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Daily Press Briefing
Tom Casey, Deputy Spokesman
Washington, DC
August 7, 2007

INDEX:

IRAN

Iran Needs to Meet the Obligations Placed on them by the International Community
U.S. Will Continue to Seek UN Security Counsel Resolutions against Iran
No Plans for Meeting with U.S. Officials at the Working Group on Border Security

SYRIA

Hosting Working Group on Border Security to Take Place August 8-9
U.S. Charge D’Affaires in Damascus Will Lead U.S. Delegation at Working Group
Two Working Groups Have Already Met on Refugees and Energy
Foreign Fighters Transiting Syria to Iraq / Syria Not Doing Enough to Stop Them

SAUDI ARABIA

Doing a Good Job in Helping to Police Long and Porous Border
Secretaries Rice and Gates Visit to Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia Playing Positive Role in Middle East

MIDDLE EAST

Under Secretary Burns Travel to Region / Logistical Details Still Being Worked Out

BRAZIL

Arrest of Drug Trafficker Juan Carlos Ramirez-Abadia / Extradition Not Requested

KOSOVO

U.S. Urges the Kosovars and Serbs to Work with the Contact Group
Supervised Independence under Ahtissari Plan is Best Way Forward

MACEDONIA

U.S. is Supportive of Discussions between Greece and Macedonia over Name Issue

SUDAN

U.S. Wants to Move Forward with Deployment of Hybrid Force
Individuals Calling Attention to Darfur is Positive

UNITED KINGDOM

Request for U.S. to Release Five Individuals in Guantanamo to Britain / Prisoners Have Residency Status, Are Not British Citizens
U.S. Pleased British Are Moving Forward with Prisoner Transfer Request

NORTH KOREA

Energy Working Group to Take Place Today and Tomorrow / U.S. Delegation Led by National Security Council

AFGHANISTAN / PAKISTAN

Presidents Karzai and Musharraf are Both Dedicated to Fighting Terrorism
Tripartite Mechanism between Afghanistan, Pakistan and U.S. to Coordinate Efforts

INDIA

India’s Relations with Iran / India Free to Establish Diplomatic Relations with Whatever Country it Chooses
U.S. Hopes for India Support of Efforts to Prevent Iran from Developing Nuclear Weapons

CUBA

Cuban Complaints that U.S. Will Not Meet Migration Accord Goals
Instability in Cuba Caused by Castro’s Policies
Cuba Should Stop Obstructing with U.S. Interests Section Work


TRANSCRIPT:

View Video

12:45 p.m. EDT

MR. CASEY: Okay. Well, good afternoon, everyone. I don't have anything to start you off with, so Matt.

QUESTION: I got nothing.

MR. CASEY: You got nothing?

QUESTION: No, I got --

MR. CASEY: Could be a quick brief. You got something, okay.

QUESTION: The Iranians are quoted today as saying that they believe that their newfound cooperation with the IAEA inspectors should be rewarded with the prevention of another UN sanctions resolution, sort of boldly stating what I think most people assume they are trying to do. Do you think that their efforts to be more cooperative to allow inspectors back in and so on are going to make it harder for the U.S. Government to get a third resolution?

MR. CASEY: Well, I think since the net effect of what they've done is to not answer any of the questions that remain outstanding, it's hard to see how the circumstances have changed in any way. But look, Arshad, there are a whole series of requirements that the international community has placed on Iran and those requirements include not only coming clean on the facts of their almost two decades of obfuscation about their nuclear program, but also very specifically in Board of Governors resolutions and several binding Chapter 7 UN Security Council resolutions to halt their uranium enrichment activity.

I think until they've complied with the full length of what's been asked of them and what's required under them under international law, it's pretty hard to see how they're going to get any partial credit for making gestures towards cooperation. And again, those gestures, as I understand it, certainly haven't resulted in giving the IAEA or anyone else any kind of clarity about those questions that are outstanding. So we do intend to continue to pursue a additional UN Security Council resolution, barring any change in behavior from the Iranian Government, meaning barring any willingness to suspend and move forward with the conditions that have been placed upon them.

