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 October 04, 2011
12:40 p.m. EDT
MS. NULAND: Yeah.
QUESTION: What do you expect in the Security Council today, other than --
MS. NULAND: Well, you know that we have been working for many weeks on a UN Security Council resolution on Syria. This was the subject of intensive diplomacy when the President and Secretary of State were in New York for the UNGA meetings with all Security Council members on this subject and on other subjects. So we are hopeful that we will have a strong, solid vote on the resolution that is on the table tonight, and that we will use that – be able to use that resolution to send a message to the Asad regime that the violence got – has to stop.
QUESTION: Do you expect the Russians to vote for sanctions?
MS. NULAND: Again, I think the Russians will make their own national decision, but we are hoping for strong support from this resolution for all – from all members of the Security Council.
QUESTION: And one last question: Ambassador Ford risks his life every time he goes out in Damascus and meets with the opposition. Can we ask why there were no American presence at the Istanbul conference where there was actually (inaudible)?
MS. NULAND: Well, we have largely chosen not to attend ourselves these meetings outside of Syria, or frankly, even inside of Syria where opposition groups have been endeavoring to organize. We don’t want this to be about us. It has to be about them. We obviously maintain broad contacts with all of these groups and with their leaders, but injecting ourselves into the middle of their process is not the objective that we seek. What we seek is for them to be able to organize strongly together.
Said, thanks for mentioning Ambassador Ford. Some of you may have seen that the U.S. Senate confirmed him yesterday to his post as Ambassador. He had been on a recess appointment. We hope that the Syrian people see this as a very strong signal of United States bipartisan support for the work that he’s been doing, the message that the United States has been advocating in support of their democratic aspirations.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MS. NULAND: Jill and then Andy.
QUESTION: Another subject or --
QUESTION: Just a quick follow-up on that?
MS. NULAND: On Syria?
QUESTION: Just to go back to the UN resolution, so – just so I’m clear, that as far as this building is concerned, you’re fairly confident that the timeline for a vote this evening is still on track?
MS. NULAND: That’s the plan.
MS. NULAND: We are hopeful it will come to a vote tonight. It is in blue now --
MS. NULAND: -- which is the last stage before voting.
QUESTION: And you mentioned that you wanted – you’re hoping to see strong support from the Council for whatever – for the measure. Would – is an abstention by one or more of the permanent members, would that undercut strong support? Or would that also count as strong support if it passed with permanent members abstaining?
MS. NULAND: Well, I’m obviously not going to get into hypotheticals. We’ve been making the strongest possible case that we can to all UN Security Council members that given the bloodshed, given the violence, given the arrests, given the torture that the Asad regime has propagated against its own people, that it is overdue for the Security Council to make its views known, and we hope that that is a very, very strong message that they receive.
QUESTION: But the Russians have said that they won’t agree on the draft resolution. Any changes have been made?
MS. NULAND: Well, you know we’ve been negotiating for several weeks, and the Secretary worked on this issue herself with Foreign Minister Lavrov. We, again, remain hopeful that this will get a strong vote of support --
QUESTION: Not today.
MS. NULAND: -- in the Security Council. The Russians have to make their own decision. They have to think hard about whether the Security Council is going to be effective here in sending a strong message to a bloody, bloody regime.
QUESTION: Yeah. Realistically, what impact you expect it to have with the Syrians?
MS. NULAND: Well, you know that we believe that when the Security Council speaks, not only is that a strong message of the international community’s concern, but it also often provides an umbrella under which countries can toughen their own national policies so that – we have long wanted to move beyond the presidential statement and have a Security Council resolution. So we think this is an important next step and we want to see as many Security Council members support it as possible.
QUESTION: Why was it that you have long wanted to move beyond the presidential statement?
MS. NULAND: Because it’s obviously stronger when you have a Security Council resolution with individual members voting --
QUESTION: Okay. I’ll remember that the next time you get a presidential statement on North Korea and say it’s the same as the – as a resolution.
MS. NULAND: Other questions on Syria?
