U.S. Department of State
U.S. Department of State
Other State Department Archive SitesU.S. Department of State
U.S. Department of State
U.S. Department of State
U.S. Department of State
U.S. Department of State
U.S. Department of State
U.S. Department of State
Home Issues & Press Travel & Business Countries Youth & Education Careers About State Video
 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 (Corrected)
Sean McCormack, Spokesman
Washington, DC
December 14, 2005

video: high speed connectionvideo: dial-up speed connectionm3u

INDEX:

LIBERIA

Secretary Rices Meeting with President Johnson-Sirleaf / Issues for Discussion

IRAN

Pursuit of Nuclear Weapons Program / EU-3 Negotiations
Remarks by President Ahmadi-Nejad
Irans Support of Terrorism
U.S. Concerns Regarding Irans Interference in Iraq

IRAQ

Effectiveness in Holding Good Elections Under Difficult Circumstances
Call for International Assistance in Judicial Process
Transparent Relations with Neighboring Countries
Secretary Rices Briefing to Members of Congress

SYRIA/LEBANON

Lebanese Request for Extension of UN IIC Mandate / US Support
Syrian Interference in Lebanon
Mehlis Report / Failure of Syria to Cooperate / Provisions for Sanctions
U.S.-Syria Diplomatic Relations / Status of Ambassador Scobey

CANADA

Remarks by Ambassador Wilkins

GREECE

Deputy Assistant Secretary DiCarlos Consultations with Greek Officials

COLOMBIA

Query on Offer by President Uribe to Withdraw Troops from Valle del Cauca Province in Negotiations with FARC on Hostages

RUSSIA

Russias Supply of Natural Gas for Former Soviet States


TRANSCRIPT:

1:10 p.m. EST

MR. MCCORMACK: Good afternoon. Don't have any opening statements, so I would be happy to jump right into your questions.

Mr. Schweid.

QUESTION: Yeah, could you tell us a little bit about the Liberia meeting tomorrow? Is there going to be an emphasis on human rights or whatever?

MR. MCCORMACK: This is going to be a first meeting between the Secretary and the new -- newly elected President of Liberia. The Secretary looks forward to this meeting. I think that there is going to be a discussion about the ways the international community can assist Liberia in consolidating the gains that it has already made and having what the international community believes is a credible election.

This is after years of killing and civil strife in Liberia so this is an important moment for the Liberian people. I think it's a testament to their dedication to try to rebuild their country and to build a better life for themselves. So I expect a wide-ranging discussion, Barry, and we'll, afterwards, talk to you a little bit about what it is the Secretary discussed with her --

QUESTION: There's one specific one I want to (inaudible) the notion that Taylor ought to be turned over to a war crimes tribunal. Is this something the Secretary is likely to suggest?

MR. MCCORMACK: I think that she is certainly prepared to discuss that issue with the new President of Liberia. Our position on that is unchanged.

QUESTION: Which is? I forgot.

MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah. I'm sure you didn't forget, Barry. But, yes, it's true, yes.

QUESTION: I can't remember everything. (Laughter.) He does that.

MR. MCCORMACK: That's right, I forgot. Between the two of you, you know everything.

QUESTION: At least one of us, right.

MR. MCCORMACK: Yes. He should be turned over. Yes.

QUESTION: Yes.

QUESTION: Are there any plans to provide any more economic assistance to Liberia or will that be on offer?

MR. MCCORMACK: It's -- I don't have anything for you on that. If there's any additional assistance that we have, we'll try to keep you updated on that.

Yes, ma'am.

QUESTION: President of Iran Ahmadi-Nejad has repeatedly condemned recent -- today, also. He said that they would not stop the nuclear program. Do you consider this as being a challenge to the United States?

MR. MCCORMACK: I think it's a challenge to the world. This is one more indication that Iran is headed off a 180 degrees from the rest of the world and this isn't the Iranian people who are headed off in a different direction and out of step with the rest of the world, this is a specific government and regime, headed by President Ahmadi-Nejad.

His government has defied the international community in its efforts to try to have a negotiation with the Iranians on the issue of their nuclear weapons program. It continues to support terrorism. It continues to undermine democracy in its own country. And President Ahmadi-Nejad has yet again made what can only be characterized as outrageous remarks, denying the existence of the Holocaust, for one.

This is -- these comments are certainly reprehensible and all it does is serve to further isolate the Iranian Government from the international community and I would expect from the Iranian people. President Ahmadi-Nejad started digging himself a diplomatic hole with his speech before the United Nations. I don't think he stopped digging. It is just astounding to see the kind of comments coming from the President of Iran, that we see.

