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Daily Press Briefing
Robert Wood, Deputy Spokesman
Washington, DC
September 4, 2008



INDEX:

THAILAND

Political Situation in Thailand / U.S. Desire to See Situation End Peacefully

INDIA

India’s Obligations Under 1-2-3 Agreement / Moratorium on Nuclear Testing
Lantos Letter / Reiteration of U.S. Nonproliferation Policy
U.S. Has Had Discussions with Members of Congress on Civil Nuclear Deal
Civil Nuclear Agreement Important
Concerns About Agreement Among Nuclear Supplier Group Countries
U.S. Desire for a NSG Exception for India

PAKISTAN

Reports of U.S. Military Action in Pakistan / U.S. Continuing Contacts with Government
U.S. Cooperates Closely with Pakistan in the War on Terror / Strong Relationship

CYPRUS

U.S. Support of Talks Between Parties / Bi-Zonal and Bi-Communal Federation
U.S. Available to Assist Parties in the Best Way Possible

SYRIA/ISRAEL

Syria’s Relationship with Israel / Need for Syria to Play a Productive Role in Region
Israel’s Strategic Decision to Have Peace with It’s Neighbors
Discussions Through the Annapolis Process Bearing Fruit
U.S. Concerned About Syrian Activities in Lebanon, Iraq, Elsewhere

NORTH KOREA/REGION

A/S Hill’s Travel and Meeting Schedule / China / South Korea / Japan / Sung Kim
Equipment Moved Out of Storage at Yongbyon / None Is Operational
Any Efforts to Reverse Disablement Process are of Concern / Ups and Downs in Process
North Korea Informed U.S. of the Steps Taken

RUSSIA

U.S. Concerned About Steps Russia Has Taken / Actions in Georgia
Russia Isolating Itself

MIDDLE EAST

U.S. Desire to See the Middle East as a Nuclear-Free Region / Realities of the Region

AFGHANISTAN

Efforts by U.S., Afghanistan, to Counter Al Qaeda and the Taliban / Shared Goals

ZIMBABWE

Formation of Government / July 21 Memorandum of Understanding

LIBYA

Fund for Terrorism Claims


TRANSCRIPT:

View Video

12:45 p.m. EDT

MR. WOOD: Well, good afternoon, everybody. Welcome to the briefing. I don’t have anything for you, so why don’t we go right to the questions.

Arshad.

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

MR. WOOD: I haven’t seen anything with regard to any plans for a referendum. We’ve just – we’re following this political situation in Thailand very closely, and we, of course, want to see all sides resolve their differences peacefully and in line with the Thai constitution.

QUESTION: Do you have anything more to say about that other than what the White House said this morning about ending the state of emergency?

MR. WOOD: No, I don’t have anything more at this point, Arshad.

Please.

QUESTION: Talking about the U.S.-India nuclear deal, under the terms of the deal, which are if India tested nuclear weapons, would that trigger a suspension of supplies and technology from the U.S. and other countries? 

MR. WOOD: Well, I think certainly India’s obligations under the, you know, the 123 Agreement are very clear and that the Indians have agreed to a moratorium on testing. And we expect that they will adhere to that commitment.

QUESTION: So it’s not an obligation? It’s not an absolute agreement then? There’s some ambiguity there?

MR. WOOD: What I’d encourage you to do is to read the agreement. 

QUESTION: On the same topic, the testimony to – or the information provided to Congress, as you know, was leaked. Why was that information kept secret? I mean, why was the claim that – or the Administration’s understanding about what would happen if India tested again not made public?

MR. WOOD: Well, look, the letter – as you know, our response to the Lantos letter was made public by Congressman Berman, and there was nothing – nothing new in our response. It was basically a reiteration of U.S. nonproliferation policy. There was no attempt to sort of, you know, cover up anything, if that’s what you’re implying. Not at all. 

QUESTION: I mean, it could have been an attempt to protect the Indian Government from – from the U.S. position that’s damaging to them.

