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 You are in: Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs > Bureau of Public Affairs > Bureau of Public Affairs: Press Relations Office > Daily Press Briefings > 2005 > December
Daily Press Briefing
Adam Ereli, Deputy Spokesman
Washington, DC
December 12, 2005

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INDEX:

DEPARTMENT

Secretary Rices Speech at Heritage Foundation
US Partnership for International Journalism Program
Statement on the Assassination of Gebran Tueni
Secretary Rices Discussions with French Foreign Minister Douste-Blazy / Mehlis Investigation

LEBANON/SYRIA

Security Council Resolutions 1595 and 1636 / Future Security Council Action
Syrian Interference / Syrian Presence in Lebanon
Call for an International Investigation by Government of Lebanon
US Support of Lebanese Government

IRAQ

Reports of New Detention Center / Iraqi Government to Conduct Investigations
Technical Assistance from US on Investigations
Upcoming Iraqi Elections / Out of Country Voting
US Confidence in Iraqi Government

IRAN

Compliance with NPT Safeguards
Issue of Nuclear Cooperation
US Support of EU3 Diplomacy
Violation of Agreements by Iran
US Response to Security Guarantees

NORTH KOREA

Six-Party Talks / Time Frame
Status of Preliminary Talks in South Korea


TRANSCRIPT:

(1:45 p.m. EST)

MR. ERELI: Good afternoon, everyone. Thank you for your patience. I would like to begin by drawing to your attention two events tomorrow, which are worth mentioning.

The first is the Secretary will be giving a speech at the Heritage Foundation at 1:00 p.m. In the speech she will be talking about how we have been working with the international community in support of Iraq from the beginning through the present day and in light of the elections that will be taking place on Thursday.

The second event to tell you about is the announcement -- again tomorrow -- at 11:00 a.m. in the Benjamin Franklin Room of a new international journalism program, which we will be funding in partnership with the Aspen Institute and six leading schools, American schools, of journalism. This will be announced by the Secretary, Under Secretary Karen Hughes, Assistant Secretary for Educational and Cultural Affairs Dina Powell, as well as the CEO of the Aspen Institute Walter Isaacson and Dean of the Annenberg School for Communication Geoffrey Cowan.

We have put out a Media Notice. There is also a fact sheet on the program, called the Edward R. Murrow Journalism Program, which is an initiative to bring international journalists to the United States. We think it's important. We wanted to bring it to your attention. And obviously that event will be open to the press.

Any questions on those two before I go to the third statement?

QUESTION: Is it just an announcement or there's Q&A after that?

MR. ERELI: There will be an announcement. There won't be Qs&As.

QUESTION: There won't be?

MR. ERELI: No.

QUESTION: Is there a place where the --

MR. ERELI: I'm sorry. The speech -- there will be Q&A at the Heritage Foundation.

QUESTION: Oh, okay.

MR. ERELI: The announcement of the --

QUESTION: (Inaudible) journalism program?

MR. ERELI: No, but I think we'll be -- if you want to talk to officials, we will look for a way to make that happen.

QUESTION: I was just wondering about the commingling of the U.S. Government, journalists who are supposed to not work for the government, universities that ostensibly are -- not all of them are -- private -- I mean they are not government institutions. It's all becoming one ball of wax and I wondered --

MR. ERELI: I think this is --

QUESTION: We realize it's important that journalists come to this country, but I just didn't know that the U.S. Government is in partnership with journalism schools.

MR. ERELI: Well, this program is really in the finest tradition of educational exchange and public diplomacy. The United States has a long, proud tradition of helping media around the world develop practices that epitomize the profession: objectivity, balance and independence. And as we engage in a broad-reaching program of transformational diplomacy, the role of journalism and the role of the press is central to that effort. And this program is part of that and it is something that the American people, the American government, and the schools that educate them, I think, all have in common.

QUESTION: Do you think that a foreign journalist who is helped to come to the United States by the U.S. Government will feel in some way indebted to the U.S. Government and might reflect that gratitude in a story he did?

