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Daily Press Briefing
Sean McCormack, Spokesman
Washington, DC
January 16, 2008

INDEX:

DEPARTMENT

Secretary Rice Travel to Switzerland and Germany
No Other Travel Announcements

IRAN

P5+1 / UN Security Resolution / Diplomatic Avenues
GAO Report on UN Sanctions Effects / Difficult to Collect Reliable Data from Iran
Levinson Family

NETHERLANDS

Comments by Secretary Gates
Value Contributions and Sacrifice of Dutch in Afghanistan

KENYA

Don’t Want Further Political Violence in Kenya
U.S. Involved in Opening Channel of Communications LEBANON
Evidence Collection Ongoing / Do Not Have Final Analysis
Security Posture / Regular Risk Assessments by Embassy
American Citizen Injured as Result of Blast

ZIMBABWE

Opposition Protest
Those Engaged Political Process Should be Allowed to Express Views

MEXICO

Drug Violence is a Priority / Want to Be a Partner with Mexican Government

PAKISTAN

Federally Administered Tribal Areas / North and South Waziristan
Musharraf Strategy to Root Out Militants in Waziristan

KOSOVO

U.S. Policy is Unchanged


TRANSCRIPT:

View Video

12:53 p.m. EST

MR. MCCORMACK: Good afternoon, everybody. I have one brief trip announcement for you, and then we can get right to your questions. We’ll have the paper copy of this out after the briefing.

Secretary Rice will travel to Berlin, Germany, January 22nd and Davos, Switzerland, January 23rd. In Berlin, the Secretary will participate in bilateral meetings with senior German officials, during which she will discuss the wide range of issues in the U.S. and German – the wide range of issues, sorry –

QUESTION: Why don’t you just give us the paper version? (Laughter.)

MR. MCCORMACK: I have to do the ceremonial reading of this. (Laughter.)

Wide range of issues the U.S. and Germany cooperate on, including the NATO effort in Afghanistan. She will also participate in a meeting of the permanent five members of the UN Security Council and Germany on Iran. In Davos, the Secretary will deliver the keynote address at the Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum and conduct bilateral meetings with senior Swiss officials. She may also have a couple other bilats there in Davos, and we’ll keep you filled in on those.

QUESTION: The P-5+1 – is this to discuss the long-lost third UN Security Council sanctions resolution or is it to discuss other matters?

MR. MCCORMACK: It’s twofold. One, I’m sure that they will discuss the third UN Security Council resolution, but they will also talk about what is the way forward, the strategic direction post Security Council resolutions. So it’ll be both, talking about the here and now, immediate; talking about the resolution, its contents; and then also talking about what happens after that.

QUESTION: Can you give us any sense of, you know, what might happen after that? Are you giving any consideration to shifting what has been your policy of graduated sanctions where you can get them on the one hand and, you know --

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, the whole idea, the whole strategy here, is to use various kinds of diplomatic pressure at a gradually increasing rate to try to get a different set of decisions out of the Iranian leadership. Thus far, they have not decided on a different course, but still everybody agrees that that now still is the proper course that we should follow and everybody agrees that we should try to pursue a diplomatic solution as far as we possibly can.

I can’t – I don’t have any of the specifics for you. Oftentimes, what they’ll use – when they get to – when the ministers get together for an extended meeting of a couple, few hours, it is a time really to sort of brainstorm, to talk about various ideas. People – various ministers will bring different ideas to the table and they talk about it – talk about those. And it’s a pretty free-flowing discussion when you’re not talking about the elements of a specific resolution or the language of a specific resolution.

QUESTION: So you’re not going to be talking about the language?

MR. MCCORMACK: No, I’m sure we will. No, I said two – we’re going to talk about the resolution and then talk about the way forward after that.

QUESTION: Are you at the point where you think that they might produce --

MR. MCCORMACK: I’ve never – I never get into trying to predict when we will have final agreement on a Security Council resolution. I never predict when we’ll finally get a vote. The discussions continue. Nick Burns just had a discussion with his counterparts on a conference call this morning. That’s – those discussions continue. I think we’re having some good discussions. We’re not there yet. Would we have wished that we had been there yet? Yes, absolutely. But we are continuing on this track and nobody has backed off the basic strategy. Nobody has backed off the strategic objectives. There are some practical differences that we’re trying to work with.

