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Daily Press Briefing
Sean McCormack, Spokesman
Washington, DC
August 16, 2007

INDEX:

PERU

Earthquake Update / Assessment in Helping Peruvian Government / Information on American Citizens through Consular Affairs

DEPARTMENT

Federal Register Listing of Expedited Passport Processing / Increase in Passport Surcharge / Increased Demand for Passports / Facts and Figures Funds Retained by State Department
Increase in Passports over Next Three Fiscal Years / Funds Retained by State Department
Devoting Department Staff Resources to Passport Adjudication
Amended Passport Regulations
Costs to Bureau / Happy to Support Effort
Estimates of Money for 2008

PAKISTAN

U.S. in Contact with Pakistan’s Political Parties
Encouraging Forces for Moderation to Come Together to Support a Moderate Center
Future Course of Pakistani Politics to be Decided by People of Pakistan
Up to Pakistani People to Choose Candidates
Reported Meetings by Musharraf / Bhutto
U.S. Will Watch and See What Happens

IRAQ

Department’s Statements on Car Bombing

LIBYA

David Welch’s Upcoming Visit to Libya / Meeting with French Counterparts
U.S. – Libya Bilateral / Agenda / Regional Issues
Growth of U.S. – Libya Business and Commercial Ties
Secretary Rice’s Interest to Travel to Libya / Evolving U.S. – Libya Relationship

AFGHANISTAN

Issue of Japanese Refueling Mission / Reports of Opposition by Japanese Government

SUDAN

U.S. Continues to View Situation in Darfur as Genocide / Working Hard to Address Humanitarian Needs

INDIA

Nuclear Testing / India is a Sovereign Country / Provisions in 123 Agreement


TRANSCRIPT:

View Video

12:33 p.m. EDT

MR. MCCORMACK: Good afternoon, everybody. I just want to start off with a couple words about the earthquake in Peru and then we'll update on the situation.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Peru. This was a real difficult dislocation for a lot of people and there was a real loss of life. I think we've seen press reports of upwards of 337 people died, others injured, many have lost their homes. So certainly, we are thinking about the people of Peru at this difficult time.

We have, as I said this morning, one confirmed American citizen who has died as a result of the earthquake. We're currently involved in next-of-kin notification, so I don't have any more information for you at this point. We are taking a look at what we might do in terms of helping out the Peruvian Government. We're still undergoing an assessment. Certainly, if there's any need, we're going to see what we can do to fill it, if we hear from the Peruvian Government that they need something.

And I just have one phone number for you. If there are any folks here in the United States that are concerned about an American citizen in Peru, they can call the following number: 888-407-4747. And we can --

QUESTION: What number is that? Who is that -- who will they get if they call that?

MR. MCCORMACK: This is State Department, I believe, Consular Affairs. And that is what I have for you.

QUESTION: Do you know how many Americans are registered with -- have registered at the embassy?

MR. MCCORMACK: No, I don't. I don't have that at my fingertips.

Yeah.

QUESTION: Do you happen to know whether the American that you're still trying to notify the next-of-kin of --

MR. MCCORMACK: Right.

QUESTION: -- was a permanent resident in Peru or a tourist?

MR. MCCORMACK: At this point, don't have any more information. We want to go ahead and make sure we do the next-of-kin before we start getting into giving out more information.

Okay. Good, all right. I'm out of here. See you in September. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: Have you been able to figure out the numbers on the passport thing?

MR. MCCORMACK: Matt, I knew you were going to ask about this, so I have --

QUESTION: And if you are going to be reading numbers, could you do it very slowly for those of us who do not have mathematical minds?

MR. MCCORMACK: That would include me. I have a plethora --

QUESTION: Oh, God.

MR. MCCORMACK: -- of information here for you. Let me just go through the points and you can pick up what you want and then we can get into questions. In the Federal Register, as you read, Matt -- I know you're a close reader of the Federal Register -- the Department published an interim rule -- a final rule increasing from $6 to $20 the surcharge that the Department retains from each passport application. Now I have to emphasize this does not raise the total cost for the passport.

The revenues generated from passport fees are remitted to a general fund at the U.S. Treasury except when the Department has authority to retain them. The new rule increases the portion of the passport fee that the Department will retain to allow the Department to meet the increased demand for passports as a result of new passport requirements. And before I get into some other figures, let me talk a little bit about what the money will be spent on.

