|Daily Press Briefing|
Tom Casey, Deputy Spokesman
June 30, 2008
|Memorial Service for Peter Mackler from Agence France Press Will Be Held this Afternoon|
|Ken Bailes from the Bureau of East Asia and Pacific Affairs Is Retiring|
|Arrest of Mr. Anwar Ibrahim|
|The Rule of Law Needs to Stand Above Politics in Malaysia|
|The U.S. Is Not Involved in Any Decisions to Award Iraqi Oil Contracts|
|The U.S. Provides Technical Advisors to all the Different Ministries in Iraq|
|U.S. Technical Experts are Not in Decision-Making Positions|
|The Iraqis Need to Pass a Hydrocarbons Law to Show There Are Ground Rules|
|The Oil Contracts are Technical Service Agreements that are Fee-for-Service Contracts|
|Iraqi Contracts are Made Independent of the United States|
|Only One Company Involved is an American Firm|
|Concerns in the Kurdish Region Have Not Yet Been Addressed|
|Its Up to Iraqis to decide how theyre going to manage Their Own Economy and Affairs|
|Contact the Government of Israel for Information on Prisoner Exchange with Hezbollah|
|Ambassador Ryan Crocker Talked about Cross-Border Operation against Iran on CNN|
|The MEK is a Terrorist Group and the U.S. is Not Engaged in Discussions with Them|
|The U.S. Has a Broad and Important Relationship with South Korea|
|American Beef is Safe and a Product that Most of Us Here Enjoy on a Regular Basis|
|The South Korean Government is Capable of Representing the Interests of South Korea|
|The U.S. Negotiates with South Korea as a Full and Equal Friend and Partner|
|The U.S. Supports Discussions between China and Representatives of the Dalai Lama|
|Jendayi Frazer is in Cairo at the Summit of African Union Leaders in Sharm el-Sheikh|
|Frazer Discussed U.S. Cooperation with the AU on Many Issues, Including Zimbabwe|
|The President has Ordered a New Round of Sanctions Against the Zimbabwean Govt|
|The AU, SADC, and G-8 Foreign Ministers have Issued Statements on the Fraud Elections|
|The U.S. Wants to See a Political Resolution to the Crisis in Zimbabwe|
|The U.S. Will Do Everything it can to Deal with the Threat of Usama bin-Ladin/al-Qaida|
|Military Action by the Pakistani Government Against Extremists in Peshawar is Positive|
|There Must be Cooperation Between Afghanistan and Pakistan|
|The Holy See of the Vatican Can Answer Questions on Its Decision to Not Recognize Kosovo|
12:39 p.m. EDT
MR. CASEY: Okay. Well, good afternoon, everyone.
QUESTION: Good afternoon.
MR. CASEY: Good afternoon, Mr. Lambros. I have two – actually, people-related issues, as opposed to personnel, but things that I just wanted to take the opportunity to mention today. The first is I know a number of us here, including myself, will be headed over this afternoon to a memorial service for our friend and colleague, Peter Mackler from the associated – from –
excuse me, from Agence France Press, who passed away suddenly a week ago this past Friday.
Peter was a wonderful individual, a fantastic reporter who did tremendous work, not only for AFP, but on behalf of many journalists who he helped through training programs and other efforts that he did somehow miraculously in what we all know was his copious free time as a wire reporter. Peter was a good friend to all of us. He was someone who did hold for a while the State Department Correspondents Association Presidency and did some good work on behalf of the Association there. And he’ll be missed by all of us. And I know the Secretary has spoken to this immediately after his death, but I just wanted to go on record as noting our condolences to his family, to his many friends, and also best wishes for all his colleagues, too. So that’s number one.
Number two – people-related – is also about a departure of a different sort. I got an e-mail from a gentleman I think most of you know, Ken Bailes, who for many, many years, has been the Bureau of East Asia Pacific Affairs Press Officer and Spokesperson, a individual who has kept me from screwing up talking about Taiwan and North Korea and so many different subjects over the years. You know, Ken basically is the voice of authority on many of these things for many of us who stood at this podium, whether that was Nick Burns, who I know he worked with or – well, I won’t mention Nick’s successor, but certainly for the rest of us, we’ve come to rely on Ken a lot for advice and for making sure that we describe our policies in Asia correctly.
