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Diplomacy in Action

Briefing on the Administration's UNGA Goals and Priorities


Special Briefing
Esther Brimmer
Assistant Secretary, Bureau of International Organization Affairs
Assistant Secretary P.J. Crowley
Waldorf-Astoria Hotel
New York City
September 21, 2009

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MR. CROWLEY: Good morning to a hale and hearty group. Welcome to our press room here at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York. We thought to kick it off today – obviously, the Secretary has a very, very busy day. She spent the morning at the New York Stock Exchange, had a – was speaking to a gathering of CEOs from the Stock Exchange. They talked primarily about economic and foreign policy matters. Several of the CEOs represent companies that will be involved in the Shanghai Expo, and she expressed her thanks for their support.

But she has a number of bilaterals today with her counterparts from Korea Pacific Island leaders, the Czech foreign minister, the president of Turkmenistan, the president of Georgia, her new counterpart, the Japanese foreign minister. She will have a trilateral strategic dialogue with Japan and Australia and then finish up before some activity with the President tonight, meeting Costa Rican President Arias.

For your planning purposes, we hope to have two or three readouts during the course of the day kind of set in the early to mid-afternoon, the late afternoon, and the early evening. But we’ll try to grab appropriate people during the day to help you read out these particular activities. But we thought to start off our time here in New York, it would be useful to have Esther Brimmer, the Assistant Secretary for International Organizations, come down and just kind of help you understand the policy backdrop for the activities this week.

Esther.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY BRIMMER: Thank you, P.J. Good morning to all of you. Thank you for joining us this morning. I know it’s a busy time. It’s obviously a busy week for all of us, and I know you have a lot of things to do. I’m glad you took the time to join us this morning.

I thought I’d take a few minutes this morning to highlight some of the Secretary’s key objectives this week, and to provide some general context for the activities that will be unfolding over the week. I think general, in effect – because as you can appreciate and as P.J.’s already indicated, she has a fairly busy schedule which will continue to evolve, and I’m not going to provide – go through all of the details that P.J. just did, but I will try to give you a sense of how the pieces fit together.

I will also commend to you the speech the Secretary gave at Brookings last Friday, which provides many of the main themes as well. There will be copies available if you need that. I think you’ll find that speech also gives a full and frank articulation of some of the Secretary’s views and will also, I think, help contribute to your coverage of the activities this week at the General Assembly, and actually, the General Assembly throughout this fall.

These priorities, in a sense, cover those areas that are the globe’s most challenging issues, things that the President and the Secretary will highlight here and at the UN working on multi-partner collaboration, and include nonproliferation and disarmament, climate change and environment, human rights and democracy, peacekeeping and conflict management, sustainable development, and combating gender violence.

Now, you’ve already heard the Secretary’s schedule, so I won’t go through all of that. But I will note that on Tuesday, the Secretary will be with the President for much of the day. The key events include the Secretary General’s climate change summit, the President’s lunch for the heads of state for Sub-Saharan Africa, and his meeting with the Chinese president.

As you know, it’s also – we’re really looking forward to President Obama’s first opportunity to address the General Assembly on Wednesday. And as was previewed by Ambassador Rice last week, we anticipate the President will outline his vision for international cooperation in the 21st century, including our mutual responsibilities and our common security and prosperity.

Later on Wednesday, we’ll have – the Secretary will join the President’s meeting with key troop-contributing countries as well as the meeting with the Russian president. And on Wednesday evening, the Secretary will attend, of course, the reception with visiting heads of state, and the delegation will be hosted by the President and the First Lady.

On Thursday, you already know the President will chair a summit-level meeting on the Security Council on nuclear nonproliferation and nuclear disarmament, and this will be the first time, of course, that a president has chaired the Security Council. And of course, the Secretary will be there for that as well.

Following the Security Council session, the Secretary will lead the U.S. delegation to the conference on facilitating entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, better known as CTBT. And the Secretary’s participation is a clear reflection of the importance the President and the Secretary place on CTBT and its role in advancing the global nonproliferation effort.

Now, the Secretary resumes her bilateral and other meetings after the President departs for the G-20 meetings in Pittsburgh, and I would think you have a list of those meetings as well. I’d just take a moment to flag for you the Secretary’s participation in Friday’s Dutch-hosted event on combating violence against girls. It would probably be difficult to overstate the Secretary’s attention to this issue, and of – which was really quite, as you know, a major theme and a point of reference during her trip to Sub-Saharan Africa. The Secretary will make remarks at this event, as will the Dutch and Brazilian foreign ministers.

