|Daily Press Briefing|
Sean McCormack, Spokesman
October 9, 2008
|Moving the Process Forward in a Responsible Way|
|Ongoing Consultations with All Parties|
|An Action-for-Action Process / Looking for Verification Regime|
|Discussions By Sung Kim in Pyongyang and Tokyo|
|U.S. Urges North Korea to Avoid Steps that Increase Tension on Peninsula|
|Issue of Notice to IAEA / North Korea Can Take a Different Set of Decisions|
|Goal for This Process is Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula|
|Part of the Engagement with North Korea is to Get Back on the Pathway of Six-Party Process|
|Ukrainian Democracy at Work / Will of the People Expressed at Ballot Box|
|Withdrawal Proceeding in a Positive Way / Consulting with French Government|
|There Are Going to be Questions About Individual Security Checkpoints / Issue of Total Number of Russian Troops|
|U.S. Department of Treasury Has Lead on International Financial Crisis|
|World Bank IMF Meetings in Washington|
|American Citizens Detained / Individuals in Syrian Custody|
|Expecting to Get Consular Access to Detainees / Do Not Have Full Set of Facts|
|Seeking the Release of American Detainees|
|Visa Waver Program is a Topic of Discussion With a Number of Countries|
|U.S. Continues to Have Good Discussions|
|U.S. Wants to See Issue Resolved to Satisfaction of Both Parties|
|P5+1 Political Directors / Having Informal Consultations on Possible Elements in the Resolution|
|NIE on Afghanistan / Assessment on Afghanistan / Ongoing Review of Civilian Efforts / Timeline Not Determined|
|PRTs One of the Main Ways on the Ground to Effect Change Outside of the Capital|
|Constructing a Modern State / International Community Needs to Work with Afghans on Governance
Important Issue for Security of US and Global Security for Afghanistan to Succeed|
|Issue of PRT Structure / Having the Appropriate Level of Resources|
|Maximizing Civilian Partnership|
10:32 a.m. EDT
MR. MCCORMACK: Good morning, everybody. I don’t have anything to start off with, so we can get right to your questions.
QUESTION: Well, maybe you can illuminate us as to what the latest thinking on North Korea is this morning.
MR. MCCORMACK: I think you heard from the Secretary of State this morning on the latest thinking on North Korea.
QUESTION: Well, we didn’t hear much.
QUESTION: She didn’t really say --
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, there we are. You know, some days you get something and some days you don’t get anything. Look, as she pointed out, we want to move this process forward, but we want to move it forward in a responsible way. And that means the – all the Six Parties need to agree upon a verification regime, and that’s where we are at the moment. We don’t yet have agreement on a verification regime that will allow this process to move forward. Should we get that, and the five parties are satisfied with that verification regime, then, as we have previously stated, those parties are prepared to meet their obligations as North Korea meets their obligations.
QUESTION: You seem to be suggesting that there will be some kind of meeting or confabulation and that –
MR. MCCORMACK: No, I’m not trying to suggest that at all. Of course we’re doing consultations. Sung Kim was just in Tokyo yesterday. The Secretary has – had a phone call with the – as we talked about yesterday, the South Korean Foreign Minister. And so there are a lot of consultations that are going on. I wouldn’t necessarily look for a meeting of the Six at this point, although if the process moves forward, at some point, you are going to have another meeting of the Six Parties.
QUESTION: Are you still tying the removal of North Korea from the terrorism list to agreement on a verification protocol?
MR. MCCORMACK: I would say only what I have said before on all of this: As North Korea meets its obligations, we are fully prepared to meet our obligations.
QUESTION: But are you requiring full agreement on the entire verification declaration or would you be satisfied with, maybe, a kind of partial documentation? So you would partially remove them and then you would have some sort of promise from them?
MR. MCCORMACK: Let’s simplify it and go back to basic principles.
QUESTION: That would be good, yeah.
