Daily Press Briefing - February 12

Index for Today's Briefing:

    • Support of ICC Work in Darfur - Sudan / Those Who Commit Atrocities to be Held Accountable / Concern about Human Rights Abuses / Review of How to Engage ICC / Support of UN and AU Efforts in Darfur
    • U.S.-India Civil Nuclear Agreement / India a Important Strategic Partner / Implementation Phase of 123 Agreement
  • IRAQ
    • Working with the Iraqi Government / Support of Democratic Process at Encompasses All of Iraq's People / Challenging Years Ahead / Concerns of Various Groups / Iraq Responsible for Issues Confronting its People / U.S. A Helpful Partner
    • Under Secretary Burns Trip to Moscow / Discussions with Russian Interlocutors on Range of Issues / Manas Airbase / Afghanistan / Nuclear Armaments
    • No Formal Notification Provided Regarding Manas Air Base
    • Special Representative Richard Holbrooke Travel / Lahore / Meeting with Provincial Government Officials and Opposition Politicians / Bagram / Meeting with U.S. Officials
    • Amnesty International Report / No Plans to Talk to the Taliban / Pakistan Aware of its Challenges Dealing with the Taliban / U.S. Support of Pakistan's Efforts
    • Arrest of Six in the Mumbai Attacks / Positive Step
    • Sale of Spare Parts / Commerce Department / Safety of Civilian Aviation
    • Senator John Kerry's Trip to Syria / Support for the CODEL
    • Cairo Conference / U.S. Government Representation
    • Deployment of Additional Forces / President Obama Priority
    • Secretary Clinton to Have Detailed Discussions with Japanese Interlocutors / Number of Issues / Strong Relationship
    • Importance of Diplomacy to U.S. Foreign Policy / Difficult Budget Situation / Funding Levels for the State Department
    • Clear Policy on North Korea / Missile Launches
  • IRAN
    • Full and Comprehensive Review of Policy Toward Iran / Look Forward to Direct Engagement with Iran / Will Be Speaking to Wide Variety of People on Iran
    • Attacks in Kabul / Continue to Engage Enemy Forces / Concern of Violence in Kabul
Robert Wood
Acting Spokesman
Daily Press Briefing
February 12, 2009


11:37 a.m. EDT

MR. WOOD: Okay.Good morning, everyone. I don’t have anything.

QUESTION: I really don’t have anything either.

MR. WOOD: Wow. I’m impressed.

QUESTION: Do you have any comment on – the ICC judges have apparently decided to press ahead with the Bashir warrant.

MR. WOOD: Let’s see. I’ve seen the reports, but I don’t think there’s been any official announcement of that. But our policy has been from the beginning that those who commit atrocities need to be held accountable. And – but, you know, that’s basically all I have to say on that.

QUESTION: In a broader sense, though, since you have had a relatively – not relatively – you have a arm’s length, at least, distance from the ICC, do you support the work that it’s doing related to Darfur and the situation in Sudan?

MR. WOOD: Certainly. As I said, Matt, you know, we want to see those who commit atrocities, who are responsible for atrocities taking place anywhere around the world, held accountable.

QUESTION: By the ICC, or would you prefer to see it done by some other --

MR. WOOD: Well, the ICC is undertaking a challenging effort. And we’re very – we’ve been very concerned about human rights abuses and atrocities that have taken place in Darfur. And as I’ve mentioned to you, I believe, in a previous briefing, that we’re taking a look at whether or not we are going to engage the ICC, but that review has not been completed. And as I said --

QUESTION: That’s review number what, 1,335?

MR. WOOD: You’re the only one I know keeping count. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: When do you say that you’re looking at, you know, how to engage the ICC? What does that mean? I mean, are you looking at whether to join the ICC?

MR. WOOD: Well, overall –

QUESTION: Are you looking at becoming a fully fledged member or just to, you know, write them --

MR. WOOD: We’ll have to see how the review – the outcome of the review. I just can’t give you that kind of an answer at this point.

QUESTION: Yes, but are you considering actively becoming a member of the ICC? Is it something that you’re looking at closely within your review?