QUESTION: Yeah. On Syria still. Not to belabor the issue, what is the resistance of the Russians? Why are they resistant to a resolution? Is --
MS. NULAND: Said, that sounds like it’s a question for them, not a question for us.
QUESTION: No. I understand, but you must have discussions with them. I mean, if they say they insist on condemning both – violence by both parties, that’s your position as well. Are there any kind of differences, other differences --
MS. NULAND: Again, I can’t speak to the Russian position. I can only speak to the American position, and we have the case that we believe that a strong Security Council resolution is overdue.
Jill, still on Syria?
QUESTION: No. It’s another subject.
MS. NULAND: Yeah. Anybody else on Syria? No? Okay. Go ahead.
QUESTION: There’s a hearing in the House on wartime contractors. A lot of concern about the civilian contractors that will be going into Afghanistan with State. And do you have any update on the status – I – we have figures of 17,000 contractors that State will be bringing in, including 5,500 security contractors --
MS. NULAND: Are you in Iraq or are you Afghanistan, or are you in both, Jill?
QUESTION: I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m in Iraq. I was not quite sure where I was. (Laughter.) But I’m now in Iraq. (Laughter.)
MS. NULAND: I’m glad I’m not the only one who sometimes doesn’t know where she is.
QUESTION: It felt like I was in Afghanistan. But, too bad. It was Iraq.
MS. NULAND: I don’t have the figures here. Those figures sound high to me, but obviously we’re going to have --
QUESTION: Can you get those?
MS. NULAND: -- I believe the hearing was – it either was this morning or it’s going to be tomorrow, I can’t remember. But this is an effort to make clear on the Hill some of the underpinnings for the State Department budget request, where – in an environment where U.S. forces are withdrawing, who have in the past provided security for our civilian programs, we’re going to have to do some contract security. But those numbers do sound high to me. But let us get back to you.
Good. Please, Kelly.
QUESTION: Maybe you could clear this up for me. I saw a report earlier today that Yemen’s acting president, when Saleh was in Saudi Arabia, still has authority – or thinks he still has authority – to sign agreements such as, say, the GCC agreement. Have you heard anything to that effect?
MS. NULAND: You’re talking about acting President Hadi, Vice President Hadi. I can’t speak to the legal sort of situation there, except to say that Hadi has been leading the negotiations on behalf of the government with the opposition, that the GCC has been encouraging to try to work through this transitional roadmap that we’d like to see both the opposition and the government sign onto so that we can start this transition.
We still think the fastest way to send a strong signal that Yemen is turning the page is for Saleh to sign this document. But we also need agreement on once the document is signed, how this democratic transformation roadmap is going to move forward.
QUESTION: Has the U.S. been dealing with Hadi as if he is the leader of Yemen right now?
MS. NULAND: Well, we were obviously dealing intensively with Hadi when Saleh was out of the country. We continue to maintain contacts with him and with other folks who are working with the opposition in these negotiations. We have not had any contact with President Saleh since his return.
QUESTION: So is that really an acknowledgement – that Saleh is no longer the leader of the country?
MS. NULAND: I’m not going to comment on his legal status except to say that you know we would like him sign this document and to relinquish power so the transition can begin.
QUESTION: I know – I have a question about Afghanistan.
QUESTION: Oh wait. Can we stay on Yemen?
MS. NULAND: Oh, sorry. On Yemen.
QUESTION: I just want to see if there’s any change to the question from – the answer to the question from Friday on State Department involvement with either the Awlaki or Khan families.
MS. NULAND: No change. We have not been asked for support.
QUESTION: On Afghanistan --
MS. NULAND: Yeah.
QUESTION: There are some reports that the U.S. had a meeting recently set up by the ISI with the Haqqani Network, and that the leader of that group, Sirajuddin Haqqani, said that the U.S. had approached him about joining the Afghan Government. So can you set us straight? Is this a correct report?
