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Daily Press Briefing
Sean McCormack, Spokesman
Washington, DC
April 2, 2008

INDEX:

ZIMBABWE

U.S. Following Situation Closely / Not Prepared to Offer Assessment
Need for Zimbabwe Election Commission to Issue Final Results
Moment of Change in Zimbabwe / Opposition Gains
Violence Serves No One’s Purposes

UNITED ARAB EMIRATES

Reports of Discussions with UAE on Tighter Export Controls
U.S. Dialogue with UAE
International Financial and Trading Systems Should Not be Used for Illicit Purposes
UAE Progress / Reform of Export Control Law / Addressing Proliferation Issues
Concerns about Computer Chips Being Used in IEDs / U.S. Can Not Substantiate
Worldwide Efforts to Curb Illicit Use of International Systems
Many States Have Robust Export Control Laws

IRAN

Reports that China is Providing Intelligence on Iran’s Nuclear Program to IAEA
Need for Member-States to Provide IAEA with Information Needed to Do Its Job
China Shares Global Community’s Concerns about Iran Obtaining a Nuclear Weapon

DEPARTMENT

Assistant Secretary Welch’s Travel to Qatar and Kuwait

MACEDONIA/GREECE

U.S. Working with Governments of Greece and Macedonia on Name Issue
NATO Expansion / NATO Summit in Bucharest Will Address Name and Other Issues


TRANSCRIPT:

View Video

12:10 p.m. EDT

MR. MCCORMACK: Good afternoon, everybody. I have nothing to start off with, so we can get right to your questions.

Sue.

QUESTION: Do you have any further comment on Zimbabwe? It seems the -- well, the opposition has now -- has control of the parliament

MR. MCCORMACK: (Inaudible.)

QUESTION: -- and it seems from non-official results that President Mugabe's party lost. So have you made your own assessment yet? Any comment?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, we're following the situation very closely and we have been in the period even prior to the election and certainly on election day and post -- and post-election. We're not prepared at this point to come out with a definitive assessment. What we are looking, right now, for is the Zimbabwean Election Commission to come out with their final results. There's been a delay here in their announcing the results. You've had announcements about house and the senate election results sort of trickling out of the Election Commission, and you haven't seen any official word about the presidential election.

What needs to happen is for all of the election results to come out. Based on what we know now and what we have seen from the Election Commission, there is clearly a moment of change here in Zimbabwe, because you do have the opposition gaining many more seats than they previously had in their house. So -- and there are a lot of news reports that you allude to and there are a lot of reports from NGOs based on their own polling and monitoring of election sites and voting sites, that there is a move afoot for change in Zimbabwe politically.

But in order for us to really understand how this process is going to unfold going forward, we need to have the Electoral Commission come forward with those results. Because it is critically important for Zimbabwe, for Zimbabwe's institutions, for the international community, that this election and the results of this election reflect the will of the people. And you're not going to be able to start to answer a lot of those questions until you have this one piece of the puzzle that is outstanding; and that is, the results from the Election Commission. From that -- with those in hand, for the international community and for the Zimbabwean people, we can start to understand how the rest of this political process is going to unfold.

QUESTION: I mean, you've said this is really showing as sort of a moment or that there is a move afoot for change.

MR. MCCORMACK: Yes.

QUESTION: Do you see a sort of post-Mugabe era now sort of on the horizon?

MR. MCCORMACK: Again, I don't want to get ahead of where we are and start predicting the outcomes of the election at this point. Again, a critical element, a missing piece, a critical missing piece of this puzzle, are the election results from the Election Commission. Now, of course, there are a variety of other sources of information that are available out there -- you know, the NGOs and others who have done polling. And certainly, I'm in no position to undercut what they have announced or what they believe to have taken place.

But for Zimbabwe to move forward in its political process, and for the people to have -- over the medium and long term have confidence in their institutions going forward, which is critical in any democracy, we need to -- we need to see this piece of the puzzle. But, as I as well as others have said, quite clearly, based on the results that we have seen, this is a moment of change for Zimbabwe.

Yeah.

QUESTION: Is there good cooperation between the opposition and the ruling party in terms of this election? There have been discussions among the two. And does this bode well for a peaceful outcome?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, let me just state upfront violence serves nobody's purposes. In terms of any discussions that may be going on among the political classes and political leaders in Zimbabwe, I'll leave others to comment on that, primarily those who may or may not be involved in such discussions. That's not for me to get into from the podium here.

Yeah, Libby.

QUESTION: This morning we talked briefing about that New York Times story on the export controls --

MR. MCCORMACK: Right.

QUESTION: The UAE.

MR. MCCORMACK: Right.

QUESTION: Is the U.S. in a continuing battle with the UAE to, you know, press them on tighter export controls for their -- American-made products going through the UAE?

MR. MCCORMACK: Not surprisingly -- I wouldn't use the world "battle." (Laughter.) Look, we've had a good dialogue with the UAE on a variety of different fronts. And, you know, fundamentally, it focuses on the central proposition of not allowing important international institutions or mechanisms to be used for illicit purposes. What does that mean? You don't want the international financial system to be used for illicit purposes. You don't want the international trading mechanism to be used for anything other than licit commerce. You don't want people to try to exploit the international trading system. And sort of -- you don't want anybody trying to -- you don't want countries to make it easier for bad actors to circumvent export controls. They're in place for a reason.

