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



Nothing New on the SOFA
Iraqis Considering the Text
Secretary Rice’s Conversations with Iraqi Leaders
Not Aware of Any Other Plans


Geneva Meeting – See Dan Fried’s Remarks / Next Meeting November 18
Abkhazian, South Ossetian Delegations Walked Out of Information Meeting
Accreditation of Delegations Issue


Nothing New on American Citizen Arrest
Correction from Yesterday: Mohmand Agency is in the FATA, not North Waziristan


No P5+1 Meeting Scheduled Yet
Reversal of the Reversal Continues / US, IAEA Inspectors on the Ground
Estimated Percentage of Re-Disablement
Chinese Will Announce Date for Next Head of Delegation Meeting / Six Party Talks


Importance of Merida Initiative / Timeline of Resource Delivery
Contact with Monterrey Local Police on Consulate Attack
Travel Advisory for American Citizens – Geographically Specific
Steps for Protecting Our People & Facilities / Continue to Work with Local Police


U.S. Congratulates the Azerbaijani People on Improved Election
Waiting for OSCE Reports for Full Assessment


Secretary’s Written Response to Senator Levin
President Bush’s Briefings at State: War of Ideas (Glassman), Democracy Promotion (Dobriansky, Welch, WHA PDAS Kelly), Nonproliferation Efforts (Rood)
Juxtaposed Current Efforts with 2001 / Not Legacy-Related
War of Ideas Effort Started by Karen Hughes, Advanced by Jim Glassman
We Can Arrange a Briefing if Interested


View Video

12:07 p.m. EDT

MR. MCCORMACK: Good afternoon, everybody. I don’t have anything to begin with, so we can get right to your questions.

QUESTION: You aren’t going to announce that the --

MR. MCCORMACK: I have some answers. I have some answers for --

QUESTION: -- SOFA has been signed, sealed and delivered? You don’t have an announcement for us on that?

MR. MCCORMACK: Nice try. Nothing new on the SOFA.

QUESTION: Nothing?

MR. MCCORMACK: We’ll just get that out of the way.

QUESTION: Nothing at all?

MR. MCCORMACK: Nothing new.

QUESTION: Not even --

QUESTION: How about --

MR. MCCORMACK: No, I have nothing – I have nothing new to report. The process continues.

QUESTION: So how are your deliberations going on the SOFA? Because you have to look at it too; are you just about finishing dotting the Is and crossing the Ts?

MR. MCCORMACK: I think the way I would put the – describe the process to you is, the Iraqis are considering the text. We are talking to the Iraqis. So I think that’s pretty much what I said yesterday. (Laughter.)


QUESTION: Is the Secretary making any calls on --

MR. MCCORMACK: She did speak with some of the Iraqi leaders yesterday, yes.

QUESTION: Can you tell us which ones?

MR. MCCORMACK: I think she spoke with Prime Minister Maliki, President Talabani, Vice President Adil Abd Al-Mahdi, and I’ll see if there are any more. We’ll put out a list for you. *


MR. MCCORMACK: I know at least those.


QUESTION: And what about speaking to any Americans, Capitol Hill folks, any senators, congressmen?

MR. MCCORMACK: Nothing as of briefing time.

QUESTION: Nothing as of briefing time?


QUESTION: Do you have any comment about the talks on Georgia and -- the very short talks on Georgia and --

MR. MCCORMACK: No, nothing more beyond what Dan Fried said yesterday. I understand he did a briefing with reporters. We’ve given the – I think we’ve given all of you the transcript of that.

The next meeting is scheduled to convene November 18th – is that it? November 18th. The de facto South Ossetian and Abkhazian delegations refused to stay at the information meeting when they learned that they would not be seated at the plenary meeting, so they got up and left. And I think the long and short of it is that pretty much put an end to any of the political discussions that were ongoing, but we’re committed to this – participating in this process that is part of the ceasefire agreement.

*Conversations on Iraq by Secretary Rice include those with Kurdistan Regional President Barzani, Iraqi Vice President Mahdi, Iraqi President Talabani, Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki and Iraqi Vice President Hashami

QUESTION: But Dan seemed to be rather – more indulgent toward the Russians than you were the day before, and he was saying that, actually, they were rather constructive and they were trying to --

MR. MCCORMACK: First, remember I was asked about this and I deferred any comment specifically about what was going on in Geneva because I just hadn’t gotten a read of it. But I did cite this issue regarding, quote, “accreditation of delegations.”

Dan can offer a firsthand account. I mean, certainly, his account is definitive. He was there. I don’t think I would lean one way or the other on the – commenting on their participation or their activities other than to note this question of accreditation.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MR. MCCORMACK: Let me --

QUESTION: Can I go back to Iraq for a second?


