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Daily Press Briefing
Tom Casey, Deputy Spokesman
Washington, DC
April 3, 2008

INDEX:

Briefer: Tom Casey, Deputy Spokesman


^ ^ Status of US-India Civil Nuclear Cooperation Initiative


^ ^ Reported DPRK Sale of Rocket Launchers to Burma


^ ^ President Putin’s Comments on Abkhazia and South Ossetia ^ ^ US Position on Abkhazia and South Ossetia


^ ^ NATO Communiqué and Georgia and Ukraine Aspirations to Join NATO


^ ^ Sentencing of Chinese Activist Hu Jia ^ ^ Secretary Rice and Department Officials Raised Case with Chinese Government ^ ^ Official US Attendance at Olympic Games


^ ^ US Encourages Dialogue between Chinese Government and Dalai Lama to Resolve Issues


^ ^ Arrest of US Sailor for Murder


^ ^ NATO’s Decision Not to Invite Macedonia to Join At This Time


^ ^ Name Issue / Nimetz Process


^ ^ Query on Fuel Costs for US Military in Iraq


^ ^ Query on Possible Brazilian Request for Assistance to Fight Dengue Fever


^ ^ Reported EU Court Decision Regarding PKK


^ ^ Reports Lebanese General Michel Suleiman Plans to Quit


^ ^ Delay in Reporting of Election Results ^ ^ Reported British Effort to Organize Financial Assistance Package for Zimbabwe


^ ^ US View on Proposed 2009 Durban II Conference / Assistant Secretary Silverberg’s Testimony


^ ^ Reports of Syrian Military Mobilization


^ ^ Deputy Secretary Negroponte and Assistant Secretary Boucher’s Recent Trip to Pakistan


^ ^ Deputy Secretary Negroponte’s Meeting with Foreign Minister Tomorrow



TRANSCRIPT:

View Video

12:58 p.m. EDT

MR. CASEY: Okay. Well, good afternoon, everyone. I don't have anything to begin with today, so let's see what's on your minds.

Goyal.

QUESTION: Yes, sir, thank you.

MR. CASEY: Saved by the bell. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: As far as the U.S.-India Civil Nuclear agreement is concerned, after the Indian Foreign Minister's visit here in the State Department and the White House, now the (inaudible) in India are saying, or told the (inaudible) party privately that forget the deal because we will not go along with you whether you'll deal with the Nuclear Suppliers Group or the IAEA. Now, where do we stand? Have you gotten any word from New Delhi or from the Foreign Minister when he was here that we didn't know what he said?

MR. CASEY: Well, again, you heard directly from the Foreign Minister and from Secretary Rice after their meeting, and you can look at what they said about this. We continue to believe that the civil nuclear deal is good, not only for India and for the United States, but also good in terms of strengthening the nonproliferation regimes that are out there. And that's why Director General ElBaradei, among others, has endorsed it and supports it. But we also understand that the Indian Government has some decisions to make and has some internal issues that it needs to resolve before it can move forward.

We certainly would like to see this deal concluded as soon as possible. And we, of course, have our own calendar in terms of elections and a legislative timetable. So certainly, I think time is running out to be able to give this current Congress the opportunity to consider this arrangement. Obviously, though, there's -- there would be opportunities in future congresses and with the future administration to move forward on this, but certainly, we can only talk for ourselves and for this Administration in terms of this arrangement.

The other thing I think is important to remember, though, too, is there really has been -- and this arrangement is symbolic of it -- a tremendous change and very positive change in overall U.S.-Indian relations. And frankly, regardless of whether this arrangement is passed in the next year or not, one thing that I don't think will change is the continuing strengthening and deepening of the U.S.-Indian relationship that has begun under this Administration, and we certainly hope will continue into the future.

