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U.S. Department of State - Great Seal

U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action


Ian Kelly
Department Spokesman
Daily Press Briefing
Washington, DC
July 8, 2009


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Index for Today's Briefing
  • DEPARTMENT
    • Secretary Clinton Hosts Breakfast for Congressional Leaders / Preview Trip to India and Receive Feedback / Highlighted Strategic Partnership with India and Broad Bilateral Agenda
    • Secretary Hosts Lunch for Senior Foreign Policy Experts
    • Background Briefing on Interagency Delegation Visit to China and Malaysia / USCR 1874
    • Attack on State Department Computer State.Gov System / Cannot Confirm Source of Attacks / Number of Sites Affected / Homeland Security Lead / Coordination with DHS
  • ZIMBABWE
    • Bilateral Meeting between A/S Carson and President Mugabe / Global Political Agreement / Human Rights and Rule of Law / CPA Agreement
  • ISRAEL
    • Report of Agreement on Settlements in the West Bank Inaccurate / U.S. Position Unchanged / Comprehensive Peace / Settlement Activity Has to Stop
    • Senator Mitchell Plans to Go to Israel
  • HONDURAS
    • Costa Rica President Arias as Mediator / Discussion with Regional Partners / President Zelaya and De Facto Head Micheletti to Attend Meeting / Hope for a Peaceful Resolution
  • CHINA
    • Violence in Western China / Deeply Concerned / Call upon Parties to Exercise Restraint / Chinese Need to Restore Order / Embassy Involvement and Awareness / Support of Democracy in China


TRANSCRIPT:

12:50 p.m. EDT

MR. KELLY: Okay. Well, good afternoon. Just a few things at the top – update on the Secretary’s schedule.

As you saw on her schedule, she had a number of activities that were closed to the press. She hosted a breakfast this morning for congressional leaders. It gave her an opportunity to preview her trip to India and also get some feedback from these senior congressional leaders on our views on India and on the trip. She took the opportunity, of course, to highlight the growing strategic partnership that we have with India and our broad strategic – or our broad bilateral agenda. Right now, she’s having lunch with a number of senior foreign policy experts – these are all from think tanks and related academic institutions – for an exchange of views on events going on.

And then, I think as you know, at 2:30 today in this room, we’re going to have a Senior State Department Official to brief you all on background on the recent interagency delegation that went to China and Malaysia to discuss the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1874.

So with that fascinating information, I’ll be glad to take your questions.

QUESTION: Yeah, who – what senior leaders from the Hill were at this breakfast?

MR. KELLY: Well, it was – you had both chairmen from both houses of Congress of the foreign affairs committees. So you had --

QUESTION: Kerry and Berman?

MR. KELLY: Kerry and Berman, thank you, as well as – I’m just looking for – I have the complete list here.

QUESTION: All right. Well, maybe – can you put it out maybe later?

MR. KELLY: We can put it out, yeah, rather than name all of them.

QUESTION: And also for this lunch as well?

MR. KELLY: I don’t know if I can give you the names for the lunch, but I’ll see.

QUESTION: Well, what topic does she – is it a specific --

MR. KELLY: I think it’s just a broad exchange.

QUESTION: All right. And then finally, on this background briefing, I have to raise this point: Why is it on background and why can it not be on the record?

MR. KELLY: We’re doing it on background because we want to give the briefer an opportunity to talk more freely about the – his discussions.

QUESTION: Yeah. It’s been pretty much a universal experience that even on background, people don’t really speak more freely than they would on the record.

MR. KELLY: I understand your point of view, Mr. Lee, but that’s the decision that we made on this particular briefing.

QUESTION: Can I go back to Matt’s previous question?

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

QUESTION: The think tank lunch. I’d like to re-ask that you reconsider --

MR. KELLY: Okay.

QUESTION: -- putting out the list of --

MR. KELLY: All right. We’ll see what we can do.

QUESTION: -- the think tankers.

MR. KELLY: Okay.

QUESTION: On that --

MR. KELLY: Lach.

QUESTION: On the congressional breakfast --

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

QUESTION: -- did she raise issues like nuclear sales to Delhi and also possible defense contracts that are coming up? Secretary Rice talked about both these things.

MR. KELLY: Yeah. Well, I think it was a pretty broad discussion, but I’m not prepared to talk about details besides previewing her trip and talking about a number of issues on the bilateral agenda.

QUESTION: Just to follow up?

