|Daily Press Briefing|
Robert Wood, Deputy Spokesman
November 6, 2008
|Final Text of SOFA|
|Ambassador Sung Kim to Meet with North Korean Delegation in New York|
|Reports of Possible Fatah-Hamas Unity Government|
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO/REGION
|Assistant Secretary Jendayi Frazer to Attend Great Lakes Summit in Nairobi|
|U.S. Hopes that Government and Rebels Reach Agreement|
10:38 a.m. EST
MR. WOOD: I don’t have anything, so why don’t we go to your questions.
QUESTION: On Iraq?
MR. WOOD: Yes.
QUESTION: We hear that the answer to the amendments has been given to the Iraqis.
MR. WOOD: Yeah, we’ve --
QUESTION: Can you elaborate on that?
MR. WOOD: Yeah, we’ve gotten back to the Iraqis with a final text, and so the process has concluded on our side and we look forward to hearing back from the Iraqis.
QUESTION: This is a final, final, final text?
MR. WOOD: We believe the process has – on our side, has been concluded. So it’s now the Iraqis’ turn for them to move the document through their internal political process.
QUESTION: I mean, did they tell you when they might get back to you?
MR. WOOD: No. We hope that that will be soon, and we’ll just wait to hear from them.
QUESTION: So you mean you’re not willing to make any more changes?
MR. WOOD: No, look, the Government of Iraq has debated this agreement thoroughly. We certainly – they forwarded to us their suggested amendments. We got back to them. And it’s – now the negotiating process has come to an end, so they will now move it through their internal process, as I said.
QUESTION: So you’re not willing to have any more negotiations with them?
MR. WOOD: We will talk with the Iraqis about, you know, various issues with regard to SOFA. But as I said, the process from our side is concluded.
QUESTION: So does that mean that you – that the negotiators have reached agreement on this text, and then – and they will take it through their internal process now?
MR. WOOD: Well --
QUESTION: Their negotiators have reached agreement --
MR. WOOD: The negotiators, as you know --
QUESTION: -- once you submit it to them?
MR. WOOD: -- worked on a document, on a text that we sent forward to the Iraqis.
MR. WOOD: They sent back their suggested, proposed amendments. We have gotten back to them and we believe we have addressed a number of those issues in a way that respects the sovereignty of both countries. So right now, the document is with the Iraqis.
QUESTION: But can you say – like, do you expect to go back and forth, or is this like, if you don’t accept this, we’re just going to go for another --
MR. WOOD: As I said, we’ve – from our side, we’ve concluded the process. But that doesn't mean that we will not have discussions with the Iraqis.
QUESTION: What bits did you accept and what bits did you say needed --
MR. WOOD: I’m obviously not going to talk about that here from the podium. But again --
QUESTION: Why not, if it’s final? They know it. Why shouldn’t the rest of the world know?
MR. WOOD: Well, the Iraqis --
QUESTION: (Inaudible) in an hour.
MR. WOOD: The Iraqis have the text, and they’re going to review it. And as I said, from our side, the process has concluded.
QUESTION: What is the consequence if they reject it?
MR. WOOD: I’m not going to talk about consequences here. We’ve – you know, we’ve discussed this agreement with the Iraqis over a period of time, and we’ve responded in good faith to a number of their concerns, as I mentioned, and the text is now with them. And we hope that they will get back to us, you know, as soon as possible, and we go forward. But I really don’t want to talk about the details of it. They’re obviously reviewing it.
QUESTION: Would you call it take it or leave it?
MR. WOOD: I don’t get into making ultimatums.
QUESTION: An offer they can’t refuse?
MR. WOOD: I would just – again, I would just say, from our side, that the process has concluded.
QUESTION: So you said, legally, we have addressed a number of these issues, so not all of them?
MR. WOOD: Let me just say that we have addressed the issues in a way that respects the sovereignty of both sides.
Anything else on SOFA?
QUESTION: When was it handed over, and to whom, and --
MR. WOOD: I don’t have the exact details of that at the moment, but I believe it was handed over to the Iraqis – well, I’ll have to confirm that for you, but I think it was either, you know, last night or early this morning.