QUESTION: In her conversations with the Iraqi leaders, is there any discussion about what might happen if an agreement isn’t reached by December 31st, making contingency plans for that? Did she have that discussion or is she only focused on trying to get this through?

MR. MCCORMACK: The focus – her focus is on moving this SOFA process forward.

QUESTION: So who is having a Plan B discussion?

MR. MCCORMACK: We’re focused on moving the SOFA process forward.

QUESTION: Well, can we – just to follow up on Libby’s question, I mean, back in the springtime, the Ambassador – the Iraqi Ambassador to the United States did a roundtable when I was there, and I asked him, look, if you cannot reach an agreement by the time the current authority expires, would you consider the possibility of going back to the UN Security Council and, you know, extending the authority? And he said yes, we would, but we don’t want to do that, we’ve been very clear, and so on.

I mean, even if your focus is on reaching the SOFA, and that’s understandable, have you given any thought at all to what you might have to do and whether you would have to go the Security Council route? You know, I mean, presumably, that would be Plan B, right?

MR. MCCORMACK: I’m not aware of any serious contemplation of anything other than getting the SOFA done on our side. Again, I don’t have perfect knowledge, but I’m not aware of any contemplation of anything other than getting the SOFA done.

QUESTION: Are there other options besides the UN Security Council mandate being extended?

MR. MCCORMACK: I think the option is get the SOFA done.


QUESTION: A different issue. On Pakistan, do you have any updates on the American who’s (inaudible)?

MR. MCCORMACK: Nothing new. I just checked before I came in here; nothing new from when we spoke about this yesterday other than, I – let me correct myself. I have a map here in front of you. I’ll spare you putting it up on the screens. Mohmand -- the Mohmand agency or Mohmand area is in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas. However, it is not in North Waziristan.

QUESTION: Anything new on the P-5+1 meeting that is scheduled to --

MR. MCCORMACK: Nothing scheduled at this point.

QUESTION: What about --

QUESTION: So why is nothing scheduled on that? Is that because you’ve decided not to bother with the P-5+1 anymore?

MR. MCCORMACK: No, no. I fully expect that there will be a phone call at some point in time. It just hasn’t been scheduled yet.

QUESTION: Any developments on the ground in North Korea that you’re aware of in terms of the reversal of the reversal?

MR. MCCORMACK: The reversal of the reversal continues. Our inspectors and the IAEA inspectors are on the ground doing their jobs- tags being applied, things being put back where they were previously.

QUESTION: Have the North Koreans gotten to the point where they were in re-disabling things that they were before?

MR. MCCORMACK: Right, yeah, I get it. I’ll try to get you a percentage. I did not get a percentage before I came out here. I don’t believe that they have gotten back to that point yet, though.

QUESTION: And if you can find out, maybe you can ask how long one can expect --

MR. MCCORMACK: How long is it going to take, right.

QUESTION: -- it would take just --


QUESTION: -- to get back to that basis?

MR. MCCORMACK: I’ll see if we have an estimate.


QUESTION: Any date set yet for the Six-Party Talks?

MR. MCCORMACK: No. Still talking to the Chinese and the other parties. I’ll wait for the Chinese to announce the head of delegation date.

Yes, sir.

QUESTION: Can I ask you – Ambassador Tony Garza mentioned yesterday that one of the main challenges in Mexico, for U.S. as well, is in narco-violence.


QUESTION: He was asking – do you have any date where Congress might deliver the first aid from the Merida Initiative?

MR. MCCORMACK: I have to – let me check for you on that. Off the top of my head, I don’t know. We – you know, the Administration believes that this is a very important initiative. I think we’ve demonstrated that in a number of different ways, from the personal intervention and commitment of Deputy Secretary Negroponte in working with the Mexican Government in negotiating this, and also our going to Capitol Hill and underlying how important this was for Mexico and the United States and how it was really a groundbreaking initiative.

In terms of the – when the resources start to flow, let me check for you. I don’t have an answer for you on that. We’ll post one up for you.

QUESTION: He also mentioned that the attack to the U.S. Consulate in Monterrey --


QUESTION: -- with a hand grenade was a big mistake. Is U.S. planning to request more security to the Mexican Government or increase its security within the Consulate?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, we rely very heavily on the local police there to help provide security, and I know that we have been in contact with them about taking appropriate steps to make sure something like that doesn't happen again.

QUESTION: Finally, the advisory for the U.S. citizens not to travel is only for Cuidad Juarez or some other border cities?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, usually, these things are very specific with respect to geography. You can go back and take a look at the areas specified there.


QUESTION: Election yesterday in Azerbaijan – the incumbent got 90 percent of the vote. Any reflection on it?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, we congratulate the Azerbaijani people on having this election and instituting some improvements in the way this election occurred over previous elections. The OSCE and the – is in the process of issuing a number of reports about the election. So as their assessment is, in fact, ongoing, I’m just going to, you know, speak very generally about it that it was an improvement. There’s still work to be done.