QUESTION: Just a follow-up, Tom, quickly. So many officials have worked very hard, including Secretary Rice, the President and the Indian Prime Minister and also Mr. Burns here at the State Department. Like you said, that the relations will not -- but do you think there will be some kind of disappointment between the two countries on many other issues that either you can rely on India or Indian Government or parliament or not (inaudible) or faith in the future on other agreements?

MR. CASEY: Well, look, I think, again, we've had a good relationship with India. We have now strengthened that relationship over the past few years, broadened it, deepened it in terms of our economic interests, in terms of some of our political cooperation. I expect that's going to continue. Certainly, we believe this is an important deal, something that is important for the people of both countries, and we'd like to see it move forward. And we certainly haven't given up on the idea that it, in fact, could move forward during the course of the coming year. So let's see where we wind up before we start issuing any kind of final judgments on it.

Sylvie.

QUESTION: You said this morning that maybe you would have something on this --

QUESTION: (Inaudible)

QUESTION: Sorry.

MR. CASEY: Okay, sorry. Still on India, Sorry, Sue, go ahead.

QUESTION: Sorry, is Nick Burns still working on India? I know he's gone on to the sunset and left the building. But he said that he would, for a while, you know, keep working on the India deal. Do you know what he's doing on the India deal? Is he still working on it as a consultant or who's tackling this now?

MR. CASEY: Well, first of all, I think all of us very much appreciate the work and effort that Nick, along with Ambassador Mulford and Richard Boucher and others have put on the U.S. side into achieving this agreement and in trying to move it forward.

And as you'll recall, when Nick did announce his retirement from the Foreign Service, the Secretary had said that he would be continuing to kind of work on some of these issues. He actually still is, I believe, for another week or so, an employee of the Department of State and is certainly keeping close tabs on this. I expect that the Secretary will continue to call on him for his advice and counsel, though, even after that. I know he has certainly been following this issue, though as was noted by Sean a couple days ago, he was not directly participating in the meetings with the Secretary and Foreign Minister.

QUESTION: So who is dealing with it now then? I mean, when was the --

MR. CASEY: Well, the Secretary --

QUESTION: I know that the Secretary met last week, but --

MR. CASEY: Yeah. And again, I'd point both to Acting Under Secretary Fried, as well as Assistant Secretary Boucher, as well as Ambassador Mulford, the last two of those three being folks who have been involved in these discussions from the beginning.

QUESTION: But it sounds like you’re losing hope that you’re going to get something? You said time’s running out, the next administration, maybe they could do it.

MR. CASEY: Well, look, there --

QUESTION: Would you think that there’s no chance now that you’re going to get it?

MR. CASEY: No. We certainly believe it is still possible for this deal to move forward and for our Congress to have an opportunity to consider it. Again, to repeat a phrase I used earlier this morning on a different subject, it ain’t over till it’s over. Congress will be in session for quite a bit ways more this year and we would certainly hope to have an opportunity to present them with this agreement and give them a chance to vote on it. We do, though, respect the fact that there are still issues that the Indian political system needs to work through. That’s been the case for a while, but we certainly hope we can get there.

Okay, Sylvie.

QUESTION: So my question was that these reports about North Korea selling rocket launchers to Burma, do you have anything on that?

MR. CASEY: Yeah, we’ve seen those reports, Sylvie, but we don’t have any information that would be able to substantiate them. Certainly, though, we would take seriously any indications that there have been violations of the various sanctions that were imposed on North Korea after its nuclear test the previous year.

Yeah.

QUESTION: Vladimir Putin today expressed support for – no -- expressed support for expanding their support of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. I don’t know why I’ve lost my –

MR. CASEY: That’s okay.

QUESTION: -- ability to speak today, but --

MR. CASEY: Yeah, well, you know, at least you don’t have the problem as constantly as I do --

QUESTION: (Inaudible) happens to a spokesman.

MR. CASEY: -- but that's okay. No, I hadn’t seen those comments, but certainly, our views on that subject haven’t changed. We support the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Georgia. We continue to support a peaceful resolution of dispute with respect to South Ossetia and Abkhazia. I’m not sure if this is a subject that will, in fact, come up in the discussions between the two Presidents, but certainly, we’d be prepared to continue to repeat our longstanding policies on that issue.