One, the main thing really driving this is the increased demand for passports and it's a pretty dramatic increase over the next four years that you're going to see. It looks like in fiscal year 2007, we estimate that we're going to issue as many as 18 million passports and that's going to increase over the next three fiscal years. In FY 2008, we're looking at 23 million passports being issued; FY 2009, 26 million passports being issued; and in FY 2010, 30 million passports being issued. So in order to meet that greatly increased demand, we're going to need to hire more people to work on these passports, make sure that they're issued in the right way, that we fulfill two roles.

One, that we provide a service to the American people and two, we make sure that we do that in such a way that we're protecting America's borders and the integrity of our homeland defenses. So we're going to be looking at completing the hiring of 400 passport adjudicators, managers and support personnel by the end of this fiscal year and to hire an additional 400 in FY 2008. And we're also going to locate new passport offices to enhance customer service around the country, so there are going to be new passport offices opening up. And we plan to expand key existing passport offices to gear up for the increase in demand. And so that's -- those are some of the facts and figures that I have here.

QUESTION: Okay. So you're looking at close to, over the next four years, close to 100 million passports?

MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah.

QUESTION: I mean, it's -- I did the quick addition, but --

MR. MCCORMACK: Good, I'll trust your math. One of the rules of briefing is never do math at the podium --

QUESTION: Right.

MR. MCCORMACK: -- just in for real trouble then.

QUESTION: So my question is how much is this going to cost, because you're taking $14 more per passport?

MR. MCCORMACK: Right.

QUESTION: How much is this going to cost the Treasury over the next four years, money that, I guess, would be spent for whatever -- for all sorts of different government -- it doesn't go into some fund and only is used for State Department, does it? It's used for building roads or whatever.

MR. MCCORMACK: It's used specifically for what I – what I just talked about.

QUESTION: No, no. The money that is remitted to the Treasury that you don't keep.

MR. MCCORMACK: Right. Right.

QUESTION: That goes -- that's just a general fund. It can be used for any --

MR. MCCORMACK: Talk to the Treasury. I honestly don't know, Matt. I assume that is the case, so I don't know it to be the case --

QUESTION: Yeah, but my question is how much will -- okay.

MR. MCCORMACK: Here's the answer to the question I know that you're asking. Fiscal years, the increased funds that the State Department will retain as a result of this, fiscal years 2008 through 2010 will total $944 million and this reflects an increase in resources from our current estimates which we were anticipated at $289 million for fiscal years 2006, 2008.

QUESTION: Right. Well, the question that we've had since yesterday about this is what does that mean in terms -- was there an underestimate? I realize that the two figures, that they're for two separate sets of years. But the casual reader might look at this and say, my God, you underestimated this by $700 million. Now, I know that's not the case, but what is it? There's an overlap in 2008 -- overlap, both figures, the 286 million -- or 289 million and the 944 million with an overlap of one year. What -- can you -- do you know -- can you get --

MR. MCCORMACK: I can't break it down anymore for you.

QUESTION: Can you get that?

MR. MCCORMACK: I'm happy to -- I'm happy to try to break this out for you. Maybe afterwards we can talk about specifically what the questions are, the break-outs that you want, and we can make sure we share that with everybody.

QUESTION: They were asked -- they were presented yesterday.

MR. MCCORMACK: They were presented yesterday. Well, I will endeavor to make sure you get your answers.

QUESTION: Okay, okay.

MR. MCCORMACK: We'll present this for everybody.

QUESTION: Sean, could I -- there's a thing that I don't understand.

MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah?

QUESTION: The 289 million refers to the amount that the State Department estimated it would need for --

MR. MCCORMACK: FY 2006 through 2008.

QUESTION: Collectively, those three fiscal years --

MR. MCCORMACK: Yep.

QUESTION: -- for issuing passports?

MR. MCCORMACK: Right.

QUESTION: Okay. And then the 944 is --

MR. MCCORMACK: 944 is --

QUESTION: -- '07 to '010?

MR. MCCORMACK: '08.

QUESTION: Is it '08?

MR. MCCORMACK: '08 through '010. Fiscal years '08 -- 2008 through 2010.