And we have worked well with the UAE. They, within the past couple of years, have passed a reform of their export control law that was positive. They've also been active on the international scene in sponsoring international discussions and conferences on how to fight illicit use of international financial and trading systems for proliferation -- addressing proliferation concerns; basically, how do you combat proliferation using the various means that people employ to try to get around that and circumvent the laws.

So they've made a lot of progress. As always, there's more that they can do, and we're in a continuing dialogue with them. Now, there was -- you -- I think somebody asked me earlier this morning, and I saw it as part of this piece, that there was concern about some of the computer chips being used in IEDs. And based on what we know now, I don’t -- I can’t substantiate the claim that any of these chips -- any chips that may have been allegedly illegally diverted through the UAE to Iran have ended up in Iraq in IEDs. We haven’t seen any evidence of that. I can’t substantiate that claim.

Yeah, Nina.

QUESTION: Do you have anything more on this intelligence that China is meant to be giving to the IAEA?

MR. MCCORMACK: Right. We checked -- I checked into it, and I -- at this point, I can’t verify the story. Probably the easiest way to do that is either to talk to the IAEA or talk to the Chinese. I can’t provide you independent confirmation of that.

Just as a general statement, it’s incumbent upon all the member-states of the IAEA to do everything they can to provide the IAEA information so that it can do its job, so that they can help ensure that countries who are NPT members aren’t -- don’t have illicit programs.

QUESTION: Are you surprised that China is being so helpful? They were one of the main nations that didn’t -- that weren’t pushing for sanctions (inaudible)?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, again, you know, I can’t substantiate the story for you. But look, China --

QUESTION: If it were true, would you be surprised?

MR. MCCORMACK: If it were true -- let me just put it in more general terms. China -- we’ve worked very well with China on the issue of Iran. China has as much concern as we do or the Russians or the EU -- or EU member-states about Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon. They don’t want Iran to be able to obtain a nuclear weapon. And inasmuch as the efforts of the IAEA are meant to look at current as well as past activities of the Iranians, we think it’s important that member-states provide the IAEA information it needs to do its job. We do that and other member-states do that as a matter of course. And we would encourage China to do the same.

Yeah, Michel.

QUESTION: Do you have any update on Assistant Secretary Welch visit to Qatar and Kuwait?

MR. MCCORMACK: I don’t. I don’t. We’ll see if we can find something for you.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: Going back to the exports story, I just wanted to ask one more thing. Are you concerned -- are you working with any other trading partners besides the UAE on their own export controls? I mean, are there any other countries that you’re particularly concerned about or working with?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, this is -- it’s an ongoing dialogue. We do this worldwide. And basic -- you know, the basic answer is, we talk to countries wherever the bad guys are trying to use their system, whether that’s in Southeast Asia or whether that’s in Europe or whether it’s in the Gulf. So I’m not going to try to tag any particular state, but we work with European countries, we work with Asian countries, we work with countries in the Middle East. So anywhere the bad guys are trying to use the legitimate trading and financial systems for illicit purposes, those are the countries that we’re working with. And they’re going to try to obtain these technologies wherever they may exist, and very often that could be in Europe. They have access to these kinds of advanced technologies.

Many, many states have robust export control laws. Part of that -- most of that has to do with protecting their own interests, but some of that has to do with their working with us. Because, again, at the end of the day, these responsible countries don’t want to see their systems used for financing terror. They don’t want to see them used for illicit purposes to build up any weapons of mass destruction. So it’s really a worldwide effort, Libby. It’s not limited to just the UAE. It’s really worldwide.

Lambros.

QUESTION: FYROM. Mr. McCormack, the Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis stated today, “As long as this problem persists we cannot and will not endorse FYROM joining NATO or European Union. No Greek parliament will ever approve it.” Any comments since you are very concerned, too?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, you know that we’ve been working with both the Greek Government and the Macedonian Government to find an answer to the so-called name issue. Now, the –

QUESTION: Well, why do you say the so-called name? It’s a name issue.

MR. MCCORMACK: It’s a name issue.

QUESTION: Okay.

MR. MCCORMACK: The so-called name issue. It’s a -- well, I say so-called because it’s a shorthand for a complicated historical, emotional issue for both sides; therefore, the shorthand.

Look, there is a NATO summit that is underway and they’re going to be dealing with issues of NATO expansion and also issues of how NATO establishes or doesn’t establish new kinds of relationships with other states. So I will, I think, appropriately, leave any further questions about where this particular issue stands to the people out in Bucharest working the issue.

QUESTION: A follow-up. The Greek spokesman, your friend George Koumoutsakos –

MR. MCCORMACK: Right.

QUESTION: -- denied today a suggestion Greece under pressure from the U.S. Government to allow Skopje to join NATO under the temporary name FYROM it uses at the UN. Anything to say on that?

MR. MCCORMACK: No. I’m just going to leave any further comment on this issue to the people who are out in Bucharest who I’m sure are dealing with it at the moment.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MR. MCCORMACK: Okay. Great.

(The briefing was concluded at 12:22 p.m.)

DPB # 59



Released on April 2, 2008

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