QUESTION: Is it a short document?
MR. WOOD: I have no way of being able to describe it to you.
Anything else on SOFA? Okay, anything else? Please.
QUESTION: Do you have any details about Sung Kim’s meeting with North Korean officials in New York today?
MR. WOOD: Sung Kim is going to meet with the North Korean delegation that’s here for that conference in New York, and he’s supposed to meet with the North Korean delegation on November 6.
QUESTION: And what’s the goal of the meeting?
MR. WOOD: Well, they’re going to talk about, you know, Six-Party discussions and will obviously be talking about verification.
QUESTION: On North Korea --
QUESTION: They met once already this morning. You don’t have anything --
MR. WOOD: One second. I’m sorry?
QUESTION: They met once already this morning and they’re meeting again now. You don’t have anything to share with us?
MR. WOOD: No, I don’t have anything at this point.
QUESTION: On North Korea again?
MR. WOOD: Sure.
QUESTION: Yeah. Do you have anything, independent or otherwise, to confirm the sightings of the North Korean leader or his activities?
MR. WOOD: I haven’t seen him.
QUESTION: Can you give us a readout later on Sung Kim’s meeting?
MR. WOOD: Yeah, we’ll try and get you a readout.
QUESTION: On Middle East?
MR. WOOD: Sure.
QUESTION: Hamas and Fatah are supposed to be – they said they’re going to announce this unity government on the 9th, on Sunday. Are you concerned about this at all? Is it something that’s a bit of a spanner in the works?
MR. WOOD: Well, again, I’m not aware that they’ve reached any kind of agreement yet. That’s – that’s something that the two sides will have to deal with. What the Secretary is doing right now out in the region is trying to move the Annapolis process forward. And that’s the focus of our efforts right now, and she’s going there to do what she can to help, as I said, move that process.
QUESTION: But are you not worried about this? Isn’t this something that would really kind of – you know, a shift in policy towards the Palestinian Authority if they come together again?
MR. WOOD: Well, you’re asking me to speculate on something that hasn’t happened yet. I don’t really want to do that. The Secretary is in the region. The party can probably best address some of those questions. But again, our overall policy has been to try to move Annapolis forward, and that’s what the Secretary is going to do until she leaves office.
QUESTION: Do you favor a reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah?
MR. WOOD: It’s – look, Hamas is a problem in the region. It’s not playing a helpful role. It’s a terrorist organization. You know, President Abbas is, you know, the leader of the Palestinians and he is the partner that the Israelis are engaged with, and he is committed to the process. Hamas is not committed to a peaceful process with Israel. So that would be my comment.
QUESTION: But can you have peace in the region without Hamas being on board somehow?
MR. WOOD: Hamas would have to fundamentally change its character and nature. We see no signs that Hamas is willing to do that: It’s unwilling to recognize Israel’s right to exist; it will not recognize previous agreements that have been reached between Israel and the Palestinians; it will not renounce violence. At this point, it is not a credible partner for peace.
QUESTION: Thank you.
QUESTION: I have one on Jendayi Frazer. Is she still in the region, or in Africa?
MR. WOOD: Yeah. In fact, she’s on her way to Nairobi to attend this Great Lakes summit. I don’t have any more details on, you know, how long she will be in the region, but she is on her way there now.
QUESTION: Do you – does the United States support a negotiated solution? I think there are some words from the – Kabila’s government that they would meet with the rebels and discuss. Is that the line --
MR. WOOD: Well, we obviously hope that, you know, both the government and the rebels will, you know, reach some kind of an agreement so that we can bring – finally bring peace to that very troubled part of Africa. And so we’re hopeful, but, you know, I’ve learned in my time in dealing with that region that hopes can be quickly dashed. But what we hope to do and what the other leaders who are in attendance hope to do is to convince both sides that this kind of fighting and violence and instability is not good for not only the Congo, but for the rest of the continent. So, you know, that’s where I would leave it.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MR. WOOD: Okay. Thank you all.
(The briefing was concluded at 10:52 a.m.)
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