QUESTION: Can I follow up?

MR. CASEY: Sure.

QUESTION: Is there anything you might want to say about the decision of NATO member-states not to offer membership action plan for Georgia and Ukraine? Can you understand the decision as a Russian veto?

MR. CASEY: Well, I’d – first of all, I’d point you to the fairly extensive comments that National Security Advisor Hadley as well as – Mr. Hadley and Secretary Rice just gave out in Bucharest and I think that’s really the authoritative word on it since they are on hand. But what I would simply point out to you, too, is that the language that exists in the NATO communiqué says that Georgia and Ukraine will be members of NATO at some point if they choose to do so. And it also calls upon the foreign ministers to consider the option of having Ukraine and Georgia enter into membership action plans at the December meeting of foreign ministers.

So certainly, no one should treat this as a rejection of Ukrainian or Georgian aspirations to join NATO. And we think it is a very positive statement on the part of the alliance that it does indicate that these two countries can and will be able to become members at an appropriate time. Certainly, there were differences and they’ve been well-discussed among NATO member-states as to whether now was the right moment to begin a membership action plan with both those countries. But I do expect and it’s, again, indicated in the communiqué that between now and December, there will be an intensified series of discussions and dialogue between NATO and Georgia and Ukraine. And we certainly hope to see the kind of additional progress made that will respond to some of the concerns that allies expressed. And to get to your direct question, no, those concerns were not about Russia. Russia does not have veto over NATO options or NATO actions. And that’s clear, not only for Russia, but for any other country that is not a member-state.

But if you again refer back to what National Security Advisor Hadley said earlier today, there were concerns expressed about the solidity of democracy in these countries and the democratic progress that had been made. There was also those kinds of concerns expressed about some of the existing problems that do -- that are there in Georgia with respect to South Ossetia and Abkhazia and whether now was the right moment for membership action plans to be offered to those countries. We certainly believe, and President Bush very strongly expressed his view, that now was the right moment. But NATO is a consensus-based organization and because not all of the members were in that position, this is a decision in terms of the formal entry into MAP that’s been now deferred until December.

QUESTION: Tom, the –

MR. CASEY: Yeah.

QUESTION: Some of the statements by the French and Germans were clearly raising a fear of alienating Russia as their primary concern. I mean, that -- Fillon, the French Prime Minister, talked about this is not the right time, given the balance of power and --

MR. CASEY: Yeah, I think if you actually look not to what he said, but what President Sarkozy actually said at the summit in Bucharest, I think that that doesn’t actually reflect the French Government’s policies. But look, I’ll leave it to them to discuss their specific reasoning on this. I’ll also just again -- you know, what I’m telling you here is what the National Security Advisor and the Secretary have just been saying in Bucharest. So again, I’ll defer to the party in terms of any details of what individual countries or allies may have said in the course of the meeting, but that’s how he characterized it.

David.

QUESTION: Tom, you indicated that you might have something more to say about the sentencing of the Chinese dissident Hu Jia?

MR. CASEY: Yeah, I do. And I did get a chance to look into this further. I’ll have a paper statement for you on this a little later, but I just want to reiterate what I said this morning, that the United States is dismayed by the sentence of three and a half years in prison that was announced today in the case of prominent Chinese human rights activist Hu Jia. Mr. Hu has consistently worked within China’s legal system to protect the rights of his fellow citizens, and these types of activities support China’s efforts to institute the rule of law and should be applauded rather than suppressed or punished.

And this is a case, as I mentioned, that Secretary Rice has raised with Foreign Minister Yang. In fact, she pressed for his immediate release during her February visit to China, and we have taken many opportunities through our Embassy and other officials here to raise our concerns about his case with Chinese officials both in Beijing as well as here in Washington.