And I am not aware that any other country, including our P-5+1 partners, has suggested that these sort of small gestures towards the IAEA changed their view about the need for Iran's overall compliance or about the need for us to go forward with what was stated in those previous resolutions.

QUESTION: One follow-up on that on --

MR. CASEY: Sure.

QUESTION: -- one of your P-5+1 colleague -- you know, partners -- Russia. Have you discerned any additional efforts by Russia since, I think, the decision in March to withhold the fuel supplies, to further slow work at Bushehr?

MR. CASEY: You know, I have seen some press reports today saying that there were discussions between the Iranians and Russians in which the Russians had supposedly said to them that they would not deliver fuel or otherwise move forward on Bushehr without some answers provided or some response provided to these requirements of the international community. I can't confirm that for you and you'd have to talk to the Russian Government about that, but the one thing that is clear to us is that the P-5+1 consensus that was established back in Paris continues to hold. And the Russians, as much as anyone else, continue to believe that the Iranians need to meet their obligations before they can have a chance of really having a normal relationship with the rest of the world, when it comes to nuclear issues.

Charlie.

QUESTION: On a different issue, there's a report out of Damascus about the conference on Iraq security tomorrow, a two-day conference that includes the U.S. Can you confirm that and who would be the U.S. representative?

MR. CASEY: Let's see. I think I do have a couple of details on that for you. But basically what this is, Charlie, is one of the working groups on border security that was created out of the neighbors conference at Sharm el-Sheikh. Yeah, my understanding is that this is supposed to take place tomorrow and the next day, August 8th and 9th, in Damascus. There is going to be U.S. observers to this group, because remember this is directly -- the direct participants are the neighboring states themselves. But the P-5 governments have been in invited as observers to this. We are going to have a group that's going to be led by Mike Corbin, who's our charge d'affaires in Damascus right now. And he'll have other representatives there, including both civilian and military officials who will be coming in from Baghdad for this.

And this is -- just to clarify where this fits in with everything else in the neighbors conference, this is the third in a series of working groups that were formed in May at the minister's meeting. And the other two have already met. That's one that's focused on refugee issues, which was hosted by Jordan and another on energy, which was hosted by the Turks. So certainly, we'd like to see this meeting continue the discussions on border security issues. And while Syria is hosting this meeting, unfortunately, I don't think anyone has seen any change in Syrian behavior in terms of their continued permissive environment that's allowing quite a number of foreign fighters to transit Syria on their way into Iraq.

QUESTION: I have a -- this a follow-up.

MR. CASEY: Yeah.

QUESTION: Since -- you said the U.S. would be only in observer status, does that mean the U.S. will not bring up, not have any official ways to bring up the aforementioned subject which you just talked about?

MR. CASEY: Well, again, I'm not -- I don't have the mechanics of the meeting down, Charlie. I believe the observers will certainly be allowed to make comments. Certainly, though, in any discussions that we have with the Syrian Government, including the -- our charge and other officials that our embassy have on the subject of Iraq. The first and foremost issue that we raise with them is the fact that they do continue to allow their territory to be used by foreign fighters and by networks trying to transport them into Baghdad. And that would be the most important thing that the Syrian Government could do to show that they really intend to live up to their rhetoric about wanting to see progress on security made in Iraq and wanting to see good neighborly relations between themselves and the Iraqi Government.

QUESTION: Tom, just a follow-up.

MR. CASEY: Okay. Go ahead, Goyal.

QUESTION: Do you agree that in Iraq as far as foreign fighters are concerned, they are Saudis? And Saudi's money is coming in Iraq against the U.S. interests and also foreign fighters getting the weapons from Iran?

MR. CASEY: Well, you got several things in there, Goyal. First of all, those foreign fighters are that transiting through Damascus and through Syria into Iraq come from a number of different countries in the Arab and Muslim world. I don't think that breakdown has changed greatly over time, though you could check with the folks at MNFI for, sort of, more specifics on that.

