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Daily Press Briefing
Sean McCormack, Spokesman
Washington, DC
January 6, 2009

INDEX:

DEPARTMENT

Secretary Rice Travels to New York Today
Meeting with Several Counterparts and Colleagues re: Situation in Gaza
Attending a Meeting of the UN Security Council
Three Components of a Cease-fire

GAZA/ISRAEL/PALESTINIANS

Ongoing International Efforts to Bring Forth a Cease-fire that is Durable, Sustainable, and Fully-Respected by All Parties
Concern for Humanitarian Matters on Both Sides of the Conflict
Coordination with Other Countries Having Connections with Syria, Hamas, and Israel
Possibility of Third Country Monitoring During Cease-fire

NORTH KOREA

Status of Food Aid Shipments
Discussions Regarding Original Agreement Pertaining to Korean Speakers Employed in Food Deliveries

RUSSIA

Cuts in Gas Delivery to Ukraine and Several Other Countries
The European Union has Released a Statement Encouraging a Resolution

INDIA/PAKISTAN

Ongoing Efforts Aimed at Information Sharing and Evidence Transfer Regarding the Mumbai Attack
U.S. Encouraged by Transparent Cooperation by the Two Countries


TRANSCRIPT:

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10:31 a.m. EST

MR. MCCORMACK: Good morning, everybody.

QUESTION: Good morning.

MR. MCCORMACK: I think we have put out a notice indicating a change in the Secretary’s travel schedule. She will be going up to New York today. She will have numerous bilateral meetings, consult with friends and allies, in an effort to further her efforts to bring about a cease-fire that is sustainable and durable concerning Gaza. And she will also attend a UN Security Council meeting on Gaza.

I think the situation – the schedule is still coming together at the moment, but I would expect that she would meet with some of her Arab foreign minister counterparts. She will try to meet with President Abbas, who will be up in New York, as well as to have other side meetings. So we’ll try to keep you updated in terms of with whom she meets and her schedule as it develops.

QUESTION: Is she going to --

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

QUESTION: Arshad --

QUESTION: Go ahead, Matt. Do you want to go first? Fine.

MR. MCCORMACK: I’ll let you sort it out. I’ll just sit down over here for a sec.

Matthew.

QUESTION: What is she – what exactly is she pushing here? Is she trying to get your three-plank, three-tier cease-fire done, or is she willing to compromise?

MR. MCCORMACK: What – the focus is twofold. One, there is a UN Security Council meeting, and this is previously scheduled. It was called by the chair of the Security Council for this month, and that is France. I think Foreign Minister Kouchner expects to be there. So she will participate in that discussion.

She will also have a series of meetings, bilateral as well as other configurations, that are intended to try to move forward on the pathway that we talked a little bit about yesterday – these three elements. And just to review, the three elements being an end to rocket fire coming out of Gaza, a – steps to address smuggling, as well as steps to open up the crossings going into Gaza using the 2005 Movement and Access Agreement, elements thereof perhaps, as a model or basis for opening up those access points and having those be secure as well.

QUESTION: As of now, she is not interested in pursuing an immediate cease-fire, as distinct from, you know, the elements that she laid out that you laid out yesterday?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, I guess we would – well, we don’t view them as separable. I know we get into a discussion here of semantics. We would like an immediate cease-fire, absolutely, an immediate cease-fire that is durable and sustainable and non-time-limited. So you know, we can sort of go round and round with these – with the semantics. But of course, we – look, nobody wants to see violence. We would like to see the violence end today. But we also want to see it end in a way that is sustainable and durable, so that we aren’t – you know, you don’t have my successor up here three months, four months, six months from now, talking about the same thing.

QUESTION: Well, I mean, that sounds different because you have not said immediate cease-fire for two weeks now.

MR. MCCORMACK: No, I said it yesterday. I said it yesterday. You know, again --

QUESTION: Well, I mean --

MR. MCCORMACK: -- we get into --

QUESTION: The point is, though, Sean, that if it – if what is proposed has a time limit or you don’t think it’s durable or sustainable, you’re not going to support that; correct?