And again, in this Olympic year, we’d want to see the Chinese take the opportunity to put their best face forward and take steps to improve their standing on human rights and religious freedom.

QUESTION: Is the Administration, in any way, reviewing its, you know, approach to the Olympics; i.e., attending at a top level?

MR. CASEY: Well, again, I think you’ve heard from the President on the subject of his participation or attendance in the Olympic Games, and I don’t have anything new to offer you on that. Certainly, though, we continue to be concerned about not only this case but other human rights issues in China, and we’re going to continue to make those concerns known to the Chinese Government.

Sue.

QUESTION: Some athletes are looking at wearing black armbands and other things. Are you looking at doing some sort of -- some symbolic gesture at the Opening Ceremony, maybe?

MR. CASEY: Look, again, I don’t have anything additional for you in terms of the Olympics. I think the President has spoken to it pretty clearly. Obviously, individual participants, as well as individual members of the audience, are going to have to make their own decisions as to what they think is appropriate to do or not to do.

QUESTION: Can I just follow on China, please?

MR. CASEY: Yeah, sure.

QUESTION: As far as the crackdown on Tibetans and Buddhists, Buddhists were demonstrating and asking the Secretary and the President that time has come for the U.S. to speak out against China, and China is getting away with every brutal -- brutality they have been committing crimes against innocent people everywhere, including their influence in Burma. What the Chinese are telling you? I mean, are you really telling them forcefully, like you do tell other countries to stop all this brutality against innocent people?

MR. CASEY: Well, you know, Goyal, I think as you know, not only the Secretary but the President have called and spoken to the Chinese about our very strong concerns about the situation in Tibet. We have emphasized the need for the Chinese to act with restraint in terms of their response to and handling of any protestors. We’ve also pushed them both publicly and privately to engage directly with the Dalai Lama and with his representatives as a means towards responding to the legitimate concerns of the people there and their desire to be able to have their culture and their other rights respected.

QUESTION: And just following -- a 2002 U.S. Congress act also protecting Tibetan culture and heritage and all their -- what this act is applying? Are you applying that act now?

MR. CASEY: Well, Goyal, the -- you know, that particular act has some legal requirements to it, but in terms of this specific set of circumstances, our primary concern is to end any violence that’s taking place and encourage dialogue, which, again, I think gets to the spirit of some of the issues that are raised in that act.

Let’s go back here. You, sir. Yeah.

QUESTION: Thank you, thank you. U.S. Navy officer in Yokosuka, Japan was arrested for murder of taxi driver yesterday. And there’s been a couple cases of U.S. soldiers doing some (inaudible) in Japan for this year. Is there any comments about that?

MR. CASEY: Well, first of all, regarding the specific case, my understanding is that a U.S. sailor had been in custody on desertion charges, was turned over to Japanese custody today, and that was in connection with this case that you mentioned. And that was done under our Status of Forces Agreement and in connection with that murder case.

I don’t believe he has been formally charged yet by the Japanese authorities. But in light of the fact that that’s an ongoing investigation into a murder by Japanese authorities, I don’t want to try and make any further comments on this case. Suffice to say that we have turned him over to Japanese authorities in accordance with the longstanding agreement that we have with them under the SOFA.

I also know that Ambassador Schieffer met with the Foreign Minister earlier to express his regret over this incident and to promise full cooperation on the part of the United States with the investigation.

Certainly, there have been a number of individual incidents that have occurred involving U.S. service members involved in criminal or other kinds of inappropriate activities and behaviors, and we deeply regret any of those actions. They certainly do not represent the policies of our government. They do not represent the kind of face that the United States wishes to show to Japan. And certainly, we will continue to work with Japanese authorities as any of those individual cases move forward because we believe it is important that justice be done in those instances.

Okay, Mr. Lambros. I know you’ve had your hand up for a while.

QUESTION: Yes.

