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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 > 2006 > March
Daily Press Briefing
Adam Ereli, Deputy Spokesman
Washington, DC
March 3, 2006

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INDEX:

PAKISTAN

Statement Regarding Assistance Secretary Richard Boucher Visit to Karachi / Meeting with Consulate Staff and other Officials

PHILIPPINES

Lifting by President Arroyo of the State of National Emergency

PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY

Meeting between Hamas and Russians / Expectations of the International Community and Quartet / Ways to Deal with Conflict / Hamas as Governing Authority / Responsible Governing
General Daytons Testimony
al-Qaida Presence in the Territories

IRAN

Director General's Report / Calls of the Board of Governors
New Office of Iranian Affairs at State Department / Reorient Focus and Programs

KENYA

Kenyan Security Forces Action Against Standard Media Group in Nairobi / Intimidation of Journalists and Harassment of Media / Embassy Statement
Holding Countries Account for Acts and Policies that Deny Citizens Rights

BELARUS

Beating of Opposition Leader / Upholding International Standards

CHINA

Protection of Intellectual Property / Discussions Between Officials

NORTH KOREA

Technical Briefing on U.S. Law / Patriot Act

RUSSIA

Foreign Minister Lavrov Visit CHINA/TAIWAN
State Department Statement on National Unification Council

KOSOVO

Status of the Region / Internal Deliberations

DEPARTMENT

Department Focus on Asia Region


TRANSCRIPT:

1:10 p.m. EST

MR. ERELI: Greetings, everyone. Let me begin with a travel announcement. Secretary Rice has asked Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asia Richard Boucher to travel to Karachi in the coming days to personally express her condolences and sorrow at the tragedy and the loss of Mr. Foy and the shock that the Consulate has suffered as a result of this terrorist action. So Richard will be going down there soon and the Secretary will be reaching out to the family members to personally express her condolences as well.

We will also be putting out an announcement that -- welcoming the lifting by President Arroyo today of the state of national emergency in the Philippines that was declared on February 24th. This is a positive step and we look forward to continuing to work with the Government of the Philippines on our broad, bilateral agenda.

QUESTION: Can I ask you about the first announcement?

MR. ERELI: Yes.

QUESTION: Sir, I believe Assistant Secretary Boucher was supposed to be giving a speech at least on Thursday, maybe also on the Hill.

MR. ERELI: Yes.

QUESTION: Does that mean those things are being cancelled?

MR. ERELI: No, I think he'll be back in time for that. This is a detour from the current itinerary.

QUESTION: Okay.

QUESTION: What's the current itinerary and where is he?

MR. ERELI: He'll be going from -- I think they're going to -- they'll be in Pakistan, and from where the party is he will go to Karachi.

QUESTION: Okay.

QUESTION: And who exactly is he going to see there?

MR. ERELI: The Consulate staff.

QUESTION: Just the staff?

MR. ERELI: Yes.

QUESTION: Not Pakistan -- not any Pakistani officials or --

MR. ERELI: There may be meetings with Pakistani officials, but the purpose is to reach out to the Consulate staff and our brave men and women who are there serving their country and express the praise and admiration and thanks of the Secretary, of the Department, for their service.

QUESTION: Whatís his status now?

MR. ERELI: Assistant Secretary Richard A. Boucher --

QUESTION: For what?

MR. ERELI: For South and Central Asia.

QUESTION: Okay. Thank you.

QUESTION: Yes, do you have any comment on the meetings today, the meeting between Hamas and the Russians? And do you think it's served any purpose? Because the message that was delivered was the Quartet message. So, do you --

MR. ERELI: It served a purpose --

QUESTION: Yeah.

MR. ERELI: It served the purpose to deliver the message, which is useful in the sense that it is important for Hamas to hear from one and all that the expectations of the international community are that they will renounce terror, recognize Israel, and accept obligations and commitments made by the Palestinian Authority. This is a choice that we all want Hamas to make, so to the extent that hearing it directly and forcefully from the Russians can serve that purpose, then that's all well and good.

QUESTION: Do you think it would be useful for other members of the Quartet to hold similar discussions?

MR. ERELI: It's for everybody to decide what they're going to do. Obviously, we are not going to do that. We think it is important that Hamas, as I said, get the message loud and clear what the view and what the position are -- is of the international community, particularly members of the Quartet. I think the Quartet, by its actions, has and continues to demonstrate a solidarity in its ranks and that as we move forward in dealing with events, that solidarity and common approach will continue.