And Ken has announced that after what I think is almost 30 years with the Department of State -- I don’t want to age him any further -- that he is going to be retiring as of this Friday. So – or actually, as of this Thursday, since Friday is a holiday. I just want to say my own personal thanks to Ken for keeping me out of trouble to the best he was capable of doing over these last few years, for all his efforts to keep many, many spokespeople out of trouble over these past few years. And so if you see Ken or talk to him anytime in the next few days, please wish him a happy and healthy retirement. And you can probably, I suspect, catch him singing with the Washington Choral Arts Society and many of the other musical groups that I know have occupied his time and I’m sure will have an opportunity to do so more in the future. So again, thank you for indulging me on a couple of these non-official kinds of statements, but appreciate the opportunity. And since it’s Monday, let’s see what you’ve got.
QUESTION: Speaking of Asia. I was hoping you might comment on Mr. Anwar’s arrest in Malaysia that Arshad raised this morning.
MR. CASEY: Sure. I did get a chance to look into this a little bit here. And first of all, my understanding is that no formal charges have been filed, though this is an accusation that the police are looking into. The main point for us is that the rule of law needs to stand above politics. And we would certainly oppose any use of law enforcement or judicial procedures for anything other than legitimate purposes of the law. And as I said, Malaysian police are supposed to be investigating this accusation. I think you can talk to them as to the status of that. I would note, of course, that Mr. Ibrahim previously faced charges and, in fact, was convicted on a similar offense a number of years ago and that that conviction ultimately was overturned. So we would hope that there’s not a pattern here. But certainly we would be concerned that anything that is done, be done in a way that is appropriate, that is a legitimate investigation of charges that might exist under Malaysian law and would not be anything that was a politically motivated investigation or prosecution.
QUESTION: How would you characterize State’s role in the Iraqi Oil Ministry awarding of contracts?
MR. CASEY: You guys are going to give me another shot at that one, huh? Look, with all due respect to the reporting that was done on this, that story I saw in a major American newspaper today doesn’t really hold up under scrutiny. The United States was not involved in any decisions to award contracts, to make determinations of what kinds of contracts would be offered, to provide advice over what kinds of contracts would be offered. These are technical experts that we have working in the Iraqi Oil Ministry, who are similar to the technical experts we have working in many ministries throughout the government. Saying that they are somehow responsible for this matter, would be equivalent to saying that the person who does your taxes is responsible for how much income you earned. It’s simply not true. And it’s kind of disappointing to see people out there reporting that there was some larger role out there that actually existed.
QUESTION: Can you characterize better the role that State has with regard to the Ministry?
MR. CASEY: Well, the State Department for – basically since we’ve had an Embassy established in Iraq, has provided technical advisors to all the different ministries. And again, we’ve all spoken about the importance of having Iraq develop its institutions and develop the capacity to be able to manage and support the kinds of services that the people of the country need. And whether that’s our PRTs, our Provincial Reconstruction Teams, working out in the field to, you know, provide assistance to local governments or advisors with technical skills and specialties working with any of the various ministries out there, that’s the intent. These aren’t people who are in decision-making positions. They are, in effect, to be able to help the Iraqis implement the decisions that they make.
QUESTION: Tom, would you have any comment about the exchange of prisoners between Israel and Hezbollah? (Inaudible.)
MR. CASEY: Well, at this point, the best thing I can tell you is that this really is a matter that you’ll have to discuss with the Israeli Government. You know, we’ve seen the press reports about it. I don’t think we have much further to go on. Obviously, this is an issue of great concern to them. But I think for the moment, we’ll let them comment on it.
QUESTION: Back to Iraq.
MR. CASEY: Okay, let’s go back to that. Did you want to do Iraq?
MR. CASEY: No, no. Okay, let’s do Iraq and then we’ll go ahead. Okay.