Certainly, Saudis are included in those numbers, but our key problem with Syria on this has always been that unlike Saudi Arabia, unlike Jordan, unlike any number of other neighboring states, Syria is not really doing anything, at least nothing effective, to stop the flow of fighters through their territory. The Saudis have, as you heard General Petraeus say I think last week, that the Saudis have done quite a good job of trying to police what is a long and porous border between Saudi Arabia and Iraq and, in fact, asked for additional help and cooperation in being able to do that just when Secretary Gates and Rice are out there. So there is a very marked difference between those two.

In terms of Iran's role, as we said, the principle role that Iran is engaged in, in Iraq, that concerns us is the provision of weapons and training to Shia militias that are responsible for a number of different attacks, certainly including EFP attacks on U.S. forces as well as prompting and stimulating sectarian violence in the country, none of which is to the benefit of Iraq as a whole and certainly is counter to the Iranians' own statements about wishing to play a positive role in Iraq.

QUESTION: And Tom, also, Saudi Arabia is the greatest friends of the United States. And as you said, Secretary Rice and Secretary Gates both were in Saudi Arabia. So what Saudis had to try at least to put leaders who are meeting them? I'm sure their discussion was about Saudi role in Iran.

MR. CASEY: Well, again, I think the Secretary and Secretary Gates both spoke publicly with Foreign Minister Saud about a variety of different issues. But again, we believe that the Saudis are trying to play a constructive role in Iraq. They have made real efforts at border security. They certainly aren't encouraging Saudi nationals to go and fight in Iraq; in fact, quite the opposite. And, of course, the Saudis also have an interest, like many other countries in the region, in seeing positive developments happen not only in Iraq, but in terms of the Broader Middle East, in terms of resolving the Israeli-Palestinian issue, in terms of making steps forward that lead to a more stable, more prosperous, more peaceful region.

The Saudis, while they were there, I would note that the Foreign Minister noted that the Saudis were sending a delegation to Baghdad with the idea of using that to restore more normal and full diplomatic relations between the country and perhaps establishing an embassy there. Certainly, we've talked to them about and continue to encourage them to meet some of the commitments they've made on debt relief and other matters. But I think you can contrast their role in this with those of the -- certainly of Iran and Syria, which have been very unhelpful on this subject. But I'd really refer you back to what the Secretary said while they were out there.

Kirit.

QUESTION: Could you tell us, do you know if the Iranians are planning on attending tomorrow? And will they have any meetings one-on-one with their U.S. delegation?

MR. CASEY: I'm not aware of -- I'd assume that Iran has been invited and is participating, but you'd have to check with their government about who they may or may not be sending. There's no plans for any meetings between U.S. officials there with Iranian officials, however.

QUESTION: Okay. And then this is the third meeting, you said --

MR. CASEY: Yes.

QUESTION: -- of this group?

MR. CASEY: No, not of this working group. There are three working groups, and the other two have already met.

QUESTION: Okay. Can you just run through what those two have been able to accomplish so far? And what you hope to -- this group will be able to get done?

MR. CASEY: Well, again, I'd refer you, actually, to those that have hosted the meeting on this. These were initial follow-up discussions at a working level on what the ministers identified as the critical issues for some of the neighbors to work on. And they came, again, in three forms: one was energy; the second was refugees; and the third, in this case, focusing on border security.

In the case of the meeting on refugees, I think you saw some of the statements that were made after that. There were a variety of discussions about how to help the Jordanians as well as some of the other neighboring countries as well -- and assist the UNHCR in terms of providing support for the humanitarian needs of these groups. And that was the principal focus of that discussion.

On the energy meeting, part of this was about making sure that the energy sector is viable and vibrant in Iraq. Obviously, Iraq's neighbors, some of whom have depended on Iraq for oil supplies, have an interest in that. Again, I think that was a fairly preliminary conversation and I don't recall there being any particular decisions taken at that time. But these are groups that are going to continue to meet and to follow up and I expect you'll see more from them in the future.

Samir.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) Under Secretary Burns will arrive in Israel tomorrow for talks about Iran's nuclear program. Can you deny that?