I would also like to flag that on Saturday, there will be an event focusing on global food security, which the Secretary and UN Secretary General Ban will co-host. The Secretary will employ this event to further underscore the President’s determination to energize food security efforts and encourage a related and concerted global effort.

This is a momentous week. President Obama promised a new era of multilateral engagement. The opening of the General Assembly provides that opportunity and further evidence for that era has begun. Now, I’m happy to take questions and discuss any of these themes in greater detail. As you know, I’m sure as P.J. has already outlined, we’ll be continuing our conversations throughout the week. Thank you.

QUESTION: Well, I have a question. I was waiting to see if anyone else wanted to go first. How concerned are you, if at all, that the Goldstone report may become a central theme of this UNGA for some – for a certain country that might begin with an L and – or and I, and end in an N?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY BRIMMER: As you know, the Goldstone report was – actually comes out of the mandate charged to Judge Goldstone by the Human Rights Council. And that’s really the body that needs to take up --

QUESTION: Well, I know that’s what you guys want --

ASSISTANT SECRETARY BRIMMER: Right, but --

QUESTION: -- but how concerned are you that others are going to hijack it?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY BRIMMER: I think it’s important to note that the Human Rights Council actually has on its schedule to deal with these issues. They have a whole schedule which includes the meeting on the 29th of September, when Judge Goldstone formally presents his report. And I think a lot of the focus is actually going to be on what the Human Rights Council does, because that’s the body that really has to grapple with the report itself.

QUESTION: Right, but I understand that that’s what the Administration would like and is pushing very hard to keep it within the Human Rights Council. I’m wondering if you are concerned that people like Ahmadinejad or Qadhafi will try to use their presence here to bring this up and make it become an issue.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY BRIMMER: I mean, most member-states are focusing on the work in the Human Rights Council, because they realize that’s what can actually address the issues that are raised in the report.

MR. CROWLEY: Well, let’s say it this way. I mean, all member-states have rights and all members of the Security Council have rights. We would not expect it to be a major issue this week.

QUESTION: Will the Secretary have any role in the one-to-one talks with – between the President and the Palestinian Authority and Israeli prime minister?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY BRIMMER: Actually, I’ve not come directly on the Middle East meetings, but I don’t have her particular schedule on that. I might have that today.

MR. CROWLEY: She will be in the meeting --

ASSISTANT SECRETARY BRIMMER: Right.

MR. CROWLEY: -- as well as Richard (inaudible).

QUESTION: Will there be follow-up talks on missile defense with European allies?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY BRIMMER: The Secretary will meet with our European allies while they’re here this week, but I couldn’t comment on what they might choose to raise at this point in particular. But she will – as you noticed, they’ve been – add an additional meeting with the Czech foreign minister. I believe that’s coming up later today.

QUESTION: Yeah. Can you give us an idea of what kind of reassurances she will give him about the --

ASSISTANT SECRETARY BRIMMER: You may want to (inaudible).

MR. CROWLEY: Well, I mean, obviously, as we indicated and as the briefing team that was in Prague last week indicated, that you have a new course for missile defense in Europe, have a new opportunity for cooperation and collaboration, I think, from the Czech standpoint. They’ll be following up to see – there were certain expectations that were associated with the former system, and they will be seeking certain clarifications in terms of what kind of military cooperation and interaction will come with this new scheme.

QUESTION: Is the Secretary going to have anything – this is for P.J. Is the Secretary going to have any of her own meetings with Middle Eastern leaders, with either the Palestinians or the Israelis?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY BRIMMER: The Secretary will – has a series of bilateral, but it’s not that she’s having her --

QUESTION: In addition to --

ASSISTANT SECRETARY BRIMMER: -- separate from the President.

QUESTION: -- tomorrow’s event with the President?

MR. CROWLEY: I don’t know that there’s anything set. I mean, she’ll have interactions with various Middle Eastern leaders this week, but I don’t know that there will be other meetings. But it’s probably a fair – we’ll keep an eye on that.

QUESTION: Will the Secretary be present when President Ahmadinejad makes his speech at the General Assembly?

QUESTION: Don’t hold your breath.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY BRIMMER: I can’t comment on whether she’ll be in the chair or not. I think she has a very busy schedule, so it’s very hard for her to sit in on a variety of other meetings other than our own.

QUESTION: Will Ambassador Rice be in the chair?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY BRIMMER: I cannot comment for her as well. She also has quite a lot she’s doing this week.

