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U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action


Robert Wood
Acting Department Spokesman
Daily Press Briefing
February 9, 2009


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Index for Today's Briefing
  • SOUTH ASIA
    • Special Representative Holbrooke Arrived in Islamabad / Will Go to Afghanistan / Will Meet with Government, Military, Civil Society, and Business Leaders / Will Coordinate with Many U.S. Government Entities on Afghanistan and Pakistan
  • AFGHANISTAN
    • Afghanistan Is A Complicated Situation for the U.S. and Our Allies / Not Easy to Fix
    • Important to Get the Right Mix of Political, Economic and Military Support
  • PAKISTAN
    • U.S. Is Disappointed with the Court's Decision to Release A.Q. Khan / Remains a Proliferation Risk
    • Expressed Concerns to the Government of Pakistan
  • KYRGYZSTAN
    • U.S. Has Not Received Official Notification on the Disposition of Manas Air Base
    • Discussions with Kyrgyz Government Continue
  • YEMEN
    • U.S. Talks to Yemen Often on Counterterrorism Issues / Threat from al-Qaida
    • Will Not Discuss Specifics of Discussions on the Transfer of Detainees from Guantanamo
  • RUSSIA
    • Vice President Biden's Comments / Relationship with Russia is Important, Complex / A Number of Challenging Issues Require U.S. and Russian Leadership / We Look Forward to Working with Russia / Russia's Participation and Cooperation are Essential
  • UKRAINE/GEORGIA
    • U.S. Supports Ukraine and Georgia Acceptance into NATO
  • ALBANIA
    • The Secretary's Meeting with PM Berisha / Accession to NATO
  • ECUADOR
    • U.S. Will Work Diplomatically with Ecuador on Concerns Raised by President Correa
  • VENEZUELA
    • U.S. Is Concerned about Reports of Anti-Semitic Activity / Expect the Government of Venezuela to Take Appropriate Action
  • JAPAN
    • U.S. Concern for Japanese Abductees in North Korea
  • IRAN/IRAQ
    • Concerned by Negative Activities by Iran throughout Iraq / Iran Must Play a Positive Role


TRANSCRIPT:

11:37 a.m. EST

MR. WOOD: Good morning, everyone. I just wanted to double-check the watch. Happy Monday. I don’t have any statements, so --

QUESTION: I thought maybe you’d try and save us all a lot of time. Have any of the policy reviews that have been undertaken, like Iran, broader Mideast, South Asia, North Korea, Cuba – have any of them been finished?

MR. WOOD: Matt, I can report to you that none are finished.

QUESTION: All right. So, basically, you have no news for us?

MR. WOOD: That’s up to you.

QUESTION: Well, listen, on South Asia, Holbrooke is in Pakistan now?

MR. WOOD: That is correct. He’s in Islamabad.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) on his schedule?

MR. WOOD: The only thing I can tell you is he is in Islamabad today. I don’t have an update in terms of his itinerary. We’ll get that to you as soon as we have more information. He’s meeting with government and military officials, leaders of civil society, the business community. And that’s basically what he plans to do while he’s in Islamabad.

QUESTION: And from there he goes --

MR. WOOD: From there he goes to Afghanistan. But again, when I have – when I get some more information with regard to his schedule, I’ll be happy to provide it.

QUESTION: Are you aware if he had any meetings today, or is – if he – did he get there too late at night?

MR. WOOD: I believe he’s had meetings. But I – again, I don’t have, you know, a real (inaudible).

QUESTION: Who should be our point of contact here? Is this going to be you, or is this going to be the embassies, or who --

MR. WOOD: Well, I mean, you’re certainly more than welcome to touch base with the embassies. We can try to provide you what information we can on his schedule once we get that information.

QUESTION: Do you have any expectation that he will talk to the press at any point on this trip?

MR. WOOD: I don’t know. I think what he wants to do, what he’s told me he wants to do, is go and have discussions – he wants to hear from the various sectors of society in these three countries that he’s going to and report back. But he may, at some point, decide to talk to the press. I just don’t know at this time.