QUESTION: Okay.

MR. MCCORMACK: So Matt -- as Matt points out, there's one year overlap in the --

QUESTION: Right, right.

MR. MCCORMACK: I don't have the breakout of what the '08 estimate portion of that was or a year-by-year breakdown.

QUESTION: And then one other thing that might be helpful for you, and you might actually have it there, is how many passports you issued in FY '07 so people could see it, because I think it was like, 10 or 12 or something.

MR. MCCORMACK: We anticipate in fiscal year '07 --

QUESTION: Oh, '06, excuse me, because we have '07 as 18 million. So do you have '06 so we can see how much it's gone up before the legislation --

MR. MCCORMACK: I do not have '06.

QUESTION: That would be nice to have.

MR. MCCORMACK: So yeah, that would be useful. Yes, I agree.

QUESTION: And so if we're looking at almost a hundred million passports to be issued over the --

MR. MCCORMACK: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: I don't know remember what the population of the United States is, but how many --

MR. MCCORMACK: (Inaudible.)

QUESTION: -- people have had passports before this?

MR. MCCORMACK: Of the 300 million people in the U.S.?

QUESTION: Yeah. I mean, we're looking -- it's -- I think it's like, 50 or something like that? At least, I know that statistic is out there.

MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah.

QUESTION: But we're getting to a point, once land crossings come under the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative that -- it would seem to be coming to a point where half of the American population is going to have a passport.

MR. MCCORMACK: I'll -- we'll -- I'll see if we have those estimates, I --

QUESTION: Okay.

MR. MCCORMACK: You know, I can't tell you. I don't know, Matt. We'll try to break out all these figures for you.

QUESTION: Okay.

QUESTION: Still (inaudible), the increase, the desire to keep more of the money that would otherwise go to the Treasury for whatever purposes, solely look like the increased numbers of passport applications and therefore, processing. It doesn't reflect any effort, for example, to cut down the backlog that you've had or to --

MR. MCCORMACK: No, hope -- we hope by the end of September, we have -- we'll have gotten back to the point where we can issue passports within -- let me see here, now what is our processing time? I don't have it on -- I don't have it here, right now, Arshad, but back to our normal processing time. We exceeded that window over the course of the summer. We have devoted a lot of resources in terms of seconding people from other duties within the Department to do passport adjudication. So we're going to get back down to our normal target service window.

QUESTION: Well, wait, if that's the case, why does this morning's Federal Register say that if you pay the extra expedite fee, you're no longer going to get your passport in three days, but three weeks?

MR. MCCORMACK: Let's see --

QUESTION: If you're moving to get the processing back down to the normal time, this seems -- I mean, you're adding -- you know, it was three business days and now it says that --

MR. MCCORMACK: This is for expedited service.

QUESTION: Yeah, exactly. But I'm --

MR. MCCORMACK: But that's different than your -- than the service for the normal service where you just send it -- you send it in, they'll give you an application and you don't pay any expedited fee.

QUESTION: Right. But to remind people --

MR. MCCORMACK: Now, you point out -- you point out that there was in the, as I understand, in today's Federal Register -- Matt, you are a close reader of the Federal Register

-- effective August 16th, we have amended our regulations to ensure that the Department can continue to offer this expedited service consistent with its regulations despite increases in demand for expedited passport processing, and to ensure the public can easily determine the current standard for expedited passport processing.

The new standard for expedited passport processing is a maximum of 10 business days for expedited passport processing by the Department's Passport Services office. Expedited passport processing starts once the Department receives the application at one of our 18 passport offices or agencies or once we receive a request to expedite a pending application. Applicants who apply today, request expedited processing with an additional fee of $60, and pay for overnight delivery for their material should expect to receive their passports in two to three weeks.

Processing -- this sounds like lawyers wrote the last part here -- processing time could vary. Before applying to passport renewal, the customer should check travel.state.gov for up-to-date information.

QUESTION: Okay, but wait a second. Two to three weeks is what you say, so --

MR. MCCORMACK: That's if you apply today.

QUESTION: Yeah, I understand. It says --

MR. MCCORMACK: And accounting for the fact that we have --

QUESTION: But it also says --

MR. MCCORMACK: -- an existing backlog.

