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U.S. Department of State - Great Seal

U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action


Robert Wood
Acting Department Spokesman
Daily Press Briefing
Washington, DC
April 14, 2009


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Index for Today's Briefing
  • DEPARTMENT
    • Special Envoy Mitchell Travel / In Morocco / Meeting with Foreign Minister Fassi Fihre / Travel to Algeria / Meeting with President Bouteflika and Foreign Minister Medelci / Travel to Tunisia / Travel to Israel / Travel to Egypt
  • NORTH KOREA
    • UN Security Council Presidential Statement / Resumption of Talks / Verifiable Denuclearization of Korean Peninsula / Full Implementation of 2005 Joint Statement / Very Clear Presidential Statement / International Community's Response / Focus on North Korea's Behavior / Weight of International Law / Meeting Obligations / Want to See Implementation
    • Six-Party Framework / Best Way Forward in Dealing with Denuclearization / North Korea Agreed to Steps
  • CHINA
    • Secretary Clinton's Meeting with Liu / Climate Change / Energy Issues / U.S. China Relationship / North Korea
  • IRAN
    • P-5+1 / Resolving Shared Concerns with Iran / Direct Diplomacy / Suspension is our Goal / Incentives Package Remains on the Table / Suspension of Uranium Enrichment an International Condition
    • Iran Policy Still Under Review
    • Roxana Saberi / Reports of Trial / Working with Swiss Protecting Power / Verifying Reports / Remain Committed to Securing her Release
    • Decision to go to Durban Has Nothing to do with Ahmadinejad's Attendance
  • PAKISTAN
    • U.S. Aid to Pakistan / Providing U.S. Funds to Matters that Should be Dealt With / $1.5 Billion Over Five Years / Establishing Benchmarks / Standards and Goals / Making Pledge at Donors Conference
  • SUDAN
    • Efforts to Return NGOs to Darfur / Special Envoy Gration's Visit


TRANSCRIPT:

12:48 p.m. EDT

MR. WOOD: Hello, everyone. Good afternoon. Welcome to the briefing. I’m going to start out with the travel of Senator Mitchell, give you guys an update on where we are.

Special Envoy Mitchell was in Rabat today and met with Moroccan Foreign Minister Fassi Fihri and other senior government officials earlier this morning. He traveled to Algiers where he met with President Bouteflika and Foreign Minister Medelci. He ends the day by traveling to Tunis, where he will meet tomorrow, April 15, with senior Tunisian officials.

Tomorrow, again, April 15, after his meetings in Tunis, Senator Mitchell will travel to Israel for a day of meetings with the new Israeli Government on Thursday, April 16, and to Ramallah for a day of meetings with Palestinian leaders on Friday, April 17. He will depart Ramallah on April 17, traveling to Egypt to consult with leaders there. Special Envoy Mitchell is traveling with Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs David Hale, the Executive Secretary of the National Security Council Mara Rudman, plus several other staff.

So that is the latest on Senator Mitchell’s travel. And with that, I will take your questions.

QUESTION: North Korea.

MR. WOOD: Yes.

QUESTION: What is your response to their announcements?

MR. WOOD: Well, Matt, let me just say I know you all have a lot of questions about North Korea. I don’t have very much at all today that I’m going to give you. And I know you’re going to come at me with a lot of questions from various angles, but I just want to basically refer you back to the UN Security Council presidential statement that was issued. And this presidential statement made very clear the position of the UN Security Council plus Japan. And as you know, the statement calls for an early resumption of the Six-Party Talks, a verifiable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, and full implementation of the joint statement of 2005. I don’t have much more for you right now. At some later point, we’ll have more to say, but right now, that’s all I have.

QUESTION: In other words, you have no response?

MR. WOOD: As I said, I’ve given you right now what I have for you.

QUESTION: Well, that’s great. But, Robert, but that’s from – that’s from yesterday.

MR. WOOD: Yeah.

QUESTION: Well, things have happened on the ground today.

MR. WOOD: Oh, I understand.

