Briefing with Spokesperson Tom Casey on P5+1 Talks in Vienna (Excerpts)

June 1, 2006

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QUESTION: That's true. On Iran then -- could you up-to-date us on what the Secretary's day has been like in Vienna? We haven't had any press availabilities yet, so you're the first crack at it.

MR. CASEY: Sure. Okay. I think as you know, she's had a couple of preliminary meetings to the more full P-5+1 session today. She met earlier with UK Foreign Minister Beckett. She then had a meeting with her EU-3 counterparts. As I was coming out here to brief, they were just about to get started with the full P-5+1 meeting. I understand that's scheduled to run a couple hours or more. Obviously, after that's concluded, I'm sure the party out there will have something to say -- had good sessions with those individuals who she met with. I think, as Sean said and as she said before they left, you know, we feel we've been making good progress on this package. And we'll look to see the results of the meeting this afternoon.

QUESTION: They actually aren't planning to say very much from what we've been told: a canned statement and no Q&A (laughter) just kind of information.

But moving on with questions. If she has not yet seen the Russians and the Chinese separately until this, the full meeting -- is that correct? She hasn't spoken to them?

MR. CASEY: That's correct. Again, the meetings that I understand that she had earlier in the day were specifically with the UK Foreign Minister and then with the EU-3 foreign ministers, yeah.

QUESTION: But can you talk more about the package?

MR. CASEY: No, again, I really can't. And I'll leave you with what she said yesterday afternoon to you, which is that she'd rather have that discussion with her ministerial counterparts and then talk to you and everyone else about it afterwards.

QUESTION: Just this morning the Chinese have announced that they don't -- that they're opposed to arbitrary sanctions on Iran. I mean, yesterday this Administration was going on about how they were getting agreement from the Russians and the Chinese on going forward on a package of incentives and penalties. So it seems as if despite your rosy picture of progress, there's still a fundamental difference with the Russians and the Chinese over the whole idea of penalties.

MR. CASEY: Well, again, look, let's let them have the meeting and let's let the ministers tell you what they've come to conclusion on and see where we are. I think if you saw the comments the President made this morning, he's now spoken to President Hu, he's spoken with President Putin as well. He's described those conversations for you and described them as positive and moving forward. I think we just need to wait and see what they come up with in Vienna, but I think it's very clear to us that there has been progress, that we are moving forward and that there is unity in the international community that we do need to take concerted action together. But in terms of the specifics of the package, frankly, I'm just going to leave that to the folks out in Vienna.

QUESTION: What do you make of the Foreign Minister's rejection of the idea of suspension before sitting down to talks?

MR. CASEY: Well, you know, again, what we have done with our offer yesterday to participate in discussions with the Iranians, with the EU-3, should they suspend their uranium enrichment activities, is showing, I believe, a very clear sense that we are willing to go the extra mile and eliminate, as the Secretary said, all possible excuses for not moving forward with these discussions. This isn't a U.S. condition. This is the same condition that the EU-3 has set forward. It's the same condition that the IAEA has set forward. It's the same condition that the Security Council has set forward. And more importantly, it's the same condition that Iran agreed to with the EU-3 in the Paris agreement. Certainly, I don't think it's unreasonable to ask them now to do what they've already promised to do as the basis for having these kinds of discussions.

As far as the Foreign Minister's comments are concerned, you know, I think what we need to do, as the President said earlier, is actually let a full package be developed and be presented and then we'll see what their reaction is. But Iran clearly has a choice that it's going to have to make.

QUESTION: But it has already rejected to stop uranium -- I mean, they've already said that they will not stop enriching uranium. The condition that you've put, they've already rejected it. So now the Americans will not take part in the EU-3?

MR. CASEY: Again, the Secretary has made clear what our position is. But I think you need to go back to what the EU-3 has said. The EU-3 has said that their conditions for beginning negotiations is Iran returning to the suspension of uranium enrichment, which they agreed to do under the Paris agreement.

Again, I think we need to actually have a package developed, see it be presented, and then we'll see what ultimately the Iranian reaction is to that.

QUESTION: Can I ask a quick follow-up?

MR. CASEY: Yeah.

QUESTION: Did they get back to you in any formal way or have you just seen press reports of their position on the --

MR. CASEY: As far as I know, all I've seen is press reports. I don't have any indication that we've had anything formally through the Swiss.

QUESTION: Do you plan on seeking -- when you delivered this message to the Swiss, did you ask for a reply through the same channels?

MR. CASEY: We certainly delivered the message and I'm sure if the Iranians wish to respond to it, we'd be very interested in seeing what they have to say. But again, I think as far as our offer goes, it is there. The Secretary has made it very clear exactly what it is. And we will see not only what the Iranian reaction is to that but we'll see what their reaction is to the proposal that's going to be put forward that they're working on now in Vienna.

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