MR. ERELI: I think someone who comes to -- the purpose of these programs is so that someone who comes to the United States and works in the United States learns and benefits from the experience of interacting with Americans, as well as their foreign colleagues, will go back and put those values and standards into practice where he and she works.

So the issue is not what he or she writes but how he or she writes and how a journalist exercises her profession. And that is not a question of politics or positions on different issues. It is a question of integrity and fairness and balance. And that's what we're hoping will be the outcome of this program.

QUESTION: Those are the issues I had in mind when I asked the questions, but no sense prolonging this.

MR. ERELI: Finally, let me read to you a statement by the Secretary on the terrible assassination of Gebran Tueni. This is a statement by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice:

"I am outraged by the assassination of Gebran Tueni and offer my condolences to his family and those of the other victims of this savage attack. His death is a vicious act of terror against a Lebanese patriot and a voice of freedom. That voice will not be silenced. America will remain steadfast in its support of the Lebanese people.

"The forces behind this latest attack and a series of brutal crimes against Lebanese journalists and political leaders in the past months must be held to account for their crimes. Together, we and the international community will confront and defeat those who seek to terrorize and subjugate a proud, independent Lebanon.

"Syrian interference in Lebanon continues and it must end completely. The United States will work with its partners on the Security Council and in the region to see that Security Council Resolutions 1595 and 1636 are fully implemented."

QUESTION: Two questions. Syrian interference. Is she carrying -- is the Secretary implying or would like us to infer that she thinks Syria is responsible for this assassination?

MR. ERELI: I think --

QUESTION: And secondly, the reference to already enacted resolutions -- are we to infer from this that she sees no need for an additional resolution?

MR. ERELI: The fact that Syrian interference in Lebanon continues is Ė it is a statement of fact. There continues to be a Syrian intelligence presence in Lebanon. We have been saying ever since the withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon that there remains a residual presence in Lebanon that does not contribute to Lebanese stability, that is noxious and that must end. And what is in today's statement is a reiteration of that.

Number two, as far as future of Security Council action goes, that will depend on what the members of the Security Council think is appropriate. We are not prejudging anything in this statement, prejudging it one way or the other, except to note -- except to note -- that the issue of Lebanon's independence and sovereignty remains at the forefront of the agenda of the Security Council, that we have two resolutions that have not been fully implemented -- 1595 and 1636 -- that we will remain active and intense on seeing that those resolutions are implemented.

QUESTION: You're not prejudging whether Syria had a role in this or you're not prejudging whether you need another resolution?

MR. ERELI: I was saying I'm not prejudging -- I'm not prejudging either one. The question of Syria's role in this latest assassination is something that is a matter of some speculation. I won't contribute to that speculation because, frankly, I don't know.

But what is clear is a couple of things. One is, as we said in the statement, you've had three journalists killed in almost as many months, all of them who speak out against Syria, all of them who believe in a free and independent Lebanon. You have a Syrian intelligence presence, which remains in Lebanon, which does not contribute to the stability of that country. And therefore it makes all the more imperative that 1595 and 1636, which calls for an investigation into another assassination, be implemented so that those who fear outside interference and destabilization in Lebanon can sleep soundly at night.

Peter.

QUESTION: Let me just follow up on Barry's question, Adam, because you've spent as much time speaking about Syria as you have about Mr. Tueni. Are you saying there that the atmosphere, as you've said before, the atmosphere -- at least the atmosphere created by Syria in the country is at least indirectly responsible for this assassination? Or exactly what are you saying about what Syria is in this context? Why are you spending so much time on it?

MR. ERELI: I'm saying that when looking at the climate in Lebanon -- and that climate is epitomized by the assassination we see today -- one cannot fail to mention Syria because Syria continues to be a presence in Lebanon. Syria has a responsibility to take actions that support Lebanon's sovereignty and independence and that support a climate of peace and tolerance and political stability, and that the continued presence of their intelligence services are not conducive to that.

And so that when you're talking about -- when you're speaking in the wake of a brutal assassination of a leading Lebanese politician, journalist, member of parliament, that can only happen in a climate of instability, and Syria is not -- Syria continues to contribute to that and that is why it is important to mention Syria.