QUESTION: Can I follow that up? May I?

MR. MCCORMACK: Sure.

QUESTION: The German Chancellor is reportedly going to ask the European Union or commission to organize an international condemnation of the Iranian leader for his various remarks about Israel. Is that some -- I know the State Department has been very forthright, criticizing what he's -- condemning what he's been saying. But does the U.S. have any interest in
something more formal, some more formal condemnation?

MR. MCCORMACK: At this point, Barry, I don't know if there is an effort to organize something more formal that we would participate in. I think that the United States and the international community has been of one mind concerning these comments and the behavior of this particular government. So you certainly de facto have a unified response from the rest of the world concerning this government's behavior and the statements coming out of this government. One can only explain it by saying that these statements and these actions reflect the true intentions and the true face of this government.

Yes.

QUESTION: Yesterday in her speech and her appearance at the Heritage Foundation, the Secretary ran down the same litany of complaints, U.S. complaints against Iran, and then she made the remarks that Iran is a problem that the international community will have to deal with. My question is, is whether or not she's alluding to any more specific or any additional action beyond what the international community is taking now on the various fronts. What did she mean?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, I think the words speak for themselves. The Iranian Government has on several different fronts, as we just talked about, made itself an issue through its behavior and we are attempting with, in support of the EU-3 and the Russian Government to, through negotiations and through an offer of negotiations, deal with Iran's behavior concerning pursuit of nuclear weapons under the cover of a civilian nuclear program. That offer of negotiations has been met with defiance and a failure to engage the EU-3 on what are serious negotiations.

And we'll see what happens with that diplomatic effort. Certainly the patience -- I would expect the patience of the EU-3 and other members of that negotiation is not infinite. So we'll see what the Iranian Government does. It is for them to act now to engage in a serious manner on those negotiations.

QUESTION: If I can follow. My understanding -- I might have been wrong about the Secretary's remarks -- that she was covering a broader range, not only the nuclear weapons but all the issues there. So was she suggesting that beyond the mechanisms that are in place or not in place for the nuclear issue, that the international community start addressing Iran in a more focalized way to take more direction action to try to curb Iran on all these fronts that you are concerned about?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, it certainly is an issue for the international community. We talked about the nuclear front, support for terrorism. There are already Security Council resolutions calling on countries to end support for terrorism, to fight terrorism around the world. You haven't seen any of that from the government of Iran. They continue to support Hezbollah. They continue to support other Palestinian rejectionist groups. They, again, have -- there are many, many reports. You can look in the most recent State Department Human Rights Reports concerning Iran's disregard for human rights and for democratic freedoms in Iran.

I think it is a source for concern for the international community. Iran -- the Iranian people are a great people. They have a rich culture. They have a rich history. They have a lot to offer the rest of the world. But through the actions and the statements of their government, what is happening is they are isolating themselves as a country and as a people. It's not the Iranian people who are doing that. It's their leadership, and the unelected leadership, that really controls the power in Iran. So I think it is certainly a source of concern for the international community and, you know, not just the United States.

QUESTION: One more, just to -- and this is the last one, I promise. I think it was a couple of weeks ago Nick Burns was suggesting that perhaps other entities, other countries or the EU, might impose their own sanctions on Iran to step up the pressure since the U.S. is basically tapped out on sanctions with Iran. Are you a bit disappointed that the international community is not being more active in trying to set the bar for Iran and/or face the possibility of sanctions on the part of other countries?

MR. MCCORMACK: Any decisions concerning sanctions by the EU-3 or anybody else is going to be up to that country or that organization, whether or not they impose those. Right now, the EU-3 is offering negotiations of -- hope for negotiations with the Iranians. If the Iranians don't take them up on that offer, they fail to use that mechanism, we'll see what the EU decides to do about that. But clearly the Iranians to this point have shown nothing but defiance in failing to accept the outreach -- the extended hand of negotiation -- that the EU-3 has offered them.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: Is the situation such that it might be wise for the United States to formally enter the negotiations? ElBaradei suggested something like that.

MR. MCCORMACK: Barry, we think that the role we are playing in support of the EU-3 negotiations is the appropriate role.

Yes, sir.

QUESTION: Yeah, the German Foreign Minister's comments seemed to explicitly link the myth comment to whether they can even have negotiations with this government. Do you think you can have a normal diplomacy with a government where the president is saying that the Holocaust is a myth?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, as I said, it certainly raises a lot of questions. It raises a lot of questions about the intention, the intentions and the true nature of this Iranian Government. Whether or not the EU-3 feels as though they can usefully and effectively engage with this government on the question of their nuclear weapons program is going to be an assessment that they have to make for themselves.