MS. NULAND: First, let me start with where we are on reconciliation. Our position here hasn’t changed. We support an Afghan-led process of reconciliation. So our efforts are in support of what the Afghans are up to. But we insist, as do the Afghans, that anybody who is reconciled or who is pursuing reconciliation has to renounce violence, they have to abandon their ties, cut their ties with al-Qaida, they have to abide by the laws and the constitution of Afghanistan, including respecting the rights of women and ethnic minorities.
Now, I’m not going to talk about any specifics and meetings and this and that. Within that umbrella this is an Afghan-led process. I will say to you, again, what we’ve been saying for some two weeks very firmly with regard to the Haqqani Network. Job one in our relationship with Pakistan is for us to work on the terror and the problem that they are posing to Pakistan, to the U.S., to Afghanistan.
The only other thing I would say here is it’s patently ridiculous to think that the American Government would be dictating to any other government who should or shouldn’t join its ranks.
QUESTION: And just to make sure, then, in other words, if a person had been or were a member of the Haqqani Network but then renounced violence and met the criteria that you’ve had for now quite a long time, they might be able to be part of reconciliation.
MS. NULAND: Again, these are the Afghans’ criteria, these are our criteria, but I’m not going to comment on any specific conversations that are going on under that umbrella. But those are the criteria that we require, yes, and the Afghans require.
QUESTION: In connection with this, if you had any update on Ambassador Grossman’s travels, where he is, who he’s met, and anything he may be doing to try to patch up what seems to be a badly fraying Pakistan-Afghanistan relationship.
MS. NULAND: As you saw, we put out a notice, I think it was Friday afternoon, on his long trip that he’s in – he’s on now. He is today in Turkey. He saw Foreign Minister Davutoglu to talk about the Silk Road event on November – I think it’s second – and our work together on that event. He goes into the region – he’s also going into central Asia. He is going to be both in Afghanistan and Pakistan, I think around the seventh or the eighth. And obviously, he will seek to have intensive conversations with both governments on the full range of issues.
QUESTION: And will President Karzai be back in Afghanistan at that point? So he’s expected to see him?
MS. NULAND: Absolutely. Yeah.
QUESTION: Sorry. You said before it is patently ridiculous for the U.S. to do what?
MS. NULAND: I can’t remember exactly how the sentence came out, but the U.S. is not in the business of dictating to other governments who and shouldn’t be a member of their ranks.
QUESTION: Well, but you are. And you do all the time. (Laughter.)
MS. NULAND: But his own views of U.S. foreign policy.
QUESTION: No, no, no. I’m serious. I mean, you – all the time, you say that if someone’s been convicted or if someone that you – that they shouldn’t be a member of --
MS. NULAND: The implication here was that we were naming folk who ought to be joining a government, and that is not something that we do.
QUESTION: But what – but it’s not that – I mean, you told Bashar Asad that he’s got to step down as head of government?
MS. NULAND: The question came --
QUESTION: You told Qadhafi the same thing.
MS. NULAND: The question came whether we were telling one government or another to hire somebody. That is not something that we do.
QUESTION: As you said, Ambassador Ford has been approved last night, but there is a hold on Mr. Ricciardone, ambassador to Ankara. What is your assessment on that?
MS. NULAND: That’s a question for you to ask the U.S. Senate, I think.
QUESTION: Are you discussing this issue with the senator who has put a hold on him?
MS. NULAND: I’m not going to get into our internal deliberations on these issues.
QUESTION: One more. Mr. Riccardone has stated an arms transfer to Turkey last Friday, about three Cobra helicopters. Do you have any detail for us on this issue?
MS. NULAND: This – as a matter of policy, as you know, we don’t comment on arms sales before they’ve been notified to the Congress. There’s been no congressional notification. If there is one, I will let you know, and we’ll talk about it here.
QUESTION: On Afghanistan itself, has the Government of Afghanistan informed you formally that they are stopping talks with the Taliban, and they want to include Pakistan?
MS. NULAND: We’ve seen the public statements, President Karzai’s speech and other things. We’ve had our own conversations. I think this is one of the subjects that Ambassador Grossman will want to talk about when he’s in Afghanistan. You know that we continue to believe that this trilateral structure is of value to all three of us, so we will have that conversation when he’s out there.