MR. WOOD: Look, I stand by what I just said. We’ve made very clear in that letter what our nonproliferation policy is. 

QUESTION: How do you address the view, which is, I think, very widely held around the world and in the nonproliferation community that the decision not to make public the responses to those questions was precisely what Desmond was suggesting, that it was a way to make it easier for the Indian Government to secure domestic support for it? Is that not why it was not made public? 

MR. WOOD: That’s – people have that interpretation, but that certainly was not the position of the U.S. Government. 

QUESTION: Well, then what was the position of the United States Government for keeping secret responses to questions from the relevant committee chair on matters that are not, I think – I mean, maybe they were classified, you know, in a technical sense, but this is related to an open agreement between the United States and India, and something that has to be approved by the Congress, as you know. So what was your justification for keeping them under wraps for so many months and barring the committees until now from disclosing the answers.

MR. WOOD: I would just say, Arshad, that we weren’t trying to keep anything under wraps. I mean, we’ve had discussions with various members of Congress about this agreement. We’ll continue to do so. We’ve stressed over and over again the importance of this agreement, not only to the United States and India but to our overall nonproliferation efforts around the world. So I would just say that there hasn’t been any attempt to try to delay or cover up anything. 

QUESTION: But I think – I mean, forgive me, but I think it’s a reasonable question. I think it’s incontestable that you were trying to keep something under wraps because you did not – the conditions that were stipulated – and I talked to, you know, people about this when you handed the responses over – was that they were classified so that the committees were not allowed to release them. And when I requested the responses from the State Department, they were not released. I’m not saying it’s a cover-up, but clearly, you were trying to keep it under wraps. Clearly, you were not trying to allow it to be out in the public domain. And I don’t feel like you have explained to us – and there may well be a reason – but I don’t feel like you’ve explained to us what was the reason for that or dispelled the notion that it wasn’t to make it easier for the Indian Government to get it approved.

MR. WOOD: All respect, Arshad, I think I’ve said about as much as I can say on the subject at this point.

QUESTION: Anne Patterson?

MR. WOOD: Sure.

QUESTION: What can you tell us about Anne Patterson’s message to the Pakistani Government that was called in yesterday? They’re upset over U.S. military actions inside Pakistan. And I know you won’t comment on U.S. military actions, but she was called in. What can you tell us about her message to the Pakistani Government?

MR. WOOD: I would again just stick to what Sean said yesterday about this, that, you know, we refer you to the Pakistani Government. And we have continuing contacts with the Government of Pakistan through our embassy in Islamabad.

QUESTION: Did she apologize for, you know, any perceived --

MR. WOOD: I don’t have anything more, as I said, Libby, on that, other than what Sean said yesterday.

QUESTION: Okay. And also, I have another question --

MR. WOOD: Sure.

QUESTION: -- on Pakistan. Are you worried – I mean, I know the news reports are out there. Again, you can’t comment on U.S. military operations, but the fact that the reports are out there, are you – are you worried about, sort of, blowback against the Pakistani Government for U.S. military operations inside – inside Pakistan? Are you worried about a blowback against – against the government?

MR. WOOD: I have nothing for you on that, Libby. But let me just say, as our overall policy toward Pakistan in terms of the war on terror, we cooperate very closely with Pakistan in fighting the Taliban and al-Qaida elements that are operating not only in Pakistan, but across the border in Afghanistan. And we’ll continue to cooperate with them, but with regard to your initial question, I don’t have anything for you on that.

Please, Nina --

QUESTION: Same --

MR. WOOD: Oh, the same subject, Nina?

QUESTION: Yes.

MR. WOOD: Please.

QUESTION: And I can try and follow up on that. This is – with having a series of incidents like this now, we have the incident with the border guards a couple of months ago, obviously the Pakistani Government is very angry at this. I know you can’t comment on the military aspects of this, but is this not causing great embarrassment to the State Department and your relationship with the government?