QUESTION: Can you tell us whether it's true -- I know that there are disputed accounts about a tank, I think it was, some kind of vehicle full of false ballots coming over the border from Iran --

MR. MCCORMACK: I saw the news reports. Yeah, I think it was in a tanker truck.

QUESTION: Yeah.

MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah. As you point out, there are conflicting news reports on this. We haven't been able to confirm them or to knock them down conclusively. So on that particular report, I don't have anything at this point to offer you. If we come to any particular conclusion about it, we'll try to keep you informed on it.

Certainly we have talked about in the past our concerns regarding Iran's meddling in Iraq's democratic process. We believe it does -- we believe it does continue. Those concerns are ongoing, yes.

QUESTION: Do you have any specific examples as we head up to tomorrow's vote?

MR. MCCORMACK: I don't have any particular examples to offer you today, but I would point out one thing about the Iraqi electoral process. They have been over time, going back to the January elections and then the referendum, the Iraqis themselves have actually been extraordinarily effective in holding what the international community believes are good elections in the most difficult of circumstances. So regardless of any Iranian attempts to try meddle in the democratic process of Iraq, the Iraqi people should have confidence in the ability of their leadership and their government to have good and effective elections and elections that certainly up until this point have met the standards that the international community has set out for them.

QUESTION: If I could have one more on elections. Yesterday the Secretary said in quite strong terms that the U.S. and the Iraqis were not receiving help from other countries in -- I'm sorry, this isn't elections. This is the Saddam trial. Iraq, not elections. Help on the Saddam trial.

Can you tell us what she meant by that? I don't recall having heard complaints about this before.

MR. MCCORMACK: It's been a source of concern for some time. There have been countries that have stepped up to the plate to help the Iraqis with the various phases of this judicial process, from the investigatory phase all the way through to helping out Iraqi jurists with procedures and advice on how to actually conduct a trial. The U.S., the UK, the Danish Government, the Australians have all offered the Iraqis assistance. But the Iraqis face an immense task in not only bringing Saddam Hussein to justice, but other members of his regime to justice. There is a mountain of investigatory work that needs to take place. And the Iraqis can certainly use assistance in interviewing witnesses, going through documentation. They could use assistance with providing protection for defense counsel.

So these are all areas in which the international community, we believe, could provide more assistance to the Iraqis. They are receiving some assistance, but the Iraqis have a massive task in conducting these tribunals and they could use the assistance of the international community in doing so.

QUESTION: Has the Secretary specifically asked any countries to help out? Has she made calls or --

MR. MCCORMACK: It's not for us to make those specific requests for assistance. I believe the Iraqis have put out a general request for assistance.

QUESTION: But she made a -- she made that statement yesterday so one would assume that that's something that she cares about.

MR. MCCORMACK: She did. And by making that sort of public statement and making that sort of public call, she would hope that some would hear that call and come to the assistance of the Iraqis.

QUESTION: Is it the first time, though, that you've complained about this?

MR. MCCORMACK: I think it's the first -- it's certainly the first time that she has brought it up in public.

Yes.

QUESTION: Isn't part of the problem that many of your usual allies in these areas don't support the death penalty, so therefore, they've been very reluctant to become involved in helping here. And also, the fact that the court was appointed during the occupation by the United States has meant that some countries are a little suspicious of whether Saddam and others will get a fair trial.

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, the best way to overcome those suspicions is to actually participate and help out the Iraqis. I think -- look, standing on the sidelines of bringing to justice the members of this regime is, I would expect, not a place that the members of the international community want to be. If there are particular concerns that they have with potential punishments for crimes committed, there are many different ways that members of the international community could participate in assisting the Iraqis. They could -- I pointed out one. They could assist in conducting interviews of witnesses, interviews of those who suffered grievous human rights abuses during the reign of Saddam Hussein.

So there are a lot of different ways to participate, but I would expect, like I said, standing on the sidelines on this is probably not a place that they want to be.

QUESTION: Sean, could I return to the earlier question of the false ballots? Perhaps I'm wrong but just to clarify, you made it sound as if you cannot confirm one way or the other. I thought it had been knocked down in Iraq, but maybe that's wrong.