MR. MCCORMACK: This is an action-for-action process. And that said, when North Korea – as North Korea meets its obligations, we are fully prepared to meet our obligations. You have a history of, as North Korea was meeting its obligations under the disablement – or disablement part of the agreement, the United States as well as other members of the Six-Party Talks were meeting their obligations, in terms of providing heavy fuel oil or in-kind assistance.
So that’s the model. At this point, we’re looking at the verification regime, and should we get a verification regime that is acceptable to the five as well as get – has the agreement of North Korea, all the other parties are prepared to meet their obligations in kind.
QUESTION: Well, what exactly are you consulting on? What’s different this week than last week at this time?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, there – I don’t know precisely but – you know, where you’re pinning this back to, but Chris Hill was in Pyongyang.
QUESTION: Mm-hmm, two weeks ago.
MR. MCCORMACK: He had discussions. Sung Kim had discussions in Pyongyang. He had some consultations in Tokyo. So I guess that would be different in terms of the consultations, the state of play, what it is that we heard from the North Koreans on the verification regime.
QUESTION: Right. Well, what did you hear from the North Koreans on the verification regime?
MR. MCCORMACK: Not – nice try.
QUESTION: Well, I mean, did you hear something? I mean, presumably, they didn’t go over there and just say verification regime, verification regime, verification regime. Presumably, they actually talked about some kind of specifics. Is that correct?
MR. MCCORMACK: Matt, look, the – you know, I appreciate the attempts, and these are all good, valid questions. I’m just not going to bite. When we have something to – something more to say about the verification regime, we will make an announcement, as the Secretary said.
QUESTION: On the test firing of missiles, the reports from North Korea – they expect more than just a routine test firing and there’s some concern about that. And there’s been some strong statements from the North that to – warning about a possible clash over the maritime border that’s still disputed.
MR. MCCORMACK: Right.
QUESTION: Do you have anything more to say on –
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, certainly, these issues related to maritime issues aren’t new. They are – they’re preexisting. And we would urge North Korea to avoid any steps that increase tension on the peninsula. And as for any potential missile launches or missile-related activity, I’m not in a position to confirm that for you. But I would remind the North Korean Government, as well as underline for everybody else, that missile-related activities are prohibited under UN Security Council Resolution 1718.
QUESTION: I don’t know if I missed this, so apologies if I did. Have you spoken yet about the notice to the IAEA that North Korea submitted about –
MR. MCCORMACK: No, I saw the formal statement that the IAEA had put out just before I came in here. And look, it’s a regrettable step, but one that is reversible. The North Koreans, over the past month or so, have taken a series of steps that we have viewed as not positive, not helpful, and certainly not furthering the process of denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula; in fact, reversing some of the steps that they had previously taken and previously committed to.
All of that said, what they have done thus far is reversible. They can take a different set of decisions, and we would urge them to do so. I guess, you know, should they continue down that pathway, then they won’t realize the benefits of engagement with the rest of the world and from the Six-Party Talks, but there is that – there is the other pathway as well where they can continue to realize those benefits.
QUESTION: And then what is –
MR. MCCORMACK: We’ll see which way they decide to go.
QUESTION: And what does it really tell you that this comes after Chris Hill’s had his meetings over there to try to convince them to do otherwise?
MR. MCCORMACK: I’m not going to try to read into their motivations in doing this. I would just say that it is certainly not a helpful step and that we would urge them to reverse that decision.
QUESTION: And could you say – the status of your inspectors or disablers or nuclear experts that are on the ground?
MR. MCCORMACK: They are still there in North Korea.
Yes. Anything else on North Korea? What’s that?
QUESTION: At Yongbyon?
MR. MCCORMACK: They are still at – well, wherever it is that they are stationed. I can’t – I assume that it’s in Yongbyon. Let’s just, for the sake of argument, say Yongbyon.
QUESTION: Just a follow-up on that and then another question. The IAEA inspectors are still at – in North Korea at Yongbyon as well, but what has happened is, they are not having any access to any of the sites at Yongbyon. Is that – are the U.S. officials still have access to the sites at Yongbyon?
