1:57 p.m. ESTMR. KELLY:
Okay. Good afternoon. The
Secretary has a very busy schedule today. You know that she’s meeting with the Australian prime minister, Mr. Rudd. They’re discussing a wide range of issues, including Afghanistan, Asian regional architecture, and climate change in the run-up to Copenhagen.
This evening, she – oh, I’m sorry, I skipped one event. At 2:30 today, she will be over at the White House delivering remarks to highlight the efforts of the Obama Administration on HIV/AIDS issues on the eve of World AIDS Day. The event will also include participation by Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, Ambassador Eric Goosby, who is our U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator, and Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor and Assistant to the President. We also hope to have Ambassador Goosby here at the podium tomorrow on World AIDS Day.
Tonight, she goes to New York, where she’s going to be honored first at the Amsterdam News Educational Fund 100th
Anniversary Gala, and then she will also receive the Eisenhower Award from the Business Executives for National Security. She’ll make remarks at that event and we hope to have at least excerpts – embargoed excerpts from that speech to you very soon if you don’t have them already.
I also have a quick statement. There was another election in the Western Hemisphere. We congratulate President-elect Mujica on his election and commend the people of Uruguay for their strong commitment to democracy. Uruguay is a valued partner of the United States in many areas, including international peacekeeping operations, and as a leader in the promotion of democracy and stability in the region. We look forward to working with the president-elect to deepen our partnership and advance common goals for the benefit of the people of Uruguay and of the Americas.
And I’ll take your questions. QUESTION:
Ian, will there be any briefings either tomorrow or Wednesday on the State Department’s piece of the new Afghan-Pakistan strategy? And also, can you run through for us her testimony schedule on that?MR. KELLY:
I don’t have anything to announce on her testimony schedule. She will be participating in our – in the Obama Administration’s efforts to explain the President’s strategy to Congress to key committees on both sides of the House. I expect those hearings will be on Wednesday and Thursday. There will be – I think there will be a very intense effort to explain our role, the State Department’s role, in those efforts. Secretary Clinton, of course, will spearhead those efforts. But I think we’ll also have other State Department principals speaking to --QUESTION:
Well, not necessarily here in this briefing room, but speaking to the media, certainly. QUESTION:
How do you mean speaking to the media? Doing it in -- MR. KELLY:
Well, just doing various interviews. You’ve got – and I don’t even know if we’ve actually officially announced this yet, but Jim Steinberg – the Deputy Secretary of State Jim Steinberg will be going to Athens tonight. Secretary Clinton had planned to go to the OSCE foreign ministerial meeting in Athens, but because of commitments here that I just made reference to, she’s unable to represent the U.S. at that foreign ministerial meeting. So you’ll have Jim Steinberg there.
We don’t have any announcements yet about the representation at the NATO foreign ministerial meeting. We should be making that announcement very soon. But that will be another chance, of course, for us to talk to other countries involved in the effort, particularly ISAF contributing nations who will all have representatives in Brussels on Friday.QUESTION:
How about Ambassador Holbrooke? Will he be having public --MR. KELLY:
Again, I don’t have any announcements regarding his travel, but he – of course, he’s going to be involved, I think particularly, in this outreach to allies and partners in Afghanistan.
Regarding what you just said, the French newspaper Le Monde
reports that the Secretary has called her counterpart Kouchner and asked for France to send 1,500 additional troops to Afghanistan. Do you have any comment on that?MR. KELLY:
She did speak to the French foreign minister. This was on Thanksgiving. In fact, she spoke to one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten foreign ministers on Thanksgiving.QUESTION:
And can you have a list there?MR. KELLY:
A number of these calls were specifically to talk to our partners who are involved in the effort in Afghanistan, and to give them not the specifics of the President’s strategy, because of course that’s being rolled out tomorrow, but to talk in general outlines about the President’s strategy going forward in Afghanistan. I’m not going to get into the specifics of the – of her conversation, of her exchanges with her colleagues. She spoke with a number of foreign ministers who have troops in Afghanistan. I mentioned France, but also Poland, Canada, Italy, Norway, Netherlands, Spain, Turkey, Germany, UK, Denmark – a long list of countries. But I’m just not --QUESTION:
But did --MR. KELLY:
I’m not going to get into the specifics of any kind of request that she made.QUESTION:
Well, without getting into specifics, did she talk about more troops?MR. KELLY:
I think she talked about the need for mostly coordinating our efforts. That’s one – that was one aspect of this whole effort that really became apparent, she said, when she was out in Kabul, about the need for us to talk more about not duplicating efforts, about getting the right kind of coordinated efforts to deliver the best results. But again, I’m just not going to get into – about numbers or increases or anything like that.
Ian, apparently, the President spoke with Secretary Clinton Sunday night; is that correct? And can you just give us an idea of some of the guidance that he might have given her, what the --MR. KELLY:
I’m afraid I can’t give you any of the details of that conversation. I know the conversation took place, but I don’t have a readout of it.