QUESTION: Just one more question. The meeting in London, dialogue with Hamas was discussed, wasn't it, on January 30th? And wasn't the consensus then that Russia should not be speaking to Hamas? Wasn't that the agreement and then did President Putin kind of go out on his own?

MR. ERELI: No, I'm not aware that -- that the events were as you described. As we have said before, clearly, every country is going to make its own decision. Our view is that the actions we take should be taken with a common objective in mind and a common purpose, which is to leave Hamas with no illusion that its support for terror, its embracing of violence, its denial of Israel's right to exist, and its failure to accept and respect agreements entered into by the Palestinian people, the Palestinian government, are not acceptable ways to deal with the conflict, and that together, we are going to maintain a united front on that score.

QUESTION: Well, can I follow up on that though? I mean, without specifically mentioning Russia, whether Russia should talk to Hamas, didn't you come out of the meeting with a kind of common objective to -- that you all were going to stay away from Hamas and not --

MR. ERELI: I think the coming out of the agreement was as I described, that we have a common front and a united purpose to make clear to Hamas that it faces -- that it has before it a clear and unambiguous choice and that it is incumbent upon all of us to take the actions that are appropriate and necessary to reinforce the clarity of that choice to Hamas.

QUESTION: Do you think that those meetings -- the meetings today, I mean, you say they served a purpose in the sense that they delivered a message to Hamas, but Hamas came out of the meetings and said we're still not recognizing Israel. So do you think that they were fruitful?

MR. ERELI: We will judge Hamas by its actions. The Russians, I think, clearly delivered a message consistent with the Quartet aims and the Quartet statement. It is up to Hamas to decide how it wants to govern and the decisions it takes as a governing authority are going to have consequences and they are going to influence the decisions that the international community takes. But the point of departure of this -- for all this is, what is Hamas going to decide to do, and let's judge Hamas based on its actions. So far, it hasn't taken the actions that I think the international community is looking for. Will they do it tomorrow? Well, let's see.


QUESTION: Adam, a lot of the coverage of this event in Moscow essentially has given Hamas a platform to, you know, put its views out there. Do you think that these sorts of meetings kind of raise their legitimacy, give them a bully pulpit, so to speak, for their --

MR. ERELI: Let's deal with the facts. The facts are that Hamas has won an election in the Palestinian territories and that, as a result of winning that election, they will -- everyone expects that they will soon be in a position to govern. As a governing authority, you have a certain profile, you have a certain exposure, and you are held to a certain standard by your people, by the people who elected you, as well as by the actors in the international community with whom you have to deal. You can call it exposure. You can call it legitimacy. You can call it whatever you want. But that's the fact -- those are the facts of the matter.

And so we are looking at Hamas and assessing Hamas on that basis, as elected representatives of the Palestinian people who have a responsibility to govern responsibly. And how they acquit themselves in these circumstances will determine what our response is.

Yes, sir.

QUESTION: What will happen to General Dayton's mission when a Hamas government is formed?

MR. ERELI: Well, I think he addressed some of that in his testimony yesterday. He's continuing to work with the Palestinian Authority now. A lot of it will depend on the reality of the institutions and the authorities under a new Palestinian government. I can't speak to that and I think I'd let him speak further to it.

QUESTION: Adam, the reports that al-Qaida is now operating within the Palestinian territories and have recently infiltrated there and that would leave President Abbas much as a -- with little power, as more a figurehead-type president. Is this of any concern? It is, apparently, to President Abbas.

MR. ERELI: We've seen the comments by President Abbas about al-Qaida presence in the territories. Certainly activity by al-Qaida anywhere is something that we watch carefully and is of serious concern. I think it's commonly accepted by everybody that al-Qaida is a threat to all of us. So are they in the territories? Are they active in the territories? I don't know. I think we will obviously be working with President Abbas and other Palestinian security services to determine what possible threats are, but I don't have independent information regarding those reports.

QUESTION: If we can change the subject. The IAEA is meeting on Monday. I wanted to know what the U.S. expects from this meeting, if it's a mere formality before the Security Council meeting -- a Security Council meeting?

MR. ERELI: Well, it's more than a mere formality. It's an opportunity for the members of the Board of Governors to discuss the Director General's report on Iran, a report that validates many of the concerns and issues that we've been raising for some time, to review progress -- or lack of progress -- that Iran has made in meeting the -- in fulfilling the calls of the Board from the last meeting February 4th to take actions in response to opening up its -- with regard to opening up its facilities and answering the questions of the IAEA.

