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U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action


Ian Kelly
Department Spokesman
Daily Press Briefing
Washington, DC
October 16, 2009


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Index for Today's Briefing
  • DEPARTMENT
    • Travel of Ambassador Goldberg to China, October 18-21
    • Secretary Clinton and Secretary Vilsack conference call on food security
    • Consultations with the Senate on the nomination of Arturo Valenzuela as Assistant Secretary for Western Hemisphere Affairs, Tom Shannon as Ambassador to Brazil
  • GOLDSTONE REPORT
    • U.S. voted against the resolution / Unbalanced focus / U.S. vote in no way diminishes events of last January / Resolution endorses the report, but does not mean it will automatically go to the UN Security Council / Report will set us back from the goal of comprehensive peace
  • UNITED KINGDOM
    • U.K. government issues a strong statement against the High Court's decision to release documents / U.K. government will appeal decision / U.S. was not pleased with the decision
  • AFGHANISTAN
    • Announcement on the elections is expected in the next few days / Outcome must be recognized as legitimate by the people of Afghanistan / Credible process in place / U.S. supports the process
  • ISRAEL
    • Special Envoy Mitchell meets with Israel negotiators today / Will meet with Palestinians October 20 / Secretary Clinton will provide her report to the President after October 20
  • HONDURAS
    • Discussions between negotiators for President Zelaya and the de facto regime continue / Discussions have been constructive / Need to give them a chance to work
  • ZIMBABWE
    • U.S. looks for President Mugabe to implement the Global Political Agreement / Foster democracy, respect for human rights
  • IRAN
    • U.S. looks for Iranians to show they are serious about agreements made in Geneva
  • RUSSIA
    • Russia informed the U.S. that it has no plans to ship the S-300 system to Iran


TRANSCRIPT:

1:35 p.m. EDT

MR. KELLY: Okay. Good afternoon. Just, first of all, a quick travel note.

Ambassador Philip Goldberg will lead an interagency delegation to Beijing, departing Washington on Sunday, October 18, and returning on Wednesday, October 21. Ambassador Goldberg will be meeting with Chinese officials for discussions regarding implementation of UN Security Council resolutions on North Korea. He will be accompanied by Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Treasury Danny Glaser and representatives from the National Security Council and the Defense Department.

Also, I think you’ve seen that Secretary Clinton and Agriculture Secretary Vilsack plan to have a conference call today on food security. The Obama Administration has made agriculture-led food security a priority in reducing hunger and poverty. We believe that combating global hungry is a --

QUESTION: Global hunger.

MR. KELLY: Did I say poverty?

QUESTION: No.

MR. KELLY: What did I say?

QUESTION: Global hungry.

MR. KELLY: Hunger.

QUESTION: Hungry. (Laugher.)

QUESTION: Hungry.

MR. KELLY: This is a serious issue.

QUESTION: Traveling stuff.

MR. KELLY: Blame it on jetlag. The Obama Administration considers food security and combating global hunger as an urgent foreign policy objective not just for this Administration, but for the international community as a whole. We’re actively engaging the public about the implications of global hungry – or hunger – (laughter).

QUESTION: It is lunchtime. (Laughter.)

MR. KELLY: Yeah. This video – okay.

QUESTION: Subliminal --

MR. KELLY: And this is all to introduce a video. I think probably I should use more images today than words, so I invite your attention to the video screens.

QUESTION: Is the Matt Damon video that --

MR. KELLY: This is the Matt Damon video.

(Video is shown.)

MR. KELLY: Okay. Well, this is a very serious issue, and I urge you all to dial in at 2:30. I assume you’ve all got the information on how to – what the number is and how to dial in.

And with that, I’ll take your questions.

QUESTION: Goldstone. What’s your reaction to what happened in Geneva today, considering you didn’t – you didn’t like it and you didn’t want it to go to the Security Council, and that’s where it’s going?

MR. KELLY: Well, not necessarily. Let me just say, first of all, we did vote against the resolution. We thought that the resolution had an unbalanced focus, and we’re concerned that it will exacerbate polarization and divisiveness. We believe that it went beyond even the scope of the Goldstone report itself. This – it went into a discussion of elements that have to be resolved in the permanent status negotiations between the Palestinians and the Israelis.