QUESTION: On the Iraqi oil contracts, how do you sort of – I mean, in response to Senator Schumer’s letter, if you could just speak to that. Are you – I mean, I guess more cognizant -- -- do you give credence to the fact that perhaps that Iraq should pass the hydrocarbon law first before, I guess, passing out any contracts for any companies?
MR. CASEY: Well, it’s long been our position that the Iraqis need to pass a hydrocarbon law to be able to do what you’d expect for any country that might seek or engage foreign companies into their economy. You need to provide them with some stability and some understanding of what the rules of the road are. And a hydrocarbons law, I think, is important in that.
I would note, and again, my understanding is these are technical service agreements that are fee-for-service contracts. They certainly aren’t about oil exploitation or about anything other than providing support to develop the existing infrastructure that’s there. And my understanding is they would be expected to be of very short duration – I think a year or two. So, you know, again, I don’t want to try and make decisions on behalf of the Iraqis – it’s the whole point here. But it’s clear that before they would do any sort of major contracting in terms of development or exploration, that probably they would want to have in place – we would expect, they’ve said they want to have in place, and I think most private companies would want to see them have in effect a hydrocarbons law that makes clear what the – again, what the rules of the road are so that everyone can have an honest understanding going in of how these things will develop and proceed.
QUESTION: And obviously, this is very sensitive for the Arab Strait and many who are opposed to the war, the fact that they were questioning U.S. interests in going into Iraq. Can you speak about this, and I guess if you can just speak in general about sort of what does the State Department definitely not do in terms of giving advice? How do you differentiate between giving advice and playing an active role in the contracts?
MR. CASEY: Well again, as I just said, you know, you earn money every year. And you make decisions on who your employer is and who you work for. You negotiate your contract. You get your income. You have your taxes taken out in a certain amount. You have certain deductions you can do. And in the end of the year you may come to a tax preparer and say, “Here’s everything I’ve done over the course of the year. Can you fill out the forms for me?” Saying that that person has decision -making authority over everything that went into your year is ridiculous. And it’s ridiculous to say that someone that can help you write your decisions into appropriate contract language or give you advice on how you might, you know, fulfill decisions you’ve already taken, is somehow in a position to influence or manage or otherwise influence those decisions in the first place.
These are technical experts. Again, they are, you know, not engaged in any kind of decision- making. These are Iraqi contracts. They were made by Iraqis, for Iraqis. They’re made independent of the United States. And they weren’t done at the behest of the United States or with a wink or a nudge or any kind of influence on our part. So I think it’s misleading for anyone to suggest that there was some kind of U.S. Government role in this.
I’d also point out – and again, this is just me – but as far as I can tell, at least even in the press reports of this, only one of the companies that anyone keeps citing as being able to get these contracts is actually an American firm. So if we were trying to steer business to American companies, we’d certainly be doing a lousy job of it under these circumstances.
QUESTION: I guess I don’t totally follow your logic on the oil law. I mean, your explanation or defense of Iraqi inaction on the oil law for some time has been, well, they’re managing to figure out a way to distribute oil revenue without it. You still want it, but they’ve been managing to get part of the job done. Now, they appear to be managing to get a good share of the rest of the job done. They are figuring out how to open oil fields and make, at least, initial arrangements for foreign exploration and development of those oil fields. So other than satisfying a promise the Iraqis have made to the U.S. Government and a congressional benchmark issue, what’s the point of the oil law at this – now?
MR. CASEY: Well, I mean, you do raise a good point. And it is important that they have figured out how to do what I think was the most sensitive issue internally, politically for Iraq, which is determine how to distribute oil revenues in and among the various provinces. And that’s important because, you know, all Iraqis need to know that they’re going to share in the wealth of the country.
What is being signed here, as I understand it, again, are technical service agreements that would allow for maintenance or development of the infrastructure. These aren’t, sort of, larger scale, international investments in exploration or production or development. And again, it’s up to the Iraqis to decide. If they want everything to be done by a national oil company, then that’s their decision and that’s fine. If they want to have openings for international companies to do that kind of work, that’s fine too. But in any country, you need to have a firm basis, a firm legal basis, for international development and for contracting of any kind of international investment. And in effect, what having a hydrocarbons law does is two things. The first is that it assures internal Iraqi investors that there’s ground rules for how this is going to operate, and it would assure any outside investors that again, there’s those ground rules. So if you need to raise a lot of capital to invest, whether it’s in the oil sector or in another sector of the country, you need to assure those people who might be inclined to invest or might be inclined to come in that there’s a clear legal foundation for doing so.