MR. WOOD: I would just reiterate that our relationship with the Government of Pakistan is a strong one. Pakistan is an important ally of the United States in the war on terror. We will continue to work with Pakistan. It’s not an easy situation. The Government of Pakistan takes the threat from the Taliban and al-Qaida very seriously, as we do, and we’re looking for ways that we can improve our – enhance our cooperation in defeating the – you know, these extremist elements that are operating, as I said, not only in Pakistan, but across the border in Afghanistan. So – but that’s – that characterizes our --

QUESTION: Is it not time to make some – or explore some kind of formal arrangements if these cross-border raids keep happening?

MR. WOOD: Well, I’m not going to talk about what we may or may not do with – in terms of our cooperation with the Government of Pakistan. But we will look for ways that we can both work very closely and work better in terms of, as I said, fighting these extremist elements.

Charley, I think you had a --

QUESTION: I just wondered whether the condemnation by the parliament of Pakistan raised this to a different level from where you sit, from where you’re stand, from your vantage point.

MR. WOOD: Charley, I don’t have anything else to add to that. Sorry.

Mr. – to follow up on this?

QUESTION: A follow-up to Charley’s question.

MR. WOOD: Please.

QUESTION: But would you say relations are (inaudible)?

MR. WOOD: Our relationship – you’re talking about our overall relationship with Pakistan. It’s a very good one. It’s complex, like a lot of our relationships with governments around the world. But it’s a good one and we both have, obviously, important interests, interests that coincide with regard to fighting the Taliban and al-Qaida. And we’re going to continue. Things are not perfect in terms of our efforts to defeat the Taliban and al-Qaida, but we continue to work hard and look for ways to, you know, improve our efforts, and that’s ongoing.

Let me take – Lambros.

QUESTION: On Cyprus, Mr. Wood, do you have anything to say about the talks between Cypriot President Demetris Christofias and the Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat, which have taken place yesterday in Nicosia and they are going to resume again September 11?

MR. WOOD: Let me just say, Mr. Lambros, that we’re obviously very pleased by the talks between the two parties. And we – obviously, our policy is to support a bi-zonal and bi-communal federation. We will do what we can to support both sides as they go forward in their negotiations. And it’s a good thing and we look forward to seeing more progress.

QUESTION: A follow-up?

MR. WOOD: Please.

QUESTION: Do you – do you share the optimism expressed by the Turkish Cypriot leader Ali Mehmet Talat, who said specifically that he hopes a deal could be reached by the end of this year after 34 years of deadlock, since the U.S. Government knows a lot what’s going on?

MR. WOOD: Well, obviously, we would love to see an agreement reached as soon as possible. Whether that’s feasible or not will depend on how much progress the parties make, but definitely, we’d love to see an agreement between the two sides as soon as possible. So we’d be hopeful. That would be – that would be wonderful.

QUESTION: And the last one?

MR. WOOD: Sure.

QUESTION: Do you play any mediation role on those talks between the two sides?

MR. WOOD: We’re not playing a – you know, a mediation role. But we obviously have and will make ourselves available to assist the parties, you know, in the best way that we can. But I’m not aware of any real direct role right now that’s really going on between the two parties.

QUESTION: Three strategic allies of the United States are meeting today or participating – they were participating yesterday and have been today also in a summit meeting in Damascus held by President Bashar al-Asad of Syria. Peace with Israel has been big on the agenda and Syria has proposed or offered a proposal for peace with Israel. Now is the United States – should the United States be expected to weigh in – and to these peace efforts? And with the relations with – diplomatic relations with Syria, accommodating its allies in that way and – you know, in the spirit of the Annapolis peace efforts of Secretary Rice, should we expect any move by the United States that would show interest in what is going on now with Syria and with the Middle East, the positive steps that have been taken by the United States allies? 

