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Middle East Digest - December 16, 2009

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Washington, DC
December 16, 2009


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 December 16, 2009

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QUESTION: Can we go to other Americans detained abroad?


QUESTION: Pakistan, what’s the situation there?

MR. KELLY: I don’t have much to update you on except to say that I believe that they’ve been transferred to Lahore – to a new facility in Lahore. We have – and I think that just happened a day or two ago. And because they have been transferred to a new facility, we have asked for consular access to see them in the new facility, but I don’t have any other information to share on that.

QUESTION: So when was the last time that they actually had a visit?

MR. KELLY: That would have been on December 11th, on Friday.

QUESTION: Do you know why they’ve been transferred?

MR. KELLY: Jill, I don’t know the exact reason why, except I know – as I think you’ve seen the press reports that a court in Lahore asked to review their case before any action was taken by Pakistani law enforcement authorities, such as deportation.

QUESTION: And this is okay with you?

MR. KELLY: It’s okay with us to --

QUESTION: With us – with the U.S.?

MR. KELLY: -- for them to be transferred to Lahore?

QUESTION: Well, for them – the whole situation. You haven’t had access to – it’s now Wednesday. You didn’t have –

MR. KELLY: Yeah, but that’s not unusual. I mean, we got access within 24 hours --

QUESTION: Well, Pakistan –

MR. KELLY: -- when they first were detained.

QUESTION: Yeah, but Pakistan --

MR. KELLY: There will be no reason for us to see them every day. I mean, this is fairly standard for us to not ask for additional access --

QUESTION: It’s not –

MR. KELLY: -- unless the conditions had changed, whether their health had changed or their legal situation had changed.


MR. KELLY: And it hasn’t.

QUESTION: Well, you just said the conditions have changed, though, because –

MR. KELLY: Yes. We have asked to see them in Lahore, and I’m sure we will. But just to my knowledge, it hasn’t happened.

QUESTION: And are you satisfied with the way they’ve been treated?

MR. KELLY: To the best of my knowledge, we have no objections to the way that they’ve been treated.

Yeah, David.

QUESTION: Do you have any reaction to the missile launch, the Iranian missile launch?

MR. KELLY: Yeah, just a moment. Yes, of course we’re aware of these reports at a time when the international community has offered Iran opportunities to begin to build trust and confidence. These kinds of tests can only undermine Iran’s claims of peaceful intentions. I think that these kinds of actions will only increase the seriousness and resolve of the international community in our efforts to hold Iran accountable for its continued defiance of international obligations on its nuclear program.

Yeah, in the back.

QUESTION: In Copenhagen, does the Secretary have any plans to meet with any of her counterparts in the P-5+1?

MR. KELLY: I think her – I mean, her focus, really, in Copenhagen is going to be the business at hand in Copenhagen, the need for strong action internationally to face this challenge. If she does have meetings with her – with members of the P-5+1, the agenda is going to be Copenhagen. As far as I know, there’s no plans for her to engage on this issue. Of course, if she meets with one of her foreign minister colleagues, I’m sure she’ll discuss other issues on our agenda as well, including Iran, but that won’t be the focus of the meeting.


QUESTION: Would you care to go further than your colleague P.J. would yesterday on the – what he talked – what he said was the revelation of Iran working on a nuclear trigger, or a trigger for an atomic bomb?

MR. KELLY: Well, I think what P.J. said was that this was an intelligence issue, and we don’t care to discuss intelligence issues. I think in broad terms, there are a number of reasons for us to have real serious concerns about the nature of Iran’s nuclear program, which just redoubles the need for the international community to get them to open up their program and raise confidence that it’s indeed – does have peaceful intentions with this nuclear program.

But the reports of this particular document, no, we don’t have any --

QUESTION: Well, is – are the reports of this particular – of this particular document, are they a reason to be concerned?

MR. KELLY: Well, again, we have a lot of reasons to be concerned about Iran.

QUESTION: Is this one of the reasons?

MR. KELLY: Well, I don’t want to get into the specific document --

QUESTION: I’m not asking you to. I’m just asking is this report – are – is this report –

MR. KELLY: I think a --

QUESTION: -- a reason to be more concerned?

MR. KELLY: I think that we would need to know – we would need to know more about the particular document.

QUESTION: And you don’t?

MR. KELLY: As far as I know. I mean, as far as I know, we don’t. We have plenty of reasons to have concerns about the Iranian nuclear program.

QUESTION: Is this one of them?

MR. KELLY: I don’t know, Matt.

QUESTION: All right. Lalit.

QUESTION: On Pakistan?


QUESTION: The Pakistani supreme court today passed an important judgment on NRO, which was issued by former President Musharraf, in which they have termed and otherwise unconstitutional and illegal and they’re also indicted for starting all the corruption cases, which also includes the present President Zardari. Do you have any comment on it and how it’s going to affect U.S.-Pakistan relations?

MR. KELLY: Yeah. Well, Lalit, I think I’ve seen reports of that, but I don’t have anything for you now. If we can get you something, we’ll get you something.


QUESTION: Afghan President Hamid Karzai was supposed to announce his cabinet today. He’s kicked that down the road by a few days, at least, and this is not the first delay he’s made. Any comment on the lack of being able to form a government by the president?

MR. KELLY: Well, I mean, clearly we’re – we are carrying on very close consultations with Hamid Karzai and his advisors as he goes forward in forming a new government. This is a very important next step in Afghanistan’s democratic development. I don’t think that a delay of a few days is necessarily indicative of any particular problem. I think it’s more indicative of the fact that they want to make sure that they have the kind of government that will be effective and will enjoy the support of the Afghan people.

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