So I think at this point, the value of the hydrocarbons law is more in those long-term kinds of arrangements. But they are important, since certainly Iraq, like every other country in the world, needs to be able to have that kind of foundation as they move forward to have a fully normal and correct relationship with the international financial community and with potential outside investors.
QUESTION: Do you still consider the Iraqi Kurds and the Kurdish Regional Government structure as the main impediment to getting that – the final hydrocarbon law passed?
MR. CASEY: You know, I know people are still talking about it, and I know there’s still negotiations going on. I think each of the different sectors in the country has their own interests. I don’t want to try and put the onus for this on any one individual. But ultimately, there are certainly concerns in the Kurdish region that have not yet been addressed in a way that’s allowed a final law to move forward.
QUESTION: Just to follow up on this, Tom, sort of from the other side of the coin. After all the sacrifices and the trillions and gazillion dollars spent in Iraq in the past five years, the American taxpayer might say: What’s wrong with giving American companies preferential treatment in those contracts? Do you know – what would you say to that?
MR. CASEY: Well, what I would say to that is it’s up to the Iraqis to decide how they’re going to manage and run their own economy, how they’re going to manage and run their own affairs. The efforts that we have made over time certainly are important. The sacrifices that American soldiers as well as the American taxpayers have made to fund the war and to be able to help bring security to overthrow Saddam Hussein, to bring a new democratic era to Iraq are all important. But again, I don’t think anyone would suggest that the reason why the United States went into Iraq was a commercial or a reason based on business interest. It clearly was not.
And again, I think the fact that Iraq has been and will be able to make its own decisions on these issues is incredibly important. We certainly want to see the Iraqis be able to do so. We certainly want American business to able to compete on a fair and level playing field. And certainly we continue to believe not only in Iraq but elsewhere, but that U.S. businesses are always going to be very, very competitive in the international marketplace. But our goal throughout, in terms of our policy, is making sure that that playing field is level in giving American firms a chance to compete fairly.
QUESTION: Yes. Mr. Casey, USA/Iran. (Inaudible) has reported in the last issue of New Yorker Magazine that the Bush Administration steps up its (inaudible) cross-border operation against Iran, sometimes 120 days prior to the presidential election, November 4th. Any comment on that?
MR. CASEY: After I stop laughing, I’ll try and address it for you. Look, Ryan Crocker talked about this in his appearance with CNN. I’d refer you to his remarks.
In terms of speculation about intelligence- related issues, well, you can speculate with intelligence officials about it.
QUESTION: One follow-up. One follow-up.
MR. CASEY: Oh, sure, one follow-up.
QUESTION: Yes. Okay. (Inaudible) has responded to Mr. Crocker, saying today that, “Sometimes it's better not to have the Ambassador know. He may not know the extent to which we are operating already deep inside Iran.”
MR. CASEY: Ah, yes.
QUESTION: Any comment?
MR. CASEY: Ah, yes. I’m sure it’s common for conspiracy minded journalists to know more than the U.S. Ambassador to a country. I don’t think that’s an argument that really holds water.
QUESTION: Just to follow up on the same story. (Inaudible) also outlines that the U.S. had – may encourage or had some contacts with some of the dissident groups, including Mujahedin-e Khalq and the PJAK. Can you formulate a comment on this?
MR. CASEY: Including, sorry, which groups?
QUESTION: The PJAK, which is an extension of the PKK and the Mujahedin-e Khalq.
MR. CASEY: Yeah. Well, you know, our policy is not to engage or have discussions or contacts with terrorist groups. The MEK is a terrorist group, and certainly we don’t – aren’t engaged in any kinds of conversations or discussions with them.
Yeah. Yeah, go ahead, Elise.
