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U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action


Ian Kelly
Department Spokesman
Daily Press Briefing
Washington, DC
July 1, 2009


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Index for Today's Briefing
  • HONDURAS
    • U.S. Has not Completed Legal Determination of Situation / Legal Advisers Actively Assessing the Facts and Law / U.S. Focused on Multilateral Process Taking Place Through the Organization of American States
    • Secretary General Has Mandate to get Self-proclaimed Government to Step Down to Restore Duly Elected President Zelaya / U.S. Wants to Play a Constructive Role within the Process
    • Recent OAS meeting Important and Historic / All are Focused on Fulfilling Principles of Inter-American Agreement
    • U.S. Subscribes to Statement Issued at General Assembly of OAS that the Democratically Elected President Should Be Restored to Power
    • U.S. Believes Best Way is to Work Through the Process of OAS
    • Read-out of Assistant Secretary Tom Shannon's Meeting with President Zelaya
    • Process of OAS Focuses on Restoring Constitutional Order / U.S. Encourages All Sides to Resolve Differences via Dialogue
  • ISRAEL/PALESTINIANS
    • U.S. Confirms Israeli Navy Arrested Those on Board the "Free Gaza" Ship / Passengers Safe and All Accounted For / U.S. Embassy Seeking Consular Access to American Citizens
  • INDIA
    • No Details on Secretary Clinton's Upcoming Visit India
  • CROATIA
    • Croatia an Important Partner and Ally
  • SRI LANKA
    • U.S. Helping with Humanitarian Situation / Strongly Believe There Needs to be a Political Reconciliation Process with All Parties


TRANSCRIPT:

1:36 p.m. EDT

MR. KELLY: Okay, listen, guys, I do apologize for the technical difficulties that we had which necessitates an abbreviated briefing today. We do want to give you guys a chance to go up to cover the Secretary’s camera spray preceding her meeting with Bolivian Foreign Minister Choquehuanca, so I will just go right to your questions. As I say, we’ve only got about ten minutes.

QUESTION: Just to --

MR. KELLY: By the way, I can gaggle later, too, if you have more questions.

QUESTION: To start with Honduras, yesterday, you told us that the Legal Adviser’s Office has begun its formal review of whether the U.S. Government regards this as a military coup.

MR. KELLY: Right.

QUESTION: And therefore triggers the aid cutoff.

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

QUESTION: Is that review complete? You had also said you didn’t think it would take that long.

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

QUESTION: Is it complete, and have you made a determination?

MR. KELLY: Yeah. It’s always dangerous when you put any kind of time-related adverb on any statement. In point of fact, we have not completed our legal determination. As I said yesterday, though, our legal advisers are actively assessing the facts and the law in question, which we take very seriously. We take our obligations under that law very seriously. And of course, I’ll let you know as soon as this determination is made.

That’s on the legal side. Of course, there’s also the diplomatic side, which has been extremely active. We’re very focused on this multilateral process that’s taking place now, particularly through the Organization of American States. As you know, the Secretary General Insulza of the OAS has a mandate to get the government that – the self-proclaimed government down there to step down and restore the duly elected president, Mr. Zelaya. The Secretary General has, as you know, 72 hours to do this. And we, of course, are – want to play a constructive role in that process.

QUESTION: Do you expect him to go to Honduras to do that?

MR. KELLY: You know, I will leave that to Mr. Insulza. He has this important mandate which he will fulfill soon. But where he’s going to go, how he’s going to carry it out, I’d have to refer you to the OAS.

QUESTION: If he goes down there, would a U.S. official go with him?

MR. KELLY: I’m not aware any U.S. officials would go with him.

Yeah.

QUESTION: I have a quick question on Secretary’s visit to India, when she’s going to visit --

MR. KELLY: Can we – any more on Honduras? Yeah, Lach.

QUESTION: Yeah. Have – maybe through the ambassador there, has he seen any signs from the interim Honduran government that they’re taking the OAS decision seriously?

MR. KELLY: I have not seen any reports from the Embassy down in Tegucigalpa. This was, I think, a very important meeting last night of the OAS, in some ways an historic meeting. And we’re all focused on making sure that the principles of the OAS, particularly the principles of the Inter-American agreement, are fulfilled in terms of making sure that the democratic process plays out and constitutional order is restored.

QUESTION: Ian, any move to withdraw the U.S. ambassador?

MR. KELLY: I’m not aware of any move to withdraw the U.S. ambassador right now.

QUESTION: And is the United States still saying that the ousted president should return in two and a half, three days, whatever it is?

MR. KELLY: We subscribe to the statement that was issued last night at the General Assembly of the OAS, that we believe that the democratically elected president should be restored to power.

QUESTION: Why isn’t the ambassador being withdrawn, the U.S. ambassador?

MR. KELLY: I just – like I say, I don’t have any information for you on that.

Yeah, in the back.

QUESTION: Two questions, please. One almost gets the impression that – impression the United States is hiding behind the OAS and not speaking out as forcefully as Spain and other countries and they’re --

MR. KELLY: Oh, yeah – go ahead, complete your question.

QUESTION: No, but I mean, you could have a more hard-hitting policy when you look at Spain, European Union countries, Latin American countries that are pulling out their ambassadors. Is there a fear of giving an impression of meddling, a la Iran, in this case?