And then after that Board meeting, the matter will be raised in the Security Council. So more than a formality; a substantive discussion of a serious problem and a review of actions that Iran has taken and failed to take in response to the calls of the IAEA Board of Governors and a prelude to discussion in the Security Council.

QUESTION: And when could it be discussed in the Security Council?

MR. ERELI: That will be, I think, something for the members of the Security Council to decide. It's really, I think, a scheduling issue more than anything else.

QUESTION: It could be next week?

MR. ERELI: I don't know if next week is realistic. It will be something that will be determined by the members of the Security Council as a scheduling matter.

QUESTION: Also on Iran, can you confirm reports yesterday that State will establish a new Office of Iranian Affairs?

MR. ERELI: Yes, the State Department will be establishing a department of Iranian affairs. We have also created a number of new positions in the field -- for Foreign Service officers to work on Iran-related issues. This comes in the context of the Secretary's broader initiative regarding transformational diplomacy and is part of our overall effort to realign resources with policy priorities in recognition of a changing world, a world that is far different from the one for which we have been geared to deal for the last generation, really.

QUESTION: Where will these 12 to 15 people be sent that would be considered -- I don't know, is it proximity to Iran?

MR. ERELI: There will be a certain number here in Washington, in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, where the Office of Iranian Affairs is located, as well as the Department of Human Rights and Labor, and to administer -- and a lot of these will be -- some of these positions will be involved with administering the 75 million that we hope to get from Congress to promote empowerment and democracy and flow of information and citizen exchanges in Iran, and others will be in the field to support these programs, as well as to get a better idea and a better handle of what's going on in Iran.

QUESTION: A follow-up on this?

QUESTION: What is the --

MR. ERELI: The Middle East -- Dubai will be the site of some and I'll get the other countries --

MR. CASEY: The other four: one in London, one in Frankfurt, one in Baku and one in Istanbul.

MR. ERELI: There you go. London, Baku, Istanbul and Frankfurt.

QUESTION: One follow-up. Do you know if this office is going to cooperate also with Mr. Reza Pahlavi, the son of the late Shah of Iran?

MR. ERELI: That's not the purpose of this office. The purpose of this office and the purpose of these posts, as I said, are to help us reorient our focus and our programs more directly on an important policy challenge for the United States, which is Iranian actions around the world.

QUESTION: Are you going to have a sort of "Future of Iran Project" within this office? And is the --

MR. ERELI: That's not something that's on the agenda.

QUESTION: No, I mean it when I asked that.

MR. ERELI: Yes, I know. And I mean it when I say it's not something on the agenda.

QUESTION: Okay. And then secondly, are you going to bring in Iranian exiles? I mean, is that part of the goal of having all these people in all these places?

MR. ERELI: The way I would look at this office, frankly, is -- and this deployment is administering programs and conducting activities that are consistent with programs and activities that we do around the world. In other words, you've got an office that deals with, let's say, Russia. We've got programs in Russia, we've got money we spend with Russia, we've got exchanges with Russia, so you need people to run those programs, interact with NGOs and others. We're going to be doing the same thing with Iran. If you look at the rationale and the description of how we are going to spend the 75 million, that entails a certain amount of expertise, of labor, of engagement.

And the other point to make here is that -- look out over the long term. Iran is and is going to continue to be a very important country. We need to develop a cadre of Foreign Service officers who speak Farsi, who understand the region -- not just Iran, but the region where Iran has influence and has reach -- and understands Iran. So that's the logic of putting people out in the field, to use the language, to develop the on-the-ground expertise so that 10, 15, 20 years from now, we've got -- just like we have Arab experts, just like we have -- we used to have Soviet experts, we've got a cadre of Iran experts.

QUESTION: The person who's based in Frankfurt, for example, I mean, aside from speaking German, would speak Farsi and then reach out to the Iranian people --

MR. ERELI: Their primary language would obviously be Farsi and they would be working with, obviously, the Farsi speakers in Frankfurt and monitoring developments in Iran from that location.

QUESTION: Are you going to have a coordinator specifically for this -- for the project? Or will it be --

MR. ERELI: There will be a director of the Office of Iranian Affairs, like there's the director of the office of any other area in the State Department. I think that's the sort of senior -- most senior level person and they will be supervising those people within that office, but there will not be another level of hierarchy.