MR. MCCORMACK: I've seen conflicting news reports about it. And the only thing I was saying is we, based on our own information, can't one way -- say one way or the other whether or not the story is definitively true or definitively false. So that's the only thing I was trying to indicate, Charlie.

QUESTION: Are you looking into it? Is there --

MR. MCCORMACK: Yes. Yes, we are.

Yes.

QUESTION: Change of subject. Do you support the French draft resolution to include all explosions and all inquiries of the Lebanese explosion in the international inquiry?

MR. MCCORMACK: There's a discussion that's ongoing right now up at the Security Council. A couple of things: I think everybody's primary goal here is to get a rollover of the mandate for the investigation, that is the -- that's the immediate issue that is before the Security Council. So now, the Lebanese Government itself has requested that the Security Council expand the mandate of the UN IIC. We certainly support the Lebanese Government in making this request. It's going to be a topic of discussion up at the Security Council. At this point, I'm not going to predict how those discussions will turn out. But the most immediate and important goal that we need to achieve, that the Security Council needs to achieve, is to have a rollover of the mandate for the commission because as we've seen from Mr. Mehlis's most recent report, the work of the investigation is certainly not done. And in large part, it's not done because the Syrian Government has failed to offer its full cooperation. He details allegations of document burning by the Syrians of intimidating witnesses.

So this is not the behavior of a government and a state that wants to assist the international community and the Lebanese people in finding out what happened, who is responsible for the assassination of former Prime Minister Hariri. So in order to maintain the international spotlight on the Syrian Government and their need to cooperate, we think it's very, very important that the Council act to extend the mandate of this investigation.

QUESTION: But will you support an international investigation for all that --

MR. MCCORMACK: Like I said, we support the Lebanese Government in making this request. We think it is an absolutely legitimate request to make, given what we have seen in recent months as a clear pattern intended to disrupt Lebanese political life, to intimidate those who have spoken out against the Syrian occupation of Lebanon and continuing efforts to interfere in the building of a free Lebanon that is completely free from international -- from outside interference.

QUESTION: Sean, just to follow up on that.

MR. MCCORMACK: Yes.

QUESTION: The latest Mehlis report also indicated that Syria was continuing -- or was still not cooperating sufficiently. Is there any thought about seeking additional UN Security Council action, as was provided in the early resolutions, to force such compliance?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, there are provisions for different kinds of sanctions within the existing Resolution 1636 that was passed back in October. As for the application of any of those particular actions at this point, I think what we are going to focus on right now in terms of international action is to have a role over the investigation. It clearly needs to continue. If Syria fails to cooperate, if they continue to show disregard for the clear will of the UN Security Council, then I would expect the Security Council would want to take a look at what further measures might be required and allowed under Resolution 1636.

All right. Let's move around here a little bit. Anything else on this topic?

QUESTION: Yes. A similar question.

MR. MCCORMACK: Similar, not the same.

QUESTION: Similar about Syria.

MR. MCCORMACK: Okay. Similar -- I mean, how is that the same?

QUESTION: Well, a follow-up question.

MR. MCCORMACK: All right. There we go.

QUESTION: Sean, the Secretary announced condolences a day ago about Gebran Tueni's assassination. Have you in any way warned the Syrian Government about their interference in tomorrow's Iraqi election and January's election in Palestinian areas and do you see that as a further encroachment about normalcy?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, clearly, the killing of Mr. Tueni was a tragedy. It was a barbaric act and you heard from the Secretary on that. In terms of the Iraqi elections, we would expect that all of Iraq's neighbors have good, neighborly, transparent relationships with Iraq and the Iraqi people and we would call upon them to assist Iraq in any appropriate way, in full respect of Iraq's sovereignty to help out the Iraqi people.

QUESTION: Can I follow up on -- follow up on Syria?

MR. MCCORMACK: Sure.

QUESTION: It's been at least a month and maybe more since I've asked. Does Ambassador -- do you have any plans for Ambassador Scobey to return to her duties in Damascus or has she been reassigned?

MR. MCCORMACK: I don't believe she's been reassigned. I don't think there are any plans for her to return to Damascus at this point. We'll keep you updated on the level of our diplomatic representation. We have a functioning embassy there with the Chargé d'Affaires.

QUESTION: And what kind of contact -- daily contact, weekly contact -- does the Chargé have?

MR. MCCORMACK: With?

QUESTION: With Syria.

MR. MCCORMACK: With Syria. You know, I'll look into it, Charlie. I expect that they have a daily routine and it functions as normally as an embassy in that kind of oppressive regime can function.

QUESTION: Speaking of contact, has the Secretary been back to talking to the French Foreign Minister again?