MR. CASEY: Yeah. Don't believe everything you read or everything that comes across from anybody, I guess, at this point. No, Nick is here -- no, Matt, of course if it comes from you --

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

MR. CASEY: Well, from me, you know, of course I only give you the facts, Matt, pure and simple. No, Samir, Nick is here. He does, as discussed, plan on doing some follow-up travel to the region to talk about the package of arms sales and other security support that the Secretary and Secretary Gates announced prior to their trip. But they're still working out the logistical details of that travel and again, the focus of that is that security assistance package, not Iran's nuclear program. I'm sure if there were things that the Israelis or anyone else wanted to discuss with Nick about that, he'd be happy to hear it, but that's not the primary focus of his visit. And I think he's trying to work out some time to do this within the next couple of weeks and we'll keep you posted on when he actually plans to travel.

QUESTION: Tom, (inaudible) last week said that he planned to go this week, so is he not going this week?

MR. CASEY: I don't think he's actually going to make it this week. There have been some scheduling issues on both sides, so I think it may slide over into next, but again, we'll try and let you know as soon as his schedule's firmed up here.

Yeah, let's go here.

QUESTION: United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon asked Iran to have -- for release of the hostages from Afghanistan. Can you comment on that?

MR. CASEY: I haven't seen those reports. I'm not sure what influence Iran might or might not have over the Taliban. The Iranian Government did not exactly have a particularly good relationship with the Taliban when it was in power, but certainly, we would encourage any and all countries that might have any influence over these individuals to ask them to do the right thing and release these hostages.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MR. CASEY: Yeah, let's go back here.

QUESTION: Yeah. Hello, sir. This is TV Globo Brazilian Television -- changing a little bit, today, in Sao Paulo, Brazil was arrested -- Juan Carlos Ramirez Abadia. He is a cocaine trafficker wanted in United States and he is under the Narcotics Reward Program in the State Department that will pay up to $5 million in rewards.

First, what information do you have about the case? Second, if there is any prize or reward that will be paid for his arrest? And third, if United States will seek extradition for Abadia? It did it in the past, so it's something that will happen in the future?

MR. CASEY: Well, couple of things. I've just -- I've seen the couple of press reports on that, but I really don't have a lot of information and I'm sure the Brazilian Government would be happy to talk about the circumstances of the arrest. In terms of the rewards program, normally, the way these things work is that individuals have to be nominated for consideration and then it's reviewed by an individual committee that takes a look at this and then determines whether an award is justified.

So I think given that this arrest has just happened, I'm fairly confident in saying that no recommendation's been made at this point, but I'm sure we'll look at the circumstances of this and see whether there might be an individual or individuals who potentially might be eligible for this reward. In terms of extradition, I'd leave that to my friends over at the Department of Justice to talk about. Certainly, we want to see that anyone who is involved in drug smuggling or drug trafficking faces penalties for that and has to face the court, whether that's in Brazil or the United States or elsewhere.

I'm sure they'll look at this case and be consulting with us and more importantly, with Brazilian officials, though, before they make a determination whether to formally request extradition or not. As you say, though, this is something that we've done in the past and I'm certain if he's wanted on charges back here in the United States that we'll certainly be interested in making sure that those charges are addressed in one form or another. Again, whether that's here or in Brazil is something that the lawyers will have to take a good look at.

QUESTION: So at this point, there is not any request for extradition and there is no -- nothing done at this point?

MR. CASEY: As far as I know, there's been no request made. Again, you might want to check with the folks at the Department of Justice, though, to see whether they have any intention of moving forward on that in the near future.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MR. CASEY: Okay. Mr. Lambros, I know you've had your hand up.

QUESTION: On Kosovo. Mr. Casey, despite your extensive statement of August 1st, according to Reuters news agency, Kosovar leader Agim Ceku stated in Pristina last Friday, August 3rd, that Kosovo should declare, formally, unilateral independence from Serbia on November 28th? Any comment since Mr. Ceku, the other day, came and asked for complete, full consultation with high senior U.S. official, including Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice about the final status?