QUESTION: Adam, change of subject. There appears to be, every time there's an election, whether it be Ethiopia, whether it be, for instance, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, now there's an upcoming election in Kenya and the Kenyan Government has forcibly gone in and shut down the Standard newspaper and pulled out the computers, obviously, that run a television station.

MR. ERELI: Yes.

QUESTION: Instead of going country by country, is there a specific policy that the State Department, as well as Secretary Rice, wants to tell some of these governments that are suddenly holding elections and then, again, pulling the rug out from under those elections?

MR. ERELI: I think we're fairly consistent in our approach on this issue. Let me first talk about the events in Kenya which you described. Yesterday, Kenyan security forces took action against the Standard Media Group in Nairobi. This group includes the Standard newspaper and KTN television. We strongly condemn the actions by the Kenyan security forces. These actions constitute intimidation of journalists and harassment of media. It undermines the right of Kenyans to information. And we call upon the Government of Kenya to cease such acts and respect internationally accepted norms of freedom of expression and media independence.

Our Embassy in Nairobi put out a statement saying that such acts of thuggery have no place in an open society and we call on the Government of Kenya to cease its intimidation and release those members of the Standard Media Group that are being held in detention. That's with respect to this specific incident.

More broadly speaking, you will note that when there are elections, we, number one, support training and institutional development for political actors, as well state institutions, so that those elections can be conducted freely, transparently, so that the results can be seen and be credible. And we, in our diplomacy, seek to hold countries account for acts and policies that denies their citizens the rights which they deserve. I think that is a general proposition which we follow and if you look at individual cases, you see that -- those principles applied, based on what happens on the ground.

QUESTION: Isnít necessarily in Africa, but in Belarus, you had an opposition leader beaten going to an election-style meeting.

MR. ERELI: And we've been very outspoken about the actions which you've described. We have -- National Security Advisor Hadley in India called these acts an outrage. Our Deputy Assistant Secretary David Kramer has said yesterday publicly that we strongly condemn these actions. We pointed out that they reinforce our fears that a free election process will be compromised and we have called on and we will continue to press the authorities in Belarus to release the individuals detained and to conduct an impartial investigation into the beating of the leader of the opposition and to hold the perpetrators accountable.

Furthermore, I think that we are -- this is an approach that we are coordinating with our European colleagues and the OSCE, because actions such as these, as well as other steps that the Government of Belarus have taken, are clearly contrary to European standards to which Belarus has committed itself.

Yes, ma'am.

QUESTION: New topic. This is on piracy in China. With the Oscars this weekend, just a question about Chinese protection of U.S. films and what you think -- how far China has come in protecting U.S. films against piracy, what more does it need to do on the piracy issue, and the steps it's taken?

MR. ERELI: Well, obviously, protection of intellectual property is a top priority for the United States Government. Losses to intellectual property rights holders have been significant in China, so this is a key topic of discussion between U.S. officials and Chinese officials. It's an issue which we've been working on very hard to protect the rights and -- rights of our companies and the laws of our country.

I think there has been some progress in our dealings with China on it. Certainly, more remains to be done because, as I said, the losses continue to be high, particularly in the area of enforcement of intellectual property rights. We will continue to be pursuing vigorous efforts on this. We think that as China's economy develops further, China will come increasingly to understand that it is in its own interests to protect intellectual property rights, as well as the right thing to do to respond to the United States.

Yes.

QUESTION: New subject. Can you say any more about the talks with the North Koreans in New York next week? You refer us to Treasury. Treasury refers us to you. Is this going to be just about counterfeiting --

MR. ERELI: Yes.

QUESTION: -- or do they turn the page and then, say, talk about something else?

MR. ERELI: No. I can tell you why we're going to the talks. This is a -- in fact, I wouldn't even call them talks. This is a technical briefing on U.S. law, particularly the Patriot Act, related to illicit financial activity and an explanation of what the law is, what it covers, what it requires, and therefore, why we took the actions we did with respect to Banco Delta Asia. Simple. End of story.

QUESTION: It was announced today in Moscow that Foreign Minister -- Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will be here next week.

MR. ERELI: Yes.

QUESTION: When is the meeting with Secretary Rice -- be scheduled then?

MR. ERELI: We --

QUESTION: That is on the agenda?

MR. ERELI: We expect Foreign Minister Lavrov here next week. I think we'll have -- I think he'll be here Tuesday. This is -- the Secretary meets with Foreign Minister Lavrov, as you know, very often. This is an opportunity to continue our discussion on and in coordination on a broad range of issues. Obviously, the Middle East will be an important topic of discussion, as will our preparations for the G-8 summit, I expect, development of democracy in Russia, really the full range of topics.