QUESTION: Presumably, the United States is aware of them.

MR. WOOD: Look, we’re certainly aware of what’s going on. But what I’m saying is the statement that was issued by the Security Council in Japan spoke for the international community. It was very clear what our position is with regard to the type of behavior the North has been engaged in. There’s really nothing more to add to it.

QUESTION: The North today has said that it’s going to restart its –Yongbyon, that it’s going to pull out of the Six-Party Talks, and there are reports that they’ve expelled the U.S. and IAEA inspectors. You’re telling me that the United States Government does not have any kind of response or reaction to that?

MR. WOOD: I’m saying – right now, this is what our response is. And this is not just the U.S. response, this is the international community’s response to what the North has been doing.

QUESTION: I’m, sorry. That --

QUESTION: That happened before North Korea did all this. I mean, you gave your response, which is your statement, and then North Korea reacted by doing all this. And I mean, what practical consequences can you impose on North Korea for its bad behavior when you put out the statement that, even though you said it’s legally binding, many members don’t feel that it’s legally binding? And North Korea continues to flaunt the will of the international community.

MR. WOOD: Well, look, we’ve seen a lot of what the North has done before, Elise. I don’t have anything new I can give you right now beyond what I’ve said. At, you know, later points, we will have more to say about it. But I think we spoke very clearly – we meaning the United States and others on the Council, the broader international community – about what we want to see the North do. There really isn’t anything to add to it at this point.

QUESTION: Well, what can you – how can you make them do what you want them to do if you can’t get a UN Security Council resolution authorize – not authorizing – you know, requiring members to take those measures and North Korea isn’t listening to you anyway? So I mean, how – how does that statement speak as any type of consequences or any type of way to get North Korea to follow what you said in the --

MR. WOOD: The statement was very clear, Elise. There was no question about the intent of the statement, what the statement required of the North. This is something we have been addressing for quite some time. The North, as you know, has been engaged in all sorts of behavior. There have been ups and downs in that entire process of the Six-Party Talks. I think, as I said, the international community spoke very clearly to the North. It was a very strong response and made very clear what the North needs to do. And I’ve outlined those three points.

QUESTION: Well, and they’re speaking very clearly to you that they’re not going to listen.

MR. WOOD: Well, they risk further isolation in the international community.

QUESTION: Is that possible?

MR. WOOD: Well, you know, look, I think I’ve spoken to it as much as I can right now and --

QUESTION: Is there going to be another international coordinated response or do you think individual governments – the U.S., Japan, South Korea and everything – will have their own response?

MR. WOOD: Well, I think we’ll just have to wait and see. But certainly, the international community is focused on the issue of the North’s behavior and it’s – what it’s required to do. And as I said, when we have more to say about it, we will. But at this point, you know, the international community spoke very clearly, and there really isn’t anything more to add to it.

James.

QUESTION: I do want to pursue this question of whether or not the presidential statement issued by the UN Security Council is legally binding. When you were asked about this yesterday, Robert, all you said was that the United States considers it to be legally binding.

MR. WOOD: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: But I’m wondering on what legal basis you have to assert that it is legally binding. As a matter of fact, it is not legally binding.

MR. WOOD: Well, there is a statement from the UN Security Council. It has the weight of international law behind it. It is binding, in our view. I don’t have anything further to add to it. I think it was very, very, very clear.

QUESTION: But it’s not enforceable legally, correct?

MR. WOOD: Well, it’s enforceable in the sense that the international community is basically tasked by the Council with a certain set of instructions that are laid out in the statement. And it’s up to the international community to go forward and implement that. And so we certainly want to see that statement implemented and we will continue to work with others in the international community to make sure that we do get that statement fully implemented.

QUESTION: But it is not binding on anyone to implement it, Robert.

MR. WOOD: Well, you know, statements --

QUESTION: Am I wrong in that assertion?