MR. MCCORMACK: Is she what?

QUESTION: About possible further -- you remember after the assassination, they were on the phone. And again, you know, because they've been partners in this pressure campaign, have they been working together on the phone or otherwise?

MR. MCCORMACK: Let me check for their most recent phone conversation, Barry. I know they saw each other in Brussels briefly.

QUESTION: I know, yeah, but since?

MR. MCCORMACK: And I know that she indicated to him that she was very interested in talking about Syria and Lebanon. Let me see what I can do for you on the phone call.

QUESTION: Okay.

MR. MCCORMACK: Yes. In the middle here.

QUESTION: Yeah, hi. Alan Freeman from the Globe and Mail. David Wilkins, who is the new U.S. Ambassador to Canada, made an extraordinary intervention yesterday to Canadian election campaign. Was he speaking on his own behalf, on behalf of the U.S. Government?

MR. MCCORMACK: He was speaking as a representative of the U.S. Government in Canada. I think that his remarks were -- they were frank, they were open and certainly offered in the best traditions of the U.S.-Canadian neighborly relations. I think that our relationship is built on a foundation of trust and mutual respect, and that is the spirit in which Ambassador Wilkins offered his comments.

QUESTION: But it's likely that these -- in fact, these type of results may end up, in criticizing indirectly the Prime Minister, he may end up having the exact opposite effect that he may want. I mean, it seems as if that politically this will, in fact, impact the election campaign, including, in fact, help the Prime Minister, who has been very critical of the U.S. throughout the campaign.

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, there is an election campaign going on in Canada and any decisions about Canada's electoral future and who they choose to elect are going to be decisions solely and only for the Canadian people.

QUESTION: Okay. And did he make this speech in consultation with the White House, with State?

MR. MCCORMACK: He is in regular contact with the State Department. As for whether he talked specifically about the speech with his colleagues back here at the State Department, I can't offer you as a fact. But he is in regular contact with the State Department, certainly.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MR. MCCORMACK: Yes, sir. Lambros.

QUESTION: Mr. McCormack, do you have anything on the recent trip to Athens by Deputy Assistant Secretary Rosemary DiCarlo, where she discussed the Kosovo issue? And also, may we have your assessment about the visit to Pristina and Belgrade the other day by the Greek Foreign Minister Petros Molyviatis since you are very concerned for the stability of the Balkans?

MR. MCCORMACK: On the second, I don't have anything for you. But Deputy Assistant Secretary DiCarlo was in Athens on November 30th for a day of consultations with Greek officials regarding issues in the Balkans. While in Athens she discussed ways that Greece and other countries of the region could support the political process underway in Kosovo and the development of the Balkans region in general.

QUESTION: One more question pertaining to Greece. According to Washington Times, unpublished document shows that the EU secretly agreed in 2003 to let the United States of America use transit facilities on European soil to transmit "criminals" and that happened when Greece held the rotating EU presidency. And Greek officials drafted the document after the talks they had with the U.S. delegation, headed by a Justice Department official. Do you have any comment on that?

MR. MCCORMACK: I think the Secretary just spent a week in Europe talking about these issues. I don't have anything to add to what she has said.

Yes.

QUESTION: Yesterday, there was an article in The New York Times and I haven't seen any follow-up about an organization called (inaudible), a party of liberation, which is seeking to replace existing governments in the Muslim world with an Islamic theocracy that would operate outside the reach and influence of western life. Now, they are attempting to meet with Russians in Turdistan for the purpose of setting up a separate Islamic theocracy in Turdistan which would, of course, create the kind of conflict east of the Volga that Russia faces in Chechnya would also jeopardize Russia's access to the vast oil reserves in Siberia. Do you know anything about this organization? I haven't seen a single --

MR. MCCORMACK: First I've heard of it.

QUESTION: It was The New York Times, October 9, 2005 and I've been looking for follow-ups -- haven't heard. They claimed they have groups in 100 countries and they're banned in Germany.

MR. MCCORMACK: First I've been -- I missed that article. First I've heard of it.

QUESTION: Yeah.

MR. MCCORMACK: Yes, ma'am.

QUESTION:   (Inaudible) proposal of withdrawal troops from one region (inaudible) in order to get their humanitarian agreement. How USA see this decision of (inaudible)?

MR. MCCORMACK:   We'll have to get something for you on that. I didn't see the decision that you are talking about.