QUESTION: On South Korea, the protests over the beef deal have been continuing, and it seems to be kind of emblematic of something larger -- tension between the U.S. and South Korea, at least from where the South Korean public is concerned. Do you think that this has more to do with – than just beef?
MR. CASEY: I don’t know. You can ask the people who are out their protesting why they’re protesting. But look, we have a very broad and important relationship with South Korea. It’s a relationship that has been one of strong allies and friends over many, many years. Obviously, we have a strong military cooperation and strong military relations with South Korea. We’re engaged with them on a host of other issues, including the Six-Party talks and our efforts to end the threat posed by North Korea’s nuclear program. We’ve engaged broadly on trade issues as well, and certainly there is a huge trading relationship between the United States and South Korea. We’re very pleased that over many years, South Korea has really moved from a developing country to one of the world’s most important economies, an important market for us, and certainly the United States is an important market for South Korea. That’s one of the reasons why we went ahead and negotiated a free trade agreement with South Korea because we believe that it’s important for both Americans and Koreans to be able to have the opportunity to trade fairly and to have products go back and forth.
And on the beef issue, I think you’ve heard from the Secretary, heard from any number of other people, that this is one that is of concern, obviously, to many people in South Korea. We believe that American beef is safe and certainly a product that most of us here in the United States enjoy on a regular basis. So we fully believe that eventually South Korean consumers will come to believe the same thing. But, again, consumers have choices and South Korean consumers will be able to decide for themselves whether they want to purchase these products or not.
QUESTION: Some experts have said that the South Korean public feels that the U.S. has kind of bullied South Korea into making this deal because of its dominance of power in the relationship.
MR. CASEY: Well, I think those experts are, frankly, being condescending to the South Koreans and the South Korean Government. The South Korean Government is fully capable of representing the interests of South Korea and of the South Korean people. And we negotiate with South Korea as a full and equal friend and ally and partner. That’s the basis on which these negotiations were conducted. And certainly, we would look forward to any conversations we have with the South Koreans, whether on this or other issues, being done with a full atmosphere of respect for South Korean sovereignty and full respect for the ability of South Korea and its government officials to make the right decisions on behalf of their people.
QUESTION: Yeah, change topic to Tibet. Do you have any expectation on the coming talk between Chinese Government and Dalai Lama? And secondly, it was reported that State Department regarded the Lhasa country as the priority to deal with Chinese Government. Can you confirm that?
MR. CASEY: Well, a couple of things. First of all, we continue to support the discussions between the Government of China and the representatives of the Dalai Lama. We think that that kind of dialogue is important for resolving the outstanding issues in Tibet and about Tibet. Obviously, there have been previous rounds of discussions and they have not dealt with successfully all of the issues. But this is the way forward. We would hope that this discussion would advance the cause of a resolution of many of those outstanding issues in Tibet. The Secretary spoke to this a little bit while she was in China as well.
In terms of U.S. embassies and consulates and other kinds of activities, I don’t have anything new to offer you on that subject. I’m not aware that there’s been any new conversations in that regard, though it certainly has been a matter of discussion.
QUESTION: Did Secretary Rice raise the controversy issue to the Chinese (inaudible)?
MR. CASEY: I honestly don’t know. That’s -- in terms of what conversations she had about this or any other subjects in Beijing, I’d leave that to her and the party to address for you. I simply haven’t a chance to talk with them and get a readout on it.
QUESTION: Tom, is Jendayi Frazer in Cairo and what is she doing there?
MR. CASEY: Jendayi Frazer’s been attending, and I believe still is attending, the summit of African Union leaders in Sharm el-Sheikh. Her main purpose there has been to both talk broadly about U.S. cooperation with the African Union on a variety of issues. But most immediately, to talk with them about the very serious situation in Zimbabwe and encourage the African Union to move forward in terms of working to help bring about a solution to the political crisis in that country.
I believe, within the last couple of hours, she’s actually given some remarks to some of your colleagues out there, which I haven’t had a chance to hear about in detail. But I think she’s been fairly open in terms of discussing her business there.