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

QUESTION: Ian, I think this may be the first time ever the Secretary of State had high-level meetings with congressional leaders before traveling to India, or as far as – at least India. Why there’s some kind of urgency or something important to discuss that she had to make aware of for those congressional leaders? Or some kind of major impact is going to happen in India during her visit, or some kind of memorandum or signing or --

MR. KELLY: Yeah. Well, I mean, it’s – as she said yesterday, this is – she’s really looking forward to her trip. We have a very important relationship with India. It’s a strategic partnership. What she wanted to do is have an opportunity to share with these senior leaders in both the House of Representatives and the Senate, who – these senior leaders who deal with foreign affairs issues, to give them an idea of what our latest thinking is on where this relationship is going, and talk about her trip, and then, of course, get the benefit of their views as well before she goes out on this important trip.

QUESTION: She supported the civil nuclear agreement between the United States and India. But there is still one paper laying down which President Bush left for President Obama before the trucks can move for this relationship. Is she pushing that – for that paper to be signed by President Obama before she leaves or --

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

QUESTION: -- during this trip?

MR. KELLY: Well, Goyal, I’m not aware exactly what paper you’re referring to, so let --

QUESTION: It’s the 123, because without that --

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

QUESTION: -- still, it’s hanging --

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

QUESTION: -- the final agreement or the final --

MR. KELLY: Yeah, yeah. I just – I don’t have the details right now, so let me see if we can find something out.

QUESTION: Ian, can you tell us about how badly the State Department’s computers or website was affected by this cyber attack that appears to have originated in South Korea or North Korea?

MR. KELLY: Yeah. What I can tell you, Matt, is the attack against our state.gov website started on July 5th. It’s still ongoing, but I’m told that it’s much reduced right now. The U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team is working with the State Department’s Office of the Chief Information Officer, the CIO Office, and also with our Computer Incident Response Team. But I think, as you know, the State Department wasn’t the only target of these attacks.

QUESTION: Right. Well, how badly did it affect the service?

MR. KELLY: I think that, as I said, the attack is still ongoing, but it’s much reduced. I use the state.gov website several times a day, and I have not noticed any real difficulties in accessing it. That’s just a personal point of view.

QUESTION: Who do you believe is responsible for the attack?

MR. KELLY: We’re investigating, but we can’t confirm the source of attacks yet.

QUESTION: Was the Embassy in Seoul affected or any other U.S. missions abroad?

MR. KELLY: I think a number of other sites, as I say, were affected. I’m not sure about our mission site in South Korea, though.

QUESTION: You’re not certain about that?

MR. KELLY: I mean, I just don’t have that information.

QUESTION: This affected state.gov, or did it affect anything else?

MR. KELLY: Well, I know that it affected a number of agencies, U.S. --

QUESTION: No, no – well, I mean within the State Department.

MR. KELLY: I think – as far as I know, it was just state.gov.

Yes.

QUESTION: Do you now have full details about the exchange between Mr. Carson and President Mugabe?

MR. KELLY: I don’t know about full details, but I do have some follow-up that I can give you. What they – that – Assistant Secretary Carson and President Mugabe had a meeting. This was on the margins of the African Union summit. It was a bilateral meeting. Assistant Secretary Carson stressed our desire to see the Zimbabwe Global Political Agreement – what we call the GPA – fully implemented. And he did express our concern about continued problems with respect for – to human rights and the rule of law in Zimbabwe.

Yeah.

QUESTION: Can I --

MR. KELLY: That’s it.

QUESTION: You know, Ian, considering that Mugabe came out after this and said that Johnnie Carson was an idiot and a number of other things, that’s an awfully bland description of this meeting. Was he at all forceful in expressing his concerns about – your concerns about the human rights situation?

MR. KELLY: I don’t like that word “bland,” but I know Johnnie Carson and he is not bland.

QUESTION: The language that --

MR. KELLY: But I’m not prepared --

QUESTION: -- this building has used in the past for the last decade or so about Mugabe has not been – has been – sometimes it’s actually been colorful.

MR. KELLY: Well, yes --

QUESTION: To say that he only – he just expressed our concerns about the human rights situation doesn't really seem to do justice or it doesn't seem that it would have provoked the kind of response that President Mugabe gave.