QUESTION: Are you calling for an international investigation at this time?

MR. ERELI: The Lebanese have called for an international investigation. We will certainly look at that idea, work with the people of Lebanon, the Government of Lebanon and all those who want to see accountability for this crime and for past crimes. And our actions will be decided on the basis of support for the Lebanese people and a commitment for accountability.

QUESTION: To follow up on that, the French has told Mr. Tueni's family that they're willing to expand the current committee investigating the killing of Rafik Hariri to include everybody who has been killed so far, including Gibran Tueni and Samir Kassir, et cetera. Would the United States support the French on that, calling for a Security Council resolution to expand the investigation?

MR. ERELI: I should mention also that the Secretary, Secretary Rice, talked to French Foreign Minister Douste-Blazy today. They discussed this assassination. As you know, the United States and France have been at the forefront of international efforts to support Lebanese sovereignty and independence. We will continue to work closely for those goals.

The Secretary and Douste-Blazy discussed the importance of accountability for this crime, continued support for the Mehlis investigation and continued commitment of both of our countries to work with the UN in support of 1636.

And as far as specific ideas about steps that need to be taken to investigate the Tueni assassination, that is something that, as I said, we will continue to work with the French and others on, and the Lebanese, in order to make sure that not only do we know what happened to Mr. Tueni but that we all act effectively to preserve Lebanese sovereignty and independence.

QUESTION: But are you in favor of expanding the work of the committee?

MR. ERELI: I think that we want to do what we can to support the Government of Lebanon as it seeks to deal with this crisis and we will be discussing the Lebanese ideas, the French ideas, with an aim toward making the response as effective as possible.

QUESTION: President Asad of Syria, yesterday, said that if the investigation condemns Syria, then it will destabilize the whole area. How do you see this comment? Do you see it as a threat?

MR. ERELI: The United States wants the truth. The world needs to know who killed Hariri, and those who did it need to be held responsible.

QUESTION: Did she and the Foreign Minister talk about the wisdom -- the need for a new resolution?

MR. ERELI: They discussed -- they said that we will work together with the Security Council on next steps with regard to the Mehlis investigation. They didn't go into that degree of specificity, no.

QUESTION: (inaudible) -- I mean a new resolution in light of what's just happened.

MR. ERELI: No. No, I don't believe so.

QUESTION: Do you believe that the Syrians are going to arrest those whom Mehlis maybe will demand be arrested?

MR. ERELI: Well, I'm not going to predict what Mehlis will demand or what the Syrians will do. I will tell you that 1636 is clear and it says that if the special -- if the UN investigator believes that there are those who need to be arrested or need to be detained, then Syria is obliged to comply. And so the United States would certainly be firm on that score.

QUESTION: What do you mean by firm?

MR. ERELI: Firm -- firm in insisting that UN Security Council resolutions be respected.

QUESTION: You mean that there will be sanctions?

QUESTION: Does the United States support to what the Lebanese want of, you know, that the Mehlis's report would expand and investigate other assassinations?

MR. ERELI: As I said in response to previous questions, we are committed to helping the people of Lebanon and the Government of Lebanon find out what happened. The modalities of that are going to be the point of discussion with us, with the Lebanese, with the Security Council.

I would point out that this request came out a few hours ago so you will understand if you don't have a full and considered position from us on what exactly needs to happen next. Just know that the United States will be working, will be supporting the Government of Lebanon to help it and the international community take effective action in response to this crime.

Other issues? Change of subject. Yes, go ahead.

QUESTION: Adam, is there anything you can tell us about the discovery of a new detention center in Baghdad, whether it seems to be prisoner abuse again for the second time?

MR. ERELI: The Government of Iraq, several weeks ago, when the first site was discovered at our instigation, I would point out, said a couple of things that are important to note.

Number one, they said that the acts practiced in that facility were contrary to the policy of the Government of Iraq. They took action to stop the abuse there and to protect the detainees. They also said that they would conduct an investigation into all facilities maintained by the Government of Iraq in Iraq. And so I think this is the Government of Iraq making good on its word and undertaking a meaningful effort to root out abuse and actions that are inconsistent with the policies of their government.