MR. KELLY: Yeah. No, not at all. I don’t accept the premise of your question. I think, as I said before, this is an important moment for the OAS, for the principles of the states in the Western Hemisphere, the democratic principles. And we believe the best way to work through this is through this OAS process. And we’re seeing great progress through the OAS. And I think we should just give this whole process a chance to play out. I think the multilateral route is the way to go.

QUESTION: Just – since we didn’t get --

MR. KELLY: Yeah, Kirit. Go ahead.

QUESTION: We didn’t get a readout yesterday from the Tom Shannon meeting. Can you tell us how that went? And specifically whether he asked President Zelaya not to return to Honduras on Thursday, as he had announced he would?

MR. KELLY: Yes. As you know, as the microphone falls down here – as you know, Assistant Secretary Shannon did meet with President Zelaya. This was at the OAS last night. And they discussed the current crisis and how to solve it. I think I solved that one, too.

QUESTION: Yeah, you solved it.

MR. KELLY: (Laughter.) Yeah. They had a very positive meeting. President Zelaya expressed his gratitude to the U.S., to the President, and to the Secretary for the very strong message that we sent on Sunday, and in the succeeding days condemning the coup, and also expressed appreciation for what I was just describing – these multilateral efforts through the UN and through the OAS to call for the full restoration of democracy and constitutional order.

QUESTION: Did he specifically ask him not to go back to Honduras?

MR. KELLY: Well, I think what we’re focused on is this process that just started last night through the OAS to restore the constitutional order. I’m not going to get into the details of exactly what was discussed, but I think we got to – we want to be careful not to do anything that would be in any way obstructing this process begun by the OAS.

I have time for one more question.

QUESTION: One more?

MR. KELLY: Yeah, go ahead.

QUESTION: Erin Connors from Press TV. Former congresswoman Cynthia McKinney and members of the Free Gaza Movement were intercepted by the Israeli army when they were on a humanitarian mission over there. What’s being done about that? Are they on their way home? Will they be deported? What’s the next step there, and will their supplies ever get to where they’re going?

MR. KELLY: On that last question, I don’t know the answer, actually. I think I have to refer you to the Government of Israel. We can confirm that the Israeli navy did arrest those on board this – the ship which is known as Spirit. We can’t comment on any of the individuals or the number of individual American citizens on board because of Privacy Act concern. Our Embassy has been in touch with the Israeli authorities. We have been told that the boat was stopped in Israeli waters and is being escorted to an Israeli port, or may have already gone to an Israeli port. We understand passengers are safe and all accounted for. We’re seeking consular access to the American citizens who are on board. And we don’t take any position regarding the Free Gaza Movement or any of its messages.

QUESTION: Anything on Mitchell-Barak meeting yesterday?

MR. KELLY: I think we issued a statement.

QUESTION: In addition to that?

MR. KELLY: Well, I think I’ll let the statement stand for itself.

QUESTION: The Secretary going to India --

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

QUESTION: When – she’s waiting on any special --

MR. KELLY: I think you’re aware the Secretary does plan to visit India sometime in the second half of July. I don’t have any details right now to release on it.

Yeah.

QUESTION: Another subject. May I ask you to comment on abrupt resignation of prime minister of Croatia this morning?

MR. KELLY: I – yeah, sorry, I haven’t heard that. We’ll – if we can get a comment on that, we will.

QUESTION: I understand there was some guideline – guidance or whatever.

MR. KELLY: Yeah. I mean, Croatia is an important partner and an ally, and – but beyond that, I haven’t seen the reports, so I can’t --

QUESTION: Just a quick one on Sri Lanka, please.

MR. KELLY: Sri Lanka?

QUESTION: On Sri Lanka.

MR. KELLY: Okay.

QUESTION: Several major international human rights organizations, they are seeking or asking that there is a dire need as far as human rights, and Sri Lankan Government is not listening to the plight from the Secretary and from the President and all this. Still there are people in Sri Lanka and especially Tamils are in trouble --

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

QUESTION: -- and not reaching medicine and all, food. And killings too are going on.

MR. KELLY: Yeah. Well, I think, you know as I’ve – Goyal, as you’ve heard me say many times, we are helping with the humanitarian situation in Sri Lanka. We feel very strongly that after the cessation of hostilities that there needs to be a political reconciliation process with all of the various parties in Sri Lanka, and we continue to call for – the specific – if we have any more information on the specific instance you’re talking about, though, we’d be happy to provide it.

Arshad.

QUESTION: Just one on Honduras.

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

QUESTION: Do you believe that the effort to achieve a negotiated solution that restores President Zelaya to his position in Honduras also needs to address the misgivings of members of congress there and the supreme court about the – his proposed referendum that --

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

QUESTION: -- would extend presidential --

MR. KELLY: Well, I think even before this unfortunate incident on Sunday, we were encouraging all sides, or both sides, in this conflict, this political conflict, to resolve their differences via dialogue. And – but I think right now, what we are primarily interested in is restoring the constitutional order and fulfilling the mandate of the OAS last night.

So I’m going to – sorry, guys, we’ve got to cut it off, but I’d be happy to take questions later on after the camera spray. Thanks very much.

(The briefing was concluded at 1:47 p.m.)

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