|Daily Press Briefing|
Sean McCormack, Spokesman
September 2, 2008
|Announcement of Rice Travel to Portugal, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco|
|Likely Discussion Topics / Human Rights / Regional Issues|
|Appreciation for the Past / No Permanent Enemies|
|Status of U.S.-Libya Comprehensive Claims Settlement Agreement|
|Libyas Decision to Engage / Comparisons to North Korea, Iran|
|Possible Expulsion of U.S. Ambassador Duddy by President Chavez|
|International Support for Negotiation Efforts|
|Status of Six Party Process / Need for Verification Protocol|
|Rices Last Call to Lavrov on August 15 / Russia Knows What It Has To Do|
|EU Statement / Consequences for Russia|
|U.S. Response: Assistance to Georgia / Working with Allies / Costs for Russia|
|Russias Integration Into International Institutions|
|Status of U.S.-Iraqi Negotiations|
|Resignation of Prime Minister Fukuda|
|Impact on Six Party Talks / U.S.-Japan Relationship|
|Nuclear Suppliers Group Meeting / Global Nonproliferation Efforts|
|U.S. Still Pushing Forward on U.S.-India Civil Nuclear Deal|
|In the Interest of Global Non-Proliferation Efforts|
|Murder of Russian Journalist / Russia Needs to Investigate|
1:32 p.m. EDT
MR. MCCORMACK: Good afternoon, everybody. Because of our esteem for you, we have decided to move to a larger room. (Laughter.) We’ll be back at our regular briefing room after some upgrade work is done next week.
I have one trip announcement for you and then we can get right to your questions. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will travel to Portugal, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, and Morocco from September 4th to September 7th. The Secretary will visit Lisbon for meetings with senior officials in the Portuguese Government. The Secretary will meet with Libyan and Tunisian and Algerian and Moroccan officials to discuss a wide range of bilateral and regional issues. The Secretary’s visit to Libya signifies a new chapter in U.S.-Libyan bilateral relations. Secretary Rice will be the first Secretary of State to travel to Libya since John Foster Dulles did so in 1953. Normalized relations between the two countries enable the expansion of bilateral cooperation in a number of areas, including education and culture, commerce, science and technology, security and human rights.
I’ll just add one note. Secretary Rice very much looks forward to this trip and, in particular, to her stop in Libya. It’s a historic stop. Just think, as I mentioned, this is the first time since 1953 that a U.S. Secretary of State has visited Libya. I believe the last high-ranking U.S. official, cabinet level or above, to visit Libya is 1957 with Vice President Nixon. So if you think about this expanse of time, what has happened in that period of time, we’ve had a man land on the moon, had the internet, the Berlin Wall fall, and we’ve had ten U.S. presidents. So this truly is a significant and historic visit. It’s indicative of the kind of evolving relationship that we have, one in which we are building trust. We are building on areas of mutual interest and mutual benefit.
It’s also an important milestone in marking the success of this Administration’s nonproliferation policy. You remember, just thinking back several years ago, the fact that Libya made the decision to give up its WMD programs was one of the important steps that led to this particular opening. So we’re going to look forward to building on the progress that has been made, look forward to expanding this relationship. None of that means that there isn’t work to be done. There is work to be done. But it certainly does mark a new chapter in U.S.-Libyan relations. And with that, we can get to your questions.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) Colonel Qadhafi during her visit? And secondly, during the span of history that you just described, there were also, in addition to all the things you mentioned, multiple acts of violence which the U.S. Government described as terrorism --
MR. MCCORMACK: Right.
QUESTION: -- and attributed squarely to the regime that Colonel Qadhafi has led for, you know, more than 30 years now.
MR. MCCORMACK: Right.
QUESTION: So does she feel any – does it give her any pause, if she is going to meet him, to meet the man who was behind the deliberate killings of many American citizens?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, I think she has a healthy sense of history and we – as do we all here at the State Department, we’re also not captive to history. We have, as a U.S. Government across administrations – Republican and Democrat – worked to change this relationship and to address the very issue you’re talking about, issues related to terrorism. And the final step in that process was taken recently when President Bush signed into law new legislation that dealt with compensation for victims of terror. That by no means brings back those people that were lost. But it does provide some measure of closure for those family members and those friends of people who were lost in these acts of terror.