QUESTION: Right. But it also says that this could change -- this is going to change. It says it will be updated from time to time on the travel.state.gov.

MR. MCCORMACK: The lawyers -- the processing time could vary.

QUESTION: Which now says two to three weeks, but my question is -- you know, the -- is three weeks really -- is it worth paying -- that doesn't seem very expedited to me. Is there a way -- can you pay more and get it done quicker?

MR. MCCORMACK: (Laughter.)

QUESTION: I mean --

MR. MCCORMACK: I'll ask people. Maybe they -- maybe we should have like, sort of, first class and business class and economy class.

QUESTION: Well, I thought this was. I mean, the whole thing was that first class was supposed to be the expedited service and now, you're going to have to wait three weeks for it. That doesn't -- or up to three weeks.

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, that's if you apply today. What they're saying is once we clear through the backlog, it should be -- once we get the passport application, 10 days. Now if there are --

QUESTION: (Inaudible) a few days for expedited?

MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah, yes.

QUESTION: So why -- I mean, it's sort of curious why --

MR. MCCORMACK: Guys, let me tell you, this is what I got. (Laughter.) You know, you won't be surprised to learn that this is not a topic that I deal with on a daily basis. If there really is much greater interest in this issue, I am happy -- actually, I'd be very pleased to get the competent officials who are responsible for this down here to answer your questions in person.

QUESTION: Well, about those --

QUESTION: Remarks like that are entirely uncalled for. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: Well, except for the fact that this is an issue that a lot of people take extremely seriously and --

MR. MCCORMACK: Look, Matt, I think --

QUESTION: -- your officials that you're saying you can bring down here have been grilled about this up on the Hill --

MR. MCCORMACK: Good, they can --

QUESTION: -- by congressmen and --

MR. MCCORMACK: I take it seriously too, but -- you know, I'm telling you the information I got and if you want to grill them, I'm happy to fish around and get them down here for you.

QUESTION: Okay. Well --

QUESTION: Actually, one -- a serious question here, though, underneath --

MR. MCCORMACK: As opposed to Matt's questions? (Laughter.)

QUESTION: No, no, it is exactly Matt's question. It is exactly Matt's question and it is a serious question.

MR. MCCORMACK: Right.

QUESTION: Which is, if the old standard was three days --

MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah.

QUESTION: -- and the new standard is going to be two to three weeks or --

MR. MCCORMACK: Right.

QUESTION: -- 10 days eventually, right?

MR. MCCORMACK: Right.

QUESTION: 10 business days -- why is the standard -- you know, why is it getting longer, particularly if you're going to -- we're going to pour another billion bucks into this?

MR. MCCORMACK: You know what, Arshad? I ask that very same question myself, so I'd be happy to -- you know, get -- try to get the answer for you and it won't be me providing the answer, but somebody else.

QUESTION: Okay. Well, thank you for trying.

MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah -- no, it's a good -- look, it's a good question, absolutely, and I expect that there are a lot of people out there that are going to ask that same question.

QUESTION: In a more general way, in a larger way --

MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah.

QUESTION: But seriously, how much has the passport issue roiled the building?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, I don't know that anybody's done any formal studies in terms of work lost because people from bureaus are down doing passport processing. Look, it's -- you know, when you're faced with a crisis situation, you pony up the resources and that's what the Department has done: hitch up its pants and we're going to get through this.

Sure, there are costs to that. There are costs to my bureau. I have people that have been seconded down to New Orleans and up to New Hampshire to do this work. They -- I can report, I've actually talked to some of my folks that are doing this stuff and there’s really great spirit, they have a can-do attitude. There's a great esprit de corps in doing these things because they realize it's important; they realize that they're doing something to help out their fellow citizens.

But all that said, I'll be very pleased when people in my bureau are back here doing their jobs that they were hired to do and I expect that other managers throughout the Department would feel the same way. But until that time, we're happy to support the effort.

QUESTION: Sean, do you have -- just one more thing on this and then I realize you probably don't have it, but I -- the question is, we need to know what the -- if the 2000 -- the estimates for the money from 2006 to 2008 -- 286 --

MR. MCCORMACK: 289.

QUESTION: -- 289, whatever that was --

MR. MCCORMACK: 289, yeah.