MR. WOOD: Well, again, we have called on Syria to have relations with Israel. We’d like to see that happen. I know that the Syrians and the Israelis are engaged in talks through the Turks. We’d like to see that happen. 

What we want to see out of the meeting that’s taking place and overall, what we’d like to see out of Syria is for it to play a much more productive role in the region. It hasn’t until now. We’d like to see it not meddle in the affairs of the sovereign Government of Lebanon. If Syria is truly interested in a relationship with Israel, it should say that it is and it should work toward, you know, an eventual peace with Israel. So we – I think it remains to be seen just how serious Syria is about, you know, engaging in peace discussions with Israel. 

QUESTION: A follow-up, please? 

MR. WOOD: Sure. Please. 

QUESTION: The French President Sarkozy and the Turkish Prime Minister Mr. Erdogan, they have expressed in a press conference today the confidence – your confidence in Syria’s seriousness about accomplishing or reaching peace with Israel. And everyone seems to be really wondering in the area about the Israeli – if the Israelis are really ready to make peace with their changing of governments every time that peace efforts get to certain point – serious point, that you find out that there is a fallout of the govern – Israeli Government. Now, there is some worries about this, you know, in the area. Is the United States at least willing to try to guarantee a continuation of such a peace process in the area and use it as leverage with the Israelis concerning that -- whatever Israeli Government we might see in the future? 

MR. WOOD: Many years ago, the Government of Israel made a strategic decision to have peace with its neighbors. It has been encouraging its neighbors to have peace with her. And again, if Syria is serious about it, about making peace with Israel, I think what’s important is to see actions and not words. 

And again, Israel has made a strategic decision to have peace with its neighbors. So I think – you know, the Israelis can speak better to that, but I think that was a clear decision that was taken by the government. And you know, we have the Annapolis process that we’re all working toward and we want to see peace in the region. But it’s going to take a commitment by some of the parties, most notably the Syrians, to, you know, see deeds instead of words. Deeds are what matter. 

Please. 

QUESTION: I have a follow-up on Syria?

MR. WOOD: Sure. 

QUESTION: Is the State Department considering sending an envoy, such as David Welch to the next talks (inaudible) Turkey regarding Syria? 

MR. WOOD: I haven’t heard anything about that at all. No, I haven’t heard anything. 

I want to take someone --

QUESTION: Can we do a follow-up on that?

MR. WOOD: Sure.

QUESTION: Is it still the position of the United States Government that while it encourages these talks, its focus continues to be on the Israeli-Palestinian track? And even if you’re not specifically considering the possibility of sending Welch or an envoy to the next round of talks, is the U.S. Government – does the U.S. Government have any interest in the possibility of becoming more involved in the Turkish broker talks? 

MR. WOOD: Well, I don’t want to speculate about the future. But obviously, as many have said from this podium, that -- you know, our discussions with the parties through the Annapolis process, we believe, has been bearing some fruit. We’ve said that the Palestinian track is the one showing the most progress at the moment and that we need to focus our energies there. But of course, the other tracks, potential tracks for peace in the region, we obviously would support. But as I just said, the Palestinian track is the one that we seem to see the most progress at the moment and that’s where we’re focusing our efforts. 

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

MR. WOOD: Well, if there is a way that we can and that the parties would like us to, we’d certainly be willing to consider that. But I’m not aware of any requests that we do that at this point.

Let me take a question over here, please.

QUESTION: Three party – I’m sorry, three-party delegations we heard meeting in Beijing tomorrow. Did you – do you hear anything from North Korean delegations attending at those meetings?

MR. WOOD: I’ve heard nothing about that. I know Assistant Secretary Hill left this morning for Beijing and he’s going to have meetings with Chinese Foreign Minister Wu Dawei. He’s also going to meet with the Republic of Korea Rep Kim Sook, and the Japanese Foreign Ministry Director General Saiki. And Ambassador Hill is scheduled to come back, I think on the 7th, and that’s the latest I have on his travel plans. Kim Sung is traveling with him as well.