MR. CASEY: Well, I think Reuters is glad for the plug, first of all. But seriously, Mr. Lambros, I think, as you know, this is a difficult issue. This is one where there's a lot of emotion on both sides, both in -- among the Kosovars and in Kosovo itself as well as among the Serbs. And we have, as you note in our statement, asked both sides to work in good faith with the contact group during this 120-day period to be able to see what progress we might be able to make towards a solution.

That said, as you know, we very clearly have stated and the Secretary repeated it very recently that we believe that ultimately, the way forward for Kosovo is independence, supervised initially as called for in the Ahtissari Plan. And so we'll see what happens.

But certainly for right now, what we want to see the parties do and what our advice and counsel to them is, is to work with us, work the Contact Group and work with the United Nations during this interim period. And during that period, we would hope that everyone would refrain from any kind of actions that might try and prejudge the outcome of those talks.

QUESTION: And one on FYROM. Legislation to stop state sponsor of propaganda by FYROM which potentially dangerous to Greece was introduced in the Senate August 3rd by Senator Bob Menendez (inaudible) and now along with the presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama.

In the meantime, Mr. Casey, more than 75 member of Congress have sponsored similar legislation, H.R. 356 in the House of Representatives. What is the U.S. position on the state-sponsored propaganda by FYROM against Greece?

MR. CASEY: Mr. Lambros, I'm not familiar with the legislation. Certainly, there's no statement of Administration policy on it. I'll leave it up to the original sponsors to make reference to it or to explain that particular -- those particular bills to you.

In terms of our views on the general issue of relations between the countries in the region, as you know, we have been very supportive of the discussions between Greece and Macedonia over the name issue, with the UN sponsoring the talks or the mediation effort among them there. We would certainly like to see a resolution of that. We think it's in the interest of both countries.

In the interim, certainly, we'd like to see both countries, again, deal with each other in a civil and friendly manner and to refrain from any kind of actions that would make it harder to reach agreement on what is an issue of great concern to both countries.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MR. CASEY: Okay. Zain.

QUESTION: A little bit of Hollywood diplomacy in Sudan. Mia Farrow says that she wants to be taken prisoner of the Sudanese Government in exchange for a rebel prisoner they are holding. Do you think this is productive?

MR. CASEY: Well, I certainly know our consular officials in Sudan would probably not appreciate having any American citizen prisoners there. And look, I appreciate -- and I think everyone appreciates the strong feelings that this issue has generated, not only among folks here in Washington and the President and other senior officials in this government, but also among folks in every kind of walk of life and whether that's people in Hollywood or folks on college campuses who have been making a very serious issue out of this and have been very important in terms of the coalition of individuals and NGO groups that have been trying to help us and help others in the international community develop a real and appropriate response to the crisis in Darfur.

And while I think we all appreciate the kinds of gestures that are represented by individuals trying to make these kinds of statements, what we really want to focus our attention on is moving forward with the deployment of the hybrid force to really be able to protect civilians there and then also trying to see that some of the political negotiations, including the discussions among rebel groups in Arusha in Tanzania over the last couple of days, do produce the kind of progress that allows us to ultimately have a political solution there, because that's really what's going to be necessary to help the people of Darfur and to end this crisis.

QUESTION: Do you think kind of Hollywood diplomacy, though, is a waste of time and the diplomacy should be left to the diplomats?

MR. CASEY: Look, Zain, I would never argue that any American citizen shouldn't have the right to speak their mind and shouldn't be engaged in these kinds of efforts. I think the role that's being played by any number of individuals -- again, whether that's on college campuses or elsewhere -- in terms of calling attention to this issue, in terms of advocating both here in the United States as well as throughout the world for international action on this, is positive. And I would never want to try and defame anyone or to make light of anyone's efforts to try and raise consciousness on this issue and to try and move it forward.

Everyone's got a role to play in this and we certainly welcome the interest and support for a resolution of the crisis in Darfur that's been brought to bear, whether that's, again, by celebrities or just normal people.

QUESTION: So the idea of voluntary incarceration in a Sudanese prison is not something that you would recommend for anyone, whether they're Mia Farrow or John Smith?

