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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
June 19, 2009

Index for Today's Briefing
    • Secretary Clinton elbow surgery successful; full recovery expected; returned home
    • Decision on the Secretary's schedule and travel will be made in due course
    • No public appointments today; her visit to FSI will be rescheduled
    • Elbow is cast, photo requested, medications prescribed, general anesthetic
    • Timing of announcement of surgery
    • Secretary remains fully engaged
    • No formal temporary transfer of power was required during surgery
    • Chief of Protocol tax issue reported in New York Times
    • Enforcement of UNSC Resolution 1874
    • States may ask to board ships at sea to look for proscribed cargo
    • China and other states obliged to enforce UNSC Resolution
    • Resolution requires flag state to permit inspection of docked ship or it will be in violation of UNSC Resolution
    • Would hope North Korea would comply with international law and allow inspection
  • IRAN
    • Right of Iranian people to peacefully assemble needs to be respected
    • Hold any government authorities responsible for violence against peaceful demonstrators
    • Not aware of UK Government complaint to Iran Ambassador in London for Supreme Leader comments
    • Has USG contacted with Iran protecting power Pakistan here to protest charges of interference?
    • Reconfirmation that Swiss Ambassador in Iran was summoned to the Foreign Ministry
    • Focus needs to remain on events in Iran
    • Dennis Ross actively advising the Secretary
    • No information regarding Ambassador Ross's future plans or meetings
    • Were Chinese officials permitted to interrogate Uighurs at Guantanamo (GITMO) in 2002?


2:33 p.m. EDT

MR. KELLY: All right. Well, good to see you all here. Sorry this is – this has been later than usual, especially on a Friday afternoon. But let me start with an update on the Secretary.

As we announced not long ago, Secretary Clinton underwent a two-hour surgery to successfully repair her right elbow, her fractured right elbow. Her doctors at The George Washington University Hospital had advised – have advised her that they expect her to make a full recovery without lasting damage to her arm. After the surgery, she returned to her home where she is now and where she will remain with her family through the weekend. We know there’s a great deal of interest in her schedule and especially travel. But we will make those decisions in due course, and will announce those decisions in the days to come.

She is grateful for the many prayers and messages of goodwill that they have received in the last few days and are so thankful for the excellent care provided by the doctors, nurses, and staff of The George Washington University Hospital.

As we also announced, of course, she has no public appointments today. She planned to go out to the – make her first visit out to the Foreign Service Institute, and I know she was really looking forward to it, but we’ll reschedule that at a later time.

So with that, I’ll take your questions.

QUESTION: So is – what’s the – is her arm immobilized? Is it one of those things where, you know, you can’t – you know, it’s --

QUESTION: Is she in a cast?

MR. KELLY: Yeah. She’s in a cast.


MR. KELLY: And she’ll be in a cast for a while. I don’t know exactly how long she’ll be in a cast, but --

QUESTION: But is it like attached to her --

MR. KELLY: I don’t know the exact configuration of the cast, but she is in a cast.

QUESTION: We’d love to get a photo of her.

MR. KELLY: I understand that. But it’s just been a couple hours since she’s gotten home, and we’ll see what we can do.

QUESTION: What about medications at this point? Can you tell us what she’s on?

MR. KELLY: Well, as P.J. said yesterday, she just – she had a painful experience and, of course, today she had an operation. But I don’t have any specific information about what her doctors prescribed her.

QUESTION: Is she --

QUESTION: Or a local or a general anesthetic?

MR. KELLY: It was a general anesthetic.

QUESTION: So she was out?

MR. KELLY: She was out for a couple hours, then.

QUESTION: Is there a reason why you didn’t make it public that she was going to have the surgery before she had the surgery? Why did you wait till afterwards?

MR. KELLY: Well, I think this was mostly – I mean, there’s also some natural concerns about her privacy. We – as soon as she got home, we pressed send on that announcement and got it out. But we waited till she got home.


QUESTION: You thought maybe George Washington Hospital would be mobbed with people if they knew she was going to be there that --

MR. KELLY: Well, like I say, we just – we had some concerns about her privacy.