MR. KELLY: Well, you know, as I said the other day, Johnnie Carson is one of our best diplomats. I know he has very strong feelings about the development of democracy in Zimbabwe. But beyond that, I’m not going to add any adverbs to what I said beyond the fact that I know that Johnnie Carson is a very strong and committed advocate for U.S. policy.

QUESTION: Can I just follow up?

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

QUESTION: Out of this exchange between Mr. Carson and Mr. Mugabe, do you still see Mr. Mugabe as a partner to, you know, implement this global agreement with Mr. Tsvangirai?

MR. KELLY: Well, I think what we’re focused on is getting this Global Political Agreement fully implemented. You know that the Secretary and the President, of course, met with Mr. Tsvangirai – I probably mispronounced that name – but the prime minister. And so we’re looking forward to getting that CPA agreement implemented.

QUESTION: But do you think Mugabe can be a partner in doing that presently?

MR. KELLY: As I say, we’re looking forward to seeing that agreement fully implemented.

Yeah.

QUESTION: Are they making progress?

MR. KELLY: I can’t answer that question right now.

QUESTION: There are U.S. reports from an Israeli newspaper that the Israeli Government and the United States Government have struck a deal which would allow the construction or the completion of 2,500 more settlements in the West Bank, this while Secretary Clinton is calling, in no uncertain terms --

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

QUESTION: -- for a complete freeze. Any comments? Is that true?

MR. KELLY: No, that report, and that Israeli media outlet, is inaccurate. What I can say is that Senator Mitchell and Defense Minister Barak did have good, productive discussions, but our position has not changed. And that’s that – our position that all parties have the responsibility to create the context that will support the renewed negotiations toward a comprehensive peace in the region. And our bottom line is the same, it has not changed; and that’s that all parties in the region have to honor their obligations. And you know what our position is regarding settlements.

QUESTION: So there’s no --

MR. KELLY: This activity has to stop. This is laid out in the Roadmap. So the reports aren’t accurate.

QUESTION: Can I follow up on that?

MR. KELLY: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Will Mitchell meet with Netanyahu next?

MR. KELLY: I’m not prepared to announce any specific date, but I do believe that Senator Mitchell plans to go to Israel soon. I just don’t have a date for you yet.

Yeah.

QUESTION: Can we go to Honduras, please?

MR. KELLY: Honduras.

QUESTION: During the Valenzuela hearing today, some senators were questioning whether the U.S. was a little bit ahead of the process in Honduras on the change of power, that with more information coming to light, maybe it’s legit. Any change in position here from this podium?

MR. KELLY: Well, I think you heard the Secretary yesterday. We’re very encouraged by the fact that President Arias of Costa Rica has agreed to act as a mediator. We were glad to play a role in that. This decision emerged from discussions that we’ve had with a number of partners in the OAS, and we think it’s appropriate, of course, for President Arias to serve in this role. He is a Nobel Peace Prize winner, and Costa Rica now holds the six-month rotating presidency of SICA, the Central American Integration System. I think you probably have seen reports that the first meeting will take place tomorrow in Costa Rica. President Zelaya and the head of the de facto regime, Roberto Micheletti, have both stated they’ll attend. And we hope through this mechanism there’ll be a peaceful resolution of this conflict.

QUESTION: On the timing and the tone, however, does the U.S., in retrospect, wish it was more circumspect and waited for more developments, or any sense that --

MR. KELLY: No, I – we are – as I say, we are very encouraged by this development that we now have a dialogue in place that has a real promise of resolving this through dialogue between the conflicting parties.

Yeah.

QUESTION: You alluded to the fact that the cyber attacks were aimed at a broad number of government agencies. All indications are that the attack has come from abroad. What is the U.S. Government’s posture to what seems to be some kind of hostile action against the U.S. from abroad?

MR. KELLY: Yeah. You know, I think it’s actually – it’s the Department of Homeland Security that has the lead on this.

QUESTION: On the investigation, but the State Department would react to hostile actions by a government or by some --

MR. KELLY: Well, we’re coordinating with DHS, as other agencies are, in dealing with this. But I think in terms of how we deal with this hostile action, it’s really a question for DHS.

Yeah.

QUESTION: Today, the president of China, who – he returned to China because of the continued riots in Xinjiang, and yesterday you said you were trying to sort out the facts as best you could. Has there been any sorting out of those facts by the State Department?

MR. KELLY: Well, we remain – as the Secretary said yesterday, we remain deeply concerned about this situation. We find – we’re very concerned by the amount of violence that we’ve seen. We continue to call on all parties there to exercise restraint.