QUESTION: Just one other thing on a policy review that we asked you about last week. The – we asked you a couple of times about whether or not a U.S. official or a U.S. representative would be in a chair for the UPR review on China in Geneva this week. And the review took place today on China, and was anyone, to your – was a U.S. representative there?

MR. WOOD: I’ll have to look into that, Arshad. I don’t know. I haven’t had a chance to follow up on that, but I’ll take a look and see if – and try and get you an answer.

QUESTION: Okay. And I guess the – that sort of one would be, did anybody go or not, and if not, you know, sort of why not, since human rights is a subject that the Secretary cares about.

MR. WOOD: Absolutely. Absolutely.

QUESTION: Robert, can we go back to Holbrooke?

MR. WOOD: Sure.

QUESTION: I’d be interested if you could comment on why Mr. Holbrooke said that Afghanistan would be even harder than Iraq and to whom he was addressing that, and will that make it – is that to set expectations here in the United States or overseas?

MR. WOOD: No, I think what Ambassador Holbrooke was trying to say was that, look, Afghanistan is a very, very complicated situation. It’s an important foreign policy issue for the United States as well as a number of countries around the world. It’s complicated. It’s not going to be an easy one to fix. I think what he was giving you was a realistic assessment, initial assessment based on what he’s seen from talking to various people in advance of his trip. I think you’ve also heard that from a number of other U.S. officials. And I think we are in for the long haul. It’s a very challenging situation. But someone like Ambassador Holbrooke, who’s got a lot of experience in terms of dealing with crisis situations, we think he’s going to bring a lot of value added to try and help us move in the right direction on Afghanistan. And again, we’ll be doing this comprehensive review of Afghanistan. His trip will feed into that, of course. But let’s not be under any illusions. This is a very challenging and complex issue for the United States, and it’s not going to be an easy one, as I said.

Anybody want to stay on that?

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

MR. WOOD: (Inaudible.) Please.

QUESTION: On that question, I mean, is Ambassador Holbrooke doing any hiring of staff to go with his position? And the same for Special Envoy Mitchell.

MR. WOOD: Well, at some point, they will take on some staff. I don’t have the specifics in terms of numbers of people or names or anything like that. But obviously, they’re going to need some support from the Department to carry out their mandates.

QUESTION: Most of the Afghanis now, they don’t have much trust in the current government of President Karzai because they are saying that they are not safe and secure under this government. So what do you think – the Ambassador Holbrooke’s mission will bring new life?

MR. WOOD: Well, what Ambassador Holbrooke’s mission is, is to try to coordination amongst a number of U.S. Government entities with regard to our overall political/economic/military footprint in – you know, connected with those two countries. Corruption is a problem in Afghanistan. Narcotics production, trafficking. There are a whole host of challenging issues with regard to Afghanistan.

And as I said just a few minutes ago, this is not going to be an – you know, an easy situation to fix. But what we want to try to do is get that right, if I can use that word again, mix of, you know, political/economic/military support to the country, then maybe we can begin to make progress. But by no means do we think that this is going to be an easy situation to rectify, and it’s going to require not just the work of the U.S. Government, but other allies, other regional partners, to help try to bring about stabilization in Afghanistan and move it in the right direction.

QUESTION: Just follow his mission to Pakistan, do you think due to sudden release of A.Q. Khan, Ambassador Holbrooke’s mission changed in any way or remained as it was? And also, as far as A.Q. Khan is concerned, since he was the source of giving technology to North Korea, Libya and even Iran that (inaudible) trouble, and he might be heading back to those countries.

MR. WOOD: Well, just with regard to Ambassador Holbrooke’s mission, that doesn't change. He’s going to be going out to the region, as I said, to try to look at how we can better coordinate all those various elements of U.S. Government support.

With regard to A.Q. Khan, I mean, we remain very disappointed at the court’s decision in Pakistan. We believe he remains a potential proliferation risk. We will continue to have discussions with the Pakistani Government about A.Q. Khan, and we’re going to continue to follow this issue very closely.