MR. WOOD: What I’ve said is that we are conducting a review, and you can check with Matt for the actual number of reviews.

QUESTION: Are you doing anything to – specifically, is the United States doing anything specifically to try to prepare in some way for whatever escalated violence might occur as a result of his arrest?

MR. WOOD: Well, again, we’re speculating because there hasn’t been an announcement yet. But look, we have been very supportive of the UN and AU efforts in Darfur. And we’re going to continue to try to provide as much support as we can to the people of Darfur who have suffered over the years tremendously. And we will work with the United Nations, with the African Union to see what more we can do to help. But again, I don’t want to get ahead of any of these reports in terms of a possible indictment. I don’t want to do that yet.

QUESTION: In terms of support, are you providing evidence to the ICC? Do you have any?

MR. WOOD: Well, look, I’m not aware. I have not been involved with this at all. What I can tell you is that, you know, the fact that there have been these atrocities committed in Darfur has been a great concern to the United States over the years. And you know, where we can be supportive, we’ve tried to be. But again, at this point, we are not, as you know, party to their own statute. But there is a review underway with regard to the ICC. And I don’t have anything further on that until we’ve completed that review.

QUESTION: Okay. When you say we have been supportive, do you mean that when they have requested information, that you have given it to them? We’ve been round and round the mulberry bush on this one, but --

MR. WOOD: And I’m not going to go around it again, so I think I’ll just stick with what I’ve said.

QUESTION: So, in – but in terms of saying you’ve been supportive, does that mean that if they’ve asked you for documents, you’ve handed them over in order to be supportive to the process or --

MR. WOOD: Well, look, we are – we have been supportive to a number of investigations that have taken place around the world with regard to atrocities being committed. And so where we can provide support, we do.

Yes, Goyal.

QUESTION: Another subject?

MR. WOOD: Okay.

QUESTION: Robert, what’s going on? The U.S.-India Civil Nuclear Agreement was signed by President Bush last year. And final paper was still on his desk – I think he left for President Obama. And now India has signed some of the nuclear reactor deals with France--they are buying-- and some people are concerned in some press reports that Washington is already ignoring India.

MR. WOOD: No, that’s not the case at all. India is a very important strategic partner for the United States. We are trying to get – we are into the implementation phase of the 123 Civil Nuclear Agreement. I don’t have the specifics of where we are on this particular day with regard to implementation, but it is certainly something that we want to see happen, and nothing more beyond that.

QUESTION: Robert, speaking of the people who feel ignored by the United States, the Kurds, there seems to be growing concern and some resentment in northern Iraq that the United States is not paying enough attention to the situation there and to the concerns that they have. Can you offer any reassurance to the Kurdish leaders who think that? I mean we’ve got one here, the regional prime minister saying, “We love the U.S., and they don’t care.”

MR. WOOD: Well, I haven’t seen those remarks. I don’t actually know what they mean. But look, we have been working with the Iraqi Government to do what we can to support a democratic process going forward in Iraq that encompasses the views, the aspirations of all peoples who live in Iraq.

Iraq has made a lot of strides, as you know, Matt. It’s been a very challenging several years for the people of Iraq. Yes, there are concerns from various groups. There is a democratic government in place. There is a system in Iraq that allows for complaints from various groups, parties to seek, you know, restitution. The democratic experiment in Iraq continues. The recent elections were very positive. That’s the best I can tell you, with regard to – I haven’t – while I’ve seen these types of comments –

QUESTION: Your response – you went on for awhile, but you didn’t mention – you know, you didn’t mention who I was asking about. What can you do to reassure the Kurds, specifically, that
– that you are --

MR. WOOD: Well, it’s not so much what the United States has to do. It’s really what the Iraqi Government and the Iraqi people decide is going to be the future of their country. And I think the Iraqi Government has chosen a path of democracy. It’s experiencing, as I said, a number of challenges. But there are ways for peoples in Iraq to bring the concerns that they have to the levers of power. And it’s a democracy, and it’s not really up to the United States to reassure anyone. It’s the Iraqi people and – through – and with the Iraqi people, their government, to deal with questions like those.

QUESTION: Okay. But you still haven’t used the word that begins with K. Is there some reason why you’re reluctant to do that?