Having said that, our voting no against this in no way diminishes the deep concern that we have about the tragic events of last January and the suffering caused by the violence in Gaza and southern Israel. We believe very firmly that Israeli and Palestinian children deserve the right to grow up without the threat of violence and without the kind of conflict that we saw last January.

We think that a better approach would have been to give the parties adequate time to study the report and establish accountability measures through credible domestic processes. And again, we feel that we have to keep our focus on the main thing here, which is removing the root causes of the violence of last January, and that’s a lack of a lasting and comprehensive peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians. So we are focused mainly on the efforts of Special Envoy Mitchell to bring the two sides together. The resolution endorsed the report, but it does not specifically refer it --

QUESTION: Sorry. The resolution --

MR. KELLY: The resolution --

QUESTION: -- endorsed the report?

MR. KELLY: -- endorsed the report. But it doesn’t specifically refer the matter to the Security Council. Only the members of the Security Council can decide what goes on the agenda. That’s not to say it won’t go on the agenda, but the resolution does not automatically mean that it will go to the Security Council.

QUESTION: Well, are you prepared to use your veto to stop it?

MR. KELLY: Well, I mean, there are a number of steps that have to take place before we decide what we’re going to do, so let’s --

QUESTION: Well, you voted against the resolution.

MR. KELLY: We did vote against the resolution.

QUESTION: Doesn’t it stand to reason that if there was an attempt to bring it before the Security Council that you would stop that?

MR. KELLY: Yeah. Well, I mean, clearly, we – as I said, we have concerns that this will polarize the situation even further, and we’ll see what steps we take once we see where this goes from here.

QUESTION: What does – I take it that this came up on the – the whole idea of the Council considering this came up on the Secretary’s trip that she just came back from?

MR. KELLY: I’m not quite sure I understand why it would have come up on the trip.

QUESTION: Well, did it come up in her meetings with Foreign Secretary Miliband, in her meeting with --

MR. KELLY: I am – actually, I am not sure if it came up during the --

QUESTION: What – you’ll note from the vote that the British and the French did not vote at all. What does it say about the British and the French not voting at all, putting themselves in the rarified company of Kyrgyzstan, Angola, and Madagascar --

MR. KELLY: Yeah, well --

QUESTION: -- who also did not vote? At least – is that --

MR. KELLY: That’s up --

QUESTION: -- something that is distressing to you at all?

MR. KELLY: I think what’s distressing to us is that we’re losing focus on this ultimate goal, which is a lasting peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians, and that’s one of the main reasons why we voted against this, because we were afraid that it would further polarize the two sides or it would inflame the situation. But regarding the decisions of sovereign countries on how they were going to vote or not vote or be absent, I’d just refer you to those governments.

QUESTION: Well, sovereign countries make decisions all the time that you have opinions about. What do you think of their decision not to vote at all?

MR. KELLY: Well, the – our allies have been very supportive of the whole process. They’re --

QUESTION: They have?

MR. KELLY: They have been supportive --

QUESTION: They ran away.

MR. KELLY: No, I mean supportive of the process of bringing the Israelis and the Palestinians together. But I’m not going to comment on what the decision process was behind it.

QUESTION: Well, it’s not disappointing to you that two of your strongest allies in Europe, Britain and France --

MR. KELLY: Well, I think it’s disappointing to us that the resolution was considered and then passed, but I’m not going to comment on the decisions of our allies.

QUESTION: Ian, I thought that this topic was going to come before the Security Council, but as part of a broader discussion of Middle East --

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

QUESTION: -- matters; correct?

MR. KELLY: Yeah, that was on Wednesday.

QUESTION: Okay. So that’s over?

MR. KELLY: That happened on Wednesday, yeah.

QUESTION: Forgive me, forgive me, okay. Can we move to something else?

QUESTION: Yeah.

QUESTION: On – can we go to Britain? The High Court decision to release U.S. intelligence documents detailing allegations of torture of Mr. Binyam Mohamed, what is your reaction to that court decision? Does it prejudice U.S. intelligence to – for such documents to be released?