QUESTION: Is Holbrooke going to bring that up?

QUESTION: Yeah.

MR. WOOD: I would suspect that the issue would come up in his conversations with the Pakistanis.

QUESTION: One more quick – do you believe that by releasing A.Q. Khan is like releasing the al-Qaida’s leader?

MR. WOOD: I’m sorry, could you repeat the question? I didn’t hear.

QUESTION: By releasing A.Q. Khan by Pakistan, do you compare releasing Usama bin Ladin?

MR. WOOD: Well, I don’t like to make comparisons here from the podium, but let me just say A.Q. Khan’s track record has been one of great concern to us and a number of other countries around the world. And we’re going to do what we can to try to make sure that the types of activities that have been undertaken in the past don’t continue, and we will be in touch with – as I said, we’re in a dialogue with the Pakistani Government about A.Q. Khan and we remain concerned about the potential that he has for proliferation – further proliferation.

QUESTION: Has Secretary Clinton contacted Pakistan’s foreign minister to discuss this? And if not, why not, I mean, if it’s such an area of concern?

MR. WOOD: I don’t think she has actually had a conversation with him about this, but I do know that we’re – I believe the Pakistani foreign minister was in Munich and I know that there were some conversations with U.S. officials there.

QUESTION: Who with? With --

MR. WOOD: I don’t know off the top --

QUESTION: With Vice President Biden?

MR. WOOD: I don’t know off the top of my head, to be very honest, but I know there were some conversations.

QUESTION: Could you check on that? It’s an index --

MR. WOOD: If --

QUESTION: Particularly if it was Holbrooke.

MR. WOOD: I will see if we’ve got anything that we can say about it.

QUESTION: Yeah, or Mr. Steinberg, who is --

MR. WOOD: If we can say something about it, I will.

QUESTION: Can I follow up on that real quick?

MR. WOOD: Sure.

QUESTION: Can you just say – I mean, isn’t it disturbing to you that the Pakistanis never notified you in advance that this was happening?

MR. WOOD: Well, look, this was a court decision that was taken. We have to deal with that fact. We’ve expressed that concern to the government, as I said, and we’ll continue to follow it. I really don’t have much more to say beyond it.

QUESTION: And even after the court decision, they still didn’t tell you about it. You were scrambling here at the podium or – I know --

MR. WOOD: I mean, our Embassy has been in touch with the Government of Pakistan on this issue, will continue to be. As I said, we will have a dialogue with them on it and, you know, he remains a potential proliferation risk, and that’s not just to the United States, but to other countries around the world. So I would suspect that you’ll see other countries also expressing their concern about the court decision.

QUESTION: Now that he is free, what would you expect of the Pakistani authorities to make sure he is – or doesn’t become a new proliferation risk?

MR. WOOD: Well, I don’t want to get into what our expectations are about what the Pakistanis may or may not do. Let me just say that we have been in touch with them. They are aware of our serious concern about the matter, and we’ll continue to follow it.

QUESTION: What’s the Administration’s position on the Pakistani judiciary? Is it independent?

MR. WOOD: Well, Pakistan has a constitution. It has an independent judiciary.

QUESTION: It does?

MR. WOOD: As far as I know, it does, yes.

QUESTION: So you don’t see that there is any government hand in this court order at all?

MR. WOOD: Look, I have – I can – we can only go by what we were told, and the court made a decision. And we expressed our concern, we will continue to express our concern, and go from there.

Sue.

QUESTION: Last month, you imposed a whole load of new sanctions on A.Q. Khan and his network. What happens to those sanctions now if the Pakistani court has come out and deemed him, you know, to be freed? Then are you going to reexamine the sanctions or does that just --

MR. WOOD: Well, I don’t want to get ahead of things right now, Sue, except to say what I’ve said, and that’s that we are in touch with the Pakistanis. But yes, there are a number of sanctions in place with regard to A.Q. Khan and – look, what’s important for us is that nonproliferation activities remain firm and solid. We have to do what we can to make sure that, you know, weapons of mass destruction and other types of weapons that can do harm are not able to proliferate, and that’s what we’re going to be working on.