QUESTION: I’ll put it another way. Will you do the same thing you did last year and just have a note-taker? Is that not the plan?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY BRIMMER: I think there will be definitely a U.S. presence. We will be – have a U.S. presence at the desk since we will be listening throughout the whole week.

QUESTION: Is that person embarrassed by the lowliness of their rank that they’ve been selected to do that?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY BRIMMER: We value everybody on our team. (Laughter.) No, quite seriously. This is my pin. This goes to – everyone who is here at the Mission is part of my bureau, the IO bureau. And we’re proud of the work we do here, so everybody counts.

QUESTION: Well, can you tell us who will be in the chair?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY BRIMMER: I cannot tell you exactly who will be in the chair at that particular time. We are all figuring out who’s going to be where over the week. We are all running, as you know.

QUESTION: On Iran, apart from the P-5+1 meeting, will the concerns about its nuclear ambitions come up in other fora here, for instance, the CTBT talks? Can you elaborate?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY BRIMMER: We don’t know yet whether other delegations might choose to raise it, particularly on Thursday. I think many states will have an opportunity to raise what they like in those particular talks, so I couldn’t preview what they would be saying. We will be focusing on the need to actually move forward on CTBT, but other states may choose to go talk about specific countries.

QUESTION: Will Iran be a big argument there?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY BRIMMER: I do not yet anticipate it. That I think we – actually, we’re focusing on, actually, the entire CTBT and on all of our responsibilities to actually move forward on it.

QUESTION: This one might be more for P.J., but looking ahead to the P-5+1 foreign ministers meeting on Wednesday, to what extent do you expect there to be any serious discussion of what kinds of additional sanctions might be pursued if the diplomatic path doesn’t bear fruit? Or do you think the emphasis of this meeting is really going to be much more about the October 1st P-5+1 meeting with the Iranians and much less of an emphasis on sanctions?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, I think I would characterize it, first and foremost, as probably a meeting where we will establish common objectives and expectations for the meeting on October 1st. Since our strategy involves two tracks – one that involves dialogue, the other that involves additional – whatever additional pressures might be appropriate to get Iran to meet its obligations – it wouldn’t surprise me if both ends of that equation are discussed during this meeting.

QUESTION: And you don’t see a particular – you don’t see an emphasis on the diplomacy given that you have this meeting coming up in 10 days?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, I mean, I’m sure that for the most part, it will be making sure that we set an appropriate, sort of our – what we’ll be we looking for, what will the agenda for the meeting entail. How – so part of this will be a business element, I would think, of how to set the stage for a successful meeting on October 1st. But obviously, at the ministerial level – and we’re in that general period, as the President said – we are taking stock of where we are. I’m sure that the P-5+1 ministerial will fit into that equation.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: P.J., how will you alert us to these other briefings?

QUESTION: (Inaudible) half an hour.

MR. CROWLEY: Well, just a little bit for planning purposes. I would – Kurt Campbell will probably come to see you sometime today. I think my expectation is perhaps in the mid afternoon or around two-ish be standing by for something along those lines where I think he’ll perhaps come by.

QUESTION: And would it be possible, if he is going to come, that we can come after the Japanese meeting?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, that’s a – I mean, that’s – I’m going to try to work within his schedule. We’ve got the Japanese ministers meeting, then we’ve got the trilateral dialogue. And then, he’s going to be over, I think, at the UN after that. So it’s just a matter of when I can get him. So I thought – I didn’t want today to pass without you having one – at least one opportunity to talk to Kurt. So I thought, looking at this schedule, that being able to read out the Korea meeting and then preview the Japanese meeting. He’ll be in that bilateral, I’ll be in that bilateral in some fashion; in some fashion. We will obviously read that out.

QUESTION: So you will get us a Japanese readout --

MR. CROWLEY: Oh, absolutely. Obviously, it’s a very important meeting. And then, we were thinking later on this afternoon with the meeting set we have with the Czech foreign minister and the Georgian president, that perhaps Phil Gordon will come by later on this afternoon, maybe in the 5 o’clock timeframe, to give you a perspective on those. And then we’ll plan to do kind of a readout of the whole day around 7:30.

QUESTION: Will that be just yourself, or will that be with anyone else?

MR. CROWLEY: It will be – you will have me for sure, and then we can add to that if we can. But obviously, we’ll just what the availability of various people. But I’m going to try during the course of the week to have as many of my colleagues come by and just kind of give you the week in their part of the world, doing their functional area as best we can.

QUESTION: Okay.

QUESTION: Great.

MR. CROWLEY: Okay.

QUESTION: Thanks.

MR. CROWLEY: See you a bit later.

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PRN: 2009/T12-1



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