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Daily Press Briefing
Gonzalo R. Gallegos, Director, Office of Press Relations
Washington, DC
August 23, 2007

INDEX:

PAKISTAN

Supreme Court Ruled Former Prime Minister Sharif can Return to the Country
U.S. Looking to See a Free, Fair, Transparent, Fully Participatory Elections

RUSSIA / GEORGIA

U.S. Commends Georgia’s Measured Response to Allegations of Violating Air Space
Two Separate Reports Released Which Investigated the August 6th Incident

MISCELLANEOUS

Comments by Austrian Minister of Defense Regarding the Missile Defense System
System Would Be For Solely Defensive Nature From Emerging Middle East Threats
U.S. Has Been Open and Transparent with All EU and NATO Allies on This
Looking at Mid-September to Hold Second Round of Meetings to Discuss the Issue

INDIA

DOS and Congress Committed to Working With India Towards Nuclear Deal

LIBYA

Secretary Rice Will Visit Libya When the Time is Right
Assistant Secretary Welch Met with Libyan Foreign Minister in Libya Last Week

SUDAN

Reports that Government is Expelling EU Diplomats

BURMA

Important for Government to Begin Proceeding Down a Path of Democracy

IRAQ/TURKEY

U.S. Working with Iraq and Turkey to End PKK Activities

NORTH KOREA

No Updates on the U.S.-North Korea Working Group

TURKEY

Assistant Secretary Sauerbrey Travel

JAPAN

Prime Minister’s Courtesy Call to Son of Judge of WWII Tribunal

IRAN

No Update on Mr. Levinson

CYPRUS

No Announcement for Under Secretary Burns to Travel


TRANSCRIPT:

View Video

12:50 p.m. EDT

MR. GALLEGOS: Good afternoon. I don't have any statements.

QUESTION: Anything to say on the record on Pakistan and the court decision?

MR. GALLEGOS: In terms of the Supreme Court decision?

QUESTION: Yes.

MR. GALLEGOS: I sure do. Okay. Pakistan Supreme Court has ruled that former Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif can return to the country. We understand that they did not make a determination regarding past legal charges against him. Further information on the status of any legal charges against him, I refer you to the Pakistan legal authorities.

QUESTION: And in terms of legal charges, do you -- I mean, do you think that he would welcome any investigations on that or --

MR. GALLEGOS: No, I think you should go ahead and talk to the Pakistan authorities for information on that.

Nina.

QUESTION: On Russia's resumption of these long-range bomber flights, we haven't seen this kind of activity since the Cold War. I'd like to know how concerned is the U.S. of these flights, you know, particularly because they've, you know, almost violated Alaskan air space and Guam air space in the last couple of weeks.

MR. GALLEGOS: I think Sean is on the record on that. In terms of the specific flights and our consideration of them, you should probably go talk to -- discuss that with the DOD. In terms of them wanting to make it -- in terms of a political bilateral issue, I think Sean has clearly stated where we are on that.

QUESTION: So wouldn't it be fair to say that this activity shows that Russia is making a more expansive and aggressive foreign policy in general?

MR. GALLEGOS: I think you probably should go talk to the Russian Foreign Ministry to see exactly why they might be doing this.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) that Russia has violated air space for the second time in a month?

MR. GALLEGOS: Yes, we've seen the reports. We're looking into it. We commend the Georgians for their measured response to this. I'd like to draw your attention to two separate reports on this that have been drafted by 13 technical experts from seven countries who've thoroughly investigated this August 6th incident and these reports are out and open to the public.

QUESTION: And the U.S., I remember, wanted to have its own investigations on this? Is there any findings?

MR. GALLEGOS: We have not had our own independent U.S. investigation of that, however, there have been these other two that are out there. I encourage you to take a look at them to see what they found in them and we're continuing discussions with a variety of international partners on this issue.

QUESTION: Have there been any calls between this building and Russian officials on this issue?