MR. CASEY: We’re going to do one first and then we’re going to go around, and then I’ll come back, because something tells me you have more than one question today. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: Okay.

MR. CASEY: Okay.

QUESTION: Thank you very much for the (inaudible). On FYROM, anything to say, Mr. Casey, on the NATO decision yesterday not to invite FYROM to join the alliance due to the unresolved name issue between Athens and Skopje?

MR. CASEY: Well, I think the Secretary was just speaking to this a few minutes ago and said we regret the fact that there was not an opportunity to give Macedonia an invitation to join NATO at this time. All of the allies agreed -- and I think if you look at the communiqué it specifically will state -- that Macedonia has met all the criteria established under the Membership Action Program for membership, but clearly, due to the objections of one ally over the name issue, they were not able to be given an invitation at this time.

Unfortunately, that was not the case, but we would hope that as we move forward that both Greece and Macedonia would move quickly to, again, do what we’ve asked them to do in the past, which is come to a equitable, mutually agreeable solution to the name issue that will allow them to move forward and will allow Macedonia to be able to achieve its NATO aspirations.

QUESTION: Are you going to continue your efforts for a solution on this dispute between Greece and FYROM?

MR. CASEY: We’ll certainly be continuing to support the efforts of Ambassador Nimetz and the UN in this effort and what we can do to help that process along, in addition to our usual comments and discussions with Greek and Macedonian officials, we’ll do.

QUESTION: One more --

MR. CASEY: I’ll tell you what. I told you one up front and we’ll move on, so we’ll come back to you.

Charlie.

QUESTION: You know, on a different issue, Tom. Due to the increased cost of fuel, the rise in gasoline prices, I’m interested to know whether the State Department is engaged in any discussions with any of its allies in the Middle East to subsidize costs for military efforts to buy fuel in Iraq?

MR. CASEY: Certainly, Charlie, I’m not aware of any conversations in that regard. That might be something that you might want to ask over at the Pentagon as well. If you want, I’m happy to look into it for you, but I’m not aware of any.

QUESTION: I’m just curious if there are any diplomatic side negotiations. Obviously, the Pentagon’s involved, but --

MR. CASEY: You know, not that – not that anyone’s brought to my attention.

Okay, Charlie.

QUESTION: In Brazil, authorities are waging a battle against a new outbreak of dengue fever. I was wondering if the United States had been approached asking for assistance, whether the United States would respond to that and also what concerns there may be in the United States that the outbreak might spread.

MR. CASEY: Well, unfortunately, dengue fever is a continuing problem in most of the tropics. I’m not aware that the Brazilian Government has asked us for any support. Certainly, Brazil is a good partner and good friend to the United States and I’m sure we would consider any requests that they might make to us to be able to assist them with this. I do believe that they have had experience with this before and at least at this point, I don’t think they believe they need our assistance in this matter.

Okay. Let’s go back here.

QUESTION: A top European Union court decided to annul the inclusion of the PKK on the terrorist organization list today and now the PKK’s funds must be frozen against the terror – fight against terrorism. So any statement on that?

MR. CASEY: I’m not familiar with the decision and I’d refer you to the EU for a response as to why that decision might have been taken. For the U.S. part, we consider the PKK a terrorist organization and there are no plans to change its status.

QUESTION: A second – excuse me. If there is any certain decision on the court, is there any change of it --

MR. CASEY: Well, you know, groups get designated as designated Foreign Terrorist Organizations on the basis of U.S. law. There are no plans that I am aware of in Congress to modify or change that law. And I think the PKK well deserves its place on that list and I wouldn’t suspect that this decision would have any impact on the standing of PKK in terms of U.S. policy.

Samir.

QUESTION: Yes. Tom, what’s the U.S. position regarding this Durban II conference with the Middle East?