QUESTION: Several of the members of the P-5+1 – the Brits, the French and the Germans – are members of NATO as well. Is she going to be trying to repair any of the damage that Secretary Gates seems to have done to – in his comments in a newspaper about how --

MR. MCCORMACK: I know, I know about the stories. In talking to my colleagues over at DOD, they – I know that they were addressing these comments which – my reports out of DOD actually were several weeks old, were taken out of context, but I’ll let – I will let the Department of Defense talk about those specific comments by Secretary Gates.

And by the way, and I figure I would get asked about this as well, our Ambassador in the Netherlands did have a discussion with the Minister of Defense at the request of the Minister of Defense about these news stories. The Minister was just asking for clarification about the comments. I know that there were – there was some discussion that I’ve heard among various reporters about this being one of these sort of finger-wagging sessions and that it got emotional. It wasn’t. It’s just – it was the Defense Minister looking for clarification of the cause.

Look, we very much value the contributions of the Dutch armed forces and the sacrifices of the Dutch people in sending their young men and women to Afghanistan in Uruzgan province. They have re-upped their commitment, I believe, to stay there until 2010. It’s a tough environment. They’re doing a good job. And I think for – generally, as I understand it, from the Department of Defense, Secretary Gates was not directing his comments at any one country in particular, but at the alliance as a whole, which includes us. We have had to learn along the way how to fight a counterinsurgency and we’re still learning.

So nobody should take his comments as being directed at any country in particular, but just saying – it’s basically telling your alliance, this is a different kind of fight. It’s a different kind of fight than we were originally trained for to try to repel the Soviet forces coming through the Fulda Gap. This is not that kind of fight. And as NATO has now taken on missions, so-called out-of-area missions, I mean, we don’t even have that discussion anymore and I think that’s an important point to note. We’re going to have to learn how to fight differently and that’s just part of the process.

QUESTION: Is it fair to say that the U.S. Ambassador was called in by the --

MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah, he was called in. He was called in.

QUESTION: Summoned?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, you know, I mean, you can – you know, if only it were that I could choose the words that you use in your stories, but you – he was called in. He was called in.

QUESTION: And his – what he told the Dutch was basically what you --

MR. MCCORMACK: Very – the gist of it was very much what I have told you, yes.

QUESTION: And –

QUESTION: The bottom line is don’t attribute this to any particular country?

MR. MCCORMACK: Absolutely not, not directed at the Dutch and we – and we value the contributions of the Dutch. They have lost people in Afghanistan and so they have borne the sacrifice along with all of the rest of us. And they continue to bear that sacrifice and they’re continuing to work on behalf of the people of Afghanistan. They’re good NATO allies. And like I said, they’ve re-upped their commitment to 2010 as well and we’re very much appreciative of that.

QUESTION: And just so we’re clear, he was summoned by the Defense Minister, not the Foreign Minister, correct?

MR. MCCORMACK: Defense Minister, yeah, yeah.

QUESTION: Did the Ambassador get the impression that his explanation was accepted with --

MR. MCCORMACK: I’ll let the Dutch speak for themselves. I’ll let the Dutch speak for themselves.

QUESTION: When you say it was not emotional and was not sort of a finger-wagging session, I mean, you’re speaking for the – you’re describing the response of the Dutch there or the Americans?

MR. MCCORMACK: No, no. It’s – I’m just trying to give you a sense of the tone of it, because I’ve heard some discussion among folks that, well, this was – you know, this was something other than the Government of the Netherlands seeking clarification from us.

QUESTION: And just on the other part of this trip, the Davos thing, it’s correct that she has not physically attended this conference before?

MR. MCCORMACK: That is true. She was beamed into it, I think – was it last year or the year before? I think it was last year.

QUESTION: Ever or as Secretary?

MR. MCCORMACK: I have to – I think she’s been once before.

QUESTION: Okay. So as Secretary, she’s --

MR. MCCORMACK: She was not there as National Security Advisor, I know, so maybe in her days as an academic. She’s gone to it, I think, maybe once, but I would have to check with her on that.

QUESTION: New subject?

MR. MCCORMACK: Sure. Well, let’s move it around here. Yeah.