So again, we have a healthy appreciation and a real sense for what was lost. I think the commitment of the United States Government, and again I would point out, across administrations and across branches of government have worked very hard to address issues of importance to American citizens. But at the same time, we are moving forward in our national interests. This is also indicative of something – this visit is also tangible evidence of something the Secretary has said, and that is the United States does not have permanent enemies and that we are capable of both standing by our principles as well as acting in our national interests. And this Administration will continue to do so until January 20th, 2009, until somebody else takes over.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) Qadhafi?
MR. MCCORMACK: She is scheduled to meet him. We’ll put out a – the exact schedule as we get closer to the visit date, but she has a series of meetings scheduled for Libya.
QUESTION: And just one last one for me on this, but it’s germane to some of the other countries on her trip, with the exception, I think, of Portugal.
MR. MCCORMACK: Right.
QUESTION: There are longstanding and I think fairly well-documented concerns about the Qadhafi regime’s respect or lack thereof --
MR. MCCORMACK: Right.
QUESTION: -- for human rights. One, will she raise human rights? Two, will she specifically raise the case of Fathi al-Jahmi? And three, does she plan to raise human rights concerns in Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco?
MR. MCCORMACK: I would expect that the issue of universal rights, human rights, democratic rights, freedom of speech, freedom of expression, will be part of the discussion on all of the stops on this trip in North Africa, and it will be part of the discussion in Libya. As I referenced in my remarks at the beginning of the briefing, the relationship has come a long way. It has evolved to a great extent, but there’s still work to be done. And one of the areas in which there is work to be done is around issues related to democracy as well as human rights. Let’s wait until she has the meetings. I’m happy to give you as much insight and readout as I possibly can as to specific cases that she will raise.
You know, on one hand, it’s always good to talk about specific cases. It raises awareness of those things. But sometimes it also has a tendency to crowd out the larger issues related to human rights. Of course, one – you know, individuals are important, but you also have to look at the whole (inaudible). I’m not trying to indicate to you that she won’t raise specific cases. We’ll let you know after the meetings which ones she does raise.
QUESTION: Could you tell us a little bit more about the topics she plans to raise in Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco?
MR. MCCORMACK: Very generally, she’ll talk about the bilateral relationships between the United States and each of those countries. She’ll talk about regional issues. I’m sure that those will come up across each of those various stops related to, you know, the spread of the freedom agenda in the region, democracy, building democratic institutions; talk about the Israeli-Palestinian issue, I’m sure, which is of concern to all of those states. And I’m sure that at each of the stops she will talk about issues of specific concern to those countries. I would expect counterterrorism cooperation in Algeria is going to be a major topic of conversation. I mean, perhaps counterterrorism will come up across all of the stops, but I expect Algeria will be nearer to the top of the list rather than not. As I said, building democratic institutions, strengthening democratic and economic reforms will be part of the discussion. You know, the economic relationships between the United States and the countries that she’s visiting.
QUESTION: And (inaudible) in Morocco?
MR. MCCORMACK: I’m sure that that will be a topic of conversation.
QUESTION: Does this announcement today mean that the money has been paid into the special mechanism?
MR. MCCORMACK: No, it has not yet been paid into the --
QUESTION: So why --
MR. MCCORMACK: -- the special mechanism.
QUESTION: I don’t understand why exactly you’re prepared to go ahead with this if, in fact, the families – even the money is not there yet for distribution to the families.
MR. MCCORMACK: We have every expectation that the money will be there soon.
QUESTION: Before her --
MR. MCCORMACK: I can’t tell you whether or not the – whether or not will be before she visits, but in the very near future. I can’t put a date on the calendar. I don’t circle dates on a calendar, but I expect that in the very near future it will be there.
QUESTION: And do you have any idea how long it will take once the money gets to the mechanism before it will be ready to be paid out?
MR. MCCORMACK: I talked to some people who are involved in negotiating the mechanism, and I understand that this – in terms of the U.S. Government mechanism’s involvement in this transaction process, it will be relatively brief. You know, I can’t tell you whether it would be hours or days, but it will be very short. And the whole idea here is to make this as efficient as possible, to help these families bring some measure of closure to this very difficult – very difficult set of events, as well as to make them whole inasmuch as one can with these kinds of actions.