MR. MCCORMACK: That’s correct.

QUESTION: That – so while you want one immediately --

MR. MCCORMACK: Right.

QUESTION: -- you will not accept one that is just a short or a temporary pause?

MR. MCCORMACK: Again, we have deep concern for the humanitarian situation in Gaza and for the innocent lives on both sides --

QUESTION: Well, if you do --

MR. MCCORMACK: -- both sides of --

QUESTION: If you do --

MR. MCCORMACK: Hold on, hold on. You got your question. Let me answer it. We have concern for both – innocent lives on both sides of that border with Gaza. And it is because of that concern for the humanitarian situation and for those lives that we want to try to bring about something that is durable and that will last and that is meaningful in changing the lives of the people on both sides of those borders.

I fully understand the situation in Gaza. It is – the humanitarian situation there is dire, and we are working to try to address that in terms of getting goods in – into Gaza, as well as once they are into Gaza, to the people who need them. And we’re working with the Israelis as well as others on those questions. So we – we are very much aware of the situation on the ground, as has been reported, and are trying to do something about it, both in terms of the immediate needs as well as the short-, medium-, and long-term political needs.

QUESTION: I noticed you said Secretary Rice is there for “discussions” – quote, unquote – today. So you don’t expect any action? You don’t expect a vote at the UN Security Council today?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well --

QUESTION: I think the Arabs are drafting a cease-fire.

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, again, it’s up to the chair of the Security Council, the president of the Security Council, to determine what comes on the agenda. I would expect today that there would be a discussion, perhaps tomorrow there would be a follow-up session. But again, she’s focused on trying to also move forward on the three elements that we have talked about and talked about yesterday in her bilateral meetings to try to bring about something that is durable, sustainable, tangible, and that will really make a difference in the situation on the ground.

QUESTION: She’s going to talk to Ali Babacan, the Turkish foreign minister, about his cease-fire ideas? Is that – is that right?

MR. MCCORMACK: I’m sure that they’ll – again, the schedule is coming together. I think she fully intends to try to meet with all of her foreign minister colleagues that are up there. I think Foreign Minister Babacan intends to be there, so I fully expect that they will have a meeting, as well as she will also have meetings, I expect, with her Arab foreign minister counterparts and European foreign minister counterparts.

QUESTION: Well, what will – what will a cease-fire resolution have to contain for you not to veto it?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, you know, Matt, we want obviously, to be constructive, and her going up there is a signal that we are making every possible diplomatic effort to try to bring about a cease-fire on the terms that we have outlined. Look, we’ll – we’re open to a variety of different formats to bring that about. I think certainly the discussion in the Security Council today can be useful. But she has also laid out – and there is some degree of coalescing around those elements that we outlined. Now, there is still a lot of details to be worked out. And as we know, details matter in these kinds of agreements. So she’s going to work to try to – with – in those separate side meetings to try to push that process forward.

QUESTION: Just to follow up on something Matt had said earlier – I want to be absolutely certain on this. Yesterday you said sustainable, durable, non-time-limited.

MR. MCCORMACK: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Non-time-limited continues to be part of your position?

MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. Well, non-time-limited.

QUESTION: Sean?

MR. MCCORMACK: Charley.

QUESTION: How much are circumstances on the ground affecting the decision for the Secretary to go to the UN – the humanitarian crisis, the military action, et cetera?

MR. MCCORMACK: Oh, well – I mean, we don’t view them – we don’t view them really as separable. They are all part of the same package in which we are trying to resolve and that we are actually acting to try to ameliorate in some way. Now, you’re not going to fully address the humanitarian situation until you have an end to the violence, rockets being launched and -- as well as the Israeli Government defending itself.

Her calculation was after some discussions internally as well as with some of her counterparts that she thought it was the right time to go up to New York. She had been considering the idea. She made a decision in principle last night, reaffirmed that this morning, and then we put out the announcement for you all.