MR. WOOD: No, there’s no specific reason at all. I’ve just given you, I think, is what our views are with regard to Iraq and its future, and where there may be some issues that some of the ethnic groups have.

QUESTION: Right. But – well, your response, I don’t think, is going to reassure anyone. In fact, it’s going to reinforce their concerns --

MR. WOOD: Well, I would disagree with you. What I’ve said, and I’ve been very clear about this, is that there is an Iraqi Government, a democratically elected government that’s responsible for dealing with the issues that confront its people. And the United States is – has been a helpful partner. We will continue to be a partner and friend to the Iraqis. But with regard to complaints that various groups may have about their future in Iraq, in the end, that’s going to be a decision determined by the Iraqi people and its government – and their government.

QUESTION: Do you have any details on Bill Burns’s trip to Moscow, what he’s going to achieve, who he plans to see? Does he plan to discuss Manas air base? Maybe if you could give an overview of the goals of this trip.

MR. WOOD: Well, Under Secretary Burns arrived in Moscow on – I guess it was yesterday – for discussions on a wide range of issues with, you know, his Russian interlocutors. I don’t have specifics on with whom he met. Hopefully, though, I’ll get further readouts on his visit once he returns. He’ll be back in the U.S. tomorrow.

Regarding Manas, again, I haven’t gotten a readout from Bill, but it wouldn't surprise me if the issue came up. There are a host of other issues that Bill had on his agenda, Afghanistan being one, you know, reducing nuclear armaments being another. So once Bill gets back, I’ll be able to give a further readout on that.

QUESTION: What was the reasoning behind this trip? Was it largely to do with speaking to them about Manas or to find out what was behind the decision of the Kyrgyz Government, whether it was due to Russian influence? Was it a fact-finding mission for that? Was it just a, hey, this is a new Administration, this is what we – how we see relations moving?

MR. WOOD: Yeah. The Secretary asked Bill to go to Moscow because we’ve got a whole host of issues that we need to address with the Russians, and that was the primary purpose of it. And it is a new Administration, and there are a lot of issues that we need to work out with Moscow. And that was the basic purpose of the visit. But again, I’ll have more to say about it once, you know, I have a chance to talk to Bill.

QUESTION: But was the timing largely to do with Manas?

MR. WOOD: Look --

QUESTION: I’m going to keep asking.

MR. WOOD: Look, the Secretary asked Bill to go and have discussions with Russian officials about a wide variety of issues. I wouldn't, you know, say that it was linked to any particular event. This is something that, you know, Bill had been discussing with the Secretary about doing, and she asked him to go.

QUESTION: Can I just follow up?

MR. WOOD: Sure, Dave.

QUESTION: What’s the state of discussion with the Kyrgyz themselves about the base?

MR. WOOD: As far as I know, there has not been any formal notification provided to us, and those discussions with the Kyrgyz, you know, continue.


QUESTION: Speaking of readouts – past, current, and future – do you have anything on Holbrooke?

MR. WOOD: Yeah, let me see. I do. Let’s see. Special Representative Richard Holbrooke was in Lahore, Pakistan last night and today, where he met with provincial government officials and opposition politicians. Among them were former Prime Ministers Nawaz Sharif and Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, Punjap Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, Governor of the Punjab Salman Taseer, and the Pakistan Muslim League Quami leadership. Discussions included increasing U.S. assistance in the sphere of socioeconomic development.

Ambassador Holbrooke departed Lahore and arrived in Bagram today. He is expected to meet with General McKiernan, Major General Schloesser, and Ambassador Wood. My understanding is he’s – he will be back – someone had asked me the question yesterday about when he’ll be back in Washington. He’s due to be back on or about February 16, 17.

QUESTION: Can I just follow up with (inaudible)?

MR. WOOD: Absolutely.

QUESTION: Thank you. Amnesty International (inaudible). Amnesty International is blasting Pakistan for leaving the Swat valley residents to the mercy and hands of the Taliban. And also, Pakistan has been saying that the Special Representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan, they should talk with Taliban and make a deal. Was this issue discussed or came up that if Washington is ready to have a deal again with Pakistan, as before, with Taliban and al-Qaida?