QUESTION: So you’re not going to look at the sanctions again?

MR. WOOD: I’m not going to get ahead of what we – you know, to talk about what we may or may not do, except to say that there are, as you know, a number of sanctions in place, and we’re expressed – we have expressed and will continue to express our concern to the Government of Pakistan about that court decision.

QUESTION: Robert, do you think Pakistan is trying to blackmail or trying to send some kind of message to Washington?

MR. WOOD: Look, first of all, I can’t speak for the Pakistani Government. I don’t think the Government of Pakistan is trying to blackmail us. They know our concern about A.Q. Khan, and as I’ve said over and over again, we will continue to make that case, and we want to do what we can to make sure that that network can in no way reestablish itself and continue the activities that it was once undertaking.

QUESTION: Can I stay in that broad region?

MR. WOOD: Anybody else on A.Q. Khan?

QUESTION: On India? No, go ahead.

MR. WOOD: Matt, go ahead.

QUESTION: Yeah, what’s your understanding of the situation with the Kyrgyz right now?

MR. WOOD: With regard to the base?

QUESTION: Yes.

MR. WOOD: As of this morning, we have still not yet received official notification from the Kyrgyz Government with regard to the base. I don’t have any further update.

QUESTION: Well, okay. This is getting a bit ridiculous, I think, because you had the president of the country, the head of the national security council, and now parliament has got – has drafted a bill. They’ve been talking about the closure. And you say that you haven’t gotten any word?

MR. WOOD: No, no further update, Matt.

QUESTION: So after you initially tried to discuss this with them – or last week, you said they were in – you were in discussions. They – the Kyrgyz said no, there were no discussions, and you said that you had tried to discuss, but they had not responded. That remains the case?

MR. WOOD: Well, I haven’t heard anything in terms of whether we were able to speak with them today or not. I don’t know. But what – I’m addressing your question, which was had we received any formal notification and --

QUESTION: Well, I asked what your understanding of the situation is there.

MR. WOOD: Well, my understanding, basically, is that we have not yet received formal notification from the Kyrgyz.

QUESTION: Which means that you’re still operating on the assumption that everything is fine and normal?

MR. WOOD: I didn’t say that. I just said that we are having discussions – we will engage with the Kyrgyz on this issue, and we have not received, as I said, any formal notification.

QUESTION: When was the last time you had communication from them?

MR. WOOD: I don’t actually know that.

QUESTION: Days ago?

MR. WOOD: I think it was days ago, but I don’t know exactly how many days ago.

QUESTION: So basically, they’re stiffing you. I mean, they’re not having – in discussions with you about this?

MR. WOOD: Those weren’t my words. I didn’t use those words.

QUESTION: No, but they’re not having – I mean, you say that, you know, you – we will engage with the Kyrgyz, which means that you’re – it’s still a very one-sided discussion.

MR. WOOD: That’s your characterization of it. What I’m saying to you is that this is an important issue for us, and the Kyrgyz have not given us that formal notification. This is not to say that we don’t have other options. We certainly do. But with regard to that notification, it has not yet come forward.

QUESTION: Can I change subjects?

MR. WOOD: Sure.

QUESTION: To Yemen. Over the weekend, the government there released 170 al-Qaida suspects to – are you not concerned about this?

MR. WOOD: Well, I – this is the first I’m aware of that subject. I haven’t heard anything about it. But, you know, I have to refer you to the Government of Yemen for the reasons why it released, you know, 170 or so al-Qaida figures.

QUESTION: Isn’t this becoming a pattern?

MR. WOOD: Well, I’m not here to characterize whether something is a pattern or not. But obviously, al-Qaida is – you know, remains a threat and – in that region and remains a threat to all of us. And you know, we are going to continue to do what we can to hunt down al-Qaida wherever it is and go from there. But I don’t have any specifics with regard to the Yemeni case.