MR. WOOD: Statements, Security Council resolutions, frankly, don’t have much practical effect unless they are implemented. So in this particular case, the international community has called on the North to take some steps. And the international community has an obligation to do what it can to make sure that the North does meet those obligations.

QUESTION: Would you, as a taken question, please have the State Department Legal Counselor or the Office of Legal Counselor address this?

MR. WOOD: Well, I think I’ve addressed it, James, very clearly. It’s – this has the weight of international law, whether it be a statement or a resolution. Now again, we want to see this particular statement implemented, and that’s up to the people – to the countries in the international community to do so. So whether it be a – and we’ve said this from the beginning, whether it be a resolution or a statement coming out of the Council, that this needed to be a strong response to what the North engaged in, and that the international community needs to do what it can, live up to its own responsibilities, to use its leverage to get the North to respond.

QUESTION: Just as a factual matter and as a – and with all due respect, I’m positing here that you are speaking incorrectly about the nature of this document, that it does not carry the weight of international law. And I would appreciate it if, as a taken question, you could have the lawyers weigh in with some kind of statement.

MR. WOOD: I’ll be happy to take a look at it for you, James.

QUESTION: Robert?

QUESTION: I mean, how can it be legally binding if you say that it’s up to the countries to decide whether they want to --

MR. WOOD: Well, what I’m saying is for there to be results from an action taken by the Security Council, countries have to take steps to implement the agreed text. That’s when it has effect. And there’s an obligation on the part of, you know, members of the international community to follow what’s been laid out in statements and in resolutions in the Security Council. So – now that’s the point I was trying to make.

QUESTION: Robert?

MR. WOOD: Charlie, go ahead.

QUESTION: Earlier a few minutes ago, you said there have been many ups and downs in the Six-Party Talks.

MR. WOOD: Right.

QUESTION: I don’t want to draw a conclusion you didn’t intend, but is it the Administration’s view the North’s response is just another down and that this will come back up? Or would that be unfair?

MR. WOOD: Well, no, I’ve basically said in the past.

QUESTION: Right.

MR. WOOD: It’s very hard for me to gauge, as I’ve said many times, what the thinking is on the part of North Korea. But what I’ve said is the international community has spoken very clearly with regard to that presidential statement.

QUESTION: My question is: What’s the thinking of the Administration in terms of – another down period and it’ll come back? I’m not --

MR. WOOD: Well, as I said, Charlie, I’m not – today not able to give you that kind of an assessment yet. But as I said, we will speak, you know, later about, you know, the issue of North Korea.

QUESTION: So now that you just – I want to make sure I’m clear on this.

MR. WOOD: Sure.

QUESTION: Everything that the North has done and reported to have done today, you have no response to?

MR. WOOD: I’ve given you my response, which is the response of the international community to what --

QUESTION: Which is (inaudible) yesterday’s statement which led the North Koreans to do this?

MR. WOOD: Well, all I can --

QUESTION: Are you saying that maybe later today, there’s going to be some kind of response?

MR. WOOD: No, I didn’t mean to say “later today.” I don’t think I used “later today.” I said at some point later.

QUESTION: Well, you said later.

MR. WOOD: Right. I’m not meaning “later today”, but at some point in the future, we will have more say about it.

QUESTION: So then would it be correct to assume, since you do not have a response, that you don’t regard this as anything very serious?

MR. WOOD: I didn’t say that at all. I just said to you --

QUESTION: Well, you said – I’m sorry, but we’re asking for a reaction to what the North has done and said today. You don’t have one, except to refer back to the presidential statement of yesterday. So what should we – what --

MR. WOOD: Here, I will tell you what you should read from what I’m saying. The international community, through that strong statement, made very clear what it wanted to see the North do.

QUESTION: Yes. And the North has now just threw that – thrown all of that back in your face.

MR. WOOD: Well --

QUESTION: They’re pulling out of the talks. They’re restarting the – they’re going to restart the reactor.

MR. WOOD: Well, obviously, the international community --

QUESTION: You have no reaction to that?