I would say that in addition that we are helping them with that. Our experts from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Justice are providing the Iraqis technical assistance to conduct investigations and to institute accountability. Clearly, there is a problem in Iraq and clearly the Iraqis understand that and are working to address it. It is a process, I think, that will not be resolved overnight but it is one that we are committed to supporting the Government of Iraq as they deal with.

QUESTION: Will this impact on the election? Will the Sunnis stay away from the ballot because of this, do you think?

MR. ERELI: I think what --

QUESTION: Not that anybody can tell, but what do you think?

MR. ERELI: Well, it's not something I would speculate on. I think what we're seeing in Iraq over the course of the last two elections and certainly in the run-up to this election is a steadily broadening of the level of political participation in the democratic process: first, in the elections to the Transitional National Assembly, Iraqis defied expectations and turned out in numbers that, I think by any measure, could be seen as overwhelming; and then, again, in the referendum on the -- the constitutional referendum, you had an increase in participation most markedly among Sunni voters.

And certainly in the run-up to this election, we've seen almost all aspects of Iraqi society speak out in favor of participation and voting on Thursday. So it is really something that's up to the Iraqi people. I think that judging on past experience, they've got a proud tradition of exercising their democratic rights and it's our hope that the elections on Thursday will be a further expansion of those rights.

I would note, just on our part, we are trying to do what we can to help that. Specifically, tomorrow we'll begin out-of-country voting by Iraqis living abroad for the election. That should start tomorrow in -- I'm sorry, the 13th -- yeah -- in eight polling centers around the United States.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

MR. ERELI: Eight.

QUESTION: Prisoners can vote starting today?

MR. ERELI: Yes.

QUESTION: Do you think Saddam Hussein is going to have a chance to vote?

MR. ERELI: I'm not -- I don't know the rules there.

QUESTION: He is going to vote today. He's going to vote today.

MR. ERELI: You'll have to ask the Iraqis. I'm not sure he's --

QUESTION: He has a right to vote, I believe.

QUESTION: Can we go back to the detention center?

QUESTION: You said he's going to vote?

QUESTION: Are you going to go back -- yeah, go back to that.

QUESTION: Can I get back on the detention center?

MR. ERELI: Yes.

QUESTION: Adam, the way that you phrased your comments, it made it seem like you are confirming indeed that what was reported in the Post was discovered. Can you confirm that it was?

MR. ERELI: No. I'd refer you to the Iraqis. They're the ones that are doing this investigation.

QUESTION: Well, the second question is this is not just a rogue outfit. This is the Interior Ministry is maintaining this prison, so this is the government. Is it disappointing to find that a couple of weeks after we found one horrendous situation, that they don't seem to have learned the lesson?

MR. ERELI: I think that the Government of Iraq obviously is -- realizes there is an issue here, that they've got a problem. They are taking action on it. As far as the breadth and scope of the problem, you know, I'm not one to address that. What I can tell you is that I think that the Iraqi Government takes it seriously. The Iraqi Government is concerned that the rights of its citizens are being abused. They certainly don't want that charge laid on their doorstep because it doesn't do anything to help the credibility of a government when the government itself is associated with that kind of abuse. So they are taking action to discover the scope of the problem and to root it out, and that's as it should be and they're doing it with our help.

QUESTION: Well, you've been helpful in a lot of ways -- the U.S. has -- arranging for the Saddam Hussein trial and other -- many, many other ways. So do you have -- does the U.S. have the view -- evidently these people are held by the Interior Ministry. They're detained until they're turned over to the justice system. Do you have -- does the U.S. have a suggestion about that detention being unnecessarily long or maybe even being unnecessary? Because all the abuses seem to have occurred in that interim period. Nobody is saying that the Justice Ministry is responsible. Itís only the Interior Ministry responsible --

MR. ERELI: Yes --

QUESTION: Does the U.S. happen to have a view about reforming the --

MR. ERELI: Well, I don't want to speak to the nature and scope of the problem because there's an investigation going on. We've seen documentation of one instance. We've seen reports of another that are of serious concern. We've also seen the Government of Iraq undertake a comprehensive inspection of all facilities. So I'm not going to prejudge what that investigation turns up.