QUESTION: And the president of Afghanistan is in India right now --
MS. NULAND: Yeah.
QUESTION: -- for talks. Do you have anything with that? Do you see any role for India in reconciliation of peace process in Afghanistan?
MS. NULAND: Well, I would first say that we are seeing the same reports that you are, that India and Afghanistan will soon announce a strategic partnership, that India’s going to participate in the New Silk Road Initiative. Those are both things that we very much welcome. With regard to playing a mediating role, I don’t think that’s what we’re looking for here. We do believe this trilateral structure is of value and we should continue it.
QUESTION: And also, staying the same region, over the weekend the commerce ministers of India and Pakistan had a meeting in Mumbai and then Pakistan announced that they will be giving India a most favored nation status a couple of months. How do you see that development?
MS. NULAND: We support any and all warming between Pakistan and India. We’ve been strong supporters of the dialogues that the two governments have been having.
QUESTION: On reconciliation, the prime minister of Pakistan, over the weekend, announced to hold a dialogue for reconciliation with all terrorist organizations, all Taliban factions, including Haqqani Network, on the Pakistani side. I wonder if you have a comment on that.
MS. NULAND: I had not seen that. Again, our position on reconciliation is that if you’re going to reconcile, you’ve got to meet these criteria. Our hope would be that those are the same criteria that would be expected in this instance. But if there’s a chance to make those clearer, that’s a good thing.
QUESTION: And there was also a statement from Haqqani Network that U.S. wanted them to join Afghan Government and they was contact in this regard as well – if you can confirm back, and --
MS. NULAND: I think that’s the same question that Jill just asked earlier, that I just spoke to.
Please, in the back.
QUESTION: Can I just return to Yemen quickly --
MS. NULAND: Yeah. Well, could we – let’s finish Afghanistan. Then we’ll flip back to Yemen.
QUESTION: The chief advisor of Turkish prime minister has stated last – a couple of months ago regarding an office which will be open in Istanbul for the Taliban, and he said they are discussing this issue with American officials. Is there any progress on this issue? Because there is another city, Doha, for this Taliban office. Do you --
MS. NULAND: I don’t have any comment on that one way or the other.
In the back. Back to Yemen?
QUESTION: Yeah, if that’s okay. What does the Administration or the State Department hope to accomplish by having Saleh step down? I know that’s kind of a broad question, but there’s been a distinction made from the podium between Saleh and the Government of Yemen. Is there a feeling that if Saleh stepped down tomorrow and everything else in that country’s government stays the same, that will be satisfactory, or are there more wholesale changes that we’d like to see happen there?
MS. NULAND: I know we’ve been clear from the beginning that we support the plan put forward by the GCC. So the plan put forward by the GCC has a number of elements. Element one, Saleh signs the document relinquishing power and stepping aside; element two, the government forces and the opposition sit together and come up with a roadmap for a transition that includes elections, new constitution, et cetera. So all of these things need to happen. It’s not mutually exclusive.
QUESTION: We just learned a couple hours ago about the clash in the eastern province between the Saudi security forces and protestors. And we learned –
MS. NULAND: In Yemen?
QUESTION: Saudi Arabia.
MS. NULAND: In Saudi Arabia.
QUESTION: Saudi Arabia. And the Saudi security forces clash with them, and then there is some casualty. I don’t know if you’re aware about it and what – we were told there is more than 10 people injured or so.
MS. NULAND: I’m hearing this for the first time I have to say. If we have anything for tomorrow, we’ll let you know.
QUESTION: New topic?
QUESTION: On the attacks, the attack in Mogadishu today and al-Shabaab saying this was part of its change in tactics after pulling out of Mogadishu, to stage attacks on them – what – first of all, what your reaction is to that, and secondly, how this complicates all the worldwide relief efforts that are going on in Somalia right now.