MR. WOOD: What I’m saying, Matt, is that we have come out – we, the international community, have a strong response to what the North has been doing. Okay? It’s made a lot of threats. It’s threatened to take steps, threatened not to take other steps. The international community spoke very clearly in that statement, and we just don’t have anything to add at this point.

QUESTION: I know. But are you saying that you think that these might just be threats, what type of warning, they might not follow through?

MR. WOOD: I am not – I’m not trying to make that kind of a characterization. What I’m saying to you is that what we said yesterday as a – as the Security Council, the international community speaking as one voice, still stands today.

QUESTION: Any news on whether the North Koreans have thrown out inspectors?

MR. WOOD: I’ve seen reports, but I don’t have anything for you on that.

QUESTION: Robert, the North Koreans have been boycotting the Six-Party Talks since July when the verification issues came up. Does that – what they said today, does it make any difference in terms of day-to-day what you’re doing with the other parties? Because I haven’t seen any progress or anything, any movement since July on this front, so what’s the difference?

MR. WOOD: Well, the problem has been, since July, the fact that the North Koreans would not agree to putting some assurances that it had given to us in private into a document. And so we’ve been hung up on that question of getting the North to agree to provide us with, you know, sufficient, adequate verification of all of the documents they submitted. That’s where it’s been hung up. And we have been very clear in what the North needs to do.

And again, I’d just refer you back to the statement because I think it was very clear and it gave you a sense of where the international community feels the North needs to go. And you know, I’ve said, you know, and others have said very clearly in the past what the North needs to do. It needed to live up to its obligations. We’re still waiting for the North to do that. And you know, these things that are reported that the North has said and has begun to do, it doesn't change the nature of our response. Our response was very clear from the international community what they needed to do.

QUESTION: And just on the process, they talked about restarting Yongbyon. And the disablement of Yongbyon was part of phase two, and also part of that phase was the shipments of heavy fuel oil that they’ve been receiving from the U.S., from Japan, and from other countries. If they were to go back and restart Yongbyon, does that mean that the benefits they’re getting from phase two have to be rolled back, too?

MR. WOOD: Look, as you know, Nick, from the Six-Party framework, we are engaged in an action-for-action --

QUESTION: Exactly.

MR. WOOD: -- scheme. And I’m just not going to speculate on what we, the international community, will do, except just to, you know, make the point that we’ve been very clear about what the North needs to do. And you know, as I said, at some future point we’ll have more to say, but I think right now we’ve all spoken very clearly through that statement. And I just don’t have anything more to add on it.

QUESTION: And just on the lack of the response, I’m wondering – there is no assistant secretary for East Asia yet, not even nominated. The envoy to talks North Korea is a part-time employee of the State Department. I know that Sung Kim is here every day and he works on this. But are you trying not to antagonize the North Koreans any more than they have been by yesterday’s statement that you’re not saying much about it?

MR. WOOD: No, I think we’ve just been very clear about where we stand with regard to the North’s behavior. I know it sounds like a broken record, but that’s – we have said this over and over and over again. And we spoke clearly through that presidential statement, and the North knows what it needs to do.

QUESTION: Well, surely you have to acknowledge that the situation from yesterday to today has changed, has it not?

MR. WOOD: You know, certainly, we have seen these reports, you know, and we’re certainly aware of what the North has said, you know, and I just don’t have anything to add.

QUESTION: Well, I just hope that you’re aware that the lack of response indicates – would indicate to some, I think, that the Administration doesn't know what to do.

MR. WOOD: No, I --

QUESTION: And doesn't know what to say.

MR. WOOD: It doesn't – just because we’re not saying much right now doesn't --

QUESTION: So it’s a calculated silence?

MR. WOOD: Look, you can characterize it however you want, Matt. I’m just going to tell you that there are people who are --

QUESTION: Well, I mean --

MR. WOOD: -- people working on this issue and who have been consulting --

QUESTION: There are?

MR. WOOD: Yes.

QUESTION: And were they asked about what they thought about what was going on?