MR. CASEY: I don't think, particularly if you look at our human rights report, Matt, I don't think anyone should really wish upon themselves or anyone else a lot of time spent in a Sudanese prison.

Kirit.

QUESTION: Do you have anything that you could add on to what Sean said this morning about the British request for -- the request for the five Guantanamo inmates, and whether you welcomed their announcement?

MR. CASEY: Well, let me review a little bit of what he said this morning for folks that weren't there, and let's see if there's anything else to add. The British Government has been in discussions with the United States for some time about the fate of these five individuals. They are currently held in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. They are not British citizens, but as I understand it, they have some kind of residency status, or status that entitles them to residency in the United Kingdom. And what has happened now is that the British have sent us a letter formally requesting that we transfer these individuals over to U.S. custody -- or over to British custody, excuse me.

And this is something that's in keeping with our longstanding policy. We have worked over time to transfer individuals back to their home countries or back to other countries. We certainly don't, as the President said, want to be the world's jailer and we don't want to see Guantanamo Bay open indefinitely. But in order to be able to close it, you have to have a way of dealing with the people that are there, many of whom are extremely dangerous individuals, and those that will require some continued supervision and monitoring.

And one of the problems that we have had is that many countries have not had a great desire to either take back their nationals, or, as we saw with the case of the Uighurs, who were eventually found and were resettled in Albania, many third countries are not particularly anxious to step up to the plate and to take on some of these people.

So we're pleased to see the British move forward on this. We think it's in keeping, again, with our longstanding policies. We'll be evaluating their request to us and I'm sure we'll be having a number of discussions over the next few weeks to see what circumstances and how we can effect this transfer. And this is, again, in keeping with how we've handled transfers to other countries.

I think if you know there are -- you can check with the Department of Defense -- but I believe there have been about 375 prisoners approximately transferred from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba back, largely, to their home countries. That includes a number of countries in the Middle East as well as those in Europe. And certainly, we're going to continue that process.

I believe we also know that a little while ago we signed an agreement with the Government of Afghanistan, part of which will allow us to help them build the kind of prison that will allow them to hold, in the longer term, some of the detainees that are of Afghan nationality that do need to be -- continued supervision and incarceration. And we're in the process of helping them construct the kind of facilities that are necessary to hold these very dangerous people, with the idea that those Afghan detainees that are currently at Guantanamo Bay will eventually be transferred back into the custody of the Afghan Government.

So this is something that we are working on not only with Great Britain but with a wide variety of countries. And certainly, we'd like to see this process continue so that we can transfer out those that are eligible to do so and that we can ultimately have a resolution to something that's been an issue on the table for a long time.

QUESTION: You said that this was something that's been in discussion for some time. Did this -- did those discussions begin under Prime Minister Blair or is this -- since the --

MR. CASEY: Well, I know there have been discussions. We have, in the past, transferred back British nationals, British citizens back to Great Britain. I believe that was in 2004, I think.

But these individuals, I think, fell into a somewhat different category because they aren't British citizens. I know there have been on and off discussions about them between the UK and the United States that predate the arrival into power of this particular government. But obviously, Prime Minister Brown and his team have made the decision at this point to move forward with a formal request which had not occurred previous to this date.

QUESTION: All right. But -- so the Blair government never stated any intention, formal or otherwise --

MR. CASEY: Well, I don't want to characterize the discussions. We had a number of discussions over time on this issue. What I can say is this the first time that we have received a formal request for their transfer. And I'd leave it to the British Government to talk about any of their internal deliberations on this.

QUESTION: Procedurally -- I would imagine that procedurally, you need to have that before you can -- you'd have a formal request. It can't just be something that someone mentions --

MR. CASEY: Yeah. I think mentioning --

QUESTION: -- at Camp David or some place --

MR. CASEY: -- mentioning in passing usually doesn't count on something like this. And again, there are going to have to be follow-up discussions to work out the formal mechanisms for transfer and that's something that -- I think you know John Bellinger, our legal advisor, has had a hand in from time to time. Pierre Prosper and some of his successors in the special war crimes office have done so as well. And certainly, Department of Defense interests and other parts of the U.S. Government all come into play.