QUESTION: Sean, one follow-up on Mr. Ahmadi-Nejad's rhetorical effort today. He said that the United States embargo on sales of spare parts for their commercial aircraft is unjustifiable under any circumstances. And he also said that this was the one reason why Iran would not trust any scheme under which their uranium enrichment would be sort of outsourced and I wonder if you have any --

MR. MCCORMACK: Sounds like he's making excuses. Yes.

Yes, sir.

QUESTION: The Russian state gas and oil monopoly has been pumping up sharply up. Higher prices for former Soviet Republic's around the area and there was a lot of talk that this might be politically motivated. Does the U.S. have a position on this? And did the Secretary address this when she was in the Ukraine?

MR. MCCORMACK: It did come up when she was in Ukraine. Ukrainian officials brought this up. The indication that we seem to be getting from the Ukrainian officials was that they were working with the Russian Government concerning the price levels of natural gas. Countries of the region are mostly dependent, I understand, on these supplies of natural gas from Russia. And I also understand that there were existing agreements that govern the price levels over certain periods of time for the natural gas and particularly with Ukraine. As for other countries I don't know what specific arrangements they have worked out. We would only -- we would only say on the matter that this is something that the Ukrainian Government and other governments in the region if they do have problems on this issue work out with the Russian government.

QUESTION: Do you any details on the Secretary's discussions this afternoon on the Hill about Iraq? Was she going with a particular message? And also the democrats have complained that they would have preferred a classified briefing and that they are wanting much more information probably than she's going to be able to give in an unclassified environment.

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, a couple of things. These are informational briefings for members of Congress, for senators and representatives. She's going there in the spirit of answering whatever questions they may have. She is going up there with a message of providing an update on the situation in Iraq. We've heard quite a bit from the President and from other members of the cabinet and the Administration over the past several weeks about our plans for Iraq in helping the Iraqi people build a foundation for a peaceful, stable democracy. The intent of these briefings was that she could talk to them in an unclassified forum, so that when members or senators return to their districts in the coming days that they can share whatever information they heard from the Secretary of State with their constituents. That's an important part of keeping the publics informed.

So that is the -- that is certainly the spirit in which the briefings were offered. As for whether or not some senators or members want additional information that may be classified, I'm sure that we are going to be willing to work with the Hill to provide them in some form that information.

But, you know, I'm not sure why there would be criticism of providing information to members of Congress that they could -- in a form that would be usable for them in talking to their constituents.

QUESTION: Was there ever a point when the briefing was scheduled to be classified?

MR. MCCORMACK: I think -- my understanding is that, at least from our perspective, that this was always going to be an unclassified briefing.

QUESTION: The key question that most members will be asking is when troops -- U.S. troops will be coming home. Is she planning on addressing the rationale as to, you know, why troops have to stay there for as long as needed, et cetera, et cetera?

MR. MCCORMACK: This is a question that has come up, you know, repeatedly over the past several weeks. The President has spoken very clearly about it and, you know, I'm sure that the Secretary will be ready to respond to whatever questions may come up. But in terms of the comments on that question, you know, I don't have anything to add to what the President said.

Yes, sir. One more back here.

QUESTION: The idea of limiting the talks today on the Hill to what can be brought back to constituents, was that the Secretary's idea or was that a request from lawmakers?

MR. MCCORMACK: I, you know, I don't know about the particular back and forth about how this -- how this would be worked out. But, you know, again, frankly, as a citizen, I don't see what's wrong with the Secretary going up and providing information that can then be disseminated and given to other constituents, other citizens around the country.

QUESTION: Well, there’s not, but did the lawmakers put it that way? I mean, they might have different priorities and --

MR. MCCORMACK: Again, the State Department provides a tremendous amount of information to members of Congress, either individually or in committees. And if there is a request for information that, for whatever reason, either the question, the answer or both is classified, then of course we will work with the Congress to provide answers to whatever questions they may have in some form.

Thank you.

(The briefing was concluded at 1:43 p.m.)

DPB#212



Released on December 14, 2005

  Back to top

U.S. Department of State
USA.govU.S. Department of StateUpdates  |   Frequent Questions  |   Contact Us  |   Email this Page  |   Subject Index  |   Search
The Office of Electronic Information, Bureau of Public Affairs, manages this site as a portal for information from the U.S. State Department. External links to other Internet sites should not be construed as an endorsement of the views or privacy policies contained therein.
About state.gov  |   Privacy Notice  |   FOIA  |   Copyright Information  |   Other U.S. Government Information

Published by the U.S. Department of State Website at http://www.state.gov maintained by the Bureau of Public Affairs.