QUESTION: Iran?

MR. ERELI: I expect so, yes.

Let's go to up front here.

QUESTION: Adam, you put out a statement on Taiwan yesterday calling on the Taiwan authorities to publicly correct the record and vigorously affirm three things. In response to the U.S. request, Taiwan's Foreign Minister Huang had a press conference. He said those officials were misquoted, but he stopped short of providing the specific information that the U.S. seeks. So does the U.S. consider his request as unfulfilled?

MR. ERELI: We've noted Taiwan's statement today. I think our position on the issue was pretty clear in our statement. I don't really have more to add to the statement. It's important that Taiwan unambiguously clarify its position.

QUESTION: Since for some reason it seems awfully hard for Taiwanese officials to publicly acknowledge their assurances to the U.S. -- so what does this say to you? Is the U.S. okay with that?

MR. ERELI: I think we've stated clearly what we want to see, and that was in our statement yesterday. As for an explanation of why the Taiwanese are saying or are not saying certain things, you'd have to ask the Taiwanese.

QUESTION: I want to go back to the Lavrov meeting?

MR. ERELI: Yes.

QUESTION: Russia is also a signatory to the OSCE group, so would the Secretary be asking him to have another OSCE member, Belarus, abide by the (inaudible) for a free and fair election?

MR. ERELI: I'm not going to predict what she may or may not say. I think the Secretary, the United States, makes clear when talking about protections for the rights of citizens, whether it be in Belarus or anywhere else, that for us, that is a commitment that governments should -- that responsible governments need to uphold and that there are international standards that the OSCE and others believe should be followed.

QUESTION: Okay?

MR. ERELI: Yes.

QUESTION: My question, Mr. Ereli. Any comment on the nomination yesterday of Mr. Agim Ceku as the so-called "new prime minister of Kosovo," who was commander-in-chief of the pro-independence Kosovo Liberation Army?

MR. ERELI: No, this is the result of internal Kosovo deliberations, as it should be. We will continue to work with the leaders of Kosovo, as we and the international community try to address the status of that region.

QUESTION: But why the U.S. Government in the framework on the war on terror not against Mr. Ceku since his organization KLA in February 1997 was characterized as a terrorist by Robert Gelbard, then U.S. Balkan envoy?

MR. ERELI: I don't have anything more for you on it.

QUESTION: Thank you.

(The briefing was concluded at 1:40 p.m.)


***


Off camera, on-the record remarks by the Deputy Spokesman, for inclusion in the transcript:

MR. ERELI: The claims that Mr. Armitage makes are not borne out by the facts, and the facts I think speak eloquently to the importance that the United States attaches to Asia. Number one, the minute the Secretary took office, she spearheaded an unprecedented effort to help the victims -- to help millions of people in the region who were victims of the tsunami in Thailand, in Sri Lanka and in Indonesia.

Second, in a little over a year that she's been in the office, the Secretary has already traveled to the region three times. She will be making a fourth trip next week. The Deputy Secretary has also traveled four times to the region. So that in a little over a year, between the two of them, they have traveled eight times to the region. That's like almost once a month. Almost once a month. Certainly more than once every two months. So that's a lot of miles and it's a lot of attention, and that doesn't count all the meetings they've had back here.

Then, if you look at in addition to helping millions of people, in addition to being there a lot, look at some of the important initiatives they have taken to raise the profile and importance of the region. You have the first ever Trilateral Strategic Dialogue with Australia and Japan that the Secretary is going to be having this next trip. You've had the first ever strategic engagement, Strategic Dialogue, with South Korea that the Secretary had with Foreign Minister Ban when he was here a few weeks ago. You have the Senior Level Dialogue with the Chinese, which is a real intensification of the engagement with China. And then you've got a number of initiatives which represent a level of cooperation and integration with the region that had not previously -- we've not seen previously, first with the avian influenza, second with the Asia-Pacific Partnership for environment and development of clean technologies, and obviously what we've been doing with the six-party talks.

So if you look at the actions we've taken to help the people of Asia, the amount of time we've spent in the region at a senior level and the level of engagement in terms of talks and institutions and initiatives, all of that, I think, is pretty eloquent testimony to the importance the region has for the United States and the centrality of that region in our overall strategic approach to the world.

DPB #36



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