It ultimately is a U.S. Government decision whether and under what circumstances to actually conduct these transfer agreements. So they are fairly complicated and they do take a reasonable amount of time to do.

Yeah.

QUESTION: Tom, any idea how many of these British inmates in the Guantanamo Bay prison?

MR. CASEY: Well, there were a number of British citizens that were transferred back, as I said, a couple years ago. There are these five individuals who are -- I don't want to say British residents. I'm not sure what the term of art is in the UK system and I'll leave it to them to discuss that exact phrasing or wording, but they have the right to live or reside in the United Kingdom under whatever status.

And so therefore, the British have decided to make this request. I'm not sure whether there are -- I don't believe there are any other British -- I know there are no British citizens at Guantanamo Bay at this point. Whether there are any other individuals that might have some other claim to UK residency, that, I honestly don't know. That might be something you'd want to check with the Pentagon or, frankly, check with the British Government. I don't know if they think there's anybody outside of these five that would otherwise qualify or have some claim to British residency status.

QUESTION: Plus Sean said this morning that the U.S. is prepared to repatriate if there's any request from -- return for more of these inmates?

MR. CASEY: Oh, well, I think what he was referring to there is part of the point I was making earlier, which is that we certainly don't want to hold these people forever. There are some that will go through a trial procedure, including some of those that were transferred in and who had direct responsibility or direct linkages to 9/11, for example, and there's a military tribunal, military commission procedure that's in place and that we'll be moving forward for some of those individuals.

But there are many others who were there who, eventually, we want to see returned, you know, to their country of origin or to a third country that would be willing to take them. And so whether it's the UK or any other nation, as the Albanians did with the Uighurs, if there is a desire on any nation's part to work with us to work out arrangements for handling or transferring some of these individuals, ultimately, that's going to contribute to the long range goal that the President's articulated, is -- of closing Guantanamo Bay.

Yeah, Nina.

QUESTION: Can I just ask a question on this? There's -- just to clarify, is this the first request of this kind from the UK to transfer individuals that aren't regarded as citizens, just residents? Is this the first kind of request?

MR. CASEY: Yeah. Again, the UK citizens that were in detention at Guantanamo Bay were, as I understand it, all transferred back to Great Britain a couple of years ago. This request is the first that we've received from them formally to transfer individuals who are not citizens, but fall into this other residency status category.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MR. CASEY: Not quite, Charlie. We got one in the back here. Tell you what, Goyal, hold on a second. Let's go back here because he's had his hand up for a while.

QUESTION: Do you have any sort of readout on the six-party talks energy working group? And do you know if the governments of Australia and New Zealand have offered to contribute to the 950,000 tons of fuel oil?

MR. CASEY: Yeah, in terms of the six-party talks working group on energy, that's meeting today and tomorrow, as well in South Korea and Panmunjom. So those talks are ongoing and I don't have a readout on that. There is a U.S. delegation there. It's an interagency team led by one of the folks from the National Security Council.

In terms of some of these reports that I've seen, I'd -- frankly, I'd refer you to the governments in New Zealand and Australia as to whether they have any desire or intention on contributing to some of these efforts. Certainly, anything that would be done would need to be channeled through the working groups and through the six-party process. I don't think anyone would turn down offers made through that process and through those channels, but I'm simply not aware that anything's been put on the table.

Okay, Goyal, last one. Oh, and then Zain's got one.

QUESTION: One to follow on it?

MR. CASEY: Oh, Arshad wants to follow up. It's very collegial today. Okay.

QUESTION: Two questions on South Asia, please.

MR. CASEY: Sure.

QUESTION: Going back to Afghanistan, Afghanistan's president was here at the White -- and at Camp David. You gave (inaudible) at the same time, to two rivals, one to the President of Afghanistan, and also, though they were not from Baluchistan, part of Pakistan.

And both are blaming each other that terrorists are coming across the border. What Karzai -- President Karzai's been saying that his country had Taliban back from the -- across the border from Pakistan, but Baluchistan's government clearly was saying here -- on a propaganda tour here in the media and all think-tanks -- what he said was, as far as the Talibans are concerned, we don't have anyone -- any Taliban or al-Qaida in Pakistan or in Baluchistan.