MS. NULAND: If you hadn’t heard this news, Kami is speaking about the large, vehicle-borne IED that exploded outside the offices of the Transitional Federal Government ministry building in Mogadishu, the building that houses the ministry of foreign affairs, health planning, international cooperation, and education. We obviously condemn in strongest terms this terrorist attacks against Somali officials.
It’s yet another indication, if anyone needed one, of al-Shabaab’s complete disregard for human life and particularly for Somali life. We understand that at least 15 people have been killed, 20 wounded. Some of those involved in this accident were – in this awful terrorist attack were actually children who had gone to the ministry of education with their parents to find out whether they could win scholarships. So this is obviously a vicious act by al-Shabaab and further cements its terrorist reputation.
QUESTION: And how does it complicate all the aid relief efforts that are going on in Somalia right now? There’s – al-Shabaab is saying that this is just the beginning, that more attacks are coming.
MS. NULAND: I mean, clearly, they don’t care about the Somali people. We had begun to be able to come in and out of Mogadishu to support our aid efforts. We will obviously endeavor to try to do that, but this is to – this is designed to strike fear in the hearts of Somalis and also to intimidate the international community. We will obviously continue our relief efforts, but the world needs to know that it is al-Shabaab who bears responsibility for the fact that we cannot get to all of the people in need.
QUESTION: How about the impact on the Somali timeline for the election. I mean, they’ve set a year timeline for elections of some kind, and that was sort of predicated on the idea that al-Shabaab would be at least out of Mogadishu and then they could kind of consolidate their control there. But that seems to be off the table now. Do you worry that this means that their whole progress toward some sort of elections may be delayed or put off track?
MS. NULAND: Well, obviously, on the day of the bombing we need to let the TFG get its legs back under it. I think you know our stance on this would be the same as our stance on any acts of terror and intimidation, which is that we would hope that they won’t be successful in intimidating those who want to take their countries forward and that we’ll be able to stay on track. But I think we need to see.
QUESTION: What kind of support is the U.S. providing to the TFG right now in terms of investigation work, additional security if there’s anything that can be done on that route?
MS. NULAND: Yeah. This is only a few hours old. I’m sure we’re offering our support, but let me find out for tomorrow what the TFG has accepted and what we plan to be able to do.
QUESTION: Palestinian-Israeli talks – has there been any progress made towards a resumption of the talks as a result of Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta’s meeting with the Israelis and the Palestinians?
MS. NULAND: Well, as you point out, Secretary of Defense met with both Prime Minister Netanyahu and with President Abbas to make the points that we have been making, both publicly and privately for a number of weeks now about the opportunity that the Quartet proposal represents to get back to the table. With regard to the specifics on his meetings, I would refer you to DOD, but we were very pleased to have him out there advocating, and he made some strong public statements as well. Meanwhile, the Quartet envoys are planning a meeting on Sunday in Brussels, and prior to that, Special Envoy Hale will make some stops in Europe. He’ll be in Berlin, he’ll be in Paris, and in London in advance of the Quartet meeting on Sunday in Brussels.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MS. NULAND: In the back. Thanks.
QUESTION: May I follow up about what was touched on yesterday, on how much money has been frozen, the money that the government was going to send to Palestine? I have been hearing from the Hill that the money being frozen is 200 million.
MS. NULAND: It’s a complicated picture. We have – and I’m loathe to go too far into it lest I get the details wrong. But we have 200 million in budget support money. The last 50 million is the money that the Secretary notified a couple of weeks ago. That money is going forward.
We have Hill concern on both the House and the Senate side with regard to two other pots of money: security assistance that goes to support the development of Palestinian police and their security services, which is obviously very important for preserving order and for their self-sufficiency in security terms, and then there’s a second pot of money, which is economic support funds; it supports a broad array of economic and social activities. Both of those pots of money – one is 140 some odd and one is 190 some odd – we’ve had some concerns on the Hill that we are trying to work through with both the House and Senate. And this Department is obviously intensively engaged in consultations with the Hill on both of those pots of money, because we think that they are important for all the reasons that I stated yesterday.
