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Remarks on Nepal, Lebanon, Sudan and Iraq

Amb. Zalmay Khalilzad, U.S. Permanent Representative to the UN
Remarks to the media following a Security Council Stakeout
Washington, DC
October 25, 2007


Ambassador Khalilzad: Today we had a discussion of Nepal and heard from Special Envoy Martins. We of course support the UN role there. We expressed our disappointment, like a number of other colleagues, with regard to the postponement of the assembly elections and called on the government to set up a date promptly for the elections taking into account the requirements for free, fair and credible elections to take place. The elections is part of a process for normalizing the situation in Nepal. Everyone, all parties must do their part in terms of cooperating with their commitments, delivering on their commitments. So with that I'll be happy to take questions.

Reporter: Ambassador, after your briefing yesterday from the Secretary-General. Can you tell us what you're thinking, or what the United States is thinking about two things in Sudan? One is, the future of these talks, have you also lowered expectations the way the UN appears to have? And secondly, the delayed deployment of UNAMID and the problems the Sudanese government seems to be setting up in the way of that?

Ambassador Khalilzad: On the second one, to take that first, it is very important that the hybrid is deployed. The force as I said the other day is seventy-five percent African, ninety percent plus of the ground element is African. So the force is African in character, everyone agrees to it in the Security Council, the African Union, Mr. Konare told the Secretary-General that he agrees with that. Now the ball is in the court of the Sudanese government. It is very important that quickly they embrace this proposed package. Otherwise, certainly the United States will be looking at measures to incentivize cooperation and that includes further sanctions. I think that's the view of quite a number of countries that we need to press the government hard again. There are people who are saying they are working with the Sudanese government, including Mr. Konare, and they are optimistic that they will get a positive response but we want to get that positive response not only with regard to this force but also with a number of administrative issues such as land, access to the port, to the airfields, all of that. And there are issues with regards to some capabilities that are still need to be worked out - be found for the force. On the talks, it is very important that they take place, everyone our view is should go, those who do not go will have to answer to the international community and more importantly to the people of Darfur. There should be a cease fire that ought to go into effect as soon as the talks have started, again those who do not will have to answer to the international community and to the people of Darfur and the statement yesterday made that clear.

Reporter: Ambassador, just a follow up on Darfur, this summer a lot people thought that it was a done deal. That the Security Council, all the players had gotten together and that peacekeepers were going into Darfur. It seems like once again the Security Council has been hoodwinked by the government of Sudan. Is that your impression or how do you feel about whether it's going to take place on time or not?

Ambassador Khalilzad: Well the Security Council did come together. The Sudanese government did say that it accepted it that time. There has been a pattern as you know of coming to agreements reluctantly and then implementing them reluctantly, that's the impression, that's the record that one has based on the government's performance. We'll keep pressing, it must happen, and if not more pressure will need to be applied.

Reporter: So you're saying it may not happen after all?

Ambassador Khalilzad: I'm not saying that. The ball is in the government of Sudan's court. They have said they accept that resolution. They expressed concern about some elements of the proposed package. As I said to you the package is very much what was embodied in that resolution. Everyone agrees to that. It is African in character, I even gave you the percentages. In our view it is just excuses by the government dragging its feet, part of the pattern seen that one has seen by this government.

Reporter: Mr. Ambassador, on Lebanon, I heard that you been meeting Mr. Hayer, the justice Mr. Hayer regarding the tribunal, can you describe the progress on that matter?

Ambassador Khalilzad: Well, I have not met Mr. Hayer myself but you know the key elements of going forward the tribunal are one location and we've got the Dutch government agreeing to that, that's positive. Two: resources, we've got commitments from several countries in terms of resources and we are active along with the Lebanese to get more countries to commit resources. Three is the choice of people: judges, prosecutors and I think progress will be made. I am optimistic early next year the trial will become operational.

Reporter: What commitment have you got so far, I mean financial assets?

Ambassador Khalilzad: The last time I checked and I may not be up to date on this we had at least sixteen million dollars committed so far. I think the number is at least four, five days old.

Reporter: Mr. Ambassador, a follow-up on Sudan. When the Council yesterday talked about action against those who impede the peace process, what action would the United States like to see? And then I wondered two other things; first, whether you had any reaction to the Myanmar government's decision today to have somebody meet Aung San Suu Kyi. And does the United States have any initial reaction also to the new budget that the Secretary-General just proposed?