QUESTION: Yeah. On Iran, actually, there is a new report by GAO out saying that there is no evidence that the sanctions are working in Iran in terms of their economy. Do you accept those conclusions?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, to my knowledge, we haven’t seen the report. I just talked to – I saw a wire story about this report. I don’t know that anybody in the building has seen it yet, so we’ve seen news reports about a GAO report. I know for a fact that GAO did not speak with Nick Burns about it, so we’ll read the report with interest. And the wire stories that I have seen, it’s -- they have played it, haven’t called into question that they are – the sanctions are effective, but they really raise the question of how can we measure whether or not they’re effective. It doesn’t say that they are not effective. It just raises the question how do we know if they are effective. And they called upon the Administration to go back to baseline studies. So as you go forward, you can measure incrementally whether or not there’s an effect.

Look, it’s very difficult with Iran to collect reliable data and to be able to talk about that in a public forum. Of course, there are other sources of collecting information, but it’s difficult. It’s not as though the Iranian Government produces reliable statistics as you would expect from the U.S. Government or from European Governments and there’s an open and wide discussion analyzing whether or not the government has provided a good or correct analysis. So there’s not that kind of data that’s out there. And it’s hard – I’ve asked this question myself. I know that people watch this very closely. And I think that there is a general assessment -- and this is just very general and I’m not speaking for the intelligence community at all -- that, yes, the sanctions have had some effect, but it takes a while for sanctions to have their full effect and we’re only doing this now in an incremental manner. So we have very consciously followed a policy of ratcheting up the pressure in increments. So you are not going to see all of a sudden draconian sanctions put in place that could – that would have a dramatic effect on the Iranian people. Now, that said, over time, if the Iranian Government persists in its current behavior, there are going to be effects on the Iranian people.

But insofar as we can tell at this point, part of the effect of the sanctions actually results from heightened effects of the Iranian Government’s current mismanagement of the Iranian economy. You have inflationary pressures. You have various other budgetary pressures that are building up within Iran. You can read about that in the newspapers to these pressures that are building up to the point that you’re starting to see some public discussion of dissent within the Iranian political classes and that’s all reading the tea leaves. So I go back to my original point. It’s very difficult to have a set of data that you can talk about in public with a hard target like Iran.

QUESTION: Now, just a point of clarification on this. The report actually says that they asked -- that they gave this – they gave the report to you guys and asked for comment. And if you look at it, only Treasury and Commerce were responding.

MR. MCCORMACK: I don't know. You know, look, did somebody in the building here get a copy of the report? You know, I don’t know. I can’t tell you that. All I can tell is people that I deal with at the top level Administration weren’t asked for comment and didn’t get that opportunity to comment on it and wasn’t even aware of the report.

QUESTION: So the report is wrong then, when it says that it --

MR. MCCORMACK: Oh, no. No, I’m not disputing that. Look, it’s a big building. A lot of people in it and I can’t check on all --

QUESTION: Well, one would think that if there had been such a request for comment on something that is a – you know, a pretty big pillar in the administration’s policy towards Iran that it wouldn’t have been ignored, would it? I think.

MR. MCCORMACK: No. All I’m saying is that we’re also --

QUESTION: You mean it got lost in the shuffle someplace?

MR. MCCORMACK: Matt, I have no idea. I mean, like I said, it’s a big building and bureaucracies talk to one another. I deal with people at the top levels of the bureaucracy. I can tell you that they weren’t asked to comment for it.

Charlie.

QUESTION: On an unrelated issue – related to Iran, but unrelated to this. I forget exactly now, but do you have any update on Levinson’s family that went to Iran? His wife and a son, I think, and whether they’re back, whether they’ve reported to you any information, whether they’re still there?

MR. MCCORMACK: Check for you.

QUESTION: Okay.

MR. MCCORMACK: Yes.

QUESTION: Sean, Secretary Rice planning a trip to Ankara in mid-February?

MR. MCCORMACK: I haven’t even looked that far off in the calendar. We don’t have any announcements today about any travels to Turkey at this point. She always looks forward to going back to Turkey.

QUESTION: Should we be expecting another travel announcement, though, unrelated to any –

MR. MCCORMACK: We may in the not-too-distant future. Nothing today, though, Matt.

QUESTION: Not today.

MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah, Charlie.

QUESTION: Kenya -- new violence flaring there that started at least several days of confrontational demonstrations. What’s the United States going to do?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, you don’t want to see confrontation. You don’t want to see further political violence in Kenya. There’s already been too much of that. There’s already been too much loss of life. What it does is it underscores the importance of the two major political factions coming together to resolve in a peaceful manner their political differences in the wake of what was a contested election; the results of it were contested.

