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Daily Press Briefing
Robert Wood, Deputy Spokesman
Washington, DC
September 25, 2008

INDEX:

PAKISTAN

Reports that a U.S. Helicopter Fired Upon in Pakistan / Pakistan Authorities Investigating
Consular Services Temporarily Suspended / Impact Services throughout Pakistan
Continuing of Emergency American Citizen Services / Prudent Measures / Security Adjustments
Marriott Hotel Bombing / Review of Security Posture

BELARUS

Upcoming Elections / Important Test / Watching Elections / Next Steps

NORTH KOREA

Yongbyon / Monitors Remain on the Ground / U.S. Concern Over Steps Taken
Need for a Verification Package / North Korean Obligations
Meetings in New York / Continue to Have Discussions with Allies


TRANSCRIPT:

View Video

(11:38 a.m. EDT)

MR. WOOD: Good morning, everyone. I don’ t have any issues, so we’ll go right to your questions.

Barry.

QUESTION: Can you shed any more light on that incident? There’s been a statement – the helicopter – been a statement from out there. And is there anything to be said about Pakistan’s behavior or is there no cause for it?

MR. WOOD: Well, Barry, again, I believe you saw the ISAF news release.

QUESTION: Yeah.

MR. WOOD: And I really don’t have anything for you. I’d refer you to the Pentagon to see if they have anything to say. I think they may have actually – our colleagues over there may have already spoken to the issue. But we’re going to follow this and try to get more details. I understand the Pakistanis are looking into it. And we’ll just wait to hear the results of that investigation.

QUESTION: All right. The meeting that the Afghan Foreign Minister said Turkey would host.

MR. WOOD: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: That’s the three of them, Turkey, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. The U.S. is not part of that?

MR. WOOD: I don’t believe so, but I’d get back to – you know, check with the Afghans to see what --

QUESTION: Thank you.

MR. WOOD: You’re welcome.

Nope, I saw Charley’s hand first.

QUESTION: Still on Pakistan.

MR. WOOD: Yes.

QUESTION: Can you update us on how consular activities have been curtailed and why?

MR. WOOD: Well, I can tell you that consular services have been temporarily suspended and – beginning today. And I don’t have any – really additional details beyond that. That will impact consular services throughout the country; however, we will continue to have emergency American citizen services. Those will still be continuing. But I think – we’re taking these steps in response to the security environment as it is right now in Pakistan. These are prudent measures. And we’ll -- obviously we’ll continue to take a look at the security threat and, you know, we’ll make security adjustments accordingly.

QUESTION: Can you go into any more detail about the security situation in Pakistan, your view of it now?

MR. WOOD: Well, obviously, we’re very concerned about the security situation, you know. We just had the attack on the Marriott Hotel, you know, almost a week ago. And it’s of great concern and, therefore, we have to look at our security posture and take those measures that we think are necessary. And this was felt by the Embassy in Islamabad and, of course, by officials here in the Department that the security situation necessitated that we temporarily suspend visa services.

QUESTION: How many offices were involved? Where are the consulates?

MR. WOOD: Oh, we have consulates in --

QUESTION: Karachi.

MR. WOOD: Karachi, Lahore, and Peshawar.

QUESTION: Just – is this to allow the State Department to reevaluate its services or is it to stand down and --

MR. WOOD: This is – as I said, it’s just a temporary suspension. But again, for Americans, we will continue to have those emergency American citizen services.

QUESTION: Did it just go into effect today?

MR. WOOD: I believe, today. And it will be temporarily suspended. We’re looking at today and tomorrow, and then we will obviously review our security posture. And we will, you know, resume those services as soon as we can.

QUESTION: Let me try to phrase a difficult question. Since you know already it’s temporary, it seems that possibly the suspension is so that you can go over things, you can take another fresh, clean look at the security situation. Or it could mean there’s something instant threatening that you think would best be dealt with, at least partly by suspending services.

MR. WOOD: Well, Barry, I don’t want to get into too much details in the way of --

QUESTION: No, one is in response to and is a threat or two would be to just check things out.

MR. WOOD: Well, I mean, there obviously are security concerns out there. And we’re obviously taking this measure, as I mentioned, in response to, you know, what we perceive to be a heightened security situation. And so, I really don’t want to get into the details as to, you know, what kind of security threats we’re facing out there.