QUESTION: Has her doctor given her any – has her doctor given her any general advice on travel?

MR. KELLY: Like I say, she just had surgery, literally, a few hours ago. She’ll consult with her doctor, take his advice, and we’ll take it from there.

QUESTION: Any idea how long she’s going to be in this cast?

MR. KELLY: I don’t know exactly. But I imagine it’s going to be --

QUESTION: Can you give a range?

MR. KELLY: -- for some time.

QUESTION: Some time meaning months?

MR. KELLY: I don’t know. I’m not a doctor.

Yeah, Sue.

QUESTION: Is the Secretary going to be working over the weekend or is she taking the weekend off and passing on her duties to her Deputy?

MR. KELLY: Well, she remains fully engaged. I don’t know what her exact schedule is. We have a full complement of senior officials here at the Department: Jim Steinberg, Jack Lew, Bill Burns. But she remains the Secretary of State and fully engaged.

QUESTION: Well, there was – do you know if during the two hours that she was under the general anesthetic if she temporarily handed over acting secretary of state power to Steinberg?

MR. KELLY: As I understand it, and I’m not a lawyer, there’s no formal requirement for her to do that, for the Secretary to do that. And I don’t believe it was done formally.

Other questions?

QUESTION: Yes, on North Korea.

MR. KELLY: North Korea, okay.

QUESTION: This ship that the U.S. Navy is tracking, if it does go to port in China, do you have confidence that the Chinese will inspect that ship?

MR. KELLY: Well, first of all, without any kind of reference to any specific ship, I can speak in general terms. I think Secretary Gates and Admiral Mullen were asked about this. And in general, we’re looking, of course, to enforce Resolution 1874; that’s what the – our role is, and we’re calling on other states to do the same. Of course, under Resolution 1874, states are allowed to ask to board to look for cargo that may be proscribed. And if permission is not granted, then the flag state, the owner of the ship, is instructed to send that ship to a port for a formal inspection to be made. But I’m not going to go into specific details of any particular ship.

QUESTION: Well, speaking in general, though, do you believe the Chinese are committed to the inspection regime?

MR. KELLY: I believe that the Chinese have – they worked with us on this resolution. Under the resolution, all UN member states are obliged to enforce the terms of the resolution.


QUESTION: I mean, just looking for some clarification, the way that the resolution is written, if the ship does go to port, the states are required to take an inspection of the ship --

MR. KELLY: Right.

QUESTION: -- and it says in the resolution under international law.

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

QUESTION: Is it your understanding that the country has the right to inspect the ship if it is at their port or do they still need permission from the flag carrier of the ship to inspect it?

MR. KELLY: Well, I’m starting to get into --

QUESTION: Because if it’s in international waters, I think they have to request permission. But if --

MR. KELLY: I’m sorry, say that again.

QUESTION: If it’s in international waters, I think they have to request permission from the flag.

MR. KELLY: Right.

QUESTION: But if it actually docks at port, do they still have to request permission at that point?

MR. KELLY: As I started to say, I’m starting to get into some details that I’m not – I’m not a lawyer. I’m not an international lawyer, but --

QUESTION: Or a doctor, as we heard.

MR. KELLY: Well, actually I am a doctor, but it’s of Russian literature. It’s not – I’m not , not a medical doctor. But under the terms of the resolution, the flag state has to allow the inspection at that port, or that state will be in violation of Resolution 1874.

QUESTION: So in other words, North Korea has to accept this?

MR. KELLY: Under the terms of Resolution 1874.

QUESTION: Now, given their track record in respecting UN Security Council resolutions in the past, what do you think the chances are of them actually – okay?

MR. KELLY: Well, we would hope that North Korea would comply with international law and allow the inspection.

QUESTION: Are you aware of instances where North Korea has been – is in compliance of international law in the last --

MR. KELLY: Not in recent days, no.

Other questions. Kirit.

QUESTION: A different subject, if I could, on this New York Times story about your chief lawyer – your protocol head who has had some tax issues. Do you have anything to say about that?