MR. CASEY: Oh, okay. The – well, let me start with a little bit of background on this. I think many of you remember the Durban I conference that occurred in Durban several years ago. This was supposedly a conference that was going to examine issues related to racism and, frankly, what it turned into was an anti-Semitic, anti-Israeli bashing session. Secretary Powell, at that time, very rightly withdrew the U.S. delegation and we ended all participation in it. Unfortunately, some bad ideas don’t ever seem to die. And so there is now plans afoot to hold a Durban II conference that is tentatively scheduled for 2009.

There is testimony that was given by Assistant Secretary for International Organization Silverberg on this yesterday. And I’d refer you to that for a more complete response. But I think the bottom line for the United States and for this Administration on this is there have been preparatory work that’s been underway for this conference since August. We haven’t participated in those discussions. We have assured that there will be no funding for those discussions. And we see no reason at this point why the United States should participate in the meeting itself.

Okay. Kim.

QUESTION: I was just wondering if there was any reaction to the announcement by the head of the Lebanese Army, General Michel Suleiman, that he would quit before the end of his term. I mean, how do you think this affects the prolonging of the crisis? I --

MR. CASEY: Had I seen those reports, I would have been happy to give you a response to them. Look, I think what is important to us, though, is that Lebanon continue to be able to develop its institutions, both its political institutions as well as its security forces and its military, and it be allowed to do so without foreign interference, most particularly and notably, from Syria. We continue to be very concerned by Syrian interference in the political process in Lebanon, including in thwarting efforts to ensure the election of a new president. In terms of this particular statement or this particular announcement, we’ll take a look for you and see if there’s anything else we can get.

Yeah, Sue.

QUESTION: On Zimbabwe again, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission said that it’s unable to release the full Senate results because of logistical problems. And of course, the presidential poll results can only be released after the Senate results are released. I just wondered whether they had informed you of –

MR. CASEY: Well, I --

QUESTION: -- as to whether you thought that, you know, it was possible there really were logistical problems or whether there’s a sort of manipulation of the polls going on?

MR. CASEY: Well, look, I think what is clear to us is that the election results need to be released and need to be released as soon as possible. I think we are well past the point where the results should have come out. And again, given the history here, given what we saw before the election, given the independent groups’ counts that are out there that clearly show the opposition ahead, it is not exactly comforting to see these kinds of delays occur. And whatever problems may exist or whatever logistical hurdles are there, we believe that it’s high time for the Zimbabwean Electoral Commission to release those results and to make sure that those results do, in fact, reflect the will of the people when they cast their ballots this past weekend.

Yeah, David.

QUESTION: Can you say anything about a reported British-led effort to organize a financial assistance package for Zimbabwe? The United States is supposedly a party to this.

MR. CASEY: You know, I don’t actually have any information about that, David. Certainly, we have been involved in providing humanitarian and other kinds of assistance to Zimbabwe over time. We certainly want to see the people of Zimbabwe have a brighter future. I think if policies change in Zimbabwe, there perhaps will be greater opportunities for engagement. But at this point, I’m not aware what specific discussions might be going on.

Nicholas.

QUESTION: Tom, just a quick return to the Durban follow-up.

MR. CASEY: Yeah.

QUESTION: Are you talking to any of your allies who plan on attending that conference and trying to discourage or dissuade them from attending?

MR. CASEY: Well, I’m not sure what kinds of conversations might be going on in that regard. Certainly, the views that Kristin expressed in her testimony yesterday, as well as what I’ve said here, is basically what we are telling individuals about it. Certainly, we would encourage others not to participate in this event, again, because it shows every sign in its second version of being as noxious an event as the first one was.

QUESTION: Well, do you – the fact that it might be in the Middle East this time, do you see this as any increased threat of some sort when it comes to Israel and the Jewish people in general?

MR. CASEY: Well, I think, unfortunately, what we see with this conference, both in its first incarnation and in this one, is the fact that anti-Semitism and anti-Israeli sentiment, unfortunately, still exists and it is really a shame to see a body like the United Nations sponsor something that, in effect, promotes negative images and promotes hate.