QUESTION: You said before the runoff on Friday that whatever the result is, and it was clear what’s it going to be, the legitimacy of this government or this president would be under serious question and you wouldn’t recognize it. Now that he has been sworn into office for another term – the 28th year, I guess, of his role – what would be the practical measures that you might be taking in terms of Zimbabwe – the Government of Zimbabwe as illegitimate as you call it?
MR. CASEY: Well, the President, as you know, on Saturday instructed Secretary Rice and Secretary of the Treasury Paulson to work on a new list, a new range of sanctions to be imposed against the Government of Zimbabwe in light of the sham election. That’s a process that’s ongoing. I don’t want to try and predict for you specifically what day we might have something to announce. But I’d expect we would be able to put forward some ideas fairly soon on that. This is also something the Secretary said we intend to bring back again to the Security Council. My understanding is you can look for a discussion of that and, of course, we would like to see a resolution come out of that posing sanctions on Zimbabwe. I think the first discussions of that will be occurring on Wednesday.
We’ve also, as you may have seen, have a very strong statement out of the G-8 Foreign Ministers again, noting that this government, who’s being formed as a result of these totally pathetic elections are – does not have legitimacy in their eyes. We’ve seen statements to the same effect from SADC. I think we’ve seen some statements from the African Union Foreign Ministers already. And we look to see what the AU heads of state have done. Again, though, I think you’ll be seeing actions taken in a variety of form, both directly by the United States as well as in conjunction with our international partners in the UN and elsewhere.
QUESTION: So up in – I’ll see Jendayi’s remarks but, you know, Mugabe’s being welcomed in Cairo as a head of state and he’s an equal participant in the summit as anybody else. What is she specifically seeking from – well, in terms of help from others? (Inaudible) is to do what?
MR. CASEY: Well, again, we want to see a political resolution of the crisis in Zimbabwe. That, as you saw in the Secretary’s statement about a week ago, means we would expect a negotiated agreement reached between the two principle political parties in that country. We’ve talked a little bit last night in the statement we did then about that being done through joint negotiating efforts on the part of the UN and SADC and the AU.
QUESTION: A rather broad question, I’m afraid. This article in The New York Times about the hunt for al-Qaida over the last few years. I mean, it’s making the accusation that this mission was severely undermined by internal squabbles between the Administration and the CIA (inaudible) this new special ops plan that’s being held back as well. Do you have any reaction to this? Do you think it’s fair to say that there’s as much of a problem within the Administration within the U.S. as there is between the U.S. and Pakistan in dealing with this problem?
MR. CASEY: No. First of all, I’d note that I don’t think I saw a single by-name source in that article. What I can assure you is what the President’s made clear is that the United States will do everything that it can both to deal with the threat posed by Usama bin Ladin, al-Qaida more broadly, and terrorism more broadly than that. We’re going to do everything we can, working with our international partners, whether that’s in Pakistan, Afghanistan, or elsewhere, to see that that’s done. And frankly, I wouldn’t pay too much attention to people trying to fight out battles they may have already lost and won internally in the bureaucracy somewhere. The United States is committed to dealing with this problem. No one in this building or anyplace else in this Administration will ever do anything to undermine U.S. security.
QUESTION: But do you think there’s a clear consensus now on how to proceed, especially with this new government in Pakistan and their new agreements with tribal leaders?
MR. CASEY: Well, I think you’ve heard from Assistant Secretary Boucher. You’ve heard from many other people in congressional testimony what our approach is. And our private approach is exactly the same as our public approach. We want to work with this new government. We want to help strengthen democratic institutions in Pakistan. We want to help strengthen Pakistan’s economy and provide development and education opportunities for people in Pakistan itself, as well as in the FATA.
At the same time we also want to see this government work with us to confront the challenges posed by extremism, and that includes not just on the political and economic front, but also on the military front, too. We’ve seen the Government of Pakistan just over this past weekend take some military actions against extremists in the area around Peshawar. I think that’s a positive development and certainly hope and expect that this government will continue to do so. We’ve also made clear that there needs to be cooperation between Afghanistan and Pakistan, both bilaterally and in cooperation with us and NATO forces as well to make sure that the area along the border is denied as a safe haven for militants, either from the Taliban or al-Qaida to be able to work. So certainly, we want to continue to do everything that we can to deal with this problem.
