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Middle East Digest - November 13, 2009


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Washington, DC
November 13, 2009

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The Middle East Digest provides text and audio from the Daily Press Briefing. For the full briefings, please visit daily press briefings.

From the Daily Press Briefing of November 13, 2009

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1:21 p.m. EST

QUESTION: The Washington Post has published an article today about China supplying uranium to Pakistan for – nuclear uranium to Pakistan around 1982, ’83, and says U.S. knew about it. Do you have any comment on it, and how can you prevent such things happening?

MR. KELLY: Yeah. Well, of course, we place a high – maybe the highest priority on the importance of securing nuclear materials. The President is committed to a new and stronger nonproliferation regime. Regarding this article, though, this is about something that happened in the early ’80s, I believe. And I don’t have any comment on that specific incident. But –

QUESTION: Is the U.S. concerned about the proliferation of nuclear weapons coming out of Pakistan?

MR. KELLY: I think we’re always concerned about the possibility of the proliferation of nuclear weapons and nuclear materials. We feel confident that the command and control of nuclear weapons in Pakistan is secure. And we don’t have any specific concerns about proliferation per se from – specifically from Pakistan.

QUESTION: Was this issue raised with China in the past about this --

MR. KELLY: This specific issue?

QUESTION: Yeah.

MR. KELLY: I don’t know. I mean, it’s --

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

MR. KELLY: -- I just don’t have that information. This was almost 30 years ago, so it’s difficult for me to say.

QUESTION: And for the – in Afghanistan, for the inauguration of the President Karzai there, is anyone going from here, except for Holbrooke – Ambassador Holbrooke?

MR. KELLY: At this time, I think – I’m sure there will be other representatives from the government who will go to the inauguration. But at this point, the only announcement that we’ve made is Ambassador Holbrooke going.

QUESTION: The ambassador there is working with the new agreement with the Afghan Government. Do you think it will be possible before the inauguration and afterwards?

MR. KELLY: Well, let me just give you kind of some context for this. We – right now, we are discussing with the Afghans how they can best achieve the goals that they’ve set for themselves with our help. And I think you’ve seen that President Karzai has laid out a number of priorities for his government in providing services for the Afghan people. These priorities are providing security, creating jobs, and generating economic growth, and delivering effective and accountable governance to the Afghan people, or fighting corruption.

This – these – as I say, these are goals that we share with the Afghan Government. And so what we’re looking to do is to help them implement these – their own priorities. I think it’s fair to say that we’re looking for a new chapter in our relationship with the Afghan Government, based on improved governance, a serious effort to eradicate corruption, and a joint effort to accelerate the training of Afghan security personnel. Because the end goal here, of course, is for the Afghans to provide for their own security and provide the kind of services that a responsive and accountable government should provide for.

QUESTION: Do you think there will be timeline for Afghan Government to work on corruption and good governance, or it’s just going on?

MR. KELLY: Well, again, this is – we’re looking for an Afghan-led process. And we believe that this is – these are important goals for any government, to be able to provide security, to be responsive to the needs of the people and be able to deliver the kind of services that they’re looking for. It’s not really for us to impose any kind of deadline. I think you’ve heard what the Secretary has said and what the President has said, that we will be looking for deeds and not just words. And this is – these are important issues, and we’d look for them to act very quickly to implement. But again, the important thing is that this is a process that they own. This has got to be done by Afghans for Afghans. But we stand ready to help them as they go through this important process.

QUESTION: President Ahmadinejad made a comment yesterday that the U.S. must choose between Israel or being friends – have dialogue with Iran or have dialogue with Israel. Can it be something like that? Did you hear that comment?

MR. KELLY: No, I haven’t heard that comment. Israel is a very, very close friend of the U.S., and we don’t think we have to choose between Israel or any other country. We want to have productive, meaningful relations with all countries in the region.

Thank you.

(The briefing was concluded at 1:34 p.m.)



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