QUESTION: Are you working with the Yemeni Government to ensure that when these other hundred Yemeni nationals in Guantanamo are released that they will -- you know, when they get to their destination, that they’ll be put in some kind of rehab program or that something will be done?

MR. WOOD: Well, I mean – you know, from here we’ve never gotten into the specifics of discussions that we have with countries about the transfer of detainees out of Guantanamo. I don’t want to begin from here doing that. But one of our priorities is – as you know, is to close Guantanamo and we’ll be looking for other countries to take some of these detainees. But that’s – I don’t want to get any more specific than that.

QUESTION: So are you actively working with the Yemeni Government on this issue?

MR. WOOD: We talk to the Yemenis all the time about, you know, the threat from al-Qaida. We talk to them about various issues with regard to counterterrorism. I don’t want to really be more specific than that.

QUESTION: But in practical terms, what happens to these guys once they’re sent back home?

MR. WOOD: Well, again, as we do with – in conversations we have with other countries about taking detainees, we want to make sure that these folks are either going to be treated humanely or that they’re not going to be able to get back out on the battlefield. And so those are two issues that we always discuss with countries where we are dealing with the question of transferring detainees.

Viola.

QUESTION: There was a lot of reporting over the weekend about Vice President Biden’s comments at the Munich Security Conference related to the relationship with Russia. And he talked about hitting the reset button and starting over in the relationship between the U.S. and Russia, but that was the day after the U.S. State Department issued a statement condemning Russia’s – on Friday evening, condemning Russia’s involvement – plans to still establish military bases in the two breakaway republics in Georgia.

How do – are there – there seem to be some mixed signals there. What’s going on?

MR. WOOD: No, not at all. I think what the Vice President was saying was that, look, our relationship with Russia is a very important one. And there have been some real problems and difficulties in that relationship, but we need to go forward, and that’s what I think he meant by the fact that we, you know, need to hit the reset button, because there are a number of challenging issues that we face and – where we need the Russian cooperation, where Russia needs American cooperation, and so I don’t see anything contradictory there.

You know, where we have problems – and we’ve talked to the Russians about, you know, this – the idea of bases in Abkhazia and South Ossetia – we’ve made very clear that Russia needs to adhere to the ceasefire agreements. And you know, setting up bases in those two areas basically are violations of their commitment. But again, we have a – it’s a very important relationship, it’s a very complex one. But there are a number of issues in the international community that require both Russian and American leadership, and we look forward to working with Russia, as the Vice President said, on trying to deal with a number of these challenges.

QUESTION: Robert, just one thing on this. I just want to – you didn’t correct her, the question when – the question was – had revolved around the statement on Friday saying that the U.S. condemned this decision. But in fact, that’s not what it said, is it?

MR. WOOD: I don’t have the statement in front of – yeah.

QUESTION: Just looking at it now, it’s one of – it’s -- regrets the decision. There is a diplomatic nuance there, anyway.

MR. WOOD: Well, I’ve just basically said to you what I think the Vice President was trying to say with regard to the relationship with Russia. We’re looking forward and not backward with Russia. There are a number of very, very important issues, as I said, that we have to deal with in the international community. And Russia’s participation, Russia’s cooperation is going to be essential to try to deal with these challenges.

QUESTION: So you’re basically saying you’re going to mute certain protests over certain Russian actions by issuing statements on a Friday night and saying regret --

MR. WOOD: I didn’t say we were going to mute anything. I just said that – I said the relationship is a very complex one, but we want to move forward.

QUESTION: Will you still move as strongly on NATO expansion as the previous administration, Ukraine and Georgia?

MR. WOOD: Well, I mean, we’ll be – we will be looking at various issues. I mean, we’re still committed to improving and strengthening NATO’s relationship with both Ukraine and Georgia through the NATO-Georgia Commissions and the NATO-Ukraine Commissions, so that hasn’t changed. But I don’t want to get ahead of where we may, at some point, go. And leave it at that.

QUESTION: So wait, the State – the U.S. – the Administration supports Ukraine and Georgia’s admission to NATO or them getting the MAP?