MR. WOOD: I’m not going to get into details of these conversations, but you can rest assured that the State Department --

QUESTION: How about --

MR. WOOD: Let me finish. The State Department is focused on this issue, as are other countries’ foreign ministries in terms of dealing with the North. I’m just giving you what our sense is of what – of where things are at the moment.

QUESTION: One more on North Korea?

MR. WOOD: Sure.

QUESTION: During her East Asia trip, the Secretary held out the promise of a peace treaty to end the Korea war, more economic aid to North Korea, full diplomatic relations, then we have the launch and now this threat to pull out of the Six-Party Talks. Did the U.S. overplay its hand?

MR. WOOD: I wouldn't characterize it like that at all. I mean, this is – remember, this whole Six-Party framework is what we in the international community feel is the – was the best way forward in terms of dealing with denuclearization. The North Koreans agreed to a number of steps and it took some, you know, specific steps to address concerns of the international community, but wouldn't go any further in terms of verification beyond giving us some private assurances. The Council has spoken on numerous occasions with regard to the North’s behavior, and there just really isn’t anything at the moment to add. At some point, as I said earlier, we will be speaking in more detail, but I think right now we need to let that statement speak for itself with regard to North Korea.

QUESTION: What message will Secretary Clinton be asking the state councilor to take back to the North Koreans?

MR. WOOD: Well, they’re going to talk about a host of issues, the Secretary and State Councilor Liu. They’re going to talk about climate change. They’re going to talk about energy issues and the U.S.-China relationship. Could North Korea come up? It could very well come up. I just – the meeting hasn’t happened yet, so we’ll just have to see.

Elise.

QUESTION: New topic?

MR. WOOD: New topic? One more?

QUESTION: Do you have any incentives that the North has to come back to the table for the Six-Party Talks?

MR. WOOD: Look, the North was given a range of incentives through the Six-Party framework. Those are well known. And the North has to make a decision as to whether or not it wants to take up those incentives. But that’s a question for the North.

Anything else on this?

QUESTION: New topic?

MR. WOOD: Sounds good.

QUESTION: Another nuclear-armed nation, almost – Iran. Can you talk about reports that you’re willing to drop the condition of suspension before talks begin?

MR. WOOD: Look, you know, the P-5+1 stated last week that we were – you know, that we were willing to resolve our shared concerns with Iran – Iran’s nuclear program through direct diplomacy. And nothing has changed. Suspension is still our goal. And there is, you know, as I think you referred to, an incentives package that’s on the table. It remains on the table. We encourage Iran to take up that incentives package. But I don’t have anything beyond what --

QUESTION: But it used to be that suspension of uranium was a precondition for the talks to start. And it seems like that precondition has been dropped. President Obama himself has said that he’s willing to talk to Iran without any preconditions.

MR. WOOD: Well, right. But again, this issue of suspension of uranium enrichment is an international condition, not an American condition.

QUESTION: Well, it sounds like it’s being dropped if there are no preconditions --

MR. WOOD: Well, look --

QUESTION: -- to talking to Iran.

MR. WOOD: I don’t have anything more beyond that. I mean, I saw the story, but I’m just laying out for you what our position is.

QUESTION: Well, is it your position that there’s a mandatory suspension before talks start?

MR. WOOD: No, what we – look, we have said very clearly that we are willing to engage in direct diplomacy with Iran without conditions. But as I said, this particular issue with regard to enriched uranium --

QUESTION: Well, that was a U.S. demand.

MR. WOOD: No, it was a demand of the P-5+1.

QUESTION: It was a U.S. demand that was embraced by the rest of the P-5+1.

MR. WOOD: P-5+1.

QUESTION: So is it a demand of the P-5+1 that Iran suspend before talks start?

MR. WOOD: Look --

QUESTION: If you’re asking them to start talking now and they haven’t started yet – haven’t stopped yet, so obviously you’re willing to start talking to them without them having stopped enriching.

