11:36 a.m. EDTMR. DUGUID:
Far too much good times going on here. I don’t have any announcements to lead with, so I’ll go straight to your questions. QUESTION:
North Koreans say they’re going to charge these two journalists. What’s your understanding of the situation there and what are you doing about it? MR. DUGUID:
Well, again, we’ve seen press reports of these actions. We are working this matter diplomatically. I don’t have any further update for you than I did yesterday. The concern of the U.S. Government is always the safety of its citizens. That is one of our highest priorities. And in this particular case, we are continuing our diplomatic efforts.QUESTION:
What – do you think it’s possible for them to get a fair trial? MR. DUGUID:
Once again, we’ve seen press reports that there will be charges laid. We have not had that through our diplomatic contacts. We will continue to work this diplomatically and try and see if we can help our citizens. QUESTION:
Well, do you want them released? MR. DUGUID:
Of course, we would like to see our citizens released and returned home.
Is there anything that the Swedes can do, since they’re the protective power there? MR. DUGUID:
The Swedes are the channel through which we are working. They are our diplomatic protecting power and they have, as you know, had consular access to our two citizens. We will continue to ask them to seek consular access should our two citizens remain in custody. QUESTION:
Can you elaborate a little on the contacts you’ve had with the Swedes, since they told you that they had consular access over the weekend? MR. DUGUID:
That is correct, but I have nothing for you beyond that, so I can’t share anything more at this particular time.
Isn’t there a real possibility that the – that this situation can be conflated with the missile situation and that is to say that at a time where we are using very stern words to try to warn North Korea against conducting this missile test that it could redound to the disfavor of our citizens there? MR. DUGUID:
It should not. The matters are not related. And our citizens have no connection with North Korea or its plans – again, plans that we’ve heard only through press reports.
Yes, please. Arshad. QUESTION:
Are you still open to, or would you still welcome the North Koreans back to the negotiating table, while they are detaining two U.S. citizens? MR. DUGUID:
The negotiating table through the Six-Party Talks has never been closed to the North Koreans. QUESTION:
So you’d still like to talk to them, even though they’re holding your citizens and are saying they’re going to launch a missile in the next week?MR. DUGUID:
We want to – we have the goal of denuclearizing the North Korean – sorry, the Korean Peninsula, and working with our Six-Party partners to achieve that. We also have a goal of seeing that our citizens are returned. They are not the same issue, and we do not treat them as the same issue.
Anything on this subject – more? Mr. Lambros. QUESTION:
Pakistan. Do you have anything on UN’s John Solecki who is still in prison in Pakistan? MR. DUGUID:
I’m afraid I don’t have an update for you on him. Not at this time. QUESTION:
No, sir. QUESTION:
I’m going to stay with detained Americans overseas. MR. DUGUID:
Roxana Saberi’s parents, or at least father, have gone to
Iran. Do you – MR. DUGUID:
I will –QUESTION:
Do you know anything about this? MR. DUGUID:
I don’t have anything to share with you on her family’s plans. The family can, of course, make their plans public should they choose to. But I don’t have anything to share with you on her family’s plans. QUESTION:
Can I just ask a follow-up on that, actually?MR. DUGUID:
In the case of Levinson, I think that the State Department helped organize and tried to arrange things. Is there – are you doing the same in this case at all? MR. DUGUID:
Again, I don’t have anything I can share with you on her family’s plans at this point. If we are able to share something in the near future, I certainly would do.
Yes, James. QUESTION:
Can you elaborate on the remarks of Secretary of State Clinton at the news conference in the Netherlands today in which she described a letter that had been provided to the Iranians. Who wrote it, who signed it, who gave it to whom, et cetera?MR. DUGUID:
I can’t give you that right now. I will see what I can get for you and we will let you know later on today. Okay?QUESTION:
So you don’t have any further information. We don’t know who signed it?MR. DUGUID:
I don’t have anything that I can share with you right now. If I can get that later today, we’ll certainly get that for you.