MR. WOOD: We’ve been on the record as – if you remember the April, you know, Bucharest declaration, it’s very clear that those two countries will be members of NATO.

QUESTION: But that was almost a year ago and there was a different administration in place.

MR. WOOD: Well --

QUESTION: Is there any change that you know of?

MR. WOOD: To my knowledge, there hasn’t been any change. And as I said, this Administration will be working with its other NATO allies to try to strengthen those relationships with Ukraine and Georgia through those commissions.

QUESTION: Robert, still on this issue --

MR. WOOD: Sure.

QUESTION: -- on Biden. Did the Vice President discuss this specifically with the Secretary of State before he left -- his comments about Russia?

MR. WOOD: They talk frequently, so I’m sure that they had that conversation.

QUESTION: And of course, there continues to be fascination about authority for international policy inside the new Administration. Do comments like this indicate a lead role by the Vice President, possibly at the expense of the Secretary of State and the Department?

MR. WOOD: I wouldn’t read that into it at all, Charley.

Mr. Lambros.

QUESTION: On the Balkans. Mr. Wood, any readout on the talks between Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha last Friday?

MR. WOOD: Yeah, it was a good meeting. They talked about Albania’s upcoming accession to NATO. They talked about the situation in the Balkans. It was a very friendly discussion. And they also talked about other issues of the world. But it was an introductory, you know, call. This is the first time that Secretary Clinton met with Prime Minister Berisha. And – yeah, that’s basically what I have for you.

QUESTION: A follow-up. Did they discuss the crucial issue of the Greeks in Northern Epirus who are under systematic pogrom by Sali Berisha regime?

MR. WOOD: No, they did not.

Arshad.

QUESTION: I don’t know if you’ve had a chance to see this, Robert. But an Egyptian human rights group says that Egyptian police beat and detained a 22-year-old Egyptian blogger and activist, who, among other things, has expressed support for Gaza in his blog and has voiced, I believe, criticism of Egyptian President Mubarak and the Egyptian security services. I know the Department has had concerns in the past about the treatment of Egyptian bloggers, and I wonder if you (a) are aware of this case and (b) if you have any concerns about this man’s treatment.

MR. WOOD: This is the first I’ve heard of this case, Arshad. Obviously, we would be concerned about any maltreatment of, you know, any blogger or other individual in Egypt. We basically – our views on freedom of expression around the world are known. But again, this is the first I’ve heard of this particular case.

QUESTION: Could you look at – would you mind taking it and seeing if you guys – if you want to say anything specific --

MR. WOOD: Sure.

QUESTION: -- about him?

MR. WOOD: Absolutely.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MR. WOOD: Kirit.

QUESTION: Robert, do you have anything to say about the apparent expulsion of your DHS attaché in Ecuador over the weekend?

MR. WOOD: I don’t have a lot to say on it, Kirit. We’re engaging the Government of Ecuador to try to understand and address concerns raised by President Correa and look forward to resolving them successfully. We have a longstanding relationship with Ecuador, and whatever problems that we may have with the Government of Ecuador, we try to resolve them diplomatically.

QUESTION: I understand he’s not in the country right now. I mean, is his inability to get back in going to hamper any of your counternarcotics efforts there?

MR. WOOD: I’m not prepared to make that kind of an assessment at this point, Kirit.

QUESTION: Did you receive a formal notification that he was expelled?

MR. WOOD: I don’t believe he was expelled at all. I believe – I’ll have to check, but I believe he had already planned – he had left, I think, sometime in January as part of the normal rotation.

QUESTION: So then – I mean, what was – what is your understanding of his status then, if he’s not expelled? I mean, I’m saying he was already gone, but he can’t go back in.

MR. WOOD: Well, I don’t – again, we are trying to work this diplomatically with the Government of Ecuador, and I’d prefer to leave it at that.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

QUESTION: Something in the region? Well --

MR. WOOD: Hang on. Is there any other question on Ecuador? Okay, go ahead.