QUESTION: So just to understand you correctly on this point, so there is an actual portion of the aid that goes, let’s say, to institutions and so on and this that goes to the security apparatus.
MS. NULAND: They come out of two different pots of money.
QUESTION: Okay. So they are subject to different considerations?
MS. NULAND: Correct.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MS. NULAND: Please.
QUESTION: Which is the 140 and which is the 190?
MS. NULAND: The 192 is the money that – it’s AID money for economic support.
MS. NULAND: The 140 something is the security support money.
QUESTION: At the Quartet meeting will they discuss only getting back to peace talks, or will there be other issues like aid to the Palestinians discussed as well?
MS. NULAND: Lach, I would expect that they’ll discuss the full range of issues in front of them.
QUESTION: Can I go back to Afghanistan?
MS. NULAND: We’re doing all kinds of backing and forth in here. Go ahead, Goyal.
QUESTION: Afghanistan and Pakistan – my question is that it’s not President Karzai has said this first time – he has been saying ever since he became president, many, many times to each and every president here and secretaries and all that – but the question is: What he’s asking now – what – not just pressure, not just talks or what U.S. is really doing or will do as far to stop all these killings and – across the border. And is this, you think, is a link, or he’s talking about the same Haqqani Network or some other al-Qaidas and Talibans coming from Pakistan into Afghanistan and killing Americans and Afghans and go back?
MS. NULAND: I think you’re asking me to parse his speech from yesterday, so I would refer you to his folks for a detailed analysis of his words. But I would simply say that Ambassador Grossman is on his way to the region, and we look forward to having a full discussion with President Karzai, with his people, on our efforts going forward, because we need to handle these problems together.
QUESTION: And just --
QUESTION: Is he taking a dos and don’ts sort of agenda for both parties, that this is what needs to be done, and this is what – like statements in public or anything like that? What are the red lines and what are the green lines, so to speak?
MS. NULAND: I think you’re asking me to predict what’s in his briefing book for these two meetings. Let’s let him go and have these meetings, and then we’ll come forward with what we can say about them.
QUESTION: Just going – one on Pakistan --
MS. NULAND: Yeah.
QUESTION: -- if you have seen the report the Pakistani court has sentenced life – I mean death penalty for the person who killed the governor of Punjab province Taseer. My question is that many Pakistanis are asking now that there are disappearances inside Pakistan, hundreds of thousands of Pakistanis, they are asking also that some kind of pressure from the U.S. or international community to bring those loved ones back home or find out what happened, because they are blaming the Pakistani military and the ISI for – because if you are in the street and talking against the government or against whatever they don’t like, then your family members will be disappeared just from the street.
MS. NULAND: Well, first of all, let me just say that we respect the decision of the Pakistani antiterrorism court in its sentencing of Mumtaz Qadri in the murder of Governor Taseer. As you know, Governor Taseer was committed to tolerance and the education of Pakistan’s future generation, and his death was a great loss.
With regard to the larger problem, you know that we speak very forthrightly about our concerns, as we have in our human rights reporting. We want to see fair, open, transparent judicial procedures in keeping with highest democratic standards.
QUESTION: One, ma’am, just to follow, and in this connection as far as trials inside Pakistan bringing those terrorists and those who kill to justice. India has also been asking that those who are responsible in Mumbai attacks that they should be also brought to justice, and also Mr. Dawood is sitting inside Karachi, inside Pakistan, wanted by India and the international community, and he is targeting all the terrorist activities inside Mumbai.
MS. NULAND: Was there a question there, Goyal?
QUESTION: I mean, is the U.S. – if India had asked the U.S. to bring him to justice or others wanted by India and international community?
MS. NULAND: Well, I think now that India and Pakistan have renewed their bilateral talks, I would expect that this is a subject between them.
QUESTION: Thank you. On Libya?
MS. NULAND: Yeah. Libya.
QUESTION: What’s the latest you have on Qadhafi’s whereabouts, and do you have any concern that he might have crossed or might cross to any of Libya’s neighboring countries?