What I will tell you is that we are working with the Iraqi Government as it tries to establish procedures, modalities, institutional structures to not only root out but prevent these kinds of abuses and hold those responsible accountable. So without sort of speculating on where this might go and where it might lead, what is important to understand is that it is a commitment that the Iraqi Government has made to the people of Iraq and that we are going to work with them to uphold.

QUESTION: Can I ask, while we're on Iraq -- can I ask something else about Iraq?

QUESTION: The statement on the detention --

QUESTION: Can we stay on this? Yes.

QUESTION: You point out that it was at the U.S.'s instigation that they looked into this. But what about reports that the U.S. had known about this facility for quite a long period -- weeks at least -- before you instigated them to go in and look at it? What can you say about that?

MR. ERELI: You know, I think not being on the ground, not having received the reports, it is a little hard for me to comment on it specifically. My understanding is when we had actionable information, we acted on it.

QUESTION: You're saying that the U.S. didn't know about it until the weekend that --

MR. ERELI: No, I'm saying my understanding is -- and again, since I'm not resident on the ground and I didn't -- my understanding is when we had information that was actionable, we took action.

QUESTION: And what did you considerable actionable?

QUESTION: Does the --

QUESTION: Sorry. What did you consider actionable at that point? If you knew about the center, you knew that people were being detained there --

MR. ERELI: I'm not sure -- you know, Teri, you're making those assertions. I'm not sure that those assertions are true.

QUESTION: I said "if."

QUESTION: Has the U.S. Government got confidence in the Iraqi Interior Minister?

MR. ERELI: The United States Government has confidence that the Government of Iraq is committed to protecting its citizens and acting in ways that meet the standards that they have set for themselves. Prime Minister Jafari has announced a six-point plan and concrete objectives that he and all members of his government are committed to meeting, and that includes the Ministry of Interior.

QUESTION: How concerned are you that there may be more centers like this? You said that they're undertaking their own investigation, but doesn't this lead you to concerns -- there's been two so far -- that there could be many more throughout the country, if that is acceptable in Baghdad?

MR. ERELI: I think our concerns are those that the Iraqi Government has, that the people of Iraq see a process in which the rule of law is not respected. And that's why it's very important, I think, that the Government of Iraq has said clearly that these are aberrations, they won't be tolerated, and that if there are others, they will be found out and acted upon. Whether there are others and to what extent there are others, I can't speculate. What I can say is that we agree with the Government of Iraq that this is an issue that we all need to deal with and be seen to be dealing with effectively.

QUESTION: But surely, you cannot have much confidence in the Minister of Interior because he's the one who dismissed the reports in the first place and reduced the number.

MR. ERELI: Well, that's why I think that the important focus here is on the Prime Minister, as the head of government, establishing a clear policy line and ensuring that his cabinet follows it.

QUESTION: Does the U.S. have indications, to use your word, if not actionable information -- does it have indications that there are others at this time?

MR. ERELI: You know, that's really a question to ask our guys on the ground. Not that I'm aware of. I think what we have said is we are working with the Iraqis to assist them in their investigation, to assist them in, as I said, putting in place systems that prevent this kind of thing, and that we share with the Iraqi Government a sense of the urgency and importance of acting to prevent this kind of abuse, whether it be in past cases or whether it be in possible continuing cases. And that's what our people out there are doing.

QUESTION: Can I ask you something else about Iraq?

MR. ERELI: Iraq? Yes.

QUESTION: An Iraqi general today spoke of foreign insurgents. He even spoke of "Brits," as he put it, and people even from the United States of America. Do we -- does the State Department know of Americans fighting against the coalition in Iraq?

MR. ERELI: Americans?

QUESTION: Yeah. American citizens, U.S. citizens?

MR. ERELI: I don't have any information on that.

QUESTION: Could I leave the question with you? He said --

MR. ERELI: Well, I really think that -- I'll see if we have anything. I kind of doubt it. I think that the place to address those questions are those who are involved in fighting the insurgency in Iraq.