Yes, please. You had a question?QUESTION:
On Roxana Saberi, has U.S. officials been in touch with Swiss officials regarding the case?MR. DUGUID:
Yes, the last time that we were in touch with the Swiss was March the 25th
. And I do not know that we’ve been in touch with them since then.QUESTION:
And U.S. demands for having consular group in touch with her, is that – has it –MR. DUGUID:
It is still pending.QUESTION:
– been met?MR. DUGUID:
We do not yet have – or we have not yet had consular access through the Swiss to Ms. Saberi.
There appears to have been some flurry of diplomatic activity between Russia and the United States where some diplomats flew out to The Hague ahead of Secretary Clinton’s arrival. Can you tell us anything more about this, any sort of overtures or anything like that?MR. DUGUID:
I think the – you know, the Secretary has just answered a number of questions about what has gone on in The Hague. And the major focus of the meeting in The Hague has been to coordinate on
Afghanistan. That is what our purpose is. Of course there are very often side meetings or meetings on the margins of these, but I don’t have any details of those that I have for you at this time.
As part of improving relations with Iran, is the Administration considering reopening of the consulate in Tehran? And can you deny or confirm the existence of a process to pick a candidate to take the position of American consul in Tehran?MR. DUGUID:
The – I am aware of no plans to reopen a U.S. embassy in Tehran.QUESTION:
Well, we would not open a consulate without opening an embassy – a diplomatic facility. Of course the subject has come up in the past. Nothing is ruled out. We are reviewing our entire policy towards Iran. But everything is based on the premise that Iran has a positive role to play not only in the region, but in the wider sphere of security and stability in the international community. And we will see how that role develops should Iran choose to reengage with us on those points before going any further forward.QUESTION:
What about choosing a candidate to take the position –MR. DUGUID:
I have no information that we are anywhere near such a stage.QUESTION:
Gordon, just to clarify, I don’t believe the idea of reopening an embassy or a consulate was ever – MR. DUGUID:
It was an interests section.QUESTION:
It was an interests section.MR. DUGUID:
Diplomatic – I changed my sentence to –QUESTION:
Yeah, I just want to make sure.MR. DUGUID:
– a diplomatic facility. It was an interests section, correct.
Iranian didn’t send their foreign minister to the International Conference on Afghanistan. Does it – is it sending a discouraging message that they didn’t want to attend at the same level that U.S. and other countries? MR. DUGUID:
I think the Secretary has answered the question that Iranian participation was welcome and that we wanted to make sure that this conference was one that included everyone in the region. Everyone in the region has a role to play to help Afghanistan. We should not look for, at this time, individual and uncoordinated approaches to Afghanistan. We should look for a regionally based and coordinated approach to dealing with the problems in Afghanistan and with Pakistan.QUESTION:
But Iranian action today in the conference criticized increased – troop increase –– U.S. troop increase in Afghanistan and kind of confronting this concept.MR. DUGUID:
The Iranians expressed their opinions. That’s what they were there to do. And we were there listening to what they had to say. We have gone through a 60-day intensive review of our strategy. We have come forth and laid that out for everyone. The conference itself was our first foray into an international fora to explain our policy and to show that this is – these are the reasons why we see this as being the best way forward. You cannot have a solely military solution in Afghanistan and our strategy recognizes that. That is why we are looking for an increase in resources not only on the military side, but on the civilian side, on the side of trainers for economic development, for other institutional-building and capacity-building efforts that we see as necessary.
So there is a comprehensive strategy on the table in The Hague, and we are looking for as many of the international partners as we can to engage in that strategy and to find a positive role they can play in helping us move that forward.
Can you elaborate on Ambassador Holbrooke’s brief cordial encounter with the Iranian representative?MR. DUGUID:
Was it deliberate? Was it accidental?MR. DUGUID:
I was not there. I heard it at the same time as you did on the press conference that we were all listening to. So again, if we get some information on that, I’ll be happy to share that later. But I learned of it just as you did from the press conference.