MR. WOOD: Look, Ambassador Holbrooke is out in the region, as you know, to basically listen, not to lecture. In terms of talking to the Taliban, we have no plans to have any of our officials talking with the Taliban. The Pakistani Government is well aware of the challenges that it faces from the Taliban, both on – within its borders and across the border in Afghanistan. It’s a very severe challenge. But Pakistan certainly understands that there are a lot of challenges within that it has to deal with, and we will try to be as supportive as we can, and have been supportive.
And so I haven’t seen this Amnesty Report, so it wouldn’t be fair for me to really comment on it, other than to say that, look, we’re aware of the challenges that we face in Afghanistan, as well as the other challenges the international community faces, and in Pakistan.

But I think what’s important here is that Pakistan realizes those challenges within its borders, and it is trying to take steps to do what it can, because the Taliban are a threat on both sides of that border.

QUESTION: But this issue didn’t – this question didn’t come between the two when Mr. Holbrooke and Pakistans met?

MR. WOOD: I don’t know. I haven’t talked to Ambassador Holbrooke about the substance of the conversations. Hopefully, we’ll be able to get a further readout once he returns.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

MR. WOOD: Same question? On Pakistan?

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

MR. WOOD: Okay, let me go here and then we’ll – please.

QUESTION: Pakistan has announced the arrest of six in the Mumbai attacks, including the so-called main operator. What’s the State Department’s reaction to this?

MR. WOOD: Well, I mean, we have asked Pakistan, and India has asked Pakistan, to cooperate fully in trying to bring to justice those who are responsible for the Mumbai attacks. So this would certainly be a very positive step. I don’t have much more in the way of detail with regard to the arrests. But Pakistan has committed that it would do everything in its power to bring people to justice who may have committed these atrocities who have been within their border. So let me just leave it at that. It’s a good step. I’ll have to find out more details about the arrests, but I think it shows that Pakistan is serious about doing what it can to deal with the people who may have perpetrated these attacks.

Right here, and then we’ll go to Jay.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) on Nepal.

MR. WOOD: Jay, did you want to stay on this issue?

QUESTION: No, mine was on Syria.

MR. WOOD: Okay, we can go back to you. Please, go ahead.

QUESTION: Okay. In Nepal – is the State Department reviewing the process of – Maoists are in the terrorist list? Are you planning to remove them from that list?

MR. WOOD: I’ve heard nothing to that effect, at this point.

QUESTION: On Syria. Did the U.S. provide some sort of waiver for the sale of spare parts or something to Damascus recently?

MR. WOOD: I’d have to refer you to the Commerce Department on that. But I do understand that, you know, in cases where there may be some issues with regard to the safety of civilian aviation, you know, there are ways that we can try to provide, for example, in the case of Syria, you know, spare parts that may be needed to ensure that there, you know, is continued safety in the aviation industry. But I don’t have anything more beyond that. I have to refer you to the Commerce Department.

QUESTION: But you’ve heard something about that?

MR. WOOD: Well, I – just what I’ve given you.

QUESTION: Also on Iran --

QUESTION: A follow-up on --

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

MR. WOOD: Hang on. One at a time, please.

QUESTION: So the answer would be yes?

QUESTION: So, really, you’re saying in general --

QUESTION: You did provide the waiver?

MR. WOOD: I didn’t get into the question of a waiver. I said, basically, that my understanding is that when there are concerns about aviation security, that that’s something we would certainly look at in terms of trying to address those concerns. But I would have to refer you to Commerce for further --

QUESTION: To find out whether the way the – the license was issued or not? Is that what you’re saying?

MR. WOOD: I would just talk to Commerce.

QUESTION: Well, I have talked to Commerce about this for actually the last three days, and their answer is that they won’t say.

MR. WOOD: They’re the authority on this. And if they don’t have anything to say, I probably have less to say.


QUESTION: Robert, on – Secretary Clinton has met, in the morning, Senator John Kerry. Has she discussed with him his upcoming trip to Syria?

MR. WOOD: I haven’t talked to her about the breakfast this morning. But it would not surprise me if, indeed, they did discuss that trip. But I don’t have a read-out because I haven’t had a chance to talk to her about it.