QUESTION: North Korean side didn’t give any (inaudible) to attending that meeting?

MR. WOOD: Not that I’m aware of.

QUESTION: Okay.

QUESTION: Can we get any clarification or further information about the equipment that (inaudible) being moved out of storage around Yongbyon?

MR. WOOD: No real update on that, except to say that, you know, from our monitors that were – that are at the complex -- the Yongbyon complex -- they were able to, you know, ascertain that some equipment that had been moved to a storage site as part of the disablement process apparently was returned to its previous location. But none of that equipment is operational. And that’s the latest I have on that particular aspect.

QUESTION: You mean that none of the equipment is operational (inaudible)?

MR. WOOD: I just said it’s not operational. That’s all I have on that one. 

Please, Kirit.

QUESTION: First, could you tell us whether any of the sensitive material that was under IAEA seals – whether those seals remain intact or whether that stuff was maybe part of the equipment that was being moved?

MR. WOOD: I don’t know the answer to that question. Sorry.

QUESTION: Could you just give us a sense of the general level of concern about these movements?

MR. WOOD: Well, you know, North Korea’s reported steps toward – you know, to reverse disablement are obviously of a concern to us. And we’re working closely with the other allies in the Six-Party Talks framework to try to see how we can go forward on this. You know, Sean said yesterday, there are going to be lots of ups and downs in this process, and that we just need to be aware of that and to make too much of something with regard to North Korea doing this or not doing that.

But yes, obviously, it’s of concern.

QUESTION: Is it still your position that you don’t think they’ve begun to rebuild?

MR. WOOD: I’ve seen – we haven’t detected – we’ve seen no indications that they are in the process of rebuilding.

I think, Lambros. Please. On this subject, Lambros, sir?

QUESTION: Excuse me?

MR. WOOD: On North Korea?

QUESTION: Oh, yeah.

MR. WOOD: Okay, please. Are you going to – do you have something on North Korea?

QUESTION: No, no, no.

MR. WOOD: Okay. Why don’t we go – go here. Ma’am, did you have something on North Korea?

QUESTION: No.

MR. WOOD: Okay.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) for one second?

MR. WOOD: Please.

QUESTION: Why isn’t putting equipment back that had previously been removed as part of the disablement process back to where it used to be before an indication that they are reassembling the plant? Why doesn’t that suggest that to you?

MR. WOOD: Well, we don’t know. And that’s why Ambassador Hill is going to have consultations with, you know, other parties to the Six-Party Talks to see where we go from here. We don’t – we don’t know what to make of it. But again, we’re obviously looking at the situation very closely and we’ll consult with our allies.

QUESTION: Just a couple more on North Korea?

MR. WOOD: North Korea.

QUESTION: So to be clear, have your experts on the ground been asked to curtail their actions at all or are -- is the movements restricted? Have they been asked to leave?

MR. WOOD: Not to my knowledge, no.

Anything else on North Korea? 

QUESTION: Yes, please. Has there been direct communication between the North Koreans about what they’re doing and the United States or its representatives?

MR. WOOD: Well, as we said yesterday, on September 2nd we were informed by North Korea – the North Koreans of the steps that they were taking. But with – you know, with regard to any recent communication with the North, I’m not aware of beyond that.

Okay, Lambros.

QUESTION: Another subject, Russia/Georgia. Mr. Wood, how do you respond to extensive reports in Europe that Washington relentless determination is to convert Russia into a big enemy? 

MR. WOOD: There’s no attempt in Washington to convert Russia into a big enemy. The Cold War is over. What we’re concerned about, of course, are some of the steps that Russia has been taking recently, of course, with its attack on a neighbor, meaning Georgia, and its continuation of activities that give us concern in Georgia.

Russia is isolating itself. The United States is not trying to paint Russia as an enemy. We’re very concerned about its behavior and what that means for the future of the U.S.-Russia relationship. And we’ll be examining – we’re looking at all aspects of our relationship with Russia in terms of how we go forward. But there’s no attempt in Washington, here in the State Department or in the other elements of the U.S. Government, to paint Russia as an enemy.