Yes.

QUESTION: Do you hope or does the U.S. think that as part of this final, whatever, cease-fire or however it’s structured, it will be a way for the Palestinian Authority to somehow reposition itself inside in Gaza? I mean, you keep referring to this 2005 agreement which the PA did control the --

MR. MCCORMACK: Right.

QUESTION: -- border areas with the EU. Is that an accurate way of looking at this?

MR. MCCORMACK: I think whatwe want – the 2005 Movement and Access Agreement, which was – parts of which were implemented, other parts of which were not implemented, can serve as a model. We -- in terms of opening up the border crossings in a secure way, the 2005 agreement is one way to do that. So what we’re looking for is something that is, at the least, consistent with that 2005 agreement which included Palestinian Authority security forces, monitors -- I’m not sure exactly how you describe them – along with, in terms of the Rafah crossing, third-party monitors, meaning the EU.

But all of this – part of – you know, what we’re talking about here are a lot of the details of actually making this work on the ground, and those are the things that need to be agreed upon and flushed out.

QUESTION: But is this seen as a way to get the PA back in Gaza? Is that an accurate way of looking at it?

MR. MCCORMACK: No, it’s a side effect, perhaps, of having an agreement that’s consistent with the 2005 agreement, but it’s not the – that’s not the main objective. The main objective is to actually encourage legitimate trade across those borders in a secure fashion, so that on one side the Israelis can feel confident in the fact that those are secure crossing areas; and for the Palestinian people, they can actually engage in legitimate commerce and thereby improve in some form or fashion the situation on the ground.

Yeah.

QUESTION: Your wording in terms of the – in talking about moving forward on a potential cease-fire agreement, it sounds like you’re not all that optimistic that it would actually happen today and tomorrow.

MR. MCCORMACK: Look, we’re going to – like I said, we would like for this to happen today. If you ask me to place odds on that, I think there are a lot of moving parts to this, and they’re not all synched up at this point. We’re going to try to make that happen. And we hope that her going there and having some of these meetings can move that forward.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) earlier that you said you were open to a variety of different formats for achieving – can you --

MR. MCCORMACK: I can’t – in terms of laying out a cease-fire, you know, there are a lot of different ways to do this. I’m not going to try to predict how. It came -- the answer – the question came in the context, I think, of you know, are you going to have a UN resolution. I can’t predict what form or format or what mechanism will be used to achieve that. I think we’re open in that regard, but I wouldn’t expect a resolution today – a Security Council resolution today.

Charley.

QUESTION: Any reaction to the reports that there was an Israeli attack near or on a United Nations school?

MR. MCCORMACK: You know, I saw that and I saw the news reports just before I came out here. And of course, we’re going to try to get as much information as we can about those reports. I can’t verify any aspect of that – whether or not there was an attack nearby or whether or not there was any loss of life. You know, I would just reiterate that, of course, we are concerned about loss of any innocent life. And you know, we have talked to the Israeli Government about the fact that we would counsel during the course of any operations that they may undertake, that they take the greatest possible care to avoid any loss of innocent life.

Yeah.

QUESTION: How central and how close is the U.S. coordinating with Turkey on all this, because Turkey seems to be the one country out there that has access to Hamas, Syria, Iran in a way that Egypt might not anymore? Is Turkey seen as a pretty central cog in this whole process now?

MR. MCCORMACK: I think they’re part of the interested international actors. As you point out, they have a lot of connections throughout the region and some of which are unique in their aspect of their having contacts with Syria and Hamas, as well as with Israel. So certainly we hope that we can engage them in trying to bring about a cease-fire. I know that they have their own proposals. I’m sure the Secretary will want to hear what the foreign minister has to say, and I’m sure that she will also, from her part, try to convey to him where we are in our efforts and seek to gain their support in our efforts.

Yeah.

QUESTION: Sean, do you support any deployment of international forces or other forces in Gaza?