QUESTION: What kind of help or support are you all offering this – Kerry and the rest of his CODEL?

MR. WOOD: Well, we’ll provide whatever the normal support is; nothing usual about that. Whenever there’s a, you know, congressional delegation going somewhere around the world, we try to provide them all --

QUESTION: Well, not always. And in this case, in Syria, when Nancy Pelosi went there, the last administration was pretty clearly not in favor of her going, and I don’t believe offered, you know, significant support or help.

MR. WOOD: There is a new Administration. And the Secretary has been very clear that she wants members of Congress to travel.

QUESTION: To Syria, specifically?

MR. WOOD: I’m saying, in general, for members of Congress to travel to see the types of issues that we face in the Department, to meet our people, and to learn more about some of these, you know, very complex issues that we deal with. So that’s all I have on it. I haven’t spoken to her about – any further about the trip.

QUESTION: Are you actively trying to arrange a meeting with the senator and the president of Syria?

MR. WOOD: Not that I’m aware of.

QUESTION: Robert, on the Cairo conference that’s coming up in March, will that be – can you give us some details on that? And will that route be a subject of the conversation this afternoon and --

MR. WOOD: Well, look, with regard to the Cairo conference, I’d have to refer you to the Egyptians in terms of what they’re planning for it. But certainly, the U.S. Government will be represented at a high level.

QUESTION: Right. And who is the high level?

MR. WOOD: I don’t know at this point. We’ll let you know as soon as we have, you know, further details.


QUESTION: Yeah, what is the situation regarding U.S. troop deployments in Afghanistan? Is it going to be speeded up now, given that the security situation is deteriorating?

MR. WOOD: Well, again, I’d have to refer you to the Defense Department or the White House for – because I know there are discussions that people in the White House and over at the Pentagon have been involved in. So, look, from our standpoint here at the Department, we’re going to be participating, along with other government agencies, in the review of our Afghan policy, and we’ll be looking at various elements of that policy. But I don’t have anything further to give you on that.

QUESTION: The deployment of the 30,000 troops, extra troops, is that still on the table?

MR. WOOD: Well, certainly, the President has made very clear that he wants – that Afghanistan is going to be a priority, and that we need to do more in terms of fighting the Taliban. And so once a decision is made to, you know, deploy additional forces, that’ll be announced, but I don’t have anything more for you at this point.


QUESTION: On the Secretary’s trip to Asia, can you tell us what her – what are the Secretary’s goals for her meeting with Japanese Democratic Party leader Ozawa? And how does the State Department view Mr. Ozawa?

MR. WOOD: Look, the Secretary is going to have some very detailed discussions with her Japanese interlocutors when she gets there. There are a number of issues on the plate in our relationship with Japan, not only bilateral, but also other issues in – that the international community is dealing with. And so I’m not prepared to preview those discussions for you here, except to say that she looks forward to having these meetings with Japanese officials and continuing the very strong relationship that the U.S. and Japan have maintained over a number of years.

Let me go to --

QUESTION: I have a question about the budget – you know, this stimulus and all the 24/7 attention to that. Is there concern here at the State Department that overall, with the financial crisis, it could have a big impact on how – on the plans to strengthen this Department, project American diplomacy abroad?

MR. WOOD: Well, the President and the Secretary have spoken very clearly – the importance of diplomacy to our foreign policy. And to conduct that foreign policy, you need adequate resources. And so, again, we are in a very difficult budget situation in the United States, and those discussions will be continuing in terms of what the funding levels will be for the Department. But I would just point you to statements that Secretary Clinton and the President have made about the importance of diplomacy and getting the resources for the people of the State Department to do their work on behalf of the American people.

Let me go to Lambros, because he’s --

QUESTION: On the Balkans. Mr. Wood, Albania must solve the huge problem of unclear and disputed property titles – that means of the Greeks in northern Epirus – in order to attract foreign investments amid the EU criteria for eventual membership to the European Union (inaudible) Ambassador to Tirana stated the other day. What is the U.S. position on the property rights of the Greeks in northern Epirus?

