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Middle East Digest: April 17, 2007

Bureau of Public Affairs
April 17, 2007

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The Middle East Digest provides text and audio from the Daily Press Briefing. For the full briefings, please visit http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/dpb/

From the Daily Briefing of April 17, 2007:

QUESTION: New topic? Have you heard back anything from the Iranians on Mr. Levinson?

MR. MCCORMACK: We have not heard any formal reply to our request for a status of his welfare and whereabouts.

QUESTION: When you made this formal -- this most recent formal request, did you give them a specific deadline at which point you wanted to hear the information or just said as soon as possible or are you putting any kind of time constraints on --

MR. MCCORMACK: We didn't, but the expectation is that you have a rapid response. They have had a sufficient period of time to pulse their system, to investigate and to determine where he might be. As I said yesterday, we believe he's still in Iran so we're looking to the Iranian officials to fill us in on what they know about his whereabouts.

QUESTION: Do you have any reason to believe that they're kind of stonewalling you or that they know and they're not telling you, or do you think that they're in good faith looking into the matter?

MR. MCCORMACK: At this point, we haven't heard back from them with a formal reply so I think we'll have a better idea once we hear actually back from the Iranians via the Swiss in a formal way as to where we stand.

Sue.

QUESTION: So you don't think they're *messing you* around here, the fact that they haven't replied, that this guy has been missing and you think he's in Iran?

MR. MCCORMACK: We think they've had long enough to determine where Mr. Levinson is. We're looking for a formal reply.

Lambros.

QUESTION: On Turkey.

MR. MCCORMACK: On Turkey.

QUESTION: Mr. McCormack -- how do you -- excuse me. Are you still -- do you still fighting for a unified Iraq and to be more specifically, do you oppose any invasion of Iraq by neighboring countries, mainly Syria, Iran and Turkey?

MR. MCCORMACK: I think we -- I think I've talked about this before, but on the first part of your question, yes, we are for the territorial integrity of Iraq as it stands.

QUESTION: Okay. And the second part on the three countries?

MR. MCCORMACK: In terms of -- I'm not aware of Syria or Iran threatening to invade Turkey. Now, there have been some tensions recently -- invade Iraq. There have been some tensions recently between Turkey and Iraq, and what we are doing is trying to have the Turks, have the Iraqis work together to resolve those tensions. We understand that these tensions emanate from activities of the PKK. It's a terrorist organization and it poses a threat to Turkish citizens as well as Turkish officials, and that threat needs to be addressed.

The best way to address that threat is for Turkey and Iraq to cooperate so that you don't get to the point where parties are considering cross-border actions.

QUESTION: And I'm very concerned about the intention of the Turkish General Yasar Buyukanit. Once again --

MR. MCCORMACK: Lambros --

QUESTION: -- threatening to invade northern Iraq --

MR. MCCORMACK: Right. Look --

QUESTION: -- prior to the upcoming elections in Turkey. I'm very concerned about this.

MR. MCCORMACK: Right. Lambros, I've answered this question specifically before about his comments and I just gave you a shorter capsulized version of that answer, so I think you have enough to work with.


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