QUESTION: Any comment on reports that the tragic events in Georgia are simply the latest application of the Balkan model? 

MR. WOOD: No, I don’t have anything on that, sir.

QUESTION: No comment?

MR. WOOD: No.

QUESTION: A follow-up? How do you respond to reports that after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the U.S. treated this monumental event as an opportunity to Balkanize Russia?

MR. WOOD: I’m --

QUESTION: And the last one? How do you respond to criticisms that a lot in the U.S. Government consider self-determination as a principle reserved for anyone else except Russians in Georgia and Ukraine, Serbs in Bosnia Croatia, and Greeks in Albania?

MR. WOOD: Mr. Lambros, as we’ve said many times, we don’t look at – we don’t – there’s no cookie-cutter approach to dealing with relationships or engagement with other countries. So let me just leave it at that. 

Please, sir, and then we’ll continue.

QUESTION: If I may go back to my initial question about the visit of the French President Mr. Sarkozy to Damascus, your answer, sir, indicated to – or used again the case of Lebanon, even though this statement seems to be little old because the Lebanese President has visited Syrian President, they announced their intention to have a diplomatic relationship and Mr. Sarkozy acknowledged today in the press conference and yesterday in another press conference Syria’s efforts in Lebanon and contribution to the stability of Lebanon. Does that – does your statement reflect differences in how you estimate the situation in Lebanon and what your allies, the French, see it?

MR. WOOD: Well, I can’t speak for other countries. I can only speak for the U.S. Government. And our policy with regard to Syria is clear and well known. We’ve been concerned about Syrian activities, not only in Lebanon but in Iraq and other places. And that concern remains. And for that concern to change, we need to see a much more productive effort by Syria to play a positive role. And so that’s the U.S. position, and that’s all that I can speak to.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MR. WOOD: You’re welcome. Please.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) and India about what (inaudible) United States wants in the deal? What is finally binding? Are the responses given in these answers in any way legally binding (inaudible)?

MR. WOOD: Well, are you talking about U.S. policy?

QUESTION: No, I’m talking about the nuclear deal. What binding holds for India? (Inaudible) the answers yesterday led us to believe that India would be held accountable if we tested and America would not need to supply fuel if India tested.

MR. WOOD: Well, again, I don’t want to get into all of the discussions that are ongoing about the agreement. Obviously, a number of countries have concerns about the agreement, and they’ve expressed those concerns. We have tried to give answers. The Indians have as well. We’ll continue to do so. As you know, the Nuclear Supplier Group is meeting today. But I don’t think it serves the interests of any of us to talk about, you know, negotiations that may – that are ongoing about it, except to say that this agreement is important. We think it contributes greatly to the global nonproliferation efforts, and we’re going to continue to work with India and the other parties concerned with this agreement. And we hope to see, you know, coming out of the Nuclear Suppliers Group an exception for India to its full-scope safeguards rule. 

QUESTION: And what happens if such a thing comes? What’s next in the U.S. Congress, the next step?

MR. WOOD: Well, we’ll have to take it – again, I don’t want to speculate on things. But if, you know, that agreement is approved by the Nuclear Supplier Group, then I believe it has to go to India’s parliament – has to approve it, and we’ll – obviously, we’ll go from there. But I really don’t want to jump too far ahead because we’re still, again, in the Nuclear Supplier Group – that meeting is still going on. So we just – we hope that there will be an exception made for India. 

QUESTION: Can I clarify something on that then?

MR. WOOD: Sure.

QUESTION: Are you saying that the U.S. hasn’t yet decided or hasn’t yet made an agreement with India on whether it would cut off nuclear supplies and technology if India tested?