People should be able to peacefully express themselves, express their political views. What we do is we call upon both sides in this, the government as well as anybody who’s involved in protests, to avoid any sort of actions that are deliberately provocative of the other side because the last thing you want to see is more violence.

The United States has been deeply involved in trying to open up a channel of communications between the two political factions. We’ve had some success, I believe, in moving that effort forward. It hasn’t gotten to the point where you now have negotiations. Former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan is going to be involved in this process. I believe he has a trip planned in the not-too-distant future to go to Kenya. And certainly, we support that effort. Jendayi Frazer has had an opportunity to brief Secretary General Annan on her efforts. And certainly, we as well as the rest of the international community – and I would suspect the Kenyan people – are (inaudible) to that effort by Secretary General Annan – those who are supporting it – to help bring about some real progress on the front of political reconciliation.

QUESTION: Anything on Lebanon to update from this morning – preliminary indications --

MR. MCCORMACK: Nothing – nothing new. As I said this morning, the – we don’t have a final analysis. We have a team from Washington comprising Diplomatic Security agents and FBI agents going out to Lebanon to continue the information and evidence collection process, continuing working very closely with the Lebanese Government to determine who is responsible for this act.

Yesterday, we talked about we don’t want to let the facts get ahead of the analysis, and I can’t offer you a final analysis now. But just a preliminary read of the facts as we know them would indicate that, yes, this – this vehicle was targeted by this bomb blast. We don’t know their particular motivations. We don’t know who is responsible for it. Thank God that the individuals in the car weren’t injured. Certainly, we’re deeply saddened by the fact that there were innocent people who lost their life in this explosion. Our thoughts go out to those family members and friends who’ve suffered this loss.

The only thing I’d say at this point is that whatever the motivations, if the motivation was intended to try to intimidate the United States and in any way lessen our support for Lebanon’s democracy, the expansion of that democracy, the deepening of that democracy, or in any way affect our deep support for the government of Prime Minister Siniora, they’re sorely mistaken. It’s just not going to happen.

And I know that President Bush talked quite a bit about Lebanon and the current political state of play with his counterparts during his trip to the Middle East. I know it’s something that Secretary Rice regularly speaks to interested parties about. So we fully support the government of Prime Minister Siniora. We fully support the effort of those individuals within the Lebanese political system who are standing up for Lebanon’s sovereignty, standing up for the right of the Lebanese people to define their future free from outside interference.

Yeah.

QUESTION: Yesterday, I think you said you thought that four people had died in the blast. In Lebanon, they were saying just three. Has that cleared up? And also, I also wanted to ask have you established whether the bomb was on the road and exploded as the car went by?

MR. MCCORMACK: At this point, I’m not going to offer any details of even the preliminary analysis that we’ve done. The bomb blast affected the – our vehicle and we believe at this point preliminary evidence indicates that it was intended – the blast was intended to hit that vehicle.

In terms of the numbers, those were based on my discussions with the Embassy. It was a fluid situation. As it very often is in -- when you have these kinds of incidents, first reports aren’t always accurate. I’m not quite sure what they were getting their read from – from whom they were getting their read about the numbers of – the numbers of dead. And we were very sad to learn that there were fatalities in this – as a result of this incident.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) three.

MR. MCCORMACK: Look, I’m not – you know, I’m not the Lebanese Government. I can -- you know, look to them for the final numbers.

QUESTION: Any threats against U.S. interests in Lebanon that you’re looking at that may be relevant to this?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, I don’t know what the daily threat report threat stream looks like for our Embassy in Beirut, but I’m sure there is one and I’m sure that it would certainly get people’s attention if they were able to look at it. It is a – I don’t know exactly how it’s classified, but it is, I would believe, a high threat post. There are already robust security measures in place in terms of where people live and how people work and how they travel going around the city. And it really is due to a lot of these security measures that are already in place that you have these two individuals who were riding in that vehicle safe, one slightly injured but non life-threatening injuries.

Our Embassy does regular risk assessments. They take a look at their security posture. In the wake of this incident, they had a meeting of the key members of the Embassy team, took at look at their security posture, they made some changes to it to ensure that our people are able to continue to do their jobs but do them in a way that hedges against any risk that may be out there.

The incident is also a reminder that our people, our diplomats, work in dangerous places and they go out and they take risks to do their jobs. Now, the Secretary’s highest priority is making sure that our people have what they need to do their job, and part of that includes security. But it is a reminder that it’s a risky world out there. But we’re going to continue to do our work; and anybody who thinks that they can intimidate us, prevent us from doing our work or in any way change our policies through use of threat, violence or acts of terror, they’re mistaken.

