Briefing with Spokesperson Sean McCormack (Excerpts)

March 27, 2006

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QUESTION: Jack Straw says there's a P-5 meeting in Berlin. Can you fill us in?

MR. MCCORMACK: There will be a P-5 meeting in Berlin -- P-5 plus 1, so it will be P-5 plus Germany. And the Secretary looks forward to attending this meeting with her ministerial colleagues. I expect they're going to be talking about Iran and they will be talking about their medium to long term -- I think the focus will be on the medium- to long-term issues about how to get Iran back into compliance with its nonproliferation treaty organizations, how to get Iran back into the mainstream of the nonproliferation framework and how to get it to roll back its nuclear program. So I think those will all be topics of discussion.

QUESTION: Do you need a presidential statement before then?

MR. MCCORMACK: I think that right now we are working on the presidential statement. Up in New York, John Bolton had some meetings this morning. I haven't gotten a readout of it, but the conversations up in New York continue. Nick Burns, as well John Bolton over the weekend, were in contact with their counterparts working on language. And I expect the discussions will continue today and into tomorrow as well.

QUESTION: Will you have a meeting if there's no statement?

MR. MCCORMACK: I believe that there will be a meeting on Thursday, regardless of where we are in the process, finding the right vehicle with the right language to convey to the Iranian government that they need to come into compliance with their Nonproliferation Treaty obligations as outlined in the IAEA Board of Governors' statement.

QUESTION: Are there alternatives to a statement under consideration?

MR. MCCORMACK: Right now we are working on the presidential statement. That is where the focus of our energies is.

QUESTION: Would the meeting go another direction, though, if you hadn't -- to another vehicle to --

MR. MCCORMACK: Again, you know, I'm not going to look out and see where we're going to be on Thursday in terms of our discussions, but we are continuing right now to focus up in New York on the presidential statement.

QUESTION: Are there any draft resolutions in the works?

MR. MCCORMACK: Right now, we are focusing on the language of the draft presidential statement.

QUESTION: Secretary Rice said that people will be working all weekend, so can you report any progress whatsoever?

MR. MCCORMACK: We are continuing to work the language. We haven't -- obviously haven't come to a consensus on language yet or else I would be up here reporting to you that we have a presidential statement. So there was work done over the weekend and that continued this morning and I expect it will continue this afternoon and probably into tomorrow as well.


QUESTION: Obviously, a P-5 meeting means the Russian Foreign Minister will be in Berlin. Do you anticipate the Secretary having a private meeting with him to discuss the recent revelation of these documents that the Russians provided intelligence to Saddam Hussein about U.S. war plans? She said over the weekend in interviews that she would be discussing this with the Russians.

MR. MCCORMACK: Right. I expect if that's the first opportunity for her to have a conversation with the Foreign Minister then she will bring it up then. If not, it will be before then in a telephone call. It clearly is, as the Secretary stated over the weekend, any hint that information provided to the Iraqis may have put our troops in harm's way would be very concerning. So we're -- as she said over the weekend -- we're going to be looking into it from our side. Assistant Secretary Dan Fried has already had a call with the Russian Ambassador here in Washington asking the Russian Government to look into the matter and the Russian Ambassador said that he would pass that message back to Moscow. So either in a telephone call or in person, I'm sure the Secretary will raise it with Foreign Minister Lavrov.

Charlie, you had a question?

QUESTION: Yes. Back to the P-5 plus 1, do you expect in addition to Foreign Ministers to have political directors there as well? Might this continue beyond the Secretary's --

MR. MCCORMACK: I'll check for you, Charlie. I'll see if political directors will be there as well.

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QUESTION: ElBaradei said in Berlin today that he thinks those talks should cover the Iranian nuclear issue that it is part of -- that you can't -- that the nuclear issue isn't severable from the regional security issue. Is that something he's raised with the Secretary? Do you have any response?

MR. MCCORMACK: Not that I'm aware of. Our response is that the potential for discussions between our Ambassador in Baghdad and the Iranian Ambassador in Baghdad is on a very narrow set of issues. And those issues concern Iraq and the fact that we have a large presence, obviously, in Iraq and, as the Secretary has said, we think it is a good idea to have that channel of communication. The nuclear issue is something that is being dealt with now in the Security Council as well as in the IAEA, and we believe that that's the proper -- those are the two proper venues.

QUESTION: A follow-up on this?


QUESTION: There are Europeans who suggest that the U.S. needs to be part of talks with Iran on the nuclear issue. I wonder if that's something that Secretary Rice will consider when she goes to Berlin.

MR. MCCORMACK: At this point, that's not part of her plans. Right now, the onus is on Iran. The Iranian regime needs to come into compliance with its NPT obligations. It needs to prove to the world that it will negotiate in good faith concerning their nuclear program. It needs to come back into the mainstream. So right now, this is not an issue between the United States and Iran; this is an issue between Iran and the rest of the world. So the Iranian regime needs to take a hard look at where it finds itself now, before the Security Council, and we hope that it is receiving the strong, clear message that it needs to come back into compliance with its treaty obligations and it needs to act to rebuild the trust that it has completely eroded over the past several years on this issue.

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