QUESTION: Can I just ask, what makes you – what gives you the confidence that it’s going to be done soon? As I understand it, it was supposed to be done last week, but on Friday --
MR. MCCORMACK: We’re in contact --
QUESTION: -- there was a bit of concern --
MR. MCCORMACK: We’re in contact with Libyan officials. As a matter of fact, I just asked – I asked this very same question myself this morning, and I was told that very soon the money would be in the accounts and forwarded on for distribution.
QUESTION: And then the last thing. Are you familiar – apparently, the – there was a BBC documentary that aired over the weekend, which has upset some of the victims’ families with an interview with Qadhafi’s son, in which he talks about how the families were being greedy and asking for more money than they deserved. Are you familiar with this at all?
MR. MCCORMACK: No, I’m not. I haven’t seen the documentary myself. Look, our view is – and we demonstrated this with our actions – we weren’t ready to move forward in this relationship absent a fair, just, and expedient settlement for the families. And --
QUESTION: Which I understand, which is why it makes it more – more confusing to me that you’re willing to go ahead and have the Secretary go there when the money isn’t there.
MR. MCCORMACK: We expect the money will be in the bank account soon, Matt. Yeah.
QUESTION: Sorry. This question, changing the subject. Recently, from Venezuela, President Chavez denied the access to DEA representative John Walters and after that -- because he said that there is no cooperation between some countries and the DEA. Besides that, last Sunday, President Chavez said that he would expel the – your American Ambassador from – in Caracas because he said that from Venezuela is increasing the sending of drugs to United States. So how – what is the answer? What will be the answer of the Department of State of such a situation from President Chavez?
MR. MCCORMACK: Look, we want to have a good relationship with Venezuela. There’s certainly, from our perspective, nothing that stands in the way of that other than some of the actions that Venezuela has taken. In the area of fighting the production and distribution of illegal drugs, certainly we want to have a good relationship with Venezuela, I think. But – Ambassador Walters expressed some of the frustrations of his office in trying to address this problem jointly with the Government of Venezuela. Those frustrations were based on facts. We can’t change the facts.
Our officials, including Ambassador Duddy, are going to continue to speak out on the state of U.S.-Venezuelan relations. We’re going to continue to speak out about what we see happening inside Venezuela. That does not foreclose the possibility of a better relationship between the United States and Venezuela. And certainly, we’re prepared to have a better relationship. Need to see some actions on the side of the Venezuelan Government, however.
QUESTION: On Cyprus. Mr. McCormack, anything to say --
MR. MCCORMACK: Next --
QUESTION: Okay, okay.
MR. MCCORMACK: Go ahead, Lambros.
MR. MCCORMACK: I missed you.
QUESTION: Excuse me. Anything to say about the tomorrow’s meeting between the President of the Republic of Cyprus and the Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat?
MR. MCCORMACK: We fully support this new effort to reach an agreement. You know, we ourselves are taking a look at whether or not it’s appropriate to have a special envoy to this, but – to this effort. But the basic work, and if – the basic work is going to be done by – and if we are going to reach an agreement, it is going to be that that hard work is going to be done by the two sides. So we fully support this meeting, as well as a resumption of this effort.
QUESTION: A follow-up? The Turkish President Abdullah Gul after his meeting with the Turkish Cypriot leader, Mehmet Ali Talat, said, quote, “The solution must be found on a new partnership established by the two equal political communities and founder countries.” Any comment since the U.S. Government is very concerned for a solution to the Cyprus problem?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, Lambros, as you know, we are always supportive of a bi-zonal, bi-communal effort that is – or agreement that is arrived at by both the parties. We’re not going to try to dictate the specific conditions. Those are for the parties to work out. However, the international community is ready to support this effort, to nurture this effort, and when – if required, to try to make proposals. We are ourselves not in that position right now. But make no mistake about it, the international community supports this effort.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MR. MCCORMACK: Yes, sir.
QUESTION: Thank you. Yeah, back to Libya quickly, if I can. And that is, given some other conflicts going on -- the U.S. is involved in right now, specifically with Iran and North Korea over their weapons programs, I’m wondering what the thinking is here about the potential for the – for Libya to serve as an example elsewhere in the world.
