

Ambassador Wolff: I made a statement reflecting my government's views on this that you should be able to see posted shortly. Our view is that we welcome the Saudi government's efforts to reach an agreement between the Palestinian parties but that the implementation of this agreement will be key, and adherence to the three conditions laid out by the Quartet is essential for movement.

Reporter: So no relaxing right now, in other words, for the moment?

Ambassador Wolff: We'll wait and see the implementation, to see how this plays out.

Reporter: You're waiting, then, among other things, Mr. Ambassador, to see how intransigent the Hamas side really are in implementing this agreement? I mean, they have said that despite the agreement, they're not going to recognize Israel or deal with Israel.

Ambassador Wolff: And that's why we will wait and see, on the implementation, what emerges from the negotiations and discussions, and whether the three conditions laid out by the Quartet will be adhered to.

Reporter: Ambassador, does this agreement in fact adhere to the three conditions, in the U.S. reading?

Ambassador Wolff: My reading of it -- it's premature to conclude that it adheres to it.

Reporter: Does it include in it any acceptance of the three agreements?

Ambassador Wolff: This agreement, to my reading, does not.

Reporter: Mr. Ambassador--

Reporter: One of the -- it was reported by the Israeli media that there's three things that Olmert will not discuss with Rice or with his Palestinian counterpart, and one of them is Palestinian refugees. Do you see that as a block to this meeting, because that's one of the most important things to the Palestinians right now?

Ambassador Wolff: I have not seen that comment. I can tell you that any time I've seen an agenda that the Secretary of State wants to undertake in the Middle East with her counterparts, all issues are discussed. Thank you. Reporter: Ambassador, on North Korea --

Ambassador Wolff: (Off mike) -- question on North Korea --

Reporter: Yeah. Can you take one --

Reporter: Ambassador --

Ambassador Wolff: One on North Korea. I'm sorry.

Reporter: Okay. The North Koreans -- the North Korean media is saying that they view the agreement reached as meaning that they're going to temporarily close down the nuclear facility or shut down operations. Does that worry you in terms of whether this agreement's going to be able to be implemented?

Ambassador Wolff: We welcome the negotiation of this agreement. It is a first step. As Ambassador Hill and the State Department have indicted, there's more to be done. It's a first step on the path to a denuclearized North Korea. So there are other steps that will have to be taken in due course. In the meantime, Resolution 1718 remains in full effect and we'll be monitoring implementation of this agreement to determine what next steps are appropriate. Thanks.

Released on February 13, 2007

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