QUESTION: -- if that was an underestimate --

MR. MCCORMACK: Right. Okay.

QUESTION: -- due to the that fact it's more, which goes to the overlap over one year, what was --

MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah. So your question is has the '08 estimate gone up. Right. That will be the key question, right. Has the '08 -- the year of overlap gone up. Okay. Yeah, it's a valid question. We will endeavor to get you answers. Okay, anything else on passports?

QUESTION: You want to -- just to sort of -- not on passports, but just to put it on the record, do you want to read your guidance on the Times story about Pakistan? I mean, the question is are you indeed encouraging President Musharraf to embark on a power-sharing deal or consider a power-sharing deal with former Prime Minister Bhutto?

MR. MCCORMACK: Right. Well, I did talk a little bit about that this morning. We are in touch with, I would say, probably all the political parties in Pakistan. I can't say that we're in touch with every individual and every political party, but that's what we do around the world. And it's part of our job to monitor what's going on in a country, get a pulse of the situation.

We are encouraging those who are widely considered -- or political parties and individuals widely considered forces for moderation or moderate -- political moderates in Pakistan to come together to support a moderate center in Pakistani politics that is a way to fight against extremist elements in Pakistan, as a way to support the conduct of free and fair elections in Pakistan, and as a way to continue the process of political and economic reform and it's important for Pakistan's future. It's certainly important to us, because we believe a more free, more democratic Pakistan will ultimately be a more stable Pakistan and one that will continue to be a good ally in fighting the war on terror.

As for the who, what, when and where of meetings between our officials and individuals in the Pakistani political process, it's not something I'm going to do. But we have been in contact with all parties. When I talk about parties, political parties; that doesn't necessarily mean we have been in contact with all the individuals or leadership of all the political parties, but that's part of what we do as a State Department is keep in touch with the political parties and a lot of the movers and shakers in Pakistani politics.

And just to add one additional point to all that, you know, I know that -- I saw the story in The New York Times. I have to emphasize that any decisions about Pakistani politics and the future course of any political alliances or questions about the conduct of Pakistani elections or the course of political reform is going to be decided by the Pakistani people and their leadership. And we're going to have some elections that are coming up in which the Pakistani people will be able to express their views as to who they believe should lead them. And our hope is that those elections allow for the Pakistani people to freely express their will and have those elections reflect that will.

Yeah.

QUESTION: Sean, we had said that these moves are particularly in that -- making sure that the political moderates are in power. But aren't there political moderates in power at present?

MR. MCCORMACK: Look, we don't choose the candidates. We don't choose favorites in political parties. We don't choose favorite candidates. That's for the Pakistanis to decide.

We do have the opinion that there is -- that it is important for Pakistan's future that there is this political center, political moderate. I don't think you'll find a difference in opinion among many Pakistanis about that. So yeah, inasmuch as we express that opinion, it is not intended to indicate that we have any particular favorites, or favorite candidates; or that we're picking and choosing candidates, or that we're picking and choosing political parties. It's not the case.

Yeah, Nina.

QUESTION: What do you -- still on the same subject -- what do you make of the fact that Nawaz Sharif is attempting to come back into the country and stand as a candidate, he's applied to the Chief Justice that's being reinstated? And I think Benazir Bhutto is at the Council of Foreign Relations yesterday and she was saying the same thing: She wants to come back into the country and stand as a candidate. What do you make of that?

MR. MCCORMACK: I think that those are decisions for the Pakistanis and those individuals to make.

QUESTION: But you said -- you said earlier today, well, just now, that you wanted forces for moderation to come together in these elections?

MR. MCCORMACK: Right.

QUESTION: Would you characterize Bhutto as a force for moderation?

MR. MCCORMACK: I'm not going to play the political scientist at this point.

QUESTION: But she and Musharraf met in July. Do you have any reaction?

MR. MCCORMACK: I know that there's been a lot of news reports about their having met --

QUESTION: Can you confirm?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, I'll let them talk about with whom they have met, either President Musharraf or President Bhutto. I'm not going to get into that business.

QUESTION: And what about the specific reference in The New York Times as for -- to her meeting with Khalilzad?

MR. MCCORMACK: Right, and I said I'm going to get into the who, what, when and where of any contacts that we may have had with those people in Pakistani politics.