MR. MCCORMACK: Again, we’ve outlined where we are in terms of a framework for a possible cease-fire. I can’t get ahead of what I explained to you yesterday, as well today, in terms of the details. I cited the 2005 Movement and Access Agreement which could, again, provide a model, and that included third party, or a third country forces there, but I’m not prepared to go any farther than that.

Yeah.

QUESTION: Sean, can I go back to the question I asked yesterday?

MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah.

QUESTION: I don’t – I still am not sure I understand your reasoning as to why, if innocent life can be saved --

MR. MCCORMACK: Right.

QUESTION: -- even one innocent life can be saved by a temporary pause --

MR. MCCORMACK: Right.

QUESTION: -- cease-fire, what’s wrong with that? Why --

MR. MCCORMACK: There’s – look, I know that that is a point of view that is supported by many. And we value every single life, absolutely. But you also don’t want to get into a situation where you are trading off – you know, trading off saving even one life now, against losing 30, 40, 50 or more in the future and being right back in the same situation.

QUESTION: But you don’t know that you’re going to --

MR. MCCORMACK: I know, Matt. Look, there’s no cookie-cutter approach to trying to solve these problems, absolutely not. And I would be the first one to acknowledge that these are tough, sometimes gut-wrenching decisions when you see some of the humanitarian suffering on the ground there. I fully acknowledge that.

But we have to stand back from that and try to make what we believe are the best decisions possible that will improve the situation in the region for Israelis, Palestinians, and others who have an interest in seeing a different kind of Middle East. And I know there are different points of view on this matter, and I fully respect those points of view. But we are pursuing the course that we believe is in the best interests of the United States, as well as the people in the region.

QUESTION: But do you understand the impression that that gives or the – that that gives? I mean, that position that you take appears to many people to be a – the proverbial green light for the Israelis to go ahead and do whatever they want until they think that they’re done.

MR. MCCORMACK: Look, you know, I can – all I can do is try to disabuse people of those impressions and those perceptions. Whether or not they listen to what I have to say or the reasoning behind it, I can’t control that.

Look, we have seen this – you know, we have been in – the United States has been in similar circumstances -- you can cite many throughout history – of making very, very tough decisions. We had to make similarly tough decisions, for example, back in 2006 when there was a war between Israel and Hezbollah, one provoked by Hezbollah. At the end of that process, as difficult as it was, we believed that the status – you know, the status quo is much preferable and better than the status quo ante. As difficult as that was, and as great as the costs that were incurred in terms of human life and other ways --

QUESTION: And you’re saying that – so you’re saying that you have the same – that the calculus is the same in this case? That the status quo – what is happening on the ground right now is preferable to what it was before?

MR. MCCORMACK: No, that’s not what I’m saying, Matt. Listen to what I’m saying. What I’m saying – the situation at the end of the conflict between -- you know, between Hezbollah and Israel, and currently, is better and preferable. It’s better for the people of Lebanon. It’s better for the people of Israel. It’s better for the region than the status quo ante.

QUESTION: So at that --

MR. MCCORMACK: That’s not to say – that’s not to say there weren’t great costs that were incurred in that and that there weren’t difficult decisions that were taken in that regard. But what we can do, and what we have to do as stewards of our national interest as well as doing what we think is best for the interests of the people in the region, is the course that we are currently on.

QUESTION: So if we take that – this situation, you believe that once Israel is finished with what it’s doing, whatever it’s going to do, the situation in Gaza is going to be better than it was before?

MR. MCCORMACK: You know, again, you’re viewing it through a particular – you know, the particular prism of somehow the United States is offering some sort of counsel about Israeli military operations. We are not.

QUESTION: No, no, no.

MR. MCCORMACK: Our interest is in bringing about a durable, sustainable cease-fire so that the – what you have after conflict has ended is better than what you had before conflict began.

Yeah.