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, we have cited it as an example before. And I would take the opportunity of your question to do so again today. It just shows that countries do have a choice. Libya made a choice to have a different, more constructive relationship with the United States as well as with the international community. Just look at the state of affairs between Libya and the rest of the world today and as it existed, say, seven years ago. Completely different. As I said, there’s still a lot of headroom in terms of the kind of relationship that Libya can have with the United States, as well as the rest of the world. But we’re talking about two qualitatively different situations. North Korea, for example, can have a different kind of relationship with the United States, as well as the international community, if it makes a fundamental choice. Now, we’re – we in the Six-Party Talks, along with our – the other four parties other than North Korea, are testing the proposition that North Korea is willing to give up its nuclear weapons programs, give up its nuclear programs, and have a denuclearized Korean Peninsula as a way to have that different kind of relationship.
So we’ll see. And Iran – Iran still has a choice to make. It can go down the pathway of increasing isolation. It can go down the pathway of cooperation and having a peaceful, civilian nuclear energy program, as well as the – having the possibility of talks involving the United States at the table, at which we can talk about anything. The Secretary of State has said that she is willing to meet anytime, anyplace, anywhere to meet with an Iranian representative in the context of those P-5+1 talks.
So getting back to the – to where I started, those countries do have a choice. Libya is an example that if countries make a different set of choices than they are making currently, they can have a different kind of relationship with the United States and the rest of the world that we will follow through on our commitments.
QUESTION: Related to this. It was, I think, a week ago today that the North Korean Government announced that it was going to suspend the disabling of Yongbyon. And the Administration sent kind of two signals on this. The Secretary in Ramallah was quite low key, said, you know, we’ll see where we – we’re in negotiate – we’re in talks with them, we’ll see where we are in a couple of weeks.
MR. MCCORMACK: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: And here at the Department and at the White House, it was described as a step backwards and a somewhat harsher tone was taken. Have you made any progress in the talks that you were in with the North Koreans about (a) getting them to change their mind on suspending disablement or (b) getting them to agree to a set of verification procedures so that you can move forward?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, I think for us and the other four parties, the heart of the matter is verification protocol. We’re united on that. You heard from the Chinese President when he was in South Korea visiting with the South Korean President that North Korea needs to come to closure on this verification protocol, then everybody can move forward.
And we have continuing discussions with North Korea on this matter. It’s not done yet. And you ask about progress. Well, we’re having discussions on it. We’re going to continue to look for solutions. The way I’d put it is nothing’s done till everything is done on these kinds of agreements. So I’m hesitant to kind of give you, well, it’s 95 percent done, it’s 90 percent done. The fact of the matter is that we haven’t come to full closure on this yet.
In terms of where we are, look, the process – you know, the process continues. We’re prepared to move forward, as well as the other parties, to the next phase of the Six-Party process. But we’re not going to do so absent the ability to verify those declarations that North Korea has made to the Six Parties. I don’t think anybody would expect that of us, you know, given the fact that North Korea is an opaque, closed society. You need to verify. You need to verify these kinds of claims.
And that is part of – that has a couple of different aspects to it. One, you want to make sure of your facts, but also as part of building up a trust relationship among those Six Parties. I have said before that, you know, reflecting back on the old phrase, “trust but verify,” well, you know, we’re not to the trust part yet, we’re still working on verification.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) talks are still continuing? Where is that taking place? Is that through the New York channel? Is Ambassador Sung Kim talking to anybody? Is Assistant Secretary Hill?
MR. MCCORMACK: I know Sung Kim and Chris Hill have been continuously involved in this process. I’ll try to get an answer for you, you know, if not later this afternoon, tomorrow as to what the latest contacts have been and what we expect the contacts will be on this.
QUESTION: Can you give us an update on the Secretary’s recent contacts, especially on Georgia but perhaps other things? Has she been in contact with any of the familiar faces or voices at the other end of the telephone line?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, she has had calls. I don’t have a – has a variety of different calls. I’m not going to run down every single call that she’s – that she’s making as a part of her normal workday. She has – the last time that she spoke with Foreign Minister Lavrov, which I assume is at the heart of your question, was back on August 15th. And I assume that your next question will be, “Well, why doesn't she pick up the phone and call?” Well, the fact of the matter is Russia knows what it needs to do. It needs to get its troops back to those pre-August 6th lines. And the United States and Europe are completely and utterly united on that fact.
So we’ll see. We have channels of communication that are open with the Russians – our Ambassador, our Embassy in Moscow. Certainly, they have representative here as well. So the Russians need – know what they need to do.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) Russia?
MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah.