MR. WOOD: Mr. Lambros, we have spoken to that issue quite often from the podium. I don’t have anything more to give you than what we have said previously.

QUESTION: The Supreme Court of Sali Berisha in Albania sentenced before yesterday, five Greeks in Himara in northern Epirus symbolizing the Greek flag. May we have your reaction from the human rights point of view?

MR. WOOD: This is the first I’ve heard of it, Mr. Lambros. We’ll look into it and see if I can get you an answer.

QUESTION: Why Mr. Mark Toner of your European desk never prepare you with the press guidance pertaining Greece, Cyprus, Balkan states and Turkey? Is there any particular reason?

MR. WOOD: No. Mr. Turner takes good care of me.

QUESTION: Excuse me? Excuse me?

MR. WOOD: Mr. Turner takes good care of me providing what I need.


QUESTION: One more question, excuse me.


MR. WOOD: Oh, that’s what he – yeah, Mark – what did I say? Mark Toner --

QUESTION: I never get an answer to the question. One more question. In answer to my question --

MR. WOOD: Look, Mr. Lambros, you’ve had three questions.

QUESTION: In answer to my pending question the other day, your press officer Laura Tischler told me that Secretary Clinton never had a meeting or an official call with the prime minister of FYROM Nikola Gruevski. How do you accept that, Mr. Wood, that Mr. Gruevski attributed to Secretary Clinton’s statements? Do you allow that?

MR. WOOD: Mr. Lambros, I think I’ve answered enough of your questions.

QUESTION: I have the statements. It’s hypocrisy.

MR. WOOD: I’ve given you the best answer --

QUESTION: Excuse me?

MR. WOOD: I’ve given you the answers that I can give you.


MR. WOOD: Did you have a question? Back here, please.

QUESTION: There are reports out that Stephen Bosworth has been named the envoy to North Korea. And I was wondering if you had anything on that and if it would be announced before the trip.

MR. WOOD: As far as I know, there haven’t been – no decisions have been made on whether or not we would, you know, have a special envoy for North Korea. So I don’t have anything at this point for you.

QUESTION: And just a second question. The other day at the Korea Economic Institute, Wendy Sherman said that Stephen Bosworth carried a message over with him that – to be patient, that the Obama Administration had North Korea on their agenda and to not do anything provocative. Do you know if that was – it wasn’t clear the way she stated it – was that a personal message? Was that a message from the Administration? Do you have any information on that?

MR. WOOD: Well, you’ll have to ask Wendy. But our policy with regard to North Korea, I think, has been very clear. And when we’ve talked about the issue of, you know, potential missile launches, we have always said to the North not to do anything provocative. And our policy, as you know, as Matt knows very well, is under review with regard to the North, and I’ll just leave it there.

Michel, I think I’ll --

QUESTION: Secretary Clinton has called today Saad Hariri, the Lebanese member of parliament. Do you have any readout?

MR. WOOD: I don’t have a readout on it. We’ll try and get you something on that.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MR. WOOD: Let me – please.

QUESTION: Yes, regarding the special envoy for the North Korea, I think yesterday the Yonhap Agency and the AP report about the special envoy will be illuminated as Mr. Bosworth, who went to the North Korea recently.

MR. WOOD: I just addressed that question a moment ago.

Sue’s been waiting. Go ahead.

QUESTION: Have you – on North Korea as well. Have you seen any unusual activity that might indicate that they’re about to launch a missile?

MR. WOOD: We’ve seen a lot of reports over the last several days and – but beyond that, I don’t have anything concrete to tell you.

QUESTION: Nothing’s moving around? You haven’t seen --

MR. WOOD: Not that I’m aware of.

QUESTION: -- interesting equipment moving around or --

MR. WOOD: No, I haven’t heard anything --

QUESTION: -- any new photographs?


QUESTION: Do you have any assessment why their stance is increasingly tough with bellicose rhetoric?

MR. WOOD: It’s very hard for me, as I’ve said many times, to get into the mindset of North Korea. So I really couldn’t answer that.

QUESTION: Regarding the talks in Moscow next week by the working group on the peace and security mechanism, can you give us anything more specific on exactly what they’re doing? Because they haven’t met since August 2007, so why now?