Go straight across, Lach, and then –QUESTION:
Yeah, the French finance minister’s talk of President Sarkozy perhaps walking out the G-20 summit if there’s – if it goes in a direction that the French disagree with. Any response to that?MR. DUGUID:
I’ve seen press reports of this, but I would refer you to the White House. The President, of course, is on his way to the G-20. We are looking for, again, global engagement from all of the participants there to come up with a combined, or at least a consensual strategy for dealing with the problems that face us all.
Matt and then James, yes.QUESTION:
Yeah, have you seen this threat from a Taliban leader in Pakistan who says that they are going to strike – hit Washington soon in a way that will amaze the world?MR. DUGUID:
I have not. I’ll take that under consideration.QUESTION:
What, to answer the question or you’ll take the threat under consideration?MR. DUGUID:
I’ll take the threat under consideration. I have not seen that at all.QUESTION:
How –MR. DUGUID:
Sorry, I said I’d let James.QUESTION:
Same subject?MR. DUGUID:
Just to – thank you – to stick with Pakistan for a moment, you know, we’ve now seen the second significant attack in Lahore, which is a pretty long way from the Afghan border. Do you believe that there is now a generalized threat from Taliban or other insurgents throughout Pakistan?MR. DUGUID:
First, I’d like to extend our condolences to the families of those who were killed. Our sympathies are with those who were wounded in this terrorist attack. I do believe it does show that opposition to a peaceful and democratic Pakistan exists, that those forces are the enemies of the people and Government of Pakistan, just as they have proven to be the enemies of peaceful democratic government in Afghanistan, and indeed the very ideology that you can have a representative government that looks to peaceful solutions through dialogue, is something that threatens us all.QUESTION:
What do you think of the Pakistani Supreme Court decision that suspends the rule that had barred – or the ruling that had barred the Sharif brothers from participating in politics in the Punjab? Is this a good thing? Is this a bad thing?MR. DUGUID:
I see this as a matter for the Pakistani court system and the Pakistani people to decide on.
Just a quick follow-up on something – MR. DUGUID:
I’m sorry, James. I will get to you.QUESTION:
– from the Af-Pak review on Friday that I didn’t get a chance to ask yesterday. In it, there’s several references to a democratic Pakistan, but none to a democratic Afghanistan, which is a shift from what we always heard under the Bush Administration. Can you explain this de-emphasis on a democratic Afghanistan?MR. DUGUID:
Well, I don’t know that there’s a de-emphasis on a democratic Afghanistan when we’ve just announced a $45 million contribution to helping Afghanistan conduct its next round of elections. And that comes on top of funding that we’ve already provided to help register voters for that upcoming election.
I think what you are looking at with the launch of our strategy is the emphasis by the Administration on things we really have to do now. The end goal, of course, is a democratic and stable Afghanistan. That is why we are doing this. But the strategy itself is something that looks at how we get there. The premise, as I understand it in the meetings, was to look at the state that we want to see for Afghanistan; that is, a state which does not harbor any terrorists, which cannot be used as a basis for future attacks on the United States or its allies or indeed other countries. That kind of state has to be a stable, democratic state that has some hope of economic prosperity. And to get there, you have seen the strategy that encompasses all sectors – security, development, political.QUESTION:
But the question that I had really, I mean, if you look at the white paper that was distributed, it makes it very clear when it says our desired – I guess maybe on the second page somewhere it says a desired end state is a democratic Pakistan and an effective Afghanistan – Afghan Government. There’s no mention at all. I mean, it makes a very clear distinction between what’s – you know, a democratic Pakistan, but never a democratic Afghanistan. Can you explain why, what that means?MR. DUGUID:
Well, again, I would simply return to our actions. An effective government, in our viewpoint, has to be democratic. That is a tenet for the United States. You have to have representative government to be truly effective. We have put our support into the election process and support for democracy in Afghanistan.
