1:26 p.m. EST
MR. KELLY: Okay. Good afternoon. Let me just get you up to date on the Secretary’s schedule today. She had a working lunch with Moroccan Foreign Minister Fassi-Fihri, an audience with King Mohammed VI. Right now, she has a meeting with the foreign ministers from the GCC – it’s actually called the GCC+3. That will be followed by a press conference. And then she has the opening dinner of the Forum for the Future, which, as you know, is a joint civil society initiative of the countries of the broader Middle East and North Africa region and the G-8.
I have a short statement to read as well about the election in Afghanistan. The Independent Electoral Commission announced a formal end to Afghanistan’s presidential elections process in accordance with the Afghan constitution and electoral laws. Following Dr. Abdullah’s announcement to withdraw, the IEC decided that a second round is no longer required and has announced that Hamid Karzai will be the next president.
The Embassy in Kabul congratulated him on his victory a little earlier, and we echo those words of congratulation. We congratulate all the candidates who stood in Afghanistan’s second presidential election, in particular, Dr. Abdullah. The candidates drew attention to many of the issues that Afghans want addressed by the next president and government.
The first ever Afghan-led Afghan election was held in challenging circumstances. Fraud in the first round was detected and eliminated, leaving the two candidates with the most votes, President Karzai and Dr. Abdullah, in a runoff. In line with the Afghan constitution and electoral laws, the IEC declared President Karzai the winner after Dr. Abdullah withdrew, leaving the race uncontested.
This result was in line with Afghanistan laws and constitution. As we move beyond the election, the credibility and success of the new president and his Afghan Government will rest on their ability to deliver better security, governance, justice, and progress to the Afghan people. We stand ready to support the new government in this regard.
So with that, I’ll take your questions.
QUESTION: So what does this all mean for your policy in Afghanistan?
MR. KELLY: Well, it – I don’t think – it doesn’t change our policy necessarily. I think we saw that an election was conducted under really extraordinarily difficult conditions. There were Afghan institutions that were set up to ensure that the process was run in accordance with Afghan laws. And we’re seeing this process play out, and it appears that we’ve seen the final step in that process today.
QUESTION: Well, do you think that this result leaves you with a credible partner?
MR. KELLY: Well, I think the important thing is, is that this whole process and the formation as – of the government as it goes forward is done in accordance with Afghan laws and institutions. These institutions represent the people of Afghanistan. Legitimacy – I think that’s what you’re suggesting here – legitimacy is derived from the government respecting the will of the Afghan people and obeying Afghanistan’s laws and institutions. And what we’re seeing so far is all of these laws and institutions being respected.
QUESTION: Well, but I – no, it’s actually not legitimacy that I was asking about. I was asking if it was – if you have a now – if this result leaves you with a – gives you a credible partner to work with in Afghanistan. Whether it’s legitimate or not, whether the rules were followed or not, do you think this result gives you a credible partner?
MR. KELLY: I think what we’ve seen is a process that was very difficult, that was conducted according to laws that were laid down by the government and legislature of Afghanistan. And these were the first-ever totally Afghan-run elections.
QUESTION: I understand all that, but do you – does this result leave you with a credible partner? Or are you not prepared to say --
MR. KELLY: We are there – we are in Afghanistan to support Afghanistan in its efforts to establish, for the first time in decades, security and institutions that will support the Afghan people. And this is what we’re going to do going forward. As I said, the important thing is that this has been done completely in accordance with the laws and institutions, and the institutions have worked.
QUESTION: No, I just want to – well, I just want to make sure that I understand. You are not prepared to say that you have – that this result gives you a credible partner in Afghanistan?
MR. KELLY: I’m – what I’ll say is I’m – we’re prepared to work with this partner who was elected according to Afghan laws in an election that was conducted by Afghan institutions. And we have a big stake in Afghanistan. The international community has a big stake in Afghanistan. And we stand ready to support them as they go forward.
QUESTION: When you’ve talked about credibility in the past, it’s been related to the allegations of corruption against many members of their government. Now this election – this decision doesn’t change that at all, so are you still pushing for an end to the corruption as a way to build its credibility?