MR. WOOD: Well, as I said, that’s a requirement of the P-5+1. But also, Elise, I just want to remind you as well that our Iran policy is still, you know, being reviewed. There are certain elements of it that we have already laid out for you. There will be others in the future.

But let me just leave it where I have it right now, and that’s, you know, suspending enrichment, that remains our goal. We want to see that happen. That’s an international requirement of Iran. But having said that, we – the P-5+1 supports our position in terms of direct diplomacy with Iran. As I mentioned last week, Bill Burns will be attending future P-5+1 meetings with Iran as a full participant. That is certainly new. And so that’s where we are on the moment – at the moment.

QUESTION: Right. But if you’re – if you invited Iran to talks and they haven’t stopped their suspension yet and you’re willing to start talking, then clearly they don’t have to suspend before you start talking.

MR. WOOD: Elise, I can’t put it any more plainly than I have.

QUESTION: Well, you’re not --

MR. WOOD: It’s our goal to get --

QUESTION: It’s your ultimate goal.

MR. WOOD: -- that’s – it’s our goal.

QUESTION: But not necessarily the goal for the talks.

MR. WOOD: I’m just saying it’s our goal.

QUESTION: Ultimate goal?

MR. WOOD: I’m saying it’s our goal.

QUESTION: I mean, has there been any response from the Iranians yet to the invitation?

MR. WOOD: As far as I know, there has been no response to the Javier Solana invitation.

QUESTION: So are there plans for the political directors or others to – of just the P-5+1 without Iran – as you are waiting for the Iranian response, are there plans for them to meet to figure out --

MR. WOOD: Well, I mean --

QUESTION: -- where to go?

MR. WOOD: -- the P-5+1 engage in telephone conversations. I don’t think there’s anything scheduled, but I certainly – it wouldn’t surprise me if, you know, there is some kind of P-5+1 conversation in the coming days or weeks. Nobody’s told me that there is one planned, but it wouldn’t surprise me.

QUESTION: And when would you like to see the meeting with Iran take place? Is this something as soon as possible, or is this something that you still need more (inaudible) from the P-5+1 side?

MR. WOOD: Well, first, we have to see indeed whether Iran responds to that invitation positively before we start talking about dates. And I think, you know, the last I checked, that’s where we are.

QUESTION: New subject?

QUESTION: On Iran?

MR. WOOD: Yeah.

QUESTION: Roxana Saberi is apparently being tried on espionage charges, and a verdict is expected within a few weeks, according to reports there. This is not looking very encouraging, is it?

MR. WOOD: Well, you know, we’ve seen reports that Roxana Saberi went on trial earlier this week. We’re working with our Swiss protecting power, as I mentioned the other day, to try to verify what’s being reported in the press. You know, the charges as have been reported, we maintain, are baseless, without foundation. We remain committed to trying to secure her release. And that’s all I have. I will keep you abreast as we are able to, you know, obtain more information about the case.

Yes, James.

QUESTION: Different subject?

QUESTION: Can we stay with --

MR. WOOD: Oh, you want to stay with that one? Sure.

QUESTION: Yeah, I just wanted – you know, Ahmadinejad is going to be going to the Durban 2 conference next week, and I’m just wondering how that plays into – if it does at all, plays into U.S. calculations about whether to boycott or not.

MR. WOOD: It has absolutely nothing to do with that at all. Our decision to go to Durban will depend on whether or not we are satisfied that the language addresses some of our concerns. It has nothing to do with whether Ahmadinejad shows up or not.

QUESTION: So you’re --

QUESTION: I just wanted to follow up on the Saberi, sorry. You’re saying you’re trying to get information from the Swiss about the trial that’s going on. Is there a sense that you’re not getting very much information about this?

MR. WOOD: Well, we’re trying to get as much as we can. The Swiss, I know, have been trying very hard. It’s really – you know, the Iranians can supply this information, and so far they haven’t been willing to give us the information that we need. And so even though we haven’t been able to get that information, we’re going to continue to try. And the Swiss, as I said, are working very hard to do that.