MR. GALLEGOS: I don't have any information on any.

Yes, I'm sorry.

QUESTION: I've got a little Pakistan to follow up. Just --

MR. GALLEGOS: Sure, sure.

QUESTION: With the fluidity there and, you know, perhaps Sharif going back and also talks with Bhutto, between Bhutto and Musharraf, is this bringing about a shift in U.S. policy, a recalibration, or is Musharraf still the main man on which U.S. policies and hopes are based?

MR. GALLEGOS: I think we have made it clear where we are. What we want to see is free, fair, transparent, full participatory elections and an elected leader who represents Pakistanis' choices. We want to see a moderate, modern, democratic country led by the choice of the Pakistani people. We haven't had any change in policy there.

Yes.

QUESTION: Do you have anything on the Austrian Defense Minister's comments calling the U.S. missile defense shield a provocation?

MR. GALLEGOS: As a matter of fact, I do. We view the Cold War as being over. Such comments are not helpful, and we now face a new strategic environment that requires us to move beyond Cold War thinking. The proposed system under discussion with Poland and the Czech Republic is solely defensive in nature and is directed at emerging threats from the Middle East.

We've been open and transparent with all EU and NATO allies on this, and we'll continue to do so. We are discussing missile defense with the Russians; and Presidents Bush and Putin agreed to have experts discuss a full range of missile defense issues. We're going to be holding our second round of these meetings to discuss potential missile defense cooperation in mid-September.

QUESTION: Any results of the first meeting that was held here?

MR. GALLEGOS: I'll have to check on that. I'll have to see exactly where we were on that.

Yes.

QUESTION: India. The India-U.S. nuclear deal. It may well unravel in the sort of give-and-take of Indian politics this week. What is the U.S. doing about that? Is it taking a wait-and-see or does the U.S. have a way to sort of try to work with the Indians to make it more palatable?

MR. GALLEGOS: I've actually spoken to that several times this week. I'll refer you to those transcripts, first of all. But secondly, I'll be happy to repeat myself.

This is a situation where the Indians, the Indian Government, is working within their system. We are in discussions with Congress and will continue those. Both parties -- both the Indian Government and our government -- is very committed to seeing this through. We're going to be working towards that goal. I won't be commenting on internal Indian matters, but that is a discussion that they are having that the government is serious about holding and continuing working towards the fruition of this agreement. And we share the same commitment with them.

QUESTION: Are there plans to send U.S. diplomats abroad to meet with the Indians or are Indians planning to come here?

MR. GALLEGOS: I don't have any information on the next meetings on that.

Yes.

QUESTION: Regarding Assistant Secretary Welch's visit to Libya, the Libyan Ambassador to the UN has said that Secretary Rice will, as a result of that visit -- as a result of Assistant Secretary Welch's visit and agreements reached during that visit, will visit, that she will come to Libya in October. Do you have anything further on that?

MR. GALLEGOS: Well, Secretary Rice has said she will visit Libya when the time is right. Part of Assistant Secretary Welch's efforts there in Libya these past days has been to make sure and ensure that we have the right conditions for that possible visit. At this point in time, I don't have any confirmation of that or I'm not able to confirm when that may happen.

QUESTION: And why -- are you not able to confirm -- is that --

MR. GALLEGOS: We announce visits when it is appropriate; haven't announced that one yet or whether that one will happen. So at the appropriate time, there will be an announcement from my office.

QUESTION: Are conditions right for the Secretary of State to visit Libya?

MR. GALLEGOS: Well, Assistant Secretary Welch has had an opportunity to converse with the Libyans. He's been with them the last couple of days. At the appropriate time, you will see an announcement on that trip from my office.

QUESTION: A follow-up. Do you know if the Secretary is going to discuss also the Bulgarians' issue in Libya?

MR. GALLEGOS: Well, I believe the Bulgarians have returned home.

QUESTION: Yes, I know.