MR. KELLY: Absolutely, absolutely.
QUESTION: So they haven’t – so they’re not credible as it stands right now?
MR. KELLY: No, I’m not saying that at all. I mean, let’s look at the facts. The facts were that the Electoral Complaints Commission identified significant fraud and took steps or made recommendations for the Independent Electoral Commission to take steps to address that fraud. The IEC made a recommendation that because the – a number of these ballots were thrown out, this brought the total of votes for Dr. Karzai  under 50 percent, and therefore, called for a runoff. Dr. Karzai accepted this – accepted the recommendations of the IEC, of the ECC, and then the ICC. So he accepted the findings of fraud and agreed to a second round. And I think that’s the important thing here.
QUESTION: What about the broader issue of corruption? You started to say something about that.
MR. KELLY: Well, I think that what we’re trying to help Afghanistan establish is a government that enjoys the support of the people and is able to provide security and able to provide services throughout the country. In order for it to enjoy support, it has to be accountable for accusations of fraud. We saw Dr. Karzai do that. We saw him accept the findings of the ECC. And we stand ready to help him, after he forms his government, to help address some of these problems, like corruption.
QUESTION: Is it not at all a concern that this is a president who got less than 50 percent, less than half of the popular vote, after the fraud was taken into account?
MR. KELLY: No, I don’t think it does. I mean, I think we’ve had a few presidents who’ve won with a plurality and not an outright majority.
Yeah. Also on Afghanistan.
QUESTION: Do you believe that Afghanistan – or that President Karzai needs to take certain specific steps in order to bolster his credibility and legitimacy there? I mean, I don’t think the constitution specifically addresses the issue of what happens if one candidate pulls out in the second round.
MR. KELLY: Yeah. I think, the main thing here is that we – our main interest here is to see the findings of these Afghan-led institutions that are established by Afghan law – that they’re carried through. As I said before, we have a real stake in success of this government. And after it’s formed, we’ll stand ready to support them as they try and do what I was just suggesting a few minutes ago – try to be accountable to the people, to provide security, to provide services. And we have a lot of programs in place, as the international community has a lot of programs in place, to help them with that.
QUESTION: Can I ask a question on Afghanistan?
MR. KELLY: One more on Afghanistan?
MR. KELLY: Okay, go ahead.
QUESTION: But just on the issue of credibility, just one more question: How does the U.S., who has in the past made no secret of its adversarial relationship with the Karzai government, now work again with Mr. Karzai? And would you say that the U.S. efforts to bring democracy to Afghanistan have been battered in this election process?
MR. KELLY: Well, I’d like to kind of step back and look what they’ve accomplished here too. I mean, this was an extraordinarily difficult election. And they’re dealing in a country that has incredible challenges represented by the security situation, by the difficulty of the road system, of the geography. It is a very --
QUESTION: But it’s –
MR. KELLY: It is a challenging situation, and –
QUESTION: Well, what about the challenges for the U.S., though, the goals that the U.S. set out? Were those achieved? Or is –
MR. KELLY: The goals that we set out was to have an election that was conducted in an open way, and that was conducted in accordance with Afghan law and implemented by Afghan institutions with the support of the international community. And we’ve been able to achieve that.
Okay. North Korea.
QUESTION: Yeah. Do you have any update on the meeting?
MR. KELLY: On the – which?
QUESTION: The New York meeting with the U.S. and North Korea.
MR. KELLY: On the –
QUESTION: Sung – I mean –
MR. KELLY: Oh, Sung Kim.
MR. KELLY: Okay. Yeah, as you know, Sung Kim did meet with Ambassador Ri Gun from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. I understand that Ambassador Kim had very useful discussions. These were discussions that were designed to move us closer to our goal, our immediate goal, which is the resumption of the Six-Party Talks. And so in that regard, it was a useful meeting.
QUESTION: I have – us there any precondition for the resumption of Six-Party Talks?