Ambassador Khalilzad: That was, I think, at least three questions I counted. On questions about Myanmar, we believe it's very important for Mr. Gambari, for the special envoy of the Secretary-General, to be involved in these dialogues with regard to reconciliation. The appointment of the deputy labor minister was one of the proposals of Mr. Gambari. That's a good thing, and the meeting is a good thing, but not sufficient. There is a need for a full reconciliation process to start, a transition to begin. That means that she, Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi, has to be in circumstances where she can consult, meet with her party members, and have informed discussion with the government with regard to the transition. And those circumstances are not there. And we're talking through the Secretary-General with the authorities in Burma as to getting Mr. Gambari there as quickly as possible. There is some discussions going on on exact dates. The U.S. perspective is the sooner, the better. And we're working also with India, with China, with ASEAN countries, to help the Secretary-General to achieve that goal. That is his goal, too, to get in there as quickly as possible. On the question of the budget proposed by the Secretary-General, we're looking at it. The whole package is not - a single integrated proposal is not there yet. There has been bits and pieces that is available. Our view is that it's very important that offsets be looked at in terms of any proposed increases inside the U.N. system. And we have not had a chance to look at those details, those proposals in any detail.

Reporter: On the reactionů

Ambassador Khalilzad: Right, and I was going to come to that. It's very important that everyone should go to this peace conference and abide by a cease-fire. And those who do not, as I said, will have to answer. And the Security Council is not only looking at the government of Sudan, its obligations, but also at the rebels. And so I do not exclude the possibility that the council will take action, and you know what the range of options are with regard to those who do not cooperate with the peace process from the rebel's side.

Reporter: You're talking about possible travel bans, financialů

Ambassador Khalilzad: We have not gotten into any details, but you know what our range of options are.

Reporter: Mr. Ambassador, with the recent classifications - the declarations of the Revolutionary Guard, is this an announcement, or a move by the United States to make a more unilateral approach on this? Will we see a lower-profile role for the Security Council? And have you given up on further actions here at the Security Council?

Ambassador Khalilzad: I have told you, I think, repeatedly that steps by a single country, by a group of countries, and Security Council actions, are not mutually exclusive. We could be moving on and our view is we should be moving on all those tracks. Right now, with regard to the nuclear issue, we are on three tracks simultaneously -- working on the negotiations or discussions between Mr. Solana and the Iranians on the enrichment part; there is the El Baradei channel on the implementation of the work plan with regard to issues and questions in terms of capacity and activities ; and third is drafting a resolution, the next resolution, we're working on that. But, of course, we have concerns with regard to Iran on Iranian behavior in Iraq, Lebanon, Afghanistan, and our actions are informed by all of these issues. And what the announcement that was made is a U.S. action, it does not mean we will not be as active as we have been on the other tracks.

Reporter: Yesterday sixteen women senators wrote a letter to Indian prime minister on Burma. What is it that India's not doing and you'd like India to do on the issue of Burma?

Ambassador Khalilzad: Well, India's a good friend, number one. And we want India, a power that has considerable influence because of its relations with Burma, to use that influence, as we want China to do, as we want ASEAN to do, to encourage the government, to incentivize the government to take the steps that we've talked about: conditions of Mrs. Aung San Suu Kyi, a transition, release of prisoners, access to prisoners, allowing Mr. Gambari to come. What we want, what the international community wants, is quite clear. The question is how to incentivize the government to cooperate with that. And certainly one of the key players that can influence, in our judgment, the Burmese authorities is India. And so we're talking to our Indian friends, I've been talking to the ambassador here, there are conversations taking place between the Secretary-General and the Indians, as well as between our capitals. The future of Burma is important, of course, and we believe India can play a positive role, and that's what we are, we're talking to the Indian government about.
Reporter: Mr. Ambassador, a question about Iraq. You spent a lot of time in Kurdistan while you were there, and you know people like Barzani and Talabani very well, how confident are you that Mr. Barzani, in particular, is going to do what's necessary to deal with the PKK? And you know there's been mixed messages, he's said that if they - Turkey invades - it's, it's very complicated.

Ambassador Khalilzad: Well, Mr. Barzani is a good friend of mine. I have a lot of regards for him. I think he's a man of his word and the PKK should not be allowed to use Iraqi territory in the Kurdistan area to attack Turkey. Mr. Barzani agrees with that. What's important is that there be cooperation between Turkey, the central government in Baghdad, and the regional government in Kurdistan led by Mr. Barzani to have a road map for how to eliminate the threat against Turkey. And I believe that we can play a helpful role - the United States can, and we are. I believe the use of force across border, as a way to deal with this problem, is not the best means given the circumstances of that area. But I think Turkey has legitimate concerns that needs to be dealt with. It's a delicate situation, obviously, but I believe the best way to go forward is a road map, or a strategy, a plan that has the buy-in from these three players. And, as I said, we can play a positive role, and we are, and we will be happy to do what we can to assist. Thank you very much. Have a good day.

Released on October 25, 2007

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