But let me just say that we obviously take the security situation in Pakistan very seriously, and we want to make sure we can do everything we can to protect not only our, you know, official government employees but Americans and others as well.

QUESTION: Will U.S. citizens be disadvantaged for a bit and about how many people?

MR. WOOD: It’s hard to say, Barry. I really don’t have the exact number of people we’re talking about here.

QUESTION: And just one more.

MR. WOOD: Yeah, sure.

QUESTION: Is this spread across the region or is this just localized to Pakistan?

MR. WOOD: As far as I know, just Pakistan.

Steve.

QUESTION: On Belarus. To what extent are we viewing Sunday’s parliamentary elections as a sort of litmus test on the future of the bilateral relationship?

MR. WOOD: Well, I think the upcoming elections are an important test. And we will be watching the elections to see how they’re carried out, very closely here in the
Department. And how those elections turn out will depend on how we go forward in terms of next steps in the U.S.-Belarusian bilateral relationship.

Please.

QUESTION: Any updates on North Korea from yesterday, specifically whether or not your inspectors – whether it looks like they might remain on the ground? What operational phase is Yongbyon in?

MR. WOOD: I don’t have anything new as far as an update. As far as I know, our monitors remain on the ground. And again, you know, we remain very concerned about the steps that the North has taken in terms of reversing disablement, and we want to see them, as we’ve been saying over and again – a verification package so that we can move forward in terms of delisting.

And I just want to make one point about what we’re requiring from the North. And when I say “we,” I’m talking about the other – the United States and the other members of the Six-Party framework. What we’re asking for is basically a standard verification package. This is not something onerous; it’s not something that hasn’t been done in the past. And we believe the North can do this and needs to do it. It needs to meet its obligations. And so we want to see that happen, as I said yesterday, as soon as possible.

QUESTION: Any readout from Chris Hill’s meeting with the Vice Foreign Minister of China?

MR. WOOD: No readout at all at this point. We’ll see if we can get you something a little bit later.

QUESTION: And any travel plans for either Ambassador Hill or Sung Kim?

MR. WOOD: I don’t believe so at the moment. I spoke to Sung Kim this morning and there aren’t any -- aren’t any – any – travel plans on his schedule at this moment.

QUESTION: Remember the meetings? There were two meetings you knew about yesterday for Hill.

MR. WOOD: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: And of course, the Secretary had her own meeting with the Russian Foreign Minister.

MR. WOOD: That’s right.

QUESTION: Is there anything to add or to change about that? He sees the Japanese tomorrow?

MR. WOOD: That’s correct.

QUESTION: In New York, of course.

MR. WOOD: Mm-hmm. Yeah. I don’t have anything new to add what, you know, you’ve all heard in terms of readout from that meeting. I believe Dan Fried gave a readout of the Secretary’s meeting with Minister Lavrov. And look, everybody shares this concern about what’s happening in North Korea. And we’re going to work together with our other counterparts in the Six-Party framework to try to get the North back on this path.

And again, I reiterate, we’re not asking the North to do something that’s onerous or, just, quite unusual. Maybe some of this has to do with the fact that, you know, North Korea is a very closed society. And – but this is something they’ve committed to, and this something we want to see happen. And we’re going to continue to have discussions with our allies to see how we can get North Korea back on the right path.

Charley.

QUESTION: It’s on another topic.

MR. WOOD: Oh. Anything else on North Korea? Okay.

QUESTION: So just moving back to Afghanistan, I know that Secretary Negroponte this morning talked about – they discussed – their discussion of increased cooperation between Afghanistan, Pakistan and the United States. Did that also include what we discussed earlier, an actual joint task force, joint military operations involving the three countries?

MR. WOOD: I don’t know. I wasn’t in the meetings and I haven’t had a chance to talk to the Deputy Secretary about that. But that is something – that proposal that, I believe, someone raised the other day here is something that we’re still looking at. It’s an interesting idea but I’m – no further details at this point.

QUESTION: I think that’s it.

MR. WOOD: Is that it? Okay. Thanks.

QUESTION: Thank you.

(The briefing was concluded at 11:47 a.m.)

dpb # 160



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