QUESTION: And this call doesn't bother you?

MR. MCCORMACK: What’s that?

QUESTION: This call, 90 percent, doesn't bother you?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, like I said, there’s more to be done, but it was an improvement. The assessment of the monitors on the ground was that it was an improvement over past elections.


QUESTION: (Inaudible) Washington Post article yesterday suggested that – in an intelligence report, that Condoleezza Rice authorized torture back in 2003. Do you have any comment on that?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, we’ve – the Reuters correspondent in previous days asked questions about this. I would refer back to the answers that Secretary Rice gave to Senator Levin. He asked her to respond to a number of questions on the record and in writing about this. And what I would urge you to do is check with Senator Levin’s office to see if they would make available the answers to those questions, plus the questions and the answers.

If you have any problem with that, let me know, and I’ll be happy on a case-by-case basis to provide you what we have provided Senator Levin’s office. I don’t have anything to add beyond her answers. I’m not going to add or subtract from them.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: One more here.

MR. MCCORMACK: Okay, one last one. Late breaker.

QUESTION: The U.S. is concerned somehow that attacks like the one to the Monterrey Consulate can be repeated against another type of interest – U.S. interest in Mexico?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, you know, in terms of official government facilities anywhere around the world, of course there’s always a threat of some, you know, attack against individuals or against the facilities. What we do is we take the steps that we believe are prudent given the specific circumstances of the place to protect our people and our facilities. An important part of that is working with the host governments as well.

This is something about which our ambassadors around the world are acutely aware. They pay very close attention to it and they deal with it on a case-by-case basis and a country-specific basis.

QUESTION: Can you talk – can you tell us about the briefings President Bush got here?

MR. MCCORMACK: Sure. Yeah, it was – I have to get you – get the number of times President Bush has been here for similar types of briefings. I think it’s on the order of five or six.

But it was broken out into several separate sections. Under Secretary Glassman and his team briefed on what they are doing on the war of ideas; I have to add, a fascinating briefing, really some groundbreaking things that they’re doing. And maybe at some point, if you guys are interested, we could actually have him and his team update you on – update you guys on what they’re doing. It’s really very, very interesting. Not that what others are doing isn’t interesting, but I found it particularly interesting.

Under Secretary Dobriansky and Assistant Secretary Welch and PDAS Craig Kelly did some briefings on democracy promotion. Paula did one sort of looking at efforts globally. David and Craig focused on their regions, the Middle East and the Western Hemisphere, respectively. And Acting Under Secretary John Rood did a briefing on nonproliferation efforts.

And a lot of these briefings were to outline what we’re doing and juxtapose that with where we started back in 2001. And it was a great interactive session, as these always are. The President asked a lot of questions. The Vice President asked a lot of questions. So it was a real good back and forth. It’s not just people putting up PowerPoint slides and people looking at them and saying thank you very much.

QUESTION: So was it a legacy-related thing?

MR. MCCORMACK: No, I wouldn't say it – no, I wouldn't say it’s legacy-related. It’s really talking about what we’re doing and what we’ve done.

QUESTION: Is this global war on ideas sort of – is that a different concept than what Karen Hughes was doing?

MR. MCCORMACK: No, it’s a continuation – you know, Karen --

QUESTION: War of ideas.


QUESTION: I’m sorry. Did I say “on”?


QUESTION: I meant “of.” (Laughter.) Sorry.

MR. MCCORMACK: No, no, no, I wasn’t going to say anything. Matt decided otherwise.

No, the – Karen really kind of started this concept of how do we organize ourselves in terms of our efforts and our resources to take on the threat from violent extremism around the globe at the level of, sort of ideas, sort of the root of this, and, you know, allow people an outlet where they can see a different vision of the world, where they can perhaps engage in conversations and interactions with others that might lead them down a different pathway than being perhaps swayed or come under the sway of those who, you know, want to use violence against innocent people around the globe.

So Karen started this effort, and I’d say Jim has really advanced it quite a ways, and in a short period of time in terms of marshaling the resources, intellectual as well as otherwise of the Department and the U.S. Government.

QUESTION: So is this all to do with the quick sort of reaction force for diplomacy and --

MR. MCCORMACK: No, it’s more than that. It’s more than that. Again, we’ll try to – we can arrange a briefing for you. But a lot of it is using building partnerships, with the private sector, building – you know, allowing others to build networks and helping provide content. But again, let me – I’ll let him do a presentation because, I don’t think I can really do it justice just here off the top of my head.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MR. MCCORMACK: Thank you.

(The briefing was concluded at 12:22 p.m.)

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