But we remain very concerned about her situation. And, you know, the Secretary, I know, asked the question almost every day, if not every day, about, you know, what’s the status of Roxana Saberi. So, again, we continue to work for her release. We’re trying to verify this information. And, you know, we’ll give you an update tomorrow, assuming we have one.

Anything else?

QUESTION: I had an Iran/North Korea. Have you seen a report that there’s been a shipment of enriched uranium from North Korea to Iran?

MR. WOOD: No, I haven’t seen that at all. I’ll see what I can find, if anything, on that.

Yes, Elise.

QUESTION: Are you aware of this issue about the eight-year-old child bride in Saudi Arabia? A judge has refused for the second time to grant a girl – grant the girl a divorce, and it’s kind of becoming a big issue among international human rights groups.

MR. WOOD: No, I haven’t seen the report. I think I may have heard about it. I’ll take a look at that and see if we’ve got anything on it.

QUESTION: Can you look into that?

MR. WOOD: Sure.

QUESTION: And to see if the government is aware of the case --

MR. WOOD: Yeah.

QUESTION: -- and, you know, whether you’re talking to the Saudis about it?

MR. WOOD: Absolutely. I’ll take a look at that.

Yes, James.

QUESTION: On Venezuela, the mayor of Maracaibo is apparently missing, and there are reports that he may have attempted to seek entry into the United States. Are you aware of any such attempts?

MR. WOOD: No, I’m not aware of that at all, James.

QUESTION: And also, the mayor of Caracas is apparently locked out of his office. What do these two cases tell us about the state of political freedoms in Venezuela right now?

MR. WOOD: Well, look, these are internal Venezuelan matters, so I really don’t have anything to say about the state of the situation there beyond that.

Nina.

QUESTION: Pakistan. There have been – Kerry has been there the last couple of days. There’s been some public statements from the prime minister and the president’s office saying that they want any U.S. aid to be unconditional. Can you respond to that?

MR. WOOD: Well, I think you would expect when the U.S. taxpayer is providing money, assistance to a country, that we want to make sure that we’re not only getting our money’s worth, but that certain things that we care about, we want to see that they be dealt with. And so we have said we will provide and would like to provide $1.5 billion over a five-year period to Pakistan, but clearly we want there – we are going to establish benchmarks. We want to see certain standards and goals met. And that’s something you would expect that we would be willing to do. And – but I don’t have anything else beyond that.

QUESTION: Does this affect the Tokyo donors conference at all – the U.S. aid for that? Or is that something entirely different – the congressional aid and the U.S. aid for that conference?

MR. WOOD: Well, we’ll be making a pledge at the donors conference, but I’m not going to go beyond that at this point.

QUESTION: But it’s a – sorry, it’s a very basic, obvious question. But is that – this donors conference at the weekend, is that purely for development, or does military aid come into that at all, not just from the U.S. but --

MR. WOOD: I’ll take a look at that and check.

QUESTION: Can you check?

MR. WOOD: But I think it is just development assistance. But I’ll take a look and get an answer for you.

QUESTION: And just one last thing on the same kind of thing. The next trilateral in May between Afghanistan, Pakistan, U.S., there’s some pressure from the Pakistanis, apparently, that this could turn into a summit-level meeting. Do you have any response?

MR. WOOD: I haven’t heard anything about that at all, no.

QUESTION: To clarify, the U.S. will be making a new pledge at the Tokyo conference?

MR. WOOD: We’ll be making a pledge.

Yes, Charlie.

QUESTION: Different subject. On Darfur, is there any update on the special envoy’s efforts there in terms of returning NGOs to Darfur?

MR. WOOD: I know that Scott Gration is working on that issue. Others are working on it as well. But I don’t have an update for you, Charlie, on whether or not we’ve been able to make any progress. I haven’t had a chance to speak with him. As soon as I can, I’ll try and get you an update on that.

Okay, thank you all.

(The briefing was concluded at 1:15 p.m.)

DPB # 61

 



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