MR. MCCORMACK: Charlie I don’t have – you know, I have a list of phone calls here. I have to admit, I don’t – I’m not up to speed on all of what was discussed in there. So I’ll try to get you an answer for it.
But it – look, it’s a matter – it is a matter that she is both briefed on and thinks about on a daily basis. It’s an important issue. It’s important for Europe. It’s important for the United States. And most importantly, it is crucial for those states that border Russia, and to see if this is really the demonstration of a new way of Russian thinking about those states that border Russia.
QUESTION: Does the U.S. have any plans to get involved in this EU delegation that’s going to Moscow next week? I believe Sarkozy and Solana and Barroso are going to be going. Is the U.S. going to participate in that?
MR. MCCORMACK: Not that I’m aware of. I don’t believe we are.
QUESTION: Is there --
MR. MCCORMACK: It’s -
QUESTION: Did they ask for the U.S. to participate?
MR. MCCORMACK: Not that I’m aware of. Not that I’m – we’re in close contact with the EU and they, of course, have to work some of their internal politics within the EU and that’s for them to do. But we’re in close contact with them.
QUESTION: Sticking with this. Is the U.S. Government any closer to making a decision on whether to impose any consequences on Russia for the invasion of Georgia last month? And what is – you stressed how the United States and the European Union are on the same page on this. Yesterday, the European Union, you know, essentially came to the conclusion that they would threaten to postpone negotiations with Russia on a – you know, a partnership agreement. It doesn’t seem like that threat is one that’s likely to make people coil in their boots in Moscow. And I wonder whether you think that was a sufficiently robust response to this by the European Union.
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, it’s a strong statement. And look, during this period of time we’ve been focused on, I guess, three different aspects to the issue: What can we do for Georgia, and I think we have made an effective, large-scale and rapid response in support of Georgia and we’re considering what else we might do in terms of economic support. Because one of the real ripple effects of Russia’s action has been the need for the outside world to help Georgia and its economy. It’s a strong economy. It had a strong record of growth, and we want to make sure that it continues to have that strong record of growth.
We’ve been looking at what we might do with allies. We’ve been working very closely with Europe as well as others. And then the last part of that is what can you do in terms of actions that might make clear to Russia that there are real costs to what they have done. And we’re considering our options. We’re still considering our options in that regard.
But I would hasten to note and point you to some of the reporting I think that’s been done by your news organization as well as others about the very real cost that Russia has incurred in terms of capital outflows, both reserve – foreign exchange reserves as well as the private sector taking a second look at whether or not they’re going to invest in Russia. Those are very real costs to Russia. Because the fact of the matter is, you know, Russia has stated, most recently by President Medvedev himself, that it wants to integrate into the larger set of international institutions, it wants to better integrate into the international trading system and better integrate into international financial markets. Well, I dare say that it – Russia’s actions will give pause to those nongovernmental entities that are taking a look at Russia. And that means decisions about whether or not money will stay in Russia, whether or not investments will continue to be made in Russia, and that is totally outside the realm of the authority of any governmental entity. And it’s clear that Russia has incurred quite a few costs so – in terms of government action, we’re taking a look at what further might be done.
And we want to carefully consider what those options are. But to this argument that Russia has not incurred any costs, and I’m not saying that you’ve made that argument, but to this argument that I’ve heard elsewhere that Russia has incurred no cost, I would urge others to take a look at what is actually happening and maybe reassess that argument.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) security agreement and these in control alone on the process. What’s your reaction to this?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, whoever constitutes the negotiating team for the Iraqi side is a decision for the Iraqis to make. I think it’s been quite clear all along Prime Minister Maliki has been deeply involved in these negotiations. Certainly, Secretary Rice’s recent visit to Iraq and discussions with him about the negotiations indicate that he is deeply involved in that – in the negotiations. But as to who comprises that negotiating team, that’s up to the Iraqis to decide.
QUESTION: On yesterday, Japanese Prime Minister Fukuda announced that he was resigning. So I’m wondering if you have any reactions to this surprise announcement. And also, what kind of impact would it have on North Korean nuclear talks?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, I would expect that the Six-Party Talks will continue to go forward. We – each country is acting in its national interest, and we have made a determination that this process is worthy of our continued effort and focus. Japan has made that decision – the U.S. as well as others.