QUESTION: Can I ask you one last question? Bhutto --

MR. MCCORMACK: No, no, you can't. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: I'm going to anyway. (Laughter.) Bhutto was calling again for Musharraf to put aside the uniform. What's your latest take on that issue?

MR. MCCORMACK: That's an issue that he said he is going to decide. And we will watch and see what happens.

Yeah.

QUESTION: Do you want him to take off the uniform? You said this was past --

MR. MCCORMACK: He said -- he's made certain commitment in public about that. It's something -- an issue that he is going to decide.

QUESTION: Do you remember exactly when it was he first made that commitment? I think it was before I went to Africa.

MR. MCCORMACK: (Laughter.) I don't, Matt. I don't have the date.

Yeah, Lambros.

QUESTION: Sean, any update on the yesterday massacre in the Kurdish area of northern Iraq? Seems the number of victims is at least 500, according to reports.

MR. MCCORMACK: I'm sorry, Lambros. I don't have any information on that. We'll look into it for you.

QUESTION: Any communication with the neighbor countries -- Turkey, Iran or Syria?

QUESTION: Like in Iraq, the --

MR. MCCORMACK: The?

QUESTION: The car bomb. The -- it's a bomb.

MR. MCCORMACK: Oh, you're talking about the car bombing by al-Qaida in --

QUESTION: Yes.

MR. MCCORMACK: Oh, okay, sorry. I didn't connect the two things. I don't have any updated information. I made a statement about it yesterday. Ambassador Crocker made a statement about it, as well. But I don't have any updated information for you, Lambros.

QUESTION: Any communication with Iran, Syria or Turkey?

MR. MCCORMACK: I'm not aware of any particular communications with Syria or Iran. We do have an embassy in Syria. As for Turkey, again, that's a big question. Nothing that I'm aware of, Lambros, but, you know, check with the embassies.

Yeah.

QUESTION: I'm interested in a little bit more information, if you could give it, on the visit to Libya later next week by David Welch.

MR. MCCORMACK: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: First of all, in Paris, when you mentioned that he would be meeting with counterparts, what --

MR. MCCORMACK: Right.

QUESTION: Which counterparts, specifically between Libyan, European, or both?

MR. MCCORMACK: No, his French counterparts.

QUESTION: French counterparts?

MR. MCCORMACK: I expect, you know, at least -- at the very least, people from Quai d'Orsay. I don't know if that schedule has been fully settled. I think he's leaving Monday. So in between now and then, he'll work that out.

Next stop will be Libya. He's going to meeting with Libyan leadership. I can't tell you at this point that he has a meeting with Muammar Qadhafi. I think he'll be talking about the U.S.-Libya bilateral relationship; there are a variety of different aspects to that. He'll talk about mundane -- for you, guys, mundane issues of the operations of our embassy in -- our facilities in Tripoli. He'll talk about U.S. commercial issues; the growth of U.S.-Libya business and commercial ties. He'll talk about -- I would say, any compensation issues that relate to the La Belle disco bombings, as well as Pan Am 103.

I expect that he'll probably also talk about Secretary Rice's desire at some point in the future to travel to Libya, North Africa and probably talk about circumstances under which such a visit might occur. I know Secretary Rice has expressed an interest to travel to Libya. Don't have any announcements at this point. Then he's going to be moving on to Oman, talk about regional issues, what's going on in the Gulf, talk about Israeli-Palestinian issue, and then he'll be back. I expect him to be out all of next week.

QUESTION: If you could just -- the commercial ties, which commercial ties or what sorts of commercial ties would -- might be addressed in that meeting and what kind of timeframe are you looking at for a potential visit by Secretary Rice?

MR. MCCORMACK: That one, we'll keep you updated on the latter. As for the --

QUESTION: This year, possibly?

MR. MCCORMACK: We'll see. You know, she wants -- she has expressed an interest in going there at some point in the not-too-distant future. I can't further define that for you in terms of fall, winter or next year. And in terms of commercial ties, I don't really have much of a breakdown. I'm not sure the proportion of U.S.-Libya trade and how it breaks down in terms of manufactured goods versus commodities. It's -- because of the changed U.S.-Libya relationship or the evolving U.S.-Libya relationship, I expect those commercial ties will probably expand over time. I know that there are hydrocarbon interests and there are U.S. companies and firms that are interested in that, but I think that it's probably a little bit broader than that.