MR. MCCORMACK: I can’t tell you exactly what they have done today. They are still there. I – you know, again, we’ll see what tomorrow brings, if that brings any change in the status of their activities.
QUESTION: Okay. And then the – I had one other question.
MR. MCCORMACK: Sure.
QUESTION: On the verification regime, would it be fair to say that the U.S. focus right now, the primary focus is trying to end the immediate threat of the plutonium program and that is what would be your main goal in a verification regime?
MR. MCCORMACK: Our goal for this process is a denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. That means all the various aspects of their nuclear-related activities, whether that’s plutonium or HEU or any proliferation-related activities. And we have an equal level of concern about all of those various areas, and therefore, we would need to be able – we, the other five, would need to be able to satisfy ourselves that the declaration the North Korean Government provided is, in fact, complete and correct. And I would expect that in the course of any verification regime, whether it’s a question of plutonium or HEU or proliferation-related activity that you are going to learn more and more.
Just in this period of time, obviously, over the past six months or so, where we have engaged North Korea on issues related to verification and declaration, we’ve learned more than we ever knew about their program. So we would expect, in the course of verification, that there would be a process of discovery. But there’s an equal level of concern about all the various aspects of their nuclear activity. Now, of course, plutonium – the plutonium pathway is much more advanced, or so we suspect, than any other pathway.
So there is perhaps more to discover or more to learn in that regard, but again, you don’t know what you don’t know at this point. And that is why we are – we as well as others want to get this verification regime completed, and it’s important that we get the right verification regime completed.
QUESTION: Do you see all of these actions, the kicking out of monitors, undoing the seals, the firing off of missiles, as grandstanding while the negotiations have hit a really, sort of, difficult spot?
MR. MCCORMACK: No, I’m not going to try to trivialize what they’ve done. I can’t read into their motivations, Sue. Clearly, the – many of the steps that they have taken have not been helpful to the – moving the process forward. But as I have said before, and I’ve repeated today, the steps that they have taken thus far are reversible. And part of the process of engaging them, we as well as others, is to convince them to get back on the pathway where the Six-Party process is moving forward, as they’re going to realize benefits from that process.
QUESTION: Have there been any nonreversible steps taken?
MR. MCCORMACK: I’m no technical expert, but I think that everything that they have done, they can certainly reverse course on.
QUESTION: Yeah, there’s some news reports that U.S. officials have told the Japanese that the U.S. will take North Korea off the terrorism list this month. Is that true? Is that –
MR. MCCORMACK: Same answer, same response, Sue –
QUESTION: – what U.S. officials –
MR. MCCORMACK: – to a different way of asking the question that Sue asked.
QUESTION: May I ask you about Ukraine?
MR. MCCORMACK: About –
MR. MCCORMACK: Ukraine, sure.
QUESTION: Yes. The President of Ukraine has dissolved the parliament again, pushing our country in the third general election during the three years. Do you have any comment on the situation? Thank you.
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, this is Ukrainian democracy at work. It isn’t – it – as we have seen around the world, whether it’s Ukraine or other places, democracy is not always the easiest path, but we believe it’s the best pathway so that the will of the people is expressed via the ballot box and the policies of the leaders that they – that are elected reflect the desires of the people.
So if this is part of democracy, this is the pathway of Ukrainian democracy, and we certainly support the Ukrainian people and Ukrainian leaders as they work through the – I guess what I’d refer to as political turbulence currently in the system.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah, Sylvie.
QUESTION: Are you satisfied with the withdrawal, the Russian withdrawal in Georgia?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, it’s still ongoing. I know that the Russians have said that it will be completed very soon. We had some maps up yesterday, giving our – representing the best information that we have. I would expect that perhaps tomorrow when Robert briefs, he’ll be able to give you a bit more of an update as to how we see the withdrawal. But it is proceeding in a positive way.