In terms of the Prime Minister’s announcement of his resignation, that’s a matter for Japanese domestic politics. But we have worked very well and very closely with Prime Minister Fukuda. We wish him well and look forward to working with whoever heads up the next government. The U.S. and Japan have very close working relationships. It’s among the most broad and deep relationships that we have in the world.
QUESTION: So you’re not – so you’re not really concerned that this change of government may pose, you know, like any delays, further delays to Six-Party Talks and things like --
MR. MCCORMACK: You know, I – look – you know, the Japanese Government, of course, is going to always take a look at what is in its interests. It has stated that the Six-Party Talks process is in its interest. I can’t tell you whether or not there are any sort of transactional inefficiencies as you move from one government to another. I suspect that it will be relatively seamless. But we’re going to stay in close contact with our Japanese colleagues.
QUESTION: Sean, excuse me. Could you – could you describe diplomacy that might be underway vis-à-vis the Nuclear Suppliers Group meeting that’s going to occur later this week? There was certainly some resistance to the U.S.-India nuclear deal at the last one. And if you get it through this week, isn’t it now a lost cause in terms of getting this done by 2008?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, we’re not giving up the ship at all, Dave. It’s – there were a very tight series of deadlines that were out there in terms of working this through the international system, working it through our Congress. We’re going to continue to push for this agreement. We think it’s in the interest of the United States. It’s in the interest – and it’s also in the interest of global nonproliferation efforts.
As for the Nuclear Suppliers Group, we’re going to have – I think there’s another one on the 4th and 5th, September 4th and 5th. We’re going to be represented by Bill Burns, Under Secretary for Political Affairs, who’s been deeply involved in this, as well as Acting Under Secretary John Rood, who also within his – because of his portfolio has been very active on the issue.
So we’re going to continue to make the case, move it forward. You know, we are in contact with other members of the Nuclear Supplier Group. We believe that this is an issue on which the NSG should act and should move forward. But again, it’s a lot of hard diplomacy that goes into that and in getting a consensus within the group.
QUESTION: Wouldn’t it seemingly require a sort of a rump session of Congress to get this done?
MR. MCCORMACK: You know, Dave, all I can say is we’re going to keep pushing forward on it.
QUESTION: Can you just address why the – you know, my understanding is that a new U.S. draft was circulated to the other NSG members over the weekend. I can’t – I don’t know if it went out Friday night or Saturday. And at least according to our reporting, diplomats from the countries that had opposed the original one are still not satisfied by the current one and they feel that there are not sufficient conditions attached to it. Can you just broad-brush explain to us why the Administration believes that India deserves a largely condition-free exemption to the NSG rules?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, very broad-bushed speaking, we believe it’s in the efforts – in the interest of global nonproliferation efforts as, you know, part of – at the core of the NSG mission. And I know that there are some states that have concerns, and we’ve talked to a lot of those various states. I’m not going to name names, but we’ve talked to a lot of them. They’ve announced themselves publicly, and you can look it up, and what their concerns are. We – you know, we have made, without getting into a lengthy discussion about it, we’ve made the assessment that this is in our interest, it’s in the interest of India to develop civil – civilian nuclear energy, while providing some assurances regarding nonproliferation activities.
QUESTION: And do you feel like sentiment within the NSG is now shifting your way?
MR. MCCORMACK: You know, I never take those kinds of bets, but we’re working hard on it. We believe that this is something that is worthy of the NSG supporting. We’re going to continue to work within the group and work with individual states to try to move it forward.
QUESTION: One more on Russia. Mr. McCormack, do you have anything to say about the murder in Russia of the journalist Magomed Yevloyev whose independence have angered the Russian Government, arrested and shot in the head by the police?
MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah, it’s very disturbing. Apparently – we’re still gathering the details of some of the facts regarding this issue. But apparently, this individual was in the custody of officials and, as you’ve said, was shot in the head. So it is something that needs to be investigated. We need – Russians officials need to get to the bottom of it. And there needs to be people held to account for what happened. There is in Russia itself, unfortunately, a sad recent history of violence against journalists who are merely seeking to do their job. And the kinds of threats, intimidation, and violence that’s used against a free press or those seeking to work in a free press in Russia have been unacceptable, and we’ve told that to Russian authorities.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah. Thank you.
(The briefing was concluded at 2:05 p.m.)
DPB # 144
Released on September 2, 2008