QUESTION: Why is the Secretary particularly interested in going to Libya?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, in part, she would like to mark the fact that this is a very changed relationship since she first entered the Bush Administration as the National Security Advisor. And that is, in part, due to a lot of hard work done during the Clinton Administration and a lot of hard work done during the Bush Administration. So it is a natural step in the evolution of the ties between our two countries. And she has an interest under the right conditions in moving those ties forward. But certainly, there are still things left to do on the Libyan side and still things left to do on the American side.

QUESTION: What would be the right conditions?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, you know, well, those are judgments that she as well as her advisors are going to have to make.

Yeah.

QUESTION: Sean, do you have any reaction to CARE turning down a pretty substantial chunk of USAID money because they are opposed to the way it has to be spent in terms of buying -- purchasing food aid?

MR. MCCORMACK: I hadn't seen it, Matt. I'm happy to check into it for you. Is it C-A-R-E?

QUESTION: CARE, yeah.

MR. MCCORMACK: CARE, okay.

QUESTION: The NGO.

MR. MCCORMACK: Right. I know. Right.

QUESTION: Do you have a comment on Japan and the question I asked about the opposition?

MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah. I looked into it and I found that our Deputy Secretary, when he talked to -- addressed the issue I think a little bit more directly than I did this morning and he said a lot of the same things that I did, but he also said that we hope it will be possible for Japan to continue the operations that they are currently engaged in. But he also made it very clear that these are ultimately going to be decisions that the Japanese Government is going to take, just sort of --

QUESTION: When did he say that?

MR. MCCORMACK: It was at the beginning of August, the 3rd of August.

QUESTION: In Tokyo, no?

MR. MCCORMACK: Correct.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MR. MCCORMACK: We got a couple more here.

Yes, sir.

QUESTION: On Darfur, Britain's Advertising Standards Authority, you said that last week that recent claims by various groups saying that 400,000 people or more had died in Darfur because of the violence could not be substantiated. I'm wondering, what's -- what's your take on the ASA, the Advertising Standards Authority, and whether or not the U.S. still considers what's happening in Darfur as genocide.

MR. MCCORMACK: We certainly do continue to treat it as a genocide and I don't -- I have to confess, I don't have the latest estimates of the numbers of people that have died, but it's a -- it is a tragedy of monumental and historic proportions and we have been working as hard as we possibly can to try to bring about a situation where that ends and you can address the humanitarian needs of the people and actually start to reverse what has happened in Darfur.

QUESTION: Also on Sudan, if I may follow up.

MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah.

QUESTION: Yesterday, you were asked about the Al-Jazeera journalist Sami al-Hajj --

MR. MCCORMACK: Right.

QUESTION: -- whether or not the State Department has asked for assurances from the --

MR. MCCORMACK: Right.

QUESTION: -- Government of Sudan that he'd stay there, should he be released.

MR. MCCORMACK: Right, right.

QUESTION: Is there an update? Have --

MR. MCCORMACK: We -- I think we posted an answer last night to your question or a question on that matter.

QUESTION: Can you just -- formally just state that?

MR. MCCORMACK: No, I can refer you to the question that we posted last night -- the answer that we posted last night.

Param.

QUESTION: A quick one on the nuclear test by -- you know, the debate in India --

MR. MCCORMACK: Right.

QUESTION: -- about a nuclear test. I mean, do you fear that India may one day continue its nuclear tests?

MR. MCCORMACK: Look, you know, a variety of officials from the U.S. have said essentially the same thing. And that is that we don't -- we are not testing and I don't think you see advanced nuclear countries around the world testing. And certainly, we don't encourage other states to do that, all of that understood. You know, India is a sovereign country and I think you're all familiar with the provisions in the 123 Agreement and certainly, that provides the President options in acting in the event that there is a test. But you know, again, we're -- the whole issue is India is sovereign, but we're not -- you know, we're not encouraging any states to test at this point.

QUESTION: Thank you.

(The briefing was concluded at 1:02 p.m.)

DPB # 146



Released on August 16, 2007

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