I’m not going to offer any political judgments at this point about fulfillment of the September 8th ceasefire agreement or compliance with the earlier August ceasefire agreement. I know that Foreign Minister Kouchner is currently in Tbilisi at the moment and this is part – these are part of his discussions. So I would expect that we’ll be consulting with the French Government, who are chair and president of the EU at this point, to talk about how they view it, what they’ve heard from the Georgians, and also reflect back to them what it is that we’re seeing via our own sources of information. So I can’t offer you a political judgment at this point.
QUESTION: Yeah. Well, apparently the Russians are staying in one of – in one area which used to belong to South Ossetia and which doesn’t belong anymore. So there is still one part –
MR. MCCORMACK: Right. No, I know, and there is still some – there are going to be questions, I would expect, about individual security checkpoints. We’re down to the point of talking about individual checkpoints, as well as the larger issue of the total numbers of Russian troops, whether in South Ossetia or Abkhazia.
So again, those are a couple of the questions that are going to be need – that are going to have to be answered. So you have to answer geographical questions, you have to answer numerical questions. And then, you know, once we have had an opportunity to assess for ourselves, in consultation with the French as well as others, we’ll be able to offer a political assessment of whether or not Russia has met the terms of the ceasefire agreements and what the pathway forward is.
QUESTION: Russia related. And this is the same question I asked yesterday: Is there any update on U.S.-Russian discussions about this ship off the – the hijacked ship? You saw that NATO put out an announcement.
MR. MCCORMACK: Right. I checked into that, Matt. I have not gotten a satisfactory answer. I promise we will push one for you this afternoon.
QUESTION: Have you gotten an unsatisfactory answer?
MR. MCCORMACK: Yes, I have. (Laughter.) And therefore, I’m not going to share it with you. It’s not a matter of I don’t like the answer, it’s just not a – it’s not a – in my view, a factually complete answer, so I’m not going to provide it to you at this point.
QUESTION: The Russians have also been invited to a meeting of, I think it’s the finance ministers this weekend as part of a G-8 meeting.
MR. MCCORMACK: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: Does this mean that Russians – Russia – because of the deep financial crisis, Russia, for example, is helping bail out Iceland, that they’re being welcomed back into the international fold? Do you see that?
MR. MCCORMACK: I’ll let any questions related to the – as you referred to it, the international financial crisis or questions about the financial markets, I’ll let my colleagues over at the Treasury Department answer those questions.
QUESTION: But do you think it’s useful, though? Because the State Department, for example, has been excluding Russia from G-8 discussions. So you think it’s okay for them to be included on financial discussions?
MR. MCCORMACK: Look, any decisions that the Treasury Department has the lead on that touch on international relations, I’m sure that there was some discussion within the U.S. Government about this. But again, Treasury has the lead on those issues.
QUESTION: So you’re not on the same page on this, then, Treasury and the State Department?
MR. MCCORMACK: I think it’s safe to assume we are all on the same page.
QUESTION: Well, it does seem a little bit unusual that you guys over here and in other parts of the government have been getting rid of the G-8 and focusing on the G-7 and then the finance ministers, which have never met at G-8 level before – it’s always been G-7 – is now going to the G-8 to specifically include Russia, while you guys are specifically excluding Russia. Does it not –
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, Matt, not to tread into waters where I don’t belong, and talking about issues related to the Department of Treasury is – definitely falls within that category. But I would note that the World Bank / IMF meetings are taking place here in Washington. And I would expect that there are a lot of meetings with various geometries and groupings that are going to be going on.
QUESTION: That they aren’t taking place in Washington?
QUESTION: No, they are.
QUESTION: They are.
MR. MCCORMACK: They are. Yeah, they are.
Libby. I didn’t recognize you all the way back there.
QUESTION: I know. I decided to mix it up. What can you tell us about these American journalists that were detained in Syria? When were they detained, or when did the Syrians tell you they were detained –
MR. MCCORMACK: Right.
QUESTION: – and did they tell you why?