QUESTION: Any indications of other – no, sorry. Is the U.S. sending any extra security people, reinforcements to Beirut? I know you’re sending the FBI and Diplomatic Security --

MR. MCCORMACK: I’m not aware that they’re doing that. They already have in place some pretty robust security measures. I don’t want to go into great detail about what they’ve done. I think – I have a copy of a Warden Message that the Embassy put out. They were limiting some of their movements, but that’s just one of the things that they’re doing and I don’t want to go into any of the other things that they might be doing.

Yeah.

QUESTION: A follow-up on the American who was injured, the bystander yesterday; do you have any update on that?

MR. MCCORMACK: No, I don’t, other than we’ve been in contact with him. We’re going to help him out as best we can. Whatever he needs, we’re going to try to provide it.

QUESTION: Is he still in the hospital, do you know?

MR. MCCORMACK: I don’t know. I don’t know.

Yeah.

QUESTION: Unrelated to this, in Zimbabwe, the opposition – you want to stay with this?

QUESTION: Semi-related, but go ahead.

QUESTION: It states that it plans to hold a protest march next week to call for, you know, a new constitution that would guarantee fair -- free and fair elections. As I’m sure you well recall last year, a number of opposition members were arrested, detained, beaten after such a march. Is there anything the U.S. Government is doing or wishes to do or will try to do to try to encourage the Mugabe government to allow this to go forward?

MR. MCCORMACK: Right. Well, we don’t have a lot of leverage with the Mugabe government at this point. But what we can do is add our voice to those others which I’m sure are going to say similar things, and that is that that the opposition – those engaged in the political process in Zimbabwe as it exists today – should be allowed to peacefully express their views, and we would call upon the government to allow them to do so. I would expect that this protest, this demonstration, would be peaceful. I believe that’s the intent of the organizers of it. And we would call upon the government to respect that.

Yeah, Matt. Did you have something else?

QUESTION: Yeah, I was just going to go to the – out in the dangerous world and join the FBI/ DS investigations line. I’m wondering if there were any developments in the Sudan.

MR. MCCORMACK: Nothing yet. I checked on it this morning. Nothing new to report. They’re continuing their investigation.

Yeah. Yes, sir.

QUESTION: What did Secretary Rice and Iraqi Foreign Minister Zebari talk about the future of Kirkuk and Turkey with PKK yesterday?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, you heard from her. She did a press conference when she was in Baghdad. I haven’t talked to her, so I don’t have a readout of her meeting.

QUESTION: Did you not talk about – there is nothing on her press conference about –

MR. MCCORMACK: Like I say, I haven’t spoken with her, so I’d – you know, I’d love to be able to fill you in, but I haven’t talked to her.

Yeah.

QUESTION: Can you – do you have anything about – there’s some reports that police had called for clearing out the city center, telling people to leave the city center in Kenya – in Nairobi.

MR. MCCORMACK: I have – no, I’m not aware of those reports.

QUESTION: All right. On Iran, two things. When was the last time there was a ministerial-level meeting to discuss Iran specifically? Do you remember?

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

MR. MCCORMACK: I think – I think Arshad’s right. I think it would be at the end of September at the UN – on the margins of the UN General Assembly.

QUESTION: Okay. And do you know anything about this arrest in Berlin of a guy who was – who’s being charged with trying to transfer nuclear-related material to Iran?

MR. MCCORMACK: No. Happy to look into it, though.

Yeah. Yes, sir.

QUESTION: Yes. On Mexico, two questions. New drug-related violence is surging again in Mexico, 17 dead on Monday, 4 of them children. How worried is the U.S. that the situation is getting out of control?

And second, what is the strategy that the State Department is following for the approval of the Merida initiative? What’s the timetable, considering that the situation back home – well, for me it’s getting urgent?

MR. MCCORMACK: Right. Well, I think it’s urgent for everybody. This is a priority that was identified by President Calderon. It’s a problem that wasn’t created within the past three months or six months. This is something that’s been building for some time. And we want to be a partner in working with the Mexican Government on it. We’re only going to go as far as they are comfortable in doing that.