QUESTION: And weighing those long-term impacts, are you also weighing the effect it has on the Arabs in the region and Muslims? Are they becoming more radicalized when they see Israel pounding Gaza, which is densely populated? And inevitably, civilians are being killed and that is rushed out on photos on the internet. What about that broader impact on its implication for the U.S. policy?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, all I can do is point to – point to our record over the past four years of this Secretary working tirelessly on behalf of peace in that region, and to try to bring the Israelis and the Palestinians closer together. Our hope is that once the situation in Gaza is resolved, that there is a sustainable, durable, non-time-limited cease-fire that – that also allows for the Israelis and the Palestinians to move forward on the larger political issues that are between them.

You know, again, I know some of the pictures that come out of Gaza – it’s very difficult. It’s also very difficult to look at pictures of Israeli families and children huddled in corners worrying about whether or not they’re going to be hit by a rocket. It’s – the enemy here is violent extremism and those who want to use the taking of innocent life to justify some political cause. And we fundamentally don’t accept that premise.

QUESTION: But doesn't that promote violent extremism when they – they’re using this? The extremists are using this. They have fuel for the fire.

MR. MCCORMACK: The antidote to that is to try to bring about political resolutions to the admittedly deep differences that exist in the region. That’s the antidote. And that’s what we have been working on and that is what we will try to pass on to the incoming administration.

Sir.

QUESTION: I know you spoke, or rather, the Secretary spoke yesterday again with Hillary Clinton. I’m wondering, could you give us a little more texture of what the consultation is like between the Secretary and the next Secretary. Is there – are there also discussions between other members of Secretary Rice’s staff with other members of Hillary’s staff?

And given that she’s going to go to the UN and potentially make some important decisions, to what extent does the incoming team have any input in that process?

MR. MCCORMACK: I’ll check for you on whether or not there was conversation with the Secretary-designate. I know she spoke – Secretary Rice spoke with the President-elect yesterday afternoon.

QUESTION: Oh, okay.

MR. MCCORMACK: In – look, as I said yesterday, we are trying to, as – to the best of our ability, brief the incoming team on where we stand with the negotiations and/or the efforts to bring about a cease-fire. That began in the day or two after the outbreak of hostilities when the Secretary briefed the President-elect. She has spoken with the Secretary-designate as well. And I expect that that will continue. I know that there are also – I can’t detail for you, as I just don’t know exactly the precise nature, but I know that we are at lower levels, also passing over information to the incoming team.

All of that said, and I think that you have heard this from the President-elect himself as well as the incoming team, on foreign policy and on other matters, there is one president at a time. But it’s particularly important on foreign policy that there be one president at a time, one administration at a time. So we are going to make every effort to see that this is a seamless transition and that the incoming team has everything that they need to start working on behalf of the American people on day one.

All of that said, we have a responsibility to formulate and execute American foreign policy until January 20th at 12:01.

QUESTION: Yeah, and just on that, and presumably, though, the incoming team – I mean, there are people who are in the NEA Bureau, as – and every other bureau right now who are going to be working in this building both on Friday the 15th and Tuesday the --

MR. MCCORMACK: Friday the 16th.

QUESTION: Friday the 16th and whatever the first working day of the next administration is. Have they been given any guidance by the incoming team as to what – as to what the – you know, what to do?

MR. MCCORMACK: You know, I can’t speak to that, Matt. I – there are sort of channels of communication between the incoming team and the existing folks in terms of requests for information, and we’ve tried to make that as efficient as possible. I can’t speak to any informal contacts or phone calls that may have been made. I’m not aware of any, but I can’t speak to it.

Sir.

QUESTION: Just one last thing on that point. I know that the Obama administration has been fairly forceful in the economic sphere with the Treasury Department in sort of making it clear what they’d like to see happen and not happen because they’re in the midst of this ongoing situation with the bailout. I think maybe you got at this a moment ago. Do you see the foreign policy area as fundamentally different? In other words, is there more of a hands-off policy in a transition in foreign policy than in domestic or economic policy?