QUESTION: I can give you his name in the statement. His name is --

MR. ERELI: We'll take it. We'll take it after the briefing.

QUESTION: Okay.

MR. ERELI: Yes, ma'am.

QUESTION: Changing the subject, please. Iran.

MR. ERELI: Yes.

QUESTION: Iranian Foreign Minister spoke on Sunday, I quote, "America can take part in international bidding for the construction of Iran's nuclear power plant if they observe the basic standards of quality," end of quote. What's your reaction?

MR. ERELI: Iraq -- I'm sorry. I'll do it over.

QUESTION: Take two.

MR. ERELI: Take two. Iran. Iran needs to come into compliance with its NPT safeguards and satisfy the international community that it is not seeking nuclear weapons. And until it does so, the issue of nuclear cooperation is not something that we think should be on the table.

QUESTION: But it was on the table with the Russians?

MR. ERELI: Well, only if it comes into compliance with its safeguards obligations and ensures the international community that it's not seeking nuclear weapons.

QUESTION: But their goal is maybe continuing to nuclear defense and even though that they are talking about U.S. participation?

MR. ERELI: Look, nobody should be talking about U.S. participation in any Iranian nuclear program. That's the biggest pipedream I've ever heard of. Okay? So if anybody wants to put it forward, great, but they might as well as be living in Alice in Wonderland. So I think that should put an end to the discussion.

QUESTION: It's on another aspect of Iran, if that's okay. Mohamed ElBaradei said today that he called on the United States to become more engaged in the talks and said that security assurances by the United States should be part of the solution in trying to persuade Iran --

MR. ERELI: I had not seen those remarks. I want to look at them carefully before I comment on them because I hadn't seen anything like that before. I think, without referring to those comments specifically, I would just reiterate to you that we think -- we believe our role at present is appropriate. We are acting as a member of the Board of Governors to help bring to light and answer questions concerning the scope of Iranians' -- bring to light the scope of Iran's nuclear program and answer questions concerning suspect activities. And we're also supporting the diplomacy of the EU-3 and others as they seek to find a way, through negotiations, to bring Iran into compliance with its safeguards obligations and to provide the world assurances that they don't have a nuclear weapons program.

QUESTION: Let me just follow through, then, Adam. Actually, the remarks I'll leave with you if you want to follow up later. But just on a more absolute basis there, why would not the United States want to be involved in giving security assurances to Iran, which has been requesting them for a long time because they have U.S. troops in countries on both sides? The U.S. has given security assurances to North Korea. Why would we not do that in this particular case where it would advance the ball?

MR. ERELI: I guess, you know, it's hard to answer -- not only is it hard to answer a hypothetical, it's hard to answer as vague a hypothetical as that. So --

QUESTION: It's pretty specific.

MR. ERELI: No, I think it's --

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

MR. ERELI: Anyway. I'll put it this way.

QUESTION: Thank you, Barry.

MR. ERELI: I'll put it this way. The EU-3 is undertaking a diplomatic effort or is leading a diplomatic effort to negotiate with Iran to get Iran to have a program -- sorry -- to get Iran to provide assurances that are credible to the world that it is not engaging in a nuclear weapons program and to bring Iran into compliance with its obligations. None of us want to see an Iran that has a nuclear weapons program. All of us are working together in an effort to prevent that.

The question is not, frankly -- and this I think is the important point -- the question is not why does the United States do (a) and why doesn't the United States do (b). And oh gee whiz, if only the United States would do this, we wouldn't have a problem. Let's focus attention on where it should be, which is a consistent and established pattern of Iranian misbehavior and Iranian violation of its commitments and Iranian deception. And before anybody asks the United States to do something, it's up to Iran to answer the questions, act like a responsible member of the international community and stop violating its agreements with the EU-3 and others.

Once they do that -- and that would represent a sea change in its behavior -- once they do that, then maybe notions of -- other kinds of notions might be more palatable. But right now, I donít think people should be asking the United States, "Why don't you do this or why don't you do that?" People should be asking Iran, "When are you going to do what the international community has been calling on you to do for, you know, five years?"

