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Middle East Digest: April 26, 2007

Bureau of Public Affairs
April 26, 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 26, 2007:

QUESTION: George Tenet has given an interview to 60 Minutes that's airing this weekend, where he defends the use of what he calls enhanced interrogation techniques, particularly (inaudible) detainees like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. Now some people would call this torture. Would you defend his position? Do you have anything to say about criticisms of these methods?

MR. CASEY: Well, I'm glad you've seen the 60 Minutes report in advance. Look, I think these issues have been well covered and well discussed. The U.S. does not support or condone torture. It does not practice torture. You heard our statements on that over a long period of time. With respect to the program in terms of detention related to the CIA detainees or the special detainees program, you know, the President's addressed that and spoke to it publicly. I really don't have anything more to offer than that, but he made clear in that presentation that the methods and practices used met our international legal obligations.

Kirit.

QUESTION: Do you have anything -- any further readout from the meeting between Javier Solana and Ali Larijani?

MR. CASEY: Nothing beyond what I told you a little earlier in the day. Under Secretary Nick Burns did get a readout on those discussions. As I said, we haven't seen any substantive progress on this issue, though certainly, we would hope and continue to hope that the Iranian Government would take the offer that's on the table from the P-5+1 to suspend their uranium enrichment activities and to join us in negotiations, so that everyone can achieve a peaceful resolution to this, so that Iran can have a civilian nuclear power program. But at the same time, the international community can be assured that they're not using such a program as a guise for building a nuclear weapon.

QUESTION: They've said that they're going to try to meet again in two weeks. Is that helpful or is this just kind of spinning the wheels as far as you're concerned?

MR. CASEY: Well, look, I think that it's always useful to have Mr. Solana, as the representative of the P-5+1, have opportunities to continue to discuss this issue with Mr. Larijani and to have that kind of dialogue take place. But again, what we really need to see is a change in Iranian behavior. And all that has been asked for in terms of suspension is exactly the same kind of arrangement that the Iranians signed onto and adhere to for some months under the Paris agreement. So certainly there's nothing impossible or particularly difficult about it. And again, as the Secretary herself has said, she would personally be involved in the opening round of a set of negotiations once that suspension occurred, and would be happy to hear from the Iranians not only on the nuclear issue, but on any other issues they care to bring to the table.

Charlie.

QUESTION: Anything come over the diplomatic (inaudible) in the last few hours on Mr. Levinson, from Iran or the other --

MR. CASEY: No, I don't have any updates for you on this one, Charlie. We are unfortunately still where we've been, which is with no credible information on his welfare or whereabouts.


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