And again, there is no silver bullet here and there are no magic solutions. Sometimes I think people oversimplify this problem by assuming that there is simply one way of dealing with it. There isn’t. That’s just the reality. It needs to use military tools. It needs to use intelligence tools. It needs political and economic tools. And our strategy moving forward with this government is to bring every force to bear that we can, both from the military and intelligence side, as well as from the political and diplomatic side, to be able to, together, bring about an end to this problem.
And you know, ultimately, whether it’s decisions taken by the Government of Pakistan or decisions made here in Washington, ultimately, how they have to be judged is by whether or not they’re successful. And when they’re successful, we’ll keep moving forward with them. If there are issues or things that come up that aren’t successful, similar to the previous agreements that the Pakistani Government had made, the previous Pakistani Government had made with some of the folks in the tribal area, then we’ll adjust.
Yeah, Mr. – sorry, yeah. Sure. (Inaudible) Mr. Lambros. Nina’s got one more to go here.
QUESTION: With the new government saying that it’s still not keen on having any kind of U.S. operations on Pakistani soil. Is that something that you’d like to see changed?
MR. CASEY: I don’t know. How many governments do you know are interested in having foreign militaries do operations on their soil? Look, we have a cooperative military relationship with Pakistan. We give a large amount of assistance to Pakistani forces as well as to those forces in the tribal area of the so-called Frontier Corps to be able to help them be able to fight these battles themselves. Ultimately, it’s in our interest that they are able to manage security fully and completely inside their country. But we do have cooperation with them. We’ll continue to have cooperation with them. But obviously, anytime you’re talking about military operations of any kind, they need to be done in cooperation with your allies and partners.
QUESTION: Not to beat a dead horse, but --
MR. CASEY: Oh, come on. Let’s whip it a few more times.
QUESTION: Okay. You talked about a level playing field for U.S. companies in the Iraqi oil contracting.
MR. CASEY: Yeah.
QUESTION: If there were elements in the Iraqi laws that we did not necessarily like, like no-bid contracts or things that would not fly here. What would our reaction be to that?
MR. CASEY: Well, again, if you look at globally U.S. policy on investment laws, on business practices, on any of the other kinds of measures that infect that investment or business climate, our goal is national treatment. Our goal is that U.S. companies are not singled out for special treatment in a negative way that they aren’t subject to separate kinds of rules or regulations or subjected to things that would limit their ability to compete fairly and effectively. I’m not aware that anything that has been put into legislation to date by the Iraqis does that. But just as with any other country, and I expect as we move forward in our relationship with Iraq, if we saw anything that we thought was creating a unequal playing field or providing some kind of block on the ability of U.S. companies to compete fairly, I’m sure we’d discuss it with them.
QUESTION: What about on prospecting contracts? This is almost sort of like when companies survey an area for business. Can you speak to whether the State Department advised on prospecting contracts and how many were there possibly?
MR. CASEY: I’m going to try and make this as absolutely clear as possible to you. We don’t tell the Iraqis who to give contracts to. We don’t tell the Iraqis what kind of contracts to give. We don’t tell the Iraqis how they should organize their Oil Ministry or any other ministry. We provide technical advice that allows them to implement decisions that they make for themselves. And any assertion to the contrary, frankly, is just flat-out wrong.
Okay. Sylvie. No, okay.
QUESTION: On Kosovo, Mr. Casey --
MR. CASEY: Oh. Well, okay, we’ll let you sneak one in on Kosovo, Mr. Lambros, because I think Anne then might have one other thing.
No. Okay, good.
QUESTION: On Kosovo. Mr. Casey, the Holy See of the Vatican will not recognize Kosovo as an independent state in any near future. It was announced officially by Cardinal Walter Casper during his official visit to Russia. Any comment on that?
MR. CASEY: Nope. That’s their decision.
QUESTION: And also, any communication between State Department and the Vatican (inaudible) decision?
MR. CASEY: Not that I’m aware of.
(The briefing was concluded at 1:13 p.m.)
DPB # 116
Released on June 30, 2008