QUESTION: Does the U.S. back the European negotiations with Iran?

MR. ERELI: Yes.

QUESTION: The Europeans have offered concessions, economic concessions in an attempt to work out a deal to get Iran to stop its nuclear program. I didn't know that the U.S. didn't support that. You donít support a brokered agreement with Iran that might involve, as with North Korea, a U.S. pledge not to attack Iran?

MR. ERELI: That is not -- that's not an issue that's come up, Barry.

QUESTION: No, it hasn't come up.

MR. ERELI: Mm-hmm. So it's a hypothetical.

QUESTION: Well, excuse me. We won't solve this here but it is an issue that's come up because you have Mohamed ElBaradei, who's the head of the IAEA, Nobel Prize winner, who's calling for that. And at some point there could we get some sort of response to his remark?

MR. ERELI: Maybe, maybe not. I mean, look, Peter, you're asking me to comment on a wire service of comments by the Director General of -- of ElBaradei --

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

MR. ERELI: -- (a) that I haven't seen, (b) that doesn't -- isn't the whole remarks, (c) that I've given you what our policy is. So --

QUESTION: I'm not asking for your response now. But (a) it's not a wire service; it's AFP. Okay.

MR. ERELI: An esteemed wire service.

QUESTION: There you go. But at some point, I mean, if we can, if you can confirm these remarks when we get -- this is not just anybody who's asking for this. Can we get --

MR. ERELI: Let me put it this way.

QUESTION: Okay.

MR. ERELI: Our response to security guarantees is, first, let's see Iran do what Iran has steadfastly refused to do for almost half a dozen Board of Governors resolutions. Let's see Iran address the concerns and answer the questions of the international community. That's number one.

Number two, we will continue to support the EU-3 as it works to diplomatically address this issue and we think that's the appropriate place for diplomacy.

Yes.

QUESTION: On a slightly related issue, having to do with security and otherwise not related: Does the State Department -- is the State Department aware of the guilty plea today of Donald Keyser in federal court in Alexandria?

MR. ERELI: I saw something coming out.

QUESTION:   And is Donald Keyser still an employee of the State Department?

MR. ERELI:   I'll have to check. I'll have to check.

QUESTION: Or of the U.S. Government, if you can?

MR. ERELI: I'll check and see if --

QUESTION: You donít have any other comments on the Keyser plea?

MR. ERELI: No. No.

Yes.

QUESTION: On North Korea?

MR. ERELI: Yes.

QUESTION: North Korea government has announced yesterday they will not be attending the six-party talks anymore. Do you have any schedule on resumption of six-party talks?

MR. ERELI: Obviously, as you're aware, the parties agreed to a return to the talks as soon as possible at the end of the last round of talks. We look forward to those talks resuming as soon as possible. The Chinese -- or the parties -- I'm sorry -- the parties informally agreed that January would be the timeframe. It would obviously be up to the Chinese to announce a new date. They haven't done that yet. And we're continuing to look forward to resumption.

QUESTION: Do you have anything on --

MR. ERELI: I'm sorry --

QUESTION: -- on the preliminary talks?

QUESTION: What about yesterday North Korean authority had mentioned that they will not be attending? So how are you going to answer --

MR. ERELI: I think we'll -- as I said, we're still looking forward to the resumption of talks.

Yes, sir.

QUESTION: I think we're obliged to ask every day because it's --

MR. ERELI: The New York channel?

QUESTION: No. On the New York channel, we could ask every other day, I guess. No, the notion of preliminary talks in South Korea. I think you said you wouldn't be announcing it but you were open to being asked, of course. So today's my turn, I guess, to ask. Are there going to be preliminary talks in South Korea?

MR. ERELI: Not that I'm aware of, no.

QUESTION: You've got tomorrow.

QUESTION: Is there anything on the New York channel?

MR. ERELI: Not that I'm aware of, no.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MR. ERELI: Thank you.

(The briefing was concluded at 2:25 p.m.)

DPB #211



Released on December 12, 2005

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