QUESTION: The situation in Venezuela, this anti-Semitic activity over the weekend, are you aware of it, first of all? Second of all, do you have any concerns about it? Do you have any idea if the government has a hand in it?

MR. WOOD: Well, I’m not able to say whether the government had a hand in anything, but I saw the reports over the weekend. We remain concerned about any type of anti-Semitic activity taking place in Venezuela, or anywhere else around the world, for that matter. And we expect that the Government of Venezuela will do what it can to make sure that that type of activity doesn't continue, and to arrest any perpetrators of any anti-Semitic activity – arrest of any perpetrators who may have carried out any type of anti-Semitic activity.

Yes (inaudible). Yes.

QUESTION: Yeah, on the Secretary’s trip to Asia, there have been media reports that the Japanese Government would like to arrange a visit between the Secretary and the families of the Japanese abductees. Is that something she’d be open to, especially considering the difficulties it’s posed to the Six-Party Talks?

MR. WOOD: I haven’t heard anything about that. I mean, we’d have to take a look at the proposal. I mean, the U.S. Government, as you know, remains very concerned about the abductees. We’ve made that case – made that point very clearly to the North Koreans in the past. We’ll continue to do so. It’s a subject of great concern to the United States, as well as to other countries around the world. So – but this is the first I have heard of that, but certainly the Secretary would obviously take a look at a proposal from the Government of Japan.

Please.

QUESTION: Tomorrow, Israel holds election, and polls predict that ultranationalist party might become third biggest party in the Israeli Knesset. Are you concerned about it? Do you have any remarks on how it might impact the U.S.-led peace process in --

MR. WOOD: I’m not going to get into a discussion about Israeli domestic politics.

Sir.

QUESTION: What is David Plouffe doing in Azerbaijan? He says he’s there as a private citizen. Is he?

MR. WOOD: I’d have to refer you to the White House. I’m not aware.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MR. WOOD: Michelle.

QUESTION: I just wanted to follow up. Last week, you were asked about – there were concerns about violence in Mexico and whether or not the U.S. is going to do more on Merida. And I wonder if you have any update, whether there’s thoughts about increasing --

MR. WOOD: I don’t have any update from Friday, Michelle. I’m sorry.

Please.

QUESTION: On Iran, earlier this morning from the Pentagon – from Iraq, Colonel Richard Francey described Iranian influence in al-Anbar region as very manageable. That – those were his words. Does the State Department agree with his assessment of Iranian influence in al-Anbar?

MR. WOOD: Well, I – again, I can’t speak to his comments, because I haven’t seen them. But we remain concerned by any negative activities on the part of Iran throughout Iraq. We’ve encouraged Iran to play a positive role with regard to its neighbor. We believe it can and should. And – but again, I haven’t seen those reports, so it would be hard for me to give any further comment.

QUESTION: Have you been witness to what he described as projects that popped up that were neither funded by GOI nor the U.S. Government as an example of projects that are ongoing?

MR. WOOD: Yeah, I – again, he would have – he seems to have more specifics. I’d have to refer you back to him in terms of those particular projects. I’m not familiar with them at all.

QUESTION: Okay.

QUESTION: I have a quick one. I ask (inaudible) Department received any kind of protests from any government as far as A.Q. Khan’s release?

MR. WOOD: Not that I’m aware of.

QUESTION: Robert --

QUESTION: Mr. Wood, excuse me --

QUESTION: -- is there any update on the investigation into the death of your diplomat in Addis?

MR. WOOD: I don’t have an update.

QUESTION: Do you know if the Secretary – usually, I believe it’s pretty standard – it’s standard practice in cases of when someone – an officials dies of non --

MR. WOOD: Yeah, I understand.

QUESTION: -- of non-accidental or, you know, medical reasons, if there’s foul play suspected, that a review board is convened. Do you know if there’s been any movement on --

MR. WOOD: I don’t know, Matt, but I’ll look into that for you.

QUESTION: Mr. Wood, excuse me --

MR. WOOD: Thank you.

QUESTION: Thanks.

(The briefing was concluded at 12:05 p.m.)

DPB # 20



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