MR. MCCORMACK: Right. I don’t have – well, to start off with, we don’t have a Privacy Act Waiver. I can, however, tell you that we were informed by the Syrian Government that they did have these two individuals in custody and that they were safe. We are seeking consular access to them and I would expect that in the very near future, we will have consular access to them. The Syrian Government told us they were detained trying to cross into Syria. Beyond that, I don’t have any more information that I can share with you.
QUESTION: So you don’t know when they were detained?
MR. MCCORMACK: I don’t. I don’t know that.
QUESTION: Do you –
MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah.
QUESTION: So when you say they’re in custody, where are they, exactly? Are they in a Syrian jail somewhere or –
MR. MCCORMACK: Sue, I don’t have any more information than that.
QUESTION: Can you say when you were informed?
QUESTION: So they were detained – they were detained because they were trying to cross what illegally – the Syrians believe they were trying to cross illegally, is what I’ve heard.
MR. MCCORMACK: I don’t have a full set of facts here, and certainly I don’t have a Privacy Act waiver from these two individuals. The only way that I could characterize it at this point is to reflect back to you what we’ve been told by the Syrian Government, that they were detained trying to cross in. Now, I –
QUESTION: But they didn’t tell you why they were detained?
MR. MCCORMACK: That I don’t have a good read on, at least not something – I don’t have a full set of facts. So when I get the full set of facts, I’d be try to – I’d be happy to try to answer that question for you.
QUESTION: But do you know, did they offer you an explanation, even if it’s imperfect or wherever it was? They’ve got an unsatisfactory explanation –
MR. MCCORMACK: I don’t know the full content of the discussion, you know, the back and forth with the Syrian Government. All that was reflected back to me was that they were detained trying to cross over the border.
QUESTION: Have the Syrians –
MR. MCCORMACK: I’m not going to try to, at this point, make a value judgment about it.
QUESTION: Have the Syrians informed you that they will face any charges?
MR. MCCORMACK: We’re – as we would with any American citizen around the world, we’re seeking their release and we’re going to try to get them back to – either with their families or back to their home base as soon as possible.
QUESTION: Is there anything that leads you to believe they may not be released fairly quickly and they could be detained --
MR. MCCORMACK: I don’t have anything that would – at this point, that would indicate that.
QUESTION: But you did say that you expected to have consular access soon. Does that mean the Syrians have said okay, you can –
MR. MCCORMACK: We expect to get consular access to them. Yeah, I – and, I mean, it – look, it’s one of those things where they – we could have already gotten consular access and it just hasn’t been reported back to me yet.
QUESTION: Do you know when they informed you – the Syrians?
MR. MCCORMACK: I think we heard about this yesterday. Yeah.
QUESTION: Yes. Welcome. On Greece, Mr. McCormack –
MR. MCCORMACK: I’m happy to be here. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: Yes, and we miss you. You’re traveling all over. You are absent all the time. That’s why I mention that.
MR. MCCORMACK: I miss you guys sometimes.
QUESTION: Mr. McCormack, according to reports, the U.S. Government has decided to block the entry of Greece into the Visa Waiver Program, and I’m wondering why. Do you expect anything in exchange, like in the case of Poland and Czech Republic with the missile programs before your approval?
MR. MCCORMACK: Obviously, the Visa Waiver Program is a topic of discussion with a number of countries, including good friends in Europe and around the world. The only thing that I could say at this point generally about the Visa Waiver Program is that we continue to have good discussions with a number of our friends around the world about the Visa Waiver Program.
QUESTION: So you have not decided so far?
MR. MCCORMACK: I have said what I have said – am going to say about that.
QUESTION: One more question. Yesterday, in New York City, Ambassador Matthew Nimetz concluded a new round of talks on the name issue between Athens and Skopje, during of which he submitted a new proposal and he stated clearly there is no time limit in the whole process after 18 years of negotiation. Anything to say, Mr. McCormack, since the U.S. Government wants FYROM to become a NATO member as soon as possible, as Mr. Gates mentioned that yesterday in Ohrid, Skopje?