New subject?MR. KELLY:
New subject? Okay.QUESTION:
Could you give us an update on U.S.-Russia talks in Geneva? Do you think, as the U.S. Government, I mean, is it still possible to have a success to the START treaty by December 5th
? MR. KELLY:
Well, I think – I mean, clearly it’s going to be impossible to have a ratified treaty by December 5th
No, no, no, I mean – I meant signed.MR. KELLY:
I think everybody knows that, and I don’t think has been in the cards. I think what’s happening now is that our negotiators in Geneva, led by Assistant Secretary Rose Gottemoeller, are working very hard to try and get a draft agreement. I think that what we’re saying now is that we’re hoping to get this draft agreement by the end of December. I don’t want to raise expectations necessarily that we’re going to be able to work out everything by this Saturday. I’m not going to rule it out, because I know that they’re all working overtime, literally, to try and iron out the differences that remain. And the two main priorities here are significant reductions in nuclear arsenals and also preserving the kind of verification and monitoring mechanisms that are at the heart of the START treaty.
I know that, as I think I’ve said before, we’re reviewing a number of options that would be – that we’d be able to extend these verification provisions until the new agreement is signed. And as I said, there is real hard work going on, a real robust dialogue. But the important thing is that we get a good treaty. I mean, the deadlines are important, of course, but the most important thing is a good treaty that both sides can sign on to.
On that same subject. Is it certain that you – both sides will extend the verification and monitoring procedures beyond December 5th
? And if they don’t, what happens then? They just get suspended?MR. KELLY:
Don’t you have to take it to Congress?MR. KELLY:
I’m not sure I know the answer to that question. I think that according to the treaty, on December 5th
, all the rights and privileges that are in the START treaty expire. And so that’s why we need to have this bridging mechanism for the monitors.QUESTION:
I mean, it’s almost December 5th
, so is --MR. KELLY:
-- it unlikely that that will happen by December 5th
, or what’s the prospect?MR. KELLY:
Well, as I said before, we’re committed to a good treaty that both sides can agree to at the end of -- QUESTION:
I’m not talking about the treaty. I’m talking about the verification.MR. KELLY:
Well, I know, but that’s part of the treaty, though.QUESTION:
Well, extending the existing one.MR. KELLY:
Extending the verification procedures in the existing one --QUESTION:
-- which will expire on Saturday.QUESTION:
So extending it is part of the new treaty, you’re saying?QUESTION:
No, it’s the same thing.MR. KELLY:
No, no. QUESTION:
It’s a bridging thing?MR. KELLY:
It’s a bridging thing.QUESTION:
Right. So is there going to be a bridging thing in time?MR. KELLY:
I understand.MR. KELLY:
It’s a separate protocol. Separate.QUESTION:
Right. Is there going to be a bridging mechanism in time – is that what I think Bob is trying to ask.QUESTION:
That’s – it’s my understanding that we’re going to try and get that done this week.QUESTION:
I’m just trying to pin you down on what the process --MR. KELLY:
No, I understand.QUESTION:
I know you’re trying, but how good a possibility do you see?MR. KELLY:
Yeah. I don’t know if I can qualify it for you right now. Let’s see if we can get you something from the people who know a little more than I do about these kind of legal mechanisms.QUESTION:
Does it – sorry, does it require additional action by the U.S. Congress to --MR. KELLY:
That’s a good question. I believe it does.QUESTION:
It does?MR. KELLY:
But, again, I have to take that question --QUESTION:
Can you take that question and respond to all of us?MR. KELLY:
-- and make sure I get you the right answer.QUESTION:
Iran, where are we? Are sanctions inevitable at this point? And why is – why is this all falling apart?MR. KELLY:
Well, I mean, you saw the statement out of the White House yesterday, the – that was a response to reports about new plans by the – by Iran regarding its nuclear program. And I think that the international community has sent a very strong message, a very unified message that Iran has to live up to its international obligations, that it has to – it has a choice before it and the choice is very clear. We have offered a path of cooperation that could lead to further integration with the international community. That’s the IAEA offer that’s on the table. And it’s unfortunate that they haven’t been able to respond positively on that.