I wanted to ask you a few questions about the individual who has been nominated to serve as the legal advisor to the Department of State, the dean of the Yale Law School Harold Koh. MR. DUGUID:
As a formal matter, the nomination is one of the President’s, but first, can you tell me whether or not Secretary of State Clinton was consulted on this choice? MR. DUGUID:
The – before coming in this morning, has the – I’m not prepared right now to answer the question. I’ll have to take it.QUESTION:
Okay. And if we would meet afterwards, we can get all the details of your subsequent follow-ons on this nomination. QUESTION:
You’re so sure? (Laughter.)QUESTION:
It has gone.MR. DUGUID:
I don’t know (inaudible) has been nominated, so I’m – QUESTION:
Yes, he has been and it’s gone off to the Senate.MR. DUGUID:
Yeah, okay. I was unaware before coming in, so I’ll have to – we’ll have to take it.QUESTION:
Unaware of what?MR. DUGUID:
That the nomination had gone up.QUESTION:
As I came in this morning. So I apologize for that, and I will take the question after the briefing, and we’ll get it back to you today. QUESTION:
Okay. Can I just ask as well, while I have you on camera – MR. DUGUID:
Yes, thank you.QUESTION:
– about some of the statements that Mr. Koh has made? There have been published reports, for example, alleging that he has suggested that Sharia law might have the same standing as other forms of international law that ought to be considered by American judges in their jurisprudence. And he has also referred to President Bush as the “torturer-in-chief.”
I’m not asking you to verify these statements, and assuming for the purpose of my question that I have been accurate in what I’ve said to you thus far, are these the kinds of positions that a legal advisor to the Department of State ought to be espousing publicly?MR. DUGUID:
Without having seen these quotes myself or spoken to the man in question, I’m not able to take – or not able to answer that question. As I said, we will take your questions and see if we can get you an answer today.QUESTION:
Yes, there was one – QUESTION:
Any update on Ambassador Ross, Dennis Ross? There’s some reports that he’s beefing up his team. Any reports? We haven’t heard from him.MR. DUGUID:
Other than – no, there’s nothing other than he’s hard at work, but I don’t have any – QUESTION:
Is he attending the conference, Afghan conference?MR. DUGUID:
I do not believe he’s part of the party. No, I believe he’s here.
Do you have any comment on this report that cyber-spies in
China have basically infiltrated the Tibetan exile movement and the Dalai Lama’s computers?MR. DUGUID:
We’ve seen the press reports on this. The – but I don’t have anything more for you other than that. As you know, the United States takes cyber-crimes very seriously. We work diligently, both nationally and with our friends and allies, to try and prevent cyber-crime from happening. It is always a chore to stay ahead of the most recent developments of those who try to gain access to electronic information illegally and for nefarious purposes, but we are at the forefront of trying to maintain our national security and we’re working with others to try and help.QUESTION:
Do you know if any U.S. Government computers may have been compromised by the attack?MR. DUGUID:
I have no information that that’s the case.QUESTION:
And do you know if this is a subject that has been raised with the Chinese?MR. DUGUID:
That I do not know. I do not know at this point.
A Spanish court has started a criminal investigation into allegations that six former Bush officials violated international law by creating legal justification of torture in Guantanamo. I wanted to know if you had had any contact with the Spanish Foreign Ministry or there is any official position right now on that.MR. DUGUID:
I’m not aware of any contact with the Spanish Foreign Ministry on this. It’s a matter in the Spanish courts, as I’m given to understand. I don’t have a comment for you on it at this time. The Obama Administration’s position on the matters that are under discussion, I think are quite clear.
The North Koreans put out a statement through their KC – Korean Central News Agency earlier today, or last night, saying that they would consider a Japanese shootdown of their rocket an act of war. Do you have any comment on that? And what is the U.S. doing right now to either dissuade the North Koreans from taking this action, from going ahead with the launch, or dissuading the Japanese perhaps from shooting it down?MR. DUGUID:
I don’t think it’s particularly profitable to respond to each belligerent statement that we see in the North Korean press. The belligerent position is in no way justified, given the status of where we are at in our Six-Party negotiations. We have left it that the North Koreans have committed not only through or under UNSCR 1718 not to engage in ballistic missile activity, but they have also committed to us to provide a verification protocol for their entire nuclear program.