MR. MCCORMACK: We want to see this issue resolved as quickly as possible, to the satisfaction of both parties.
QUESTION: Any idea when the P-5+1 are going to talk to – have a conference call to discuss the letter?
MR. MCCORMACK: Nothing is scheduled at this point.
QUESTION: Anything this week that you know of?
MR. MCCORMACK: We’ll let you know when we have a call scheduled.
QUESTION: And secondly, I mean, there was a resolution passed at the UN last week or the week before, but it was a fairly – well, repeated what you’d previously said in other resolutions, didn’t really cover any new ground. Is there – are there any moves to draw up a new sanctions resolution? Do you think there’s any support for that?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, that’s what – that would be the point of having the political directors continue discussions. You know, drawing up language on a specific resolution would come down the line. It would – the initial discussions would focus on what elements could possibly be included, and then you get to the point of actually putting that in the form of a resolution.
So I would say that we are at the stage of having informal consultations with some of our partners in the P-5+1 process about what elements might be included in a resolution. We have not gotten to the point yet where we are prepared to schedule a P-5+1 political directors call, but I would anticipate at some point we will.
QUESTION: So have these informal discussions been with the EU-3, not with China and Russia?
MR. MCCORMACK: I’m not going to get into the details of it, but it hasn’t been with the full group.
QUESTION: So does that mean it has not been with China and Russia?
MR. MCCORMACK: It hasn’t been with the full group.
QUESTION: Or maybe it has been with China and Russia then.
MR. MCCORMACK: Kirit?
QUESTION: I did have a question for you on Afghanistan. There’s reports out that at the NATO meetings that are taking place, that there is an expectation of a proposal to reach out to the Taliban and have more interaction with them. And that’s, I think, an idea that General Petraeus has supported as well. Is there anything you can say about that?
MR. MCCORMACK: I’ll – let me look into it for you, Kirit. I don’t have a response for you right now.
QUESTION: One more on Kosovo? On Kosovo? Okay. Mr. McCormack, the UN General Assembly yesterday, at the request of Serbia, approved a resolution to ask the International Court of Justice to provide a formal opinion on the legality of the so-called Kosovo independence. I am wondering why the U.S. Government voted against the resolution.
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, you can look up our explanation of the vote yesterday.
QUESTION: Do you have any comment on the NIE estimate that’s apparently going to come out around the election? Secretary Rice referred to it a little bit this morning –
MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah, you did that – right. I was there. She did.
QUESTION: But do you have any further details?
MR. MCCORMACK: I don’t, no. No, she talked about – just for everybody else’s information, she was asked a question about the NIE on Afghanistan. The story appeared in the – in a daily newspaper this morning. What she said, and I’ll be happy to repeat, is that the government asked for an assessment of the intelligence community’s views on Afghanistan. She has not yet seen it, and I don’t believe any of the policy makers in the State Department have seen any drafts of this assessment. I would expect at some point that they will be briefed on it.
Meantime, there is an ongoing review of the civilian efforts in Afghanistan, those which fall under the purview of the State Department. And the Secretary directed this to happen because she wanted to make sure that we were optimizing our efforts in Afghanistan, you know. We have a lot of inputs, a lot of resources devoted to Afghanistan, and she wanted to make sure we were getting the most of those resources and that we were – that we had the right structures and we had the right strategies in Afghanistan. She has mentioned specifically looking at PRT structures and making sure that those were being done right to optimize our resource inputs. As you know from the Iraq experience, the PRTs are really one of the main ways that the State Department and civilians on the ground can really effect change outside of the capital.
So I don’t have a timeline for you on that. She wants the review to be done in a way that we put the appropriate amount of energy behind it, but she also wants it done in a thorough manner.
QUESTION: But would you agree, though, with the assessment that Afghanistan is sort of spiraling into chaos and that President’s Karzai’s government is just not doing enough to counter the Taliban’s influence?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, again, the intelligence community will come up with their assessments, so I don’t want to try to –
QUESTION: But regardless of that –
MR. MCCORMACK: – color the views of that.