The other choice they have is further isolation. And you know that we have a dual-track policy. The President has said that our patience is not unlimited. He’s indicated that we’re willing to give a preponderance of attention to the engagement track until the end of the year, and if we don’t get a positive response, we’re going to start shifting our focus over to the other track, the track of pressure.QUESTION:
So that deadline is still there, the end of the year?MR. KELLY:
Well, we don’t like to say deadline, but the offer is there. The offer – we haven’t taken it off the table. The IAEA hasn’t taken it off and --QUESTION:
You’re talking about the offer on the medical reactor specifically?MR. KELLY:
The offer to enrich their uranium outside of Iran.QUESTION:
So that’s not dead?MR. KELLY:
That’s not dead.QUESTION:
Despite their seeming total lack of interest in it?MR. KELLY:
It – the offer remains on the table.QUESTION:
So you’re hoping that even though they’ve said they don’t want it --MR. KELLY:
I don’t know if “hope” is the right word, but it’s still – it’s there. I mean, if they want to make that choice, it – the door is still open.QUESTION:
The door is still open. And how unified does the U.S. believe the Iranian Government is on the statements that have come out of some Iranian politicians about withdrawing from the NPT?MR. KELLY:
Yeah. It’s just I’m not going to try and do a political analysis of the internal situation in Iran right now. I think we’ve seen quite a few voices out there. We understand that this is presenting a certain challenge in getting Iran to respond positively to this, but it’s not my place to analyze what’s going on inside Tehran right now.QUESTION:
How much preparation and spade work has the U.S. done in terms of potential sanctions, types of sanctions, with allies and with countries that have historically been reluctant to impose sanctions – how much of that is already underway?MR. KELLY:
Well, I think what we’re doing right now is we’re – I mean, we have been pursuing the engagement track and we’ve made some really good proposals, and we’ve offered to sit down with them again. We’ve offered – the P-5+1 has offered to pursue some of these discussions. And they haven’t responded to our – the IAEA’s offer and they haven’t responded to the P-5+1 offer. We’ve said all along that the – we, meaning the P-5+1, has said that we are pursuing a dual-track strategy. And as I said just a few minutes ago, if they can’t respond positively to this offer, we’re going to have to start shifting to the other side, to the pressure track. I don’t think it’s productive for me to get into some of the additional measures that we would take, but all along it’s been our policy of pursing simultaneously both options.QUESTION:
But you don’t start from zero on the day you switch to the pressure track.MR. KELLY:
No. No, we don’t. No, I mean, like I say, but it’s not – it’s not – I don’t think it’s helpful for me to talk about specific sanctions. QUESTION:
The Russian minister of energy is in Iran today, and he has said that there’s still good scope for continuation of the negotiations. And the Iranian speaker – the speaker of the Iranian parliament today toned down his comments from – as compared with Sunday’s. He also talked about the possibility of continuing the negotiations. Is the Russian minister carrying any messages on behalf of the P-5+1 possibly? MR. KELLY:
Well, I haven’t seen what Mr. Shmatko said in Tehran. I do know that we have supported the Russian proposal to provide fuel for the Bushehr plant. I think it highlights, once again, that the international community stands ready to provide the kinds of enrichment needs that Iran would have to pursue a civilian nuclear energy program. That’s part of what the Bushehr proposal is. That’s what the Russian fuel bank proposal that the IAEA Board of Governors just endorsed last week. And of course, it’s the heart of the IAEA program, that there’s no need for Iran to pursue enrichment. In fact, it is a serious violation of four different UN Security Council resolutions which call on Iran to cease their enrichment activities.QUESTION:
So is he possibly carrying a message or not?MR. KELLY:
Well, as I said, the P-5+1 is united in this approach on Iran in supporting the IAEA proposal. The Russian Government has put out statements in support of the Board of Governors resolution. So I think that we are – we do have a consistent message to Iran.
On North Korea, there’s a report that – in a Japanese newspaper that North Korea said to the U.S. that they will tell Bosworth that they will return to the Six-Party Talks. Do you have any comment on that?MR. KELLY:
Well, that is certainly our goal. I’m not aware of any kind of diplomatic exchange like that per se, but that is the main goal of Ambassador Bosworth’s trip, to get them to return to the Six-Party Talks.QUESTION:
So you’re saying the North Koreans haven’t indicated that they’ll come back to the Six-Party Talks to the U.S.?MR. KELLY:
I’m not aware that they have indicated that. QUESTION:
Thank you.MR. KELLY:
One more in the back?QUESTION:
It’s a possible change of subject. Recently, we’ve heard some reports of one of the Israeli ministers saying that Prime Minister Netanyahu followed* on a horrible administration and some other Israeli officials actually told that the ten-month settlement freeze were a gesture to Washington and not to the Palestinians nor intended to alleviate pressure. So do you consider such remarks as contributing somehow to the positive climate leading to re-launch of negotiations?MR. KELLY:
Well, I never like to respond to remarks that I have not actually seen, so I can’t respond to that. Just that we are concentrating all of our efforts on creating that atmosphere that you referred to, the kind of atmosphere that could resume to those talks and that we saw with the – Israel’s recent announcement of this ten-month moratorium is a step in that direction. And that’s the way we see it. QUESTION:
When Senator Mitchell is going to the Middle East?MR. KELLY:
I don’t – I’m not aware of any specific plans at this time.
On another subject, is there any confirmation from the State Department about Chelsea Clinton’s engagement?MR. KELLY:
Well, I have a daughter who’s around – she’s 22 years old, and the last thing I would want would be for the State Department spokesman to talk about the personal plans of my daughter. So I am going to decline any comment on that. Thank you.
(The briefing was concluded at 2:19 p.m.)