MR. MCCORMACK: No, I’m not trying to make the distinction. I was only trying to recite for you what I have heard in terms of the public comments from the Obama team.

Anything else on Gaza? Yes.

QUESTION: Just back to the report of the Israeli airstrike on the school.

MR. MCCORMACK: Right.

QUESTION: Our correspondent in Gaza has confirmed to us that there are 30 dead and at least 50 injured. If your State Department can confirm the same details, is that an attack that the U.S. will condemn? And secondly, is that consistent with international law? Is it not a war crime to --

MR. MCCORMACK: I can’t – I can’t confirm any of the – any of these news reports. Of course, we’re going to look into them and try to gather as much information as we possibly can. You know, I can only repeat for you a second time what I have said earlier in the briefing, and that is that we have counseled the Israeli Government in undertaking the operations to defend themselves to take every possible effort to guard against the loss of innocent life.

Yes, ma’am.

QUESTION: Our correspondents in Gaza are interviewing doctors there, European doctors, and they’re seeing signs of depleted uranium and other toxic forms of – that will eventually lead to leukemia and cancer.

MR. MCCORMACK: Right.

QUESTION: This would also be categorized as a war crime as well. Is the United States not saying anything to Israel about not using at least cluster bombs and bombs that have depleted uranium on them which contaminate a lot of the victims that --

MR. MCCORMACK: Again, I can’t – I can’t confirm those reports, and I would just repeat for you the answer that I have given already.

QUESTION: Do you have people inside of Gaza that --

MR. MCCORMACK: Excuse me?

QUESTION: -- that are monitoring the area?

MR. MCCORMACK: Do we have people inside Gaza?

QUESTION: Yes.

MR. MCCORMACK: There are no State Department employees there.

QUESTION: Do you think that, you know, without having people inside of Gaza, you wouldn't understand – or not understand, but you wouldn't have a – will you understand the bigger picture as to what’s going on in there? Because you mentioned that --

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, there – it --
QUESTION: -- they’re bombing schools and cultural centers and --

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, again, I can’t confirm –

QUESTION: -- and 600 people are dead now.

MR. MCCORMACK: I can’t confirm any of those reports. I have seen them. Look, you’re – you’re always at a – somewhat of a disadvantage when you’re not on the ground and you don’t have your people on the ground. You can cite many examples around the world where that is the case. You know, for the State Department, for us, it is always better to have somebody on the ground so you can get firsthand reporting. But the fact of the matter is we haven’t had people in Gaza for quite some time.

QUESTION: Why is that?

QUESTION: Can you tell us about any other phone calls or contacts the Secretary has made since you briefed us yesterday?

MR. MCCORMACK: She had – yesterday, she spoke with the Egyptian Director of General Intelligence Suleiman, as well UK Foreign Secretary Miliband. I would expect also today – I think she has a call scheduled with Foreign Minister Livni as well.

Anything else on – you have Gaza, or do you still have – or a different topic?

QUESTION: Different topic.

MR. MCCORMACK: Okay. Let’s – let’s go through and complete this and – Dave.

QUESTION: Different topic.

MR. MCCORMACK: We’ll come back to you. Anybody else on --

QUESTION: Yeah, just one more follow-up on the Egyptian official she spoke to yesterday was the intelligence --

MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah, yeah. Egyptian intelligence – general intelligence – yeah, she has had many meetings with General Suleiman, as well as with Foreign Minister Gheit. Yeah, it’s a – it’s a practice that she’s had for some time.

QUESTION: I hadn’t heard so far in this --

QUESTION: Hold on. What was that?

MR. MCCORMACK: There was a – there was a small --

QUESTION: That little gesture?

MR. MCCORMACK: -- a small fly.

QUESTION: Oh, I see.

QUESTION: Like swatting at the journalists in here.

MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah, that’s right. Swatting away. No.

Okay. Anything else on Gaza?