QUESTION: And this last one is, you know there is a conference, I think, every year on anti-Semitism hosted by the OSCE in Vienna. Are you aware of any involvement that the OSCE might have?

MR. CASEY: In the -- you'd have to check with them. I'm not familiar with it. I know at many of these events there is at least some role for other international organizations or for NGOs. But I -- at this point, I'm not sure with respect to the planning for Durban II whether there's any OSCE role or not.

I would, however, note that the OSCE has made positive contributions to both understanding the phenomenon of anti-Semitism, cataloging some of the problems and abuses that are out there, and trying to encourage countries to take positive steps against it.

Yeah, Mr. Lambros.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) on FYROM, Mr. Casey.

MR. CASEY: Okay. We have been interrupted mid-FYROM (inaudible) Macedonia.

QUESTION: What will be the next step from your part for a solution since President Bush stated in Bucharest clearly that it must be done quickly and as soon as possible?

MR. CASEY: Well, again, we have an existing process that exists, it's underway; we will certainly be encouraging work through that process. And I don't have anything to offer you, though, in terms of new initiatives or specifics with regard to it. Suffice it to say, we believe it's important that it be resolved.

QUESTION: Any communication among Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, the Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis and the Skopjen Foreign Minister Antonio Milososki?

MR. CASEY: Mr. Lambros, as you know, they are in the midst of a summit meeting now. All those ministers are there. I certainly would refer you to the party in terms of whether they have had any formal conversations or informal discussions along the margins of the summit.

QUESTION: On Cyprus?

MR. CASEY: I'll tell you what, we've got a couple more back here, and then we'll come back to you on Cyprus.

Yeah.

QUESTION: Tom, the Israelis and some other sources are saying that Syria has called up reserves and has unusual troop movement along the border, and I'm wondering what you're making of that.

MR. CASEY: I'm not aware that I have any -- I have no independent confirmation of that. You know, I'd, frankly, refer you to the Israelis and the Syrians on it. Certainly, if the question is do we think that military action is a viable response to any political differences, the answer is, obviously, no.

Goyal.

QUESTION: A quick one on Pakistan. As far as the new government in Pakistan is concerned, what's going on now between the U.S. and Pakistan? Because some parties and many people are calling for a peaceful exit of General Musharraf and many other ties between two governments, security concern there and terrorism concern.

MR. CASEY: Well, Deputy Secretary Negroponte and Assistant Secretary Boucher were just in Pakistan. They had an opportunity to meet with President Musharraf, with the new Prime Minister, with various party leaders and other members of the new government. We’re looking forward to being able to continue our cooperation and work with Pakistan on a variety of issues, from the fight against extremism, to economic and political developments, and continuing the democratic process there.

In terms of what happens internally in Pakistan’s political system, as we’ve always said, these are issues for the Pakistanis themselves to decide.

Okay, Mr. Lambros. One on Cyprus.

QUESTION: Yes. Mr. Casey, do you know the purpose of the meeting tomorrow here at the State Department between Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte and the Cypriot Foreign Minister Markos Kyprianou?

MR. CASEY: Well, I’m sure they’ll have an opportunity to talk about both bilateral relations as well as the process of discussions between the two communities. I should note that we welcome the opening of the Ledra Street crossing at the historic heart of Old Nicosia that just occurred, and we’re encouraged that Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot leaders were able to reach this agreement. The crossings will increase opportunities for social and economic engagement between the two communities, and we applaud the leaders’ efforts to take steps towards the resumption of comprehensive settlement negotiations under UN auspices. And I’m sure that those, among other things, will be the subject of discussions.

QUESTION: Do you have any idea when a DOS senior official will visit the Republic of Cyprus after so long time?

MR. CASEY: I don’t have anything for you on that, but we’ll keep you posted in terms of people’s schedules.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MR. CASEY: Thanks, guys.

(The briefing was concluded at 1:30 p.m.)

DPB # 60



Released on April 3, 2008

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