In terms of an update, we haven’t gotten any reports of any new large-scale violence in Urumqi today, and we have observed that the police are maintaining a high security profile.

We – as I say, we’re – we think that all sides should refrain from violence. And we think that while it’s important that the Chinese authorities act to restore order and prevent further violence, we hope their actions will reflect respect for the legal rights of all Chinese citizens.

Yeah, Lach.

QUESTION: Do you see the deployment of troops there, Chinese troops there as a way to stabilize the situation, or does it provoke more worries among the U.S.?

MR. KELLY: Well, as I say, what we’re focused on now is getting the violence – we want to see the violence stop. We want to see all sides exercise restraint. And as I say, we hope that as this goes forward, that the legal rights of all citizens will be respected.

QUESTION: So you don’t want to comment on the deployment of troops, per se?

MR. KELLY: Well, I don’t want to comment on – I mean, obviously, the Chinese authorities have to act to restore order. But I don’t want to – I mean, I just don’t have enough information to be able to comment on the quantity of troops on the ground or anything like that.

QUESTION: On that subject, is the U.S. – what level of U.S. officials might be on the ground there, in our own --

MR. KELLY: I believe that we have somebody from the Embassy on the ground there, but I’m not entirely certain. I know that at least yesterday, we had somebody on the ground there.

QUESTION: Was that a diplo officer or a consular officer?

MR. KELLY: No, I am not sure. I’m not sure, Nick. I know that we’re – we’ve been in contact, our consular officials have been in contact with all American citizens who are in Xinjiang, and all have reported in, and all are safe.

QUESTION: And did – has the Embassy asked for – not an explanation, but at least some clarity by the Chinese Government of what exactly is happening? And have you seen reports about the Chinese blocking Facebook and other social network websites to prevent the spread of information about what’s --

MR. KELLY: Well, I think on the first part of your question, we have been in contact through our chargé in Beijing to try and get more information. I mentioned yesterday that we raised this with the vice foreign minister a couple days ago, with Mr. Wu Dawei.

On the issue of – on – I mean, we’ve – on the issue of restriction of access to the internet and other information sources, I mean, we’ve seen reports of this, and of course, we – we’re always concerned about any kind of restrictions on free flow of information.

Yeah.

QUESTION: Well, the situation really must be bad if the Chinese president had to cut his trip and go back to China.

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

QUESTION: And also they’re forcing – or restoring order by force and not honoring the human rights, freedom of press, freedom of religion and all those kind of things. But does the U.S. Government or the State Department supports democracy in China --

MR. KELLY: We support democracy everywhere.

QUESTION: -- like elsewhere around the world?

MR. KELLY: I mean, we support freedom of expression, we support freedom of assembly, freedom of worship everywhere. But right now, what we – we’re focused on the fact that there has been quite a bit of violence, and we want to see – we do want to see restraint exercised by both sides.

QUESTION: Well, I mean, once again, like supporting freedom of – freedom, the people are seeking freedom. Are you supporting freedom?

MR. KELLY: We – I mean, as I said, we will stand with those who support democracy.

QUESTION: I’m sorry.

MR. KELLY: Yes.

QUESTION: Is there still no comment on the fact that there’s a lot of finger-pointing at Rebiya Kadeer?

MR. KELLY: No. We have absolutely no comment on that.

Yes.

QUESTION: Anything to say about the freedom of religion in the province, Xinjiang province? I know that the Department’s --

MR. KELLY: I have nothing – yeah. I don’t have any information on – you mean on --

QUESTION: The State Department’s --

MR. KELLY: -- repressions against -- yeah. No, I don’t have any information on that.

QUESTION: You’ve criticized it in a report on religious freedom --

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

QUESTION: -- in the past, so --

MR. KELLY: But I don’t – in regards to this situation, I don’t have any information.

Yes.

QUESTION: Do you have any comment on Uighur claims that China is underreporting the number of deaths from the riots on the Uighur side?

MR. KELLY: We just don’t have really enough information right now. And I don’t have any comment about specific claims of casualties.

QUESTION: Do you think this issue will come between India and U.S. during Secretary’s visit to New Delhi?

MR. KELLY: I mean, we have a very broad agenda with India. Her trip is in about 11 days or so. I’m just not going to predict what’s going to come up during that trip.

QUESTION: Thank you.

(The briefing was concluded at 1:12 p.m.)



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