Part of a result of the conversations that we’ve been having with them over the recent months was the Merida initiative, and part of that involves – a big part of that involves funding. And we’re working with the Congress on that now. You might have noticed that there have been – there’s been a lot of back and forth over the past several months with Congress about the budget. We continue to work with them on that. I don’t have a prediction for you in terms of the passage of all the budget resolutions, but suffice it to say the Administration is working hard on that.

In terms of the violence in Mexico, I don’t think anybody is more concerned than the Government of Mexico on it – concerning that. And we’re going to be working with them. Of course, if there’s anything that they require, we’re going to stand ready to help them out. But of course, it’s something we’re going to watch closely.

QUESTION: So no prediction on dates regarding the passing of --

MR. MCCORMACK: I don’t – I don’t have one for you, but I can assure you that we’re working hard on it. Yeah.

QUESTION: There’s a report out of South Waziristan that hundreds of militants attacked a fort and captured a fort that previously was manned by Pakistani paramilitary forces, the so-called Frontier Corps.

MR. MCCORMACK: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: According to our report, 40 militants were killed, 7 of the Pakistani paramilitary soldiers were killed and 20 soldiers were missing. I wonder if this strikes you: (a) as sort of a qualitative change in terms of tactics in that they’re attacking a government installation and actually seizing it; and (2) if this makes you question the efficacy of your strategy to try to combat or help the Pakistani Government combat militants in the border regions with Afghanistan. They’re able to seize and control a fort. That’s quite something.

MR. MCCORMACK: I don’t have any details on that. I’d want to inform myself better about this particular report before I offer you a specific response to this incident.

Look, we have a strategy that we continually review with respect to the FATA, Federally Administered Tribal Areas, which includes North and South Waziristan. So it’s something that is occupying quite a bit of our time at the State Department, DOD as well as the White House. So we know it’s an important issue. It’s an important issue for Pakistan as well and Pakistan’s future.

President Musharraf, I think within the past year, had a strategy that he announced with – aimed at getting at rooting out the militants in Waziristan and trying to integrate those regions into

Pakistan, where they haven’t been previously integrated in the history of Pakistan. I think after some time he’s taken a look at that plan and decided that it needs a second look. And as they develop and refine their strategies, we’re going to of course refine our strategies along with them. This needs to be a cooperative effort, but it’s something that we’re watching very closely.

Lambros.

QUESTION: On Kosovo. Mr. McCormack, the UN Security Council has a special meeting today in New York City to review the UN’s missions in Kosovo. Serbia President Boris Tadic and the former leader of the terrorist organization, Kosovo Liberation Army Hashim Thaci, who are both to attend this session. Any additional comment since you are involved to find a solution by the end of February?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, you know what our policy is and this is unchanged. And in terms of the meeting up at the Security Council today, I’ll let my colleagues up in – at the U.S. Mission to the UN talk about it.

QUESTION: One more question. Serbia yesterday adopted a plan that inter alia is planning to terminate diplomatic relations with the United States of America, if you are going to recognize a unilaterally declared independence of Kosovo. I’m wondering if you are concerned.

MR. MCCORMACK: I hadn’t heard about that report. I’ll look into it for you, Lambros.

Yeah.

QUESTION: A question about a question. I think there was a reference earlier about an American bystander that was wounded in Beirut.

MR. MCCORMACK: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Maybe I’m out of it. I didn’t realize that. Is that --

MR. MCCORMACK: I can confirm for you, you’re out of it, yes. (Laughter.) Yesterday – unfortunately, just – an American citizen, who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, received some injuries as a result of the bomb blast and the person was taken at the hospital, is being treated. We’ve been in contact with him. They’re non-life threatening injuries, but was very sorry to hear that he was, in fact, injured.

QUESTION: Not an employee of the Embassy?

MCCORMACK: Correct. Private – private citizen, yeah. Non-U.S. Government.

QUESTION: Do you know if he was visiting or does he live there? Do you know that?

MCCORMACK: I don’t – I believe he was not a resident in Lebanon. He is not a resident in Lebanon.

Charlie.

QUESTION: Following up on a question to you this morning. Secretary Chertoff is saying that the visa waiver program should be re-examined.

MCCORMACK: Oh, yeah. Sorry. I didn’t look into that.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MCCORMACK: Look, I – there is evidence that the United States Government has various responsibilities here. We share the overall goal of the United States being a welcoming country, while maintaining safe borders.

QUESTION: Okay. Thank you.

MCCORMACK: Thanks.

(The briefing was concluded at 1:21 p.m.)

DPB # 11



Released on January 16, 2008

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