The focus that we have is on both of those commitments that they have made. As you know, we had a meeting here last weekend with – Sung Kim had a meeting with his Japanese and South Korean counterparts. Ambassador Bosworth also met with those representatives. We are looking at how we can best coordinate a way forward in dealing with the North Koreans to achieve our ultimate goal. But our position is not one of responding to each and every belligerent statement that we see come out of the North Korean press agency.QUESTION:
Were you able to get an answer to the question I asked yesterday about 1718 and what exactly happens if there is a launch?MR. DUGUID:
Do you know how many lawyers are now working on your question? (Laughter.) You don’t have it.QUESTION:
No, I don’t.MR. DUGUID:
The entire department.
The best way to phrase what I have heard so far to this is that 1718 and preceding resolutions have no specific tripwires, if you will, but that both the UN Security Council and the Sanctions Committee can meet and decide on action at any time underneath these resolutions. 1718 commits North Korea to refrain from engaging in ballistic missile activity. North Koreans have committed to this. That is the essence of 1718.QUESTION:
The North Koreans have committed to it?MR. DUGUID:
Yes, they have – under the UNSCRs, and in discussions through the Six-Party Talks, they are obliged, and they understand their obligation, to refrain from ballistic missile activity. QUESTION:
Well, it doesn't seem like it. MR. DUGUID:
That may – QUESTION:
It doesn't seem like they understand or are committed. I mean, they’re going ahead with this, it looks like.MR. DUGUID:
And the answer to that question is we are working to remind them and to get them to comply with those things that they have undertaken toward the international community.QUESTION:
All right. But there’s nothing – there’s no – a launch does not necessarily trigger anything specific under the resolutions?MR. DUGUID:
The UN Security Council will have to consider what it does if that happens.
Secretary Clinton just said, and not for the first time, at The Hague that should there be a launch it will certainly have consequences in the United Nations Security Council. And the phraseology was such as to suggest to me that there may be actions taken beyond the UN Security Council. And I wonder if that is the American strategy at this point to take action both in the United Nations Security Council and outside of it. MR. DUGUID:
I’m not prepared to speculate on what we might do if there is a launch at this time. The Secretary has said that if there is, there will be consequences. We’ll leave it at that.QUESTION:
So, but you’re not ruling out action outside of the Security – MR. DUGUID:
I’m not ruling anything out.QUESTION:
Are you looking into actions you could possibly take if there were – MR. DUGUID:
I’ll leave it where I’ve left it here. The Secretary was quite clear in what she said.
Yes, all the way at the back, please. QUESTION:
Yeah. The SADC countries, the Southern African Development countries, met yesterday. And in their communiqué they unanimously agreed to help to get the sanctions lifted against
Zimbabwe. And they have set up a committee comprising of ministers to work with the U.S. and European Union on behalf of Harare. Are you open to any persuasion in this regard, to seeing to it that Zimbabwe is desperately right now needing 2 billion U.S. dollars? MR. DUGUID:
On Zimbabwe – QUESTION:
– the first point is to make – is that our humanitarian aid is not now, nor ever has been, under any sanction. U.S. sanctions on Zimbabwe are targeted at President Mugabe and his closest supporters. They are intended to stop them from being able to continue to thwart democracy in Zimbabwe, to continue to oppress the population. So we are not looking at suspending our sanctions right now, as they are targeted against the very people who are stopping the things that you have said people are trying to get done.QUESTION:
Are you – if I could just follow up quickly. But if they set up this committee of ministers, will you be open to sit down with these ministers and – MR. DUGUID:
This is very speculative. We have seen committees come and committees go in Zimbabwe. We have seen a government of national unity that is thwarted in its efforts to provide unified and progressive policies. So I’m not prepared to speculate on what would happen if a committee is set up.