MR. KELLY: I don’t at the present time, but I’ll see if I can get you information.


MR. KELLY: Yeah.

QUESTION: Recognizing the White House has already spoken to this and White House officials have already spoken to it as well, I’m just curious, who does the United States hold responsible for the violence against the protestors that’s going on in the streets?

MR. KELLY: Well, I think as we’ve said before, we think that the right of the Iranian people to peacefully assemble needs to be respected. We think that –

QUESTION: Is it being?

MR. KELLY: Well, I mean, there have been times of – where demonstrators who have peacefully assembled have, of course, suffered at the hands of the authorities. And of course, we condemn any actions that – like that.

QUESTION: Okay, so you do hold the Iranian authorities responsible for any – disruption or violence that --

MR. KELLY: We would hold any government authorities responsible for any violence perpetrated against peaceful demonstrators.

QUESTION: Can I just ask, what does that – what does that mean in practical terms?

MR. KELLY: It means just that, that we --

QUESTION: No, no, I --

MR. KELLY: -- we would expect that -- we adhere very firmly to the principle of the right of people to peacefully assemble, to express their political views. And we would condemn any acts of violence against people who are peacefully assembling.


QUESTION: The British today called in Iran’s ambassador to complain about the comments from the Supreme Leader. Have you sent the Swiss in, or I mean, have the Swiss called in the Iranian ambassador to complain on behalf of the United States?

MR. KELLY: I’m not aware of that – first, of the fact that they called in – that the British called in the Iranians.

QUESTION: Well, how about the Iranians at their Interests Section here?

MR. KELLY: I’m not aware that there were any calls made.

QUESTION: Is there any – is there any contact between the State Department and those people?

MR. KELLY: I just – I’m not aware that there is.

QUESTION: In general – forget about the election.

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

QUESTION: Well, could you take the question of whether we’ve talked to the – I think the Pakistanis are the protecting power on behalf of Iran –

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

QUESTION: -- take the question of whether we’ve called them in or whether they’ve come here and –

MR. KELLY: Yeah. If we have that information, I’ll be happy to share it.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: Do you know when they called the Swiss ambassador in to complain about U.S. interference, apparently, there was a specific complaint they had about words of one of our leaders, officials. Do you know – can you give us any information about that, what specifically they complained about?

MR. KELLY: I can confirm that the Swiss were called in, as were a number of other nations. I think, in general, what we want to do is keep the focus on what’s going on in Iran. We are – this is not about us. It’s about Iran. It’s about the will of the Iranian people being respected.

QUESTION: But in this case, it is about the United States, because it was a specific complaint about the United States.

MR. KELLY: Yeah, but we want to keep the focus on what’s going on in Iran. I will just confirm that, yes, our Swiss protecting power was called in.

QUESTION: Just that one time?

MR. KELLY: Just – as far as I know. No – well, I don’t know if it was just that one time, but they were called in a specific --

QUESTION: You don’t know how many times then?

MR. KELLY: I do not know how many times.


QUESTION: Has Dennis Ross moved yet? Has he packed his bags? Has he gone over to the White House yet?

MR. KELLY: Dennis Ross is still here. I’ve been in communication with him. He’s still actively advising the Secretary.

QUESTION: Any idea when the moving van’s coming?

MR. KELLY: I don’t have any information about anything regarding Dennis’s future right now.

QUESTION: Can you tell us anything about his meeting this morning with the Israeli foreign minister?

MR. KELLY: No, I am not aware of that meeting.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: Just – sorry.

MR. KELLY: Yeah, uh-huh.

QUESTION: Just from the question I sent to you this morning about the Uighurs, is it accurate to say that the Chinese had access to them in 2002 to interrogate them at Guantanamo?

MR. KELLY: Let me see. Hold on a second. Let me see if I have something for you on that. We’ll get back to you, okay? I just don’t have it right now.

QUESTION: A taken question, okay.

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

MR. KELLY: Yeah. Come on up. Come on up, yeah. Thanks very much.

(The briefing was concluded at 2:46 p.m.)

DPB # 102

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