QUESTION: I just have a logistical question about the Deputy Secretary. Is he following – doing exactly what the Secretary was going to have done had she gone on the trip? Or does he have other stops, anything else planned?

MR. MCCORMACK: To tell you the truth, I don’t know his full schedule. I think in China, it’s virtually the same programs; a few flight adjustments, but virtually the same program in China.

QUESTION: Is he – does he have other stops in the --

MR. MCCORMACK: I’ll check for you. I have to – I’ll check for – on his travel schedule.

Yeah. Yes, sir, and then Dave. Yeah.

QUESTION: Yes, following on the North Korea, you mentioned before the key issue of the conflict between U.S. and North Korea is a number of Korean-speaking workers that work for the programs that – the number of Korean-speaking workers is not a critical issue that they said, so – it mean that they don’t agree with the U.S. So can you comment on that?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, I’ll check for you where we stand on this particular question. I can only cite for you the fact that it was part of the original agreement and we do think it is important.

Yeah.

QUESTION: Sir, the negotiation is still going on right now?

MR. MCCORMACK: I’ll check for you on that. To be honest, I haven’t checked in on where we – where we stand on getting the full program back up and running.

Dave.

QUESTION: On the Russia-Ukraine gas issue, the Russians have announced some cuts in the supply through Ukraine. It would appear to reduce the supplies available to several other countries, so it seems like an expansion of this issue. Do you have any reaction to that?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, I know the EU has put a statement out on this question, and certainly, we would echo the sentiments in that statement. That is that Russia and Ukraine should get together, come to the table, work out the differences that exist between them in what would appear to be a commercial dispute. And we would hope that that is done in a transparent manner; whatever agreement is reached is fully transparent.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MR. MCCORMACK: Gollust, you have one more? Yeah, sure, then Lach.

QUESTION: Another – yeah.

MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah, hold on. Dave, go ahead.

QUESTION: It’s sort of a rhetorical escalation between the Indians and Pakistanis. The prime minister of India has said that those who were responsible for the Mumbai attacks were at least supported by official agencies in Pakistan. And he also said that India has shared what information it has on this with the United States.

MR. MCCORMACK: Right.

QUESTION: Do you share the conclusion, then, of the Indians about the Pakistani --

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, we’ve talked about the origins of the attack coming from Pakistani soil. Secretary Rice, during her visit to the region, said that herself. I would look at one part of this exchange as encouraging; that is, that there is an exchange of information here between India and Pakistan.

Now of course, tensions need to be managed, and thus far, it would seem that the two sides have an interest in doing that. Richard Boucher, who is traveling in the region, I thought put it very well in saying that each side, in terms of – you know, putting together the full picture here, has pieces of the puzzle that the other doesn’t. And so it’s in their interest to work together, to exchange information, to get the full picture, and to be able to act to prevent attacks as well as to bring to justice those responsible for the attacks in Mumbai.

So in that sense, the common enemy here are the violent extremists. The greatest threat isn’t from each other, whether that be India or Pakistan. It’s from the violent extremists.

Lach.

QUESTION: On John Negroponte’s visit, anything coming out other than the ceremonial? I mean, it’s – apart from the 30 years.

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, it’s a pretty significant anniversary.

QUESTION: Yeah.

MR. MCCORMACK: The Secretary had looked forward to going to China to commemorate the anniversary, but she’s very pleased that the Deputy Secretary has agreed to take her place in that regard.

QUESTION: So no other discussions other than --

MR. MCCORMACK: I’m sure that they will have substantive discussions. There’s a lot to talk about. But it is – the primary reason for the visit is to commemorate that 30th anniversary.

QUESTION: So they’ll discuss North Korea and --

MR. MCCORMACK: I expect that they probably will.

QUESTION: North Korea and Iran?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, there’s a – yeah, there’s – it’s a broad relationship. I’m sure they’ll talk about economics as well.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MR. MCCORMACK: All right. Thanks.

(The briefing was concluded at 11:03 a.m.)

dpb # 2



Released on January 6, 2009

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