QUESTION: I’m assuming that Secretary Rice will discuss the situation in Colombia and the border there and also how to deal with the FARC when she goes to Brazil and Chile. Is that right?
MR. CASEY: Well, given that it’s a topic of great concern in the region right now -- we’ve just seen an OAS resolution passed on that that establishes a commission under the leadership of Secretary General Insulza to look into this – I would expect that it would be a subject that came up, but I certainly wouldn’t expect it to dominate the conversation. But to the extent that it is on people’s minds, certainly, I would expect it to be raised.
QUESTION: Well, I wonder if Secretary Rice would be a little more aggressive on that than to wait for it to come up? Because, you know, you’ve been saying and it’s no surprise that you would like united action in the – or a united front, a united approach to the problems that are going on now between Venezuela and Colombia, Ecuador and Colombia. Isn’t this an occasion for her to try to rally strong – “Well, you didn’t do too well at the OAS?”
MR. CASEY: I would respectfully disagree, Barry. We joined the consensus at the OAS and I think the OAS has created a very positive approach to resolving the differences between Colombia and Ecuador. Look, Barry, you know, she is on the road right now. I believe she’s actually addressed this subject in her press conference in Brazil, in – sorry, in Brussels, another B, and I’d commend those remarks to you. What I simply can’t tell you is, since I haven’t had a chance to talk with her since she’s been on the road and since I certainly haven’t had a detailed set of presentations on the specifics of her discussions. All I’m trying to tell you is that while I would expect it would be a subject that came up in the discussions, it’s not the reason for her visit, nor would I expect it to dominate the conversations.
QUESTION: No, it’s just that you made it a -- you approached it in a passive construction, and I would think that --
MR. CASEY: That’s just my bad grammar.
QUESTION: No, no, not bad grammar. What can you say, if anything, about Venezuela’s stated intention of cutting trade with Colombia? Some might call it economic warfare, but Chavez is trying to -- is vowing to cut off imports from Colombia. There’s a lot of food that gets in that’s very important to the Colombian -- to the Venezuelan people.
MR. CASEY: Well, look, we’ve talked about this issue in a number of different ways. But again, this is a dispute between Colombia and Ecuador. We believe there’s a positive way forward that the OAS has laid out. We would hope that all other countries in the region, including Venezuela, would support that. I think most of us, including I think most countries in the region, are puzzled by the insistence on Venezuela’s part to try and insert itself into an issue that, frankly, doesn't really concern them. The only issue that should concern them is the possibility and the probability that the FARC has also used Venezuelan territory or Venezuelan resources to conduct their operations against Colombia and Colombian citizens. And we’d certainly hope that the Venezuelans would join in an effort to resolving this problem rather than issuing declarations about how they intend to not work with or not cooperate with Colombia. Yeah, David.
QUESTION: Tom, just a -- related to the trip, by my calculations, in the Bush Administration the Secretary of State has spent, I think, a total of four hours in Argentina over these eight years, and I’m just -- and there have been several SecState visits to Chile and Brazil. I’m wondering, is this a -- is this giving that government the cold shoulder? It’s a big player in that region.
MR. CASEY: Well, first of all, David, I would hate for anyone to think that whether there is a visit from any individual official, that that is the sole way to measure and balance the relationship. We have a great ambassador in Argentina right now in Tony Wayne, who I think most of you know and was the Assistant Secretary for Economic and Business Affairs for a long time and also a senior official in other bureaus of this building as well. He is working very well there along to move forward our relations with Argentina. It’s a very important country in the region. It’s one with which we do have good relations and intend to maintain them. So I certainly wouldn't look at the lack of her traveling to Argentina or any of the other countries in the region that she’s not visiting as a sign of displeasure or a lack of appreciation for the role that country plays or our relationship with it. Let’s go --
QUESTION: Can I have one quick one?
MR. CASEY: One quick one.
QUESTION: Even though it wasn’t announced, this trip was planned certainly well before the eruption of the Ecuador-Colombia dispute?
MR. CASEY: Yeah. No, that’s true. This is a trip that’s been in the works for some time, and the timing of it isn’t related to the recent events between Colombia and Ecuador.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MR. CASEY: Lach.
QUESTION: Viktor Bout -- this morning I asked about him. And, apparently, the Drug Enforcement Agency is looking for him because he’s allegedly selling weapons to the FARC.
MR. CASEY: Yeah, my understanding -- well, my understanding is there’s at least one outstanding warrant for him. I believe the DEA might have more information about that for you. I also understand our friends at the Department of Justice may have something to say about this later today, so I’ll defer to them until they’ve made any announcements on this. Certainly though, anyone who is a fugitive from justice, whether in the U.S. or any other country, it’s a good thing to see them brought into custody and it’d be a good thing to see them face trial for charges that are against them.
QUESTION: But did the U.S. Government have any role in his arrest?
MR. CASEY: I would defer to the U.S. law enforcement agencies to talk to you about that. I’m really not aware of the specifics of whether there was or wasn’t any direct U.S. participation. I do know, as I said, that there is a U.S. warrant for his arrest.