MR. KELLY: Any precondition?
QUESTION: Yes. The U.S. have any preconditions to have – to Six-Party Talks?
MR. KELLY: (Laughter.) I’m not aware of any preconditions for the resumption of the Six-Party Talks.
QUESTION: When was this meeting?
MR. KELLY: This was over a week ago.
QUESTION: Yeah. It wasn’t on –
MR. KELLY: No, no. I’m sorry. This – yeah, this was a week ago Saturday.
QUESTION: Yeah. I mean, this was the first one in New York, because we were told on Friday that he wasn’t going to New York --
MR. KELLY: He didn’t go to New York.
QUESTION: Yeah, he didn’t go to New York.
QUESTION: -- and that – and no officials were going to New York and there was no meeting.
MR. KELLY: Right.
QUESTION: So what day was this meeting that you’re talking about?
MR. KELLY: This was over a week ago. I know where you’re going with this, Matt.
QUESTION: What about the New York meeting?
MR. KELLY: I only had a chance really to sit down and talk to Ambassador Kim today.
QUESTION: No, where I’m going with this is I want to make sure that we weren’t told --
MR. KELLY: Oh, okay. All right.
QUESTION: -- erroneous information on Friday that –
MR. KELLY: Well, maybe I shouldn’t guide you in a certain direction. (Laughter.) No, this is the one that was a week ago Saturday, yeah.
QUESTION: You don’t have any meeting in New York?
MR. KELLY: There was never any – no, there was a meeting in New York. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: Yeah, there was.
MR. KELLY: October 24th, there was a meeting in New York.
QUESTION: What – last Saturday, no?
MR. KELLY: That’s what I mean, October 24th.
QUESTION: Thank you.
QUESTION: North Korea was pushing again today for an answer on the talks. Do you have anything on that? Is that –
MR. KELLY: No. Just that, as I said before, Ambassador Kim did talk to Ambassador Ri about resuming the Six-Party Talks. We know that there is an invitation to Ambassador Bosworth to come to North Korea. We’re still considering that invitation. And once a decision has been made, of course, we’ll let you know.
QUESTION: Any reaction to the kind of statement that they issued today which seemed to indicate they were very willing to resume Six-Party Talks and multilateral talks?
MR. KELLY: Well, I mean, that’s our goal. Our goal is to resume the Six-Party Talks which would lead us to our ultimate goal – of course, the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. But we haven’t made any decisions about Ambassador Bosworth.
Yeah, in the back. You’ve had your hand up awhile.
QUESTION: Actually, a follow-up on North Korea.
MR. KELLY: Yeah, go ahead.
QUESTION: Yeah, I’m sorry. Mr. P.J. Crowley said two months ago that U.S. is willing to have bilateral meeting with North Korea if it’s helpful to resume channel of Six-Party Talks two months ago. And North Korea has been – openly mentioned that they are open to bilateral meeting, and it depends on the result of the meeting – they can come to back Six-Party Talks. And what (inaudible) U.S. from this bilateral meeting? I mean, what are you waiting for from North Korea –
MR. KELLY: Well, we – our policy has been pretty clear that we’re willing to sit down with North Korea in a bilateral context as long as it was understood that this meeting was being done in complete consultation with our partners, the – with the four party partners and if it was done in the context of the resumption of the Six-Party Talks, so I – we haven’t changed that policy at all.
QUESTION: So are you waiting from North Korea any formal commitment that they’re going to come back to Six-Party Talks after --
MR. KELLY: Well, I’m just – I’m not going to get into what the substance is. You heard what I said. The meeting was useful and – but we haven’t made a final decision on whether or not Ambassador Bosworth should go to North Korea.
QUESTION: I was asking about the over the weekend stories regarding the Sri Lankan army chief being asked to come and give an interview to Homeland Security. Have you read the story that --
MR. KELLY: No, I haven’t seen that story.