MR. WOOD: I don’t have anything more than what I gave you yesterday.

QUESTION: Yesterday?

MR. WOOD: Yeah, I’m sorry. Let me go – someone else had a hand. Why don’t we go to Jake. Please.

QUESTION: Just a question on Iran. Is there anything you can say about sort of the structure of how the review is being conducted? I mean, is it being led by the NSC? I know Dennis Ross is working here on – in some capacity and he’s supposed to be involved in Iran. I mean, is there anything – I know it’s ongoing. I’m just trying to get a sense on the structure and who the players are in sort of doing it.

MR. WOOD: Yeah, I don’t have anything in terms of the structure or the players, except it is going to be a very full and comprehensive review. And it is a high priority, and we are going to try to complete that review as quickly as possible. And again, as we’ve said time and again, we’ve reached – we look forward to direct engagement with Iran. And you know, once we’ve gotten through with the review, we’ll be able to answer a lot of your questions. But at this point, I really don’t have anything further.

QUESTION: And what is Dennis Ross’s role in that?

MR. WOOD: Well, look, the Secretary and the President are reaching out to a wide range of individuals to consult with as part of the review. And I’m not going to get into names of people with whom they’re engaging, but you can be assured a wide range of experts on the question of Iran and, you know, the Middle East in general.

QUESTION: Have you been in touch with the Iran – sort of the diaspora, and also any Iranian officials to do this review? I mean, you’re anxious to speak to people.

MR. WOOD: We want to speak to as wide variety of people who understand what’s going on in Iran, who have visited Iran, who have been following issues there very closely, in order to formulate our policy in a comprehensive way. So that’s about the best I can do for you.

QUESTION: So you haven’t been in touch with Iranian officials?

MR. WOOD: Not that I’m aware of.


QUESTION: There’s some reports indicating that – citing U.S. officials that yesterday’s attacks in Kabul were perpetrated by a group based in Pakistan. Do you have any information on --

MR. WOOD: I don’t. But those were horrific attacks that took place. And just a reminder that we have to continue to engage enemy forces. It’s why this review on Afghanistan is so critical. That’s why Ambassador Holbrooke has been out in the region trying to listen to various players so that we can come – so that he can come back and we can complete this review and try to find the right mix of, you know, political, economic, and military ingredients to try to, you know – hopefully to stabilize the situation in Afghanistan.

I can tell you the Secretary and others are very concerned about the violence in Kabul. And we’re going to do what we can working with the Afghans, as I said, to try to bring about stabilization. But it’s a very big concern of ours.

QUESTION: Do you have any indication of who was responsible?

MR. WOOD: At this point, no. But they’re – obviously, the Afghan Government is investigating it.

QUESTION: Robert, may I go quickly back to Mumbai attacks, please? India and U.S. both have branded some of the terrorists based in Pakistan, and especially Mr. Dawood, wanted by India, in masterminding of the Mumbai and other attacks against India. Now, as far as these arrests are concerned, it has taken place (inaudible) in the past, but who will monitor? You think Washington or the Secretary will monitoring or play some role as far as Pakistan should and will take action against those who are responsible in attack and arrested, rather than releasing them just like A.Q. Khan later, after Holbrooke leaves the area?

MR. WOOD: As I said earlier, Pakistan’s got some tremendous challenges that it’s facing. It’s a sovereign government. It is said that it will pursue – will follow these leads wherever they go in terms of trying to find out who was responsible for these horrific attacks in Mumbai. Pakistan knows the entire international community is watching and wants to see justice. And so that, in itself, I think, will be sufficient incentive to the Pakistanis to, you know, follow every lead wherever it goes.

One last question here and then – she’s here. Please.

QUESTION: On North Korea, Kim Jong-il just confirmed two new (inaudible) – two new officials in the high-level military positions, and he himself obtained a new title. So share your viewpoint with us, and what’s the connection with these matters and the possibility to launch a missile?

MR. WOOD: It’s hard for me to draw connections to all those things. It’s the first I’ve heard. I really don’t have any comment on that.

Thank you.

(The briefing was concluded at 12:08 p.m.)

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