MR. WOOD: Look, it’s – I’ll just go back to what I said earlier, the fact that India has – is engaged in a moratorium on testing. We want to see that moratorium continue, and that’s our view with regard to that. And I don’t know what --

QUESTION: But it doesn’t really answer the question, though. Have you made a – have you got a firm line on that, or is it still ambiguous?

MR. WOOD: I’m not saying that it’s ambiguous, but I think it’s very clear. The Indians understand what our views are with regard to nuclear testing. We’ve made them clear, and they understand those.

QUESTION: So would you cut off nuclear supplies?

MR. WOOD: You’re asking me to speculate on something, and I’m not going to do that. I’m just going to tell you exactly what our policy is.

QUESTION: Okay. So it hasn’t been agreed yet?

MR. WOOD: I’m just not going to speculate on anything.

Please, sir.

QUESTION: Back to Syria, President Asad said that it is time to talk about nuclear-free Middle East. What is U.S. position on that? Does the United States support this idea, nuclear free- Middle East?

MR. WOOD: Are you talking about a nuclear – a weapons-free zone?

QUESTION: Yeah.

MR. WOOD: Well, our policy is very clear on that. Obviously, that’s something we would like to see. But we also have to take into account the political realities of the region. We’d eventually like to see something like that. But obviously, that’s something that is going to have to be worked out through – that will have to be worked out politically in the region. There are certain political realities that have to be taken into account. And so – but that’s our policy.

Anything else? Please.

QUESTION: Just a different topic. Comments today – looking for reaction, please, to comments by President Karzai that the August 22nd attacks have put new strains on the relationship between Afghanistan and the United States. And also, he said that people responsible would be punished.

MR. WOOD: Well, I haven’t seen President Karzai’s remarks. But you know, obviously, both the U.S. and Afghan governments are working hard to try to -- as we are with Pakistan, to try to counter the influence of the Taliban and al-Qaida. Unfortunately, you know, civilians have been, you know, killed in this conflict. We obviously regret them and don’t want to see them happen.

But what’s important for both the U.S. Government and the Afghan Government is that we work closely together to battle this scourge of extremism that threatens Afghanistan, Pakistan, and other countries in the region. And so we’re all on the same page. We all have the same goals. And what we need to do is just continue to work closely with each other and do what we can to defeat this scourge of terrorism.

Arshad.

QUESTION: Still on Zimbabwe. We are quoting an opposition party official as saying that the Movement for Democratic Change no longer has faith in the negotiating process in the mediation of South African President Thabo Mbeki, and that they’ve essentially lost faith in the power-sharing talks with Mugabe and that he is welcome to go form a government on his own. One – and it’s an unnamed official.

One, would you discourage President Mugabe from forming a government without reaching some kind of an agreement with the opposition? And two, would you encourage the opposition to keep talking with the Mugabe side to try to reach a deal?

MR. WOOD: Yes, Arshad. I think – we certainly don’t think that Mugabe should form a cabinet without working on a power-sharing arrangement with the opposition. In fact, that would be a violation of the July 21 memorandum of understanding between President Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai. And so – again, in any – we want to see Mugabe negotiate with the opposition seriously, but again, any effort to form a cabinet without having reaped some sort of a power-sharing arrangement with the opposition would be a clear violation of that memorandum of understanding.

And the second part of your question was -- I’m sorry.

QUESTION: It was essentially to encourage the – whether you would encourage the opposition to keep talking.

MR. WOOD: Well, that’s going to be a decision the opposition has to make on its own. But what – U.S. policy with regard to the situation in Zimbabwe is that any arrangement that’s made between the two sides needs to reflect the will of the Zimbabwean people, as reflected through the March elections.

Anything else?

QUESTION: Just one last thing -- a quick question, please. Has the Libyan Government made its deposit into the State Department-administered fund to settle terrorism claims?

MR. WOOD: Not to my knowledge, Charley.

Okay, thank you.

(The briefing was concluded at 1:14 p.m.)

DPB # 146


Released on September 4, 2008

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