MS. NULAND: I don’t have anything on Qadhafi’s whereabouts. We are, obviously, extremely concerned about the ongoing fighting in and around Sirte and the humanitarian condition in Sirte. As you know, the ICRC was able to get in one day, was not able to get in the next day. The best thing that Qadhafi could do for his people, if he actually cared about them at all, would be to surrender and allow the conflict to end.
QUESTION: Are you concerned that he might cross to one of Libya’s neighbors?
MS. NULAND: We have, as you know, been working with Syria – with Libya’s neighbors on border security at their request. We’ve been working with a number of them. They are concerned about these long and porous borders.
QUESTION: Do you still believe he’s in Libya, or do you not know?
MS. NULAND: We have no reason to believe he’s not in Libya, but I really have nothing to add on the subject.
QUESTION: Is it your understanding that the TNC plans to announce that Libya is liberated after taking Sirte, if that indeed happens?
MS. NULAND: What the TNC said yesterday, if you were following that, was that with regard to their next steps in their political process, which will be to move from the TNC structure to an interim government that they want to assure the liberation of Libya first. And they defined that as completing the military activity now ongoing in Sirte and in Ben Walid. So they have declared that that is the last important battle zone that has to be brought to a close before they can move to the next step and declare Libya liberated so that they can move on to an interim government. So obviously, that’s a position that they have taken, and we join them in hoping that the bloodshed ends soon.
QUESTION: Arab news outlets are attributing to Megrahi as saying – Abdelbaset Megrahi, the Lockerbie suspect, saying that he will reveal more information in the next few days. Do you know anything about that?
MS. NULAND: I don’t.
MS. NULAND: I don’t.
QUESTION: Can you let us know what, if any, role the State Department played in the Amanda Knox case since her release, in terms of passports, in terms of going to consular visits?
MS. NULAND: Matt, it’s going to frustrate you no end, but we do not have a Privacy Act waiver in this case, so I cannot speak --
QUESTION: That’s simply stunning. This woman has been on television everywhere, and --
MS. NULAND: I appreciate that, but it is up to individual Americans whether they want us to speak about what we do and don’t do.
QUESTION: Yes. And was she --
MS. NULAND: And that requires a Privacy Act waiver.
QUESTION: And was she asked to sign on?
MS. NULAND: I’m sure, at one stage or another, her family consulted her on this issue, and she has not signed one.
QUESTION: And was she asked, and can you tell me when she was last asked?
MS. NULAND: I’ll have to take it. It’s been going on for four years and there has not been an interest in having a Privacy Act waiver.
QUESTION: There has – from the Department, because you guys don’t want to talk about it so you haven’t asked her to sign one?
MS. NULAND: No, I’m saying that this – I need to take the question on when she was last asked whether she wanted to sign a Privacy Act waiver because --
QUESTION: And you’re sure that’s not going to be covered by the Privacy Act?
MS. NULAND: It’s possible that it might be, but let me take the question.
QUESTION: The Burmese foreign minister in his speech to the UN General Assembly urged the international community, including the U.S., to lift unilateral sanctions against Burma. And the same message was delivered when he came here to the State Department. Are you considering lifting sanctions against Burma, and do you think this is the appropriate time for it?
MS. NULAND: As you know, our special envoy for Burma has spoken to this, that we are encouraged by some of the progress that we’ve seen in Burma but we think that more needs to be done. And we are continuing that dialogue with the Burmese Government.
Are we – anything else?
QUESTION: One more?
MS. NULAND: Yeah.
QUESTION: When Raymond Davis was released in Pakistan early this year, then the State Department U.S. had said that U.S. would conduct its own investigations into the circumstances why, what happened inside Pakistan, how those two persons were killed. Has the U.S. started those investigations?
MS. NULAND: I think that’s a question for the – either the FBI or the Department of Justice. It wouldn’t be for us here to investigate.
Thanks very much, everybody.
(The briefing was concluded at 1:24 p.m.)