QUESTION: – overall, would you –
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, again, she talked a little bit about this upstairs. And you’ve heard me talk about this as well. Think about where Afghanistan was in 2001 and think about where they are today. They’ve come an extraordinary distance. Now, none of that is to say they don’t have a long way to go. Think about it this way. It – the question isn’t so much about reconstructing Afghanistan as it is about constructing a modern state. Afghanistan, for a variety of different reasons – you know, part of it was the neglect of the United States and the international community after the Russians got – you know, the Soviet Union got kicked out of Afghanistan in the ’80s.
There has not been a great deal of development and integration – well, prior to 2001, development and integration into the rest of the international system. We aim to reverse that and we have come a long way. Think about how far the Afghan political system has come. Think about how far the infrastructure in Afghanistan has come. But it’s got a long way to go. And in order for that progress to continue, we, the international community, need to make sure that we get the security equation right, and the big input from that is going to be from Afghanistan. We need to make sure that we work with the Afghans on good governance, which means bringing an end to corruption. We need to make sure we get the counternarcotics question right. And we need to make sure that we get the regional question right. Because, quite clearly, there’s a security component along that border with Pakistan, which means working very closely with Pakistan and having Afghanistan and Pakistan work closely together.
So it’s a – it’s an important issue for the security of the United States. It’s an important issue for global security that we see Afghanistan succeed. This is going to be a long-term project and commitment. But we and the international community are committed to working with Afghan partners who want to build that modern, democratic, more prosperous, Afghan state.
QUESTION: But can you briefly, and by briefly I mean –
MR. MCCORMACK: (Laughter.)
QUESTION: – in as few words as possible, explain exactly what she meant and what you mean by PRT structure?
MR. MCCORMACK: Briefly – I don’t know if I can do it briefly. But –
QUESTION: Well, I mean is it –
MR. MCCORMACK: – to make sure – the key is to make sure that you have the right capabilities in place, deployed in places where they are needed, that you have the right amount of resources, the appropriate level of resources. Some places you may need more. Some places you may need less. Are the PRTs in the right places geographically? And do we have a good civilian-military working relationship, the kind of partnership, for example, that we saw in Iraq, which was quite effective?
So while the PRTs were – PRTs were actually developed in Afghanistan, the concept of them; they, in a sense, were perfected in Iraq. So you want to make sure that you take any lessons – they’re two different situations, but you want to make sure that you learn from your experiences there and see how those might apply, if at all, in Afghanistan. So I know it’s not the short answer you were looking for, but –
QUESTION: I just want – when you say resources, do you mean people, money, the kind of people –
MR. MCCORMACK: Expertise. It could be expertise. It could be the numbers of people. It could be their ability to spend money in the field. Again, all of these questions – and, you know, the answer may be different for each particular location in Afghanistan.
QUESTION: But – and when you say people, when you’re looking at it, are you also looking at military personnel – I mean, that would – that accompany or that these people are embedded? I realize you’re separate from that.
MR. MCCORMACK: Right.
QUESTION: But I mean, does that go into it? Do we – perhaps you need – you think you need more troops to protect certain – or is it –
MR. MCCORMACK: I’m not aware that that’s part of the equation.
QUESTION: So when you’re talking about people as resources, you’re talking about civilian – purely the civilian side?
MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah, yeah, that’s our purview.
QUESTION: No, I understand that. But I mean, there could be – you could say, all right, well, we need, you know, another –
MR. MCCORMACK: Right. No, I get you.
QUESTION: – battalion or something.
MR. MCCORMACK: No, no, no, I get you. And also, let me just make clear, I don’t want to in any way leave the implication that we’re not working well between the civilians and the military in Afghanistan. We are. But we just want to make sure that we’re – that we, the civilian side, have the proper structures to maximize that partnership.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MR. MCCORMACK: Thanks.
(The briefing was concluded at 11:02 a.m.)
dpb # 170