Second, what -- he said -- wasn't the first time, that if you had to look for Osama bin Laden, then ask the U.S. because they know where is Osama bin Laden -- is not in Baluchistan or Pakistan.

MR. CASEY: Goyal, look, first of all, I think the perspective that we all have on this is, is that fighting terrorism both by the Taliban and al-Qaida is the responsibility of all countries. It certainly is the responsibility both of Pakistan and Afghanistan. President Karzai is dedicated to that fight. President Musharraf is as well. We're all aware that there are problems in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas in terms of militant activity. I think Pakistan is well aware of that, since I believe they've had a couple of hundred Pakistani soldiers killed in fighting against some of these extremists in the last couple of weeks. We're all agreed that we need to work cooperatively to resolve these issues.

We have, as you know, a tripartite mechanism between Afghanistan, Pakistan and ourselves to try and coordinate some of these efforts. I'd also note, too, that President Karzai and President Musharraf are scheduled to meet, I believe, a couple of days from now. And I know a large portion of that discussion will focus on how those two countries can work together to resolve some of these problems.

But this isn't something where people should be pointing fingers or trying to cast blame. It's a problem we all have and we all need to work together to solve.

QUESTION: And second, quickly, as far as U.S.-India Civil Nuclear Agreement is concerned, Ambassador -- U.S. -- an Indian ambassador to the U.S., Mr. Ronen Sen, is saying that as far as India and Iran's relations are concerned, there should not be an obstacle in -- as far as this agreement is concerned, because what he's saying, that -- really, that the U.S. has relations with countries that India might not want to be -- or they are supporting terrorism or nuclear -- supported Iran and Libya and others, as for (inaudible) concern.

So where do we stand as far as the Ambassador's comments are concerned, as far as the Indian Ambassador's comments on Iran and India and U.S. relations, I mean, in this connection?

MR. CASEY: Well, Goyal, Nick Burns spoke to this when he talked about the signing of this agreement a while ago. Certainly, India, like any other country in the world, is free to establish diplomatic relations with whatever countries they want. And the United States is not going to, you know, be in a position to make those determinations for others.

We have some unique issues in terms of Iran. But what we would hope is that India would continue, as it has in the past, to support the broader international community effort to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon and to prevent Iran from being a destabilizing factor in the region. And when we have discussions with our Indian friends, certainly, what we tell them and what we ask them is to keep those kinds of considerations in mind in terms of any relationship that they do move forward with, with the Iranian Government.

Zain, you had a quick one?

QUESTION: Yeah, just your response to what the Cubans are saying today. They're complaining again about the visa issues, basically saying that you're too slow to issue the visas per the agreement that was made in '94 and this is just an effort for the U.S. to destabilize Cuba and it's going to lead to more illegal immigration.

MR. CASEY: Well, look, the leading cause of instability and misery in Cuba is the Cuban Government and whether it's Fidel Castro or Raul Castro, the problems in Cuba will only continue so long as there is a dictatorship in power that doesn't give people the right to freely choose their government, to decide how they want to live, and to freely travel. I think it's pretty clear, by the demand for Cubans by Cubans to try and leave Cuba, exactly what kind of a worker's paradise has been created over the last half-century by Fidel Castro.

In terms of our visa programs, and we have spoken in the past about this, there have been any number of instances over the last few months where vital equipment and supplies, personnel needed to repair some of our -- some of the things in our Interests Section have been blocked or prevented from entry by the Cuban Government. And that's made it very difficult for us to meet our obligations. But again, the reason why is that the Cuban Government continues to obstruct the Interests Section in its basic activities here.

So you know, if they would like us to -- and like to assist us in making sure that we can fully meet all the numerical quotas established by that agreement, one of the things they could do is stop interfering with the work of the Interests Section.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MR. CASEY: Thank you.

(The briefing was concluded at 1:22 p.m.)

DPB # 140



Released on August 7, 2007

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