QUESTION: Because, I mean, there was some stories saying that the Sri Lankan army chief, who happened to be in this country to see his daughters, has been asked to come to Homeland Security and made himself available for an interview regarding the possible human rights violations and war crimes inside Tamil areas. So I was just wondering, are those stories true? And if they are --
MR. KELLY: I’m not aware of the stories even, so I can’t comment on them. It sounds like this is probably a question you have to address to the Department of Homeland Security.
QUESTION: I did, and they said they needed --
MR. KELLY: They said call the State Department?
QUESTION: Yeah. They neither denied nor even confirmed.
MR. KELLY: Uh-huh.
QUESTION: But they said – well, I mean, State Department might be able to give an answer.
MR. KELLY: Well, I’ll have – I’ll just have to see if we have any information here at the State Department, because I’m not even aware of the press reports, I’m afraid.
QUESTION: You might want to take the question because the Foreign Minister Bogollagama has protested this, apparently.
MR. KELLY: I haven’t seen any of this, Lach. We’ll see if we can get more information on it.
MR. KELLY: Well, what I do know is that the Secretary has time on Friday to meet with him, but that I think I have to refer you to the Japanese foreign ministry about the plans of Foreign Minister Okada.
QUESTION: But you can talk about the plans of Hillary Clinton. So you’re saying it’s on their side, that scheduling is --
MR. KELLY: I’m just saying you would have to – you have to talk to them about his schedule. I only know the schedule of my Secretary.
QUESTION: Well, does she plan to meet him?
MR. KELLY: She’s ready to meet with him.
QUESTION: Is he going to meet with him?
MR. KELLY: That’s up to the Japanese foreign minister to – up to the foreign ministry to decide.
QUESTION: You’re suggesting that the Japanese foreign minister is snubbing the Secretary?
MR. KELLY: No, I’m not saying that at all.
QUESTION: What are you saying, then?
MR. KELLY: Well, I think one thing I’ll say is that when we put out a week ahead schedule, it is intended be for planning and not for publication.
QUESTION: On the Dalai Lama, he’s – he was here recently, but President Obama turned down a meeting with him, and he’s now going to a region of India which is turning into a politicized battle between India and China. And I was wondering if the U.S. has a position on the Dalai Lama’s travels and meetings, since it’s apparently causing quite a stir over in the region.
MR. KELLY: Yeah. I’m afraid that’s another issue that I’m not aware of. So again, if we can get more information on that, we’re happy to give it to you.
MR. KELLY: Uighurs and Palau – that I do have something on. I will find it. Or not.
MR. KELLY: Oh, miscellaneous. Thank you.
QUESTION: Miscellaneous? (Laughter.)
MR. KELLY: Okay.
QUESTION: That’s kind of --
**STAFF: Cross-cutting issue.
MR. KELLY: Cross-cutting issue. It’s a global issue.
Six Uighurs were transferred from the Guantanamo Bay detention facility to the custody of the Government of Palau on October 31st. That actually was November 1st, Palau time. And we would like to reiterate our gratitude to the Government of Palau for its generous offer to receive these Uighurs. This resettlement is a major step in implementing the President’s directive to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility. And the continued assistance of our friends and allies is extremely important and much appreciated.
QUESTION: How are the compact negotiations going?
MR. KELLY: How are the compact negotiations going? I’ll see if I can find out about that. So that’s a third taken question.
MR. KELLY: Oh, one more. Go ahead.
MR. KELLY: Ah, you saved the best for last. We do put a very high priority on assisting developing nations, and we’ve been trying very hard to identify, nominate and confirm an administrator for USAID. The fact that we’ve not done that yet in no way indicates any kind of diminishing of the priority that we put on helping people of the developing world to live a better life. We’ve – this Administration has put tremendous time and resources into trying to increase developmental aid.
QUESTION: But it’s been almost a year --
MR. KELLY: No, it has been a long time. We appreciate that.
QUESTION: Is there a timeline then of when someone might be in that position?
MR. KELLY: Well, it depends on a lot of factors. It depends on the White House, of course. It depends on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. But we look forward to having somebody soon.
(The briefing was concluded at 1:48 p.m.)
DPB # 188
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