Miss, please, yes.QUESTION:
Hi. On the topic of Benjamin Netanyahu stepping in as
Israel’s prime minister today, I guess what kind of steps, if any, could we see – could we expect from the Administration regarding the – furthering the notion of a two-state solution, as well as curtailing expanding Jewish settlements in the West Bank area?MR. DUGUID:
Had the government been installed before I just walked in?QUESTION:
It had been installed just before I walked in. We will then, of course, meet with the new government and begin our discussions, where we will go in and explain to them what our policies are and our support for a two-state solution and the way we see the best way going forward. But I don’t have anything more than that for you, as we have just now had a new Israeli Government.
Yes, Lach. Please.QUESTION:
Has General Gration left for
Sudan yet?MR. DUGUID:
I do not believe he has left yet. He is leaving today. But I don’t have the exact time of when his departure is for you.QUESTION:
And what’s on his agenda? Will he meet – who will he meet with and where will he go? MR. DUGUID:
Well, he will make stops in Khartoum and Darfur and Juba and Abyei before returning to Khartoum for meetings with government officials. QUESTION:
Do you know how high up he’s going?MR. DUGUID:
I do not know how high. He will meet with a wide range of interlocutors, particularly those who are empowered to make policy decisions that can try and put Sudan on the path to peace.QUESTION:
Topping his agenda, I guess, is asking for the aid groups to come back in?MR. DUGUID:
Indeed. Indeed it is. I think you have seen the statement by the President yesterday when he came out with General Gration. He noted that we have an immediate crisis prompted by the Khartoum government’s expulsion of nongovernmental organizations that were providing aid to the displaced people of Sudan. And we have to work on a mechanism to get the NGOs back in country, to get the aid flowing again without disruption, and then we also have the issue of the longstanding creation of a peaceful Sudan. The North-South Agreement needs to be fully implemented and so on.QUESTION:
Does his trip end in Sudan, or does he go to Arab countries or neighboring – MR. DUGUID:
I’ve given you his agenda as I have it, that he is only traveling in Sudan, as far as I know now. But things can always change.QUESTION:
Gordon, you said that he’s going to be meeting with officials who actually have a – have the power to make decisions that can improve conditions?MR. DUGUID:
Well, since this Administration has laid the blame for all of this squarely at the feet of President Bashir, it would seem that he’s the one who would make – could make the decision. Will the general be meeting with the president?MR. DUGUID:
There are no plans to meet with President Bashir.QUESTION:
Well, then who’s he going to meet with?MR. DUGUID:
When he gets on the ground and has further discussions with our Embassy and tries to find who is implementing the aid – QUESTION:
He doesn't have appointments set up already?MR. DUGUID:
I don’t have a list of those.QUESTION:
Does he have a visa?MR. DUGUID:
He is traveling today. So I don’t know. I haven’t seen his passport, but I presume – QUESTION:
And he’s going to Khartoum, Darfur, Abyei – or Juba, Abyei, and then back to Khartoum? MR. DUGUID:
And you’re sure that he’s going to get there and not just going to end up going to Juba?MR. DUGUID:
I have only what the special representative tells me is his itinerary. He is fully confident that he is going, and we will let that stand as his statement.QUESTION:
Has the Embassy put in the request for him to meet with President Bashir?MR. DUGUID:
There are no plans to meet with President Bashir at this time.QUESTION:
Yeah, but you didn’t request him?MR. DUGUID:
There are no plans to meet with President Bashir at this time.
Just I submit something I will hope you will take as a taken question. But – MR. DUGUID:
Because I don’t already know it? (Laughter.)QUESTION:
Well, maybe you’ll surprise me. But Dutch news media are reporting that Secretary of State Clinton’s dog, a lab retriever named Lady, is missing because she ran away during the Secretary’s visit to The Hague. MR. DUGUID:
I was unaware that there was a dog on the plane. I don’t think – QUESTION:
Thus, the preface to my question. MR. DUGUID:
I don’t think that I will take the question, but if I can find anything out about the canine – QUESTION:
– caper – MR. DUGUID:
– caper, I will let you know.
Thank you, folks.
(The briefing was concluded at 12:08 p.m.)