MR. GALLEGOS: I don't have any information on her discussion of -- a purported conversation that she might have with them, so at that -- I'll just leave that to the appropriate time to discuss if and when we should be discussing it.

Yes.

QUESTION: Did Assistant Secretary Welch meet with Colonel Qadhafi?

MR. GALLEGOS: I can tell you that -- I can confirm that Assistant Secretary Welch did meet with the Foreign Minister. He did -- it's my understanding that he did not meet with Muammar Qadhafi.

David.

QUESTION: Gonzo, the Sudanese Government is expelling the top Canadian and European Union diplomats. Just because they're friendly to us, I wonder if is this something you are concerned about?

MR. GALLEGOS: No, I haven't seen the reports about that. I have to look into that, David. Sorry.

Charlie.

QUESTION: One second. Can -- did David Welch meet with Qadhafi's son, Saif?

MR. GALLEGOS: I'll have to check on that, Charlie. I don't have it in the briefing.

Param.

QUESTION: Gonzo, anything more on the situation in Myanmar?

MR. GALLEGOS: No. We issued the statement yesterday. I don't have any more information.

QUESTION: Third day of protests and there have been calls for the UN Security Council to discuss this issue. Do you think that the U.S. would support such --

MR. GALLEGOS: Well, we believe it is important for -- we put out the statement yesterday -- we believe it is important for the government there to begin to speak to other groups, to draw on the ethnic minorities to deal with the other political parties, to proceed down a path of democracy and respect for individual human rights, so we're working towards that. We've made our position on that very clear and will continue to do so at each and every opportunity.

Yes.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) National Public Radio. In July, the Turkish Ambassador to Washington announced that Turkish security forces were finding, what appeared to be, American weapons in the hands of the PKK. Since then, American investigators have been over there. Have those investigations yielded any results and are you able to confirm whether or not those weapons were of American origin?

MR. GALLEGOS: I'm going to refer you to the DOD in terms of missing weapons. You know, our policy toward the PKK has not changed and we're going to continue working with the Government of Iraq and the Government of Turkey to try to put an end to their activities.

Yes.

QUESTION: Do you have any updates on the U.S.-North Korea working group?

MR. GALLEGOS: No, unfortunately, I do not have a time or a date or a place for that as of yet.

Lambros.

QUESTION: Yes, on Turkey, Mr. Gallegos. Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees and Migration Ellen Sauerbrey is already in Turkey for three days now. Do you have any readout about her contacts and her -- and the result of her mission so far?

MR. GALLEGOS: No, I don't have a readout on her trip, I'm sorry, nor her visit to Turkey.

Yes.

QUESTION: A bit obscure and perhaps below the radar, but the Japanese Prime Minister, while in India, paid a call -- a courtesy call -- on the son of the judge of the old War World II tribunal, the one judge that sort sought to absolve Japan of war crimes. Now, it was probably a sort of conservative base shoring up gesture by Prime Minister Abe to his base back in Japan, but it does tend to raise hackles in Asia, some sort of repudiation of World War II. Does the U.S. have a view on that? Are you abreast with this at all?

MR. GALLEGOS: I just heard about that. I don't have any information on it. In terms of what it meant, you may want to discuss that with the Japanese authorities.

Nina.

QUESTION: You probably won't, but any updates on Mr. Levinson, in particular his wife going to Tehran?

MR. GALLEGOS: No, I don't have any updates on that.

QUESTION: You don't know if she's gone or --

MR. GALLEGOS: No, I'd have to check on that.

One last question, Lambros.

QUESTION: Yes, on Cyprus. It was reported extensively that Under Secretary Nicholas Burns will be visiting soon the Republic of Cyprus. I'm wondering if you have anything on that or you can take the question.

MR. GALLEGOS: No, I don't have an announcement on his trip.

Thank you.

(The briefing was concluded at 1:03 p.m.)

DPB # 150



Released on August 23, 2007

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