MR. KELLY: Well, I – first of all, I would point out that the British Government reacted immediately with a very strong statement and said that they would appeal this decision. And the reason they’re going to appeal it is they feel the same way that we do about the confidentiality of intelligence-sharing and how important this is to both our countries, and that we both have a stake in ensuring that this kind of intelligence-sharing continues to the fullest extent possible. And so we are – we’re pleased that Foreign Secretary Miliband has stated in very strong terms that they plan to pursue a vigorous appeal.

QUESTION: I’m sure that you can’t be pleased that the court ruled to release the information.

MR. KELLY: No, we are not pleased. And this has nothing to do with due process here. This has everything to do with the importance of protecting sensitive national security information and protecting this confidential channel that we have with our allies. And this – we keep this information confidential because this information is important in our efforts to protect our own citizens.

QUESTION: Well, why doesn’t it have to do with due process? I mean, if the court finds that the evidence in question should be made public and considered, it seems to me it is exactly about due process. You can argue that the national security concerns are a higher value than due process.

MR. KELLY: No, I’m not saying that. I’m – what I’m saying is that we object to, and the British Government objects to this information being put into the public domain. I’m not an expert on British legal procedures, but I believe that there are ways that this can be considered in a court of law without it being released into the public domain.

QUESTION: Well, you said that you want to continue – intelligence-sharing to continue to the fullest extent possible. Does that mean that a decision to release this would affect your intelligence-sharing with the British?

MR. KELLY: Well, I’ll just say that this principle of the confidentiality of intelligence, sensitive information, is central to our intelligence relationships.

QUESTION: And a decision to release would be – would affect your intelligence relationship with the British?

MR. KELLY: Well, nothing has been released, and the British Government has stated again in --

QUESTION: Would – if this stuff comes out, will it affect --

MR. KELLY: Well, you’re asking me a hypothetical.

QUESTION: Yeah, well, that’s what I was trying not to ask, was a hypothetical. I’m saying a decision to release, would it or would it not affect the intelligence-sharing relationship between the United States and Britain?

MR. KELLY: I would say that --

QUESTION: There’s no “if” in the question.

MR. KELLY: I would say that the British Government recognizes the importance of this principle that this kind of sensitive information not be put in the public domain.

QUESTION: Well, yeah, but it’s not up to the British Government. It’s up to the British courts.

MR. KELLY: Well, let’s let the British courts work it out. I mean --

QUESTION: They just did.

MR. KELLY: No, there’s an appeal.

QUESTION: And did this come up within the conversation that the Secretary had with Foreign Minister Miller – Foreign Secretary Miliband on Sunday?

MR. KELLY: I’m not sure that it came up in that meeting.

QUESTION: Now that we’ve solved that –

MR. KELLY: Yeah, Charlie.

QUESTION: -- can we move to another one? The Afghan elections.

QUESTION: Solve it? Did we solve it?

QUESTION: Exactly, exactly. We’ll get the same kind of answer on this one.

MR. KELLY: Well, let’s not prejudge what’s going to happen, which is probably what I’m about to say to your question too.

QUESTION: So if you want to tell us the winner – if you want to tell us the winner of the Afghan election.

MR. KELLY: (Laughter.)

QUESTION: And failing that, can you tell us what you think will be the playout over the next few days and where will the –

MR. KELLY: Well, I can talk a little bit about the process. I mean, we’ve said all along that there is a very well thought-out procedure and a thorough procedure to go over all these allegations of fraud. And this has been done through the Electoral Complaints Commission. And as I understand it, that commission is finishing up its work. It may have already finished up its work, given the time difference. And then that information will be sent to the International Election Commission, and we expect an announcement in the next few days.

And we have – we’ve been very supportive of this process. This has been a – primarily an Afghan-led process. I think that the people of Afghanistan deserve a lot of praise and credit for carrying out, in the first place, an election under very challenging circumstances, and then in the second place, pursuing these investigations of fraud.

And what we’ve said all along is that the important thing is that whatever the outcome is, that the outcome be recognized by the people of Afghanistan as a legitimate outcome. And so that’s why this process has been so important. And the whole process has, of course, not been without problems, and that’s why they’ve set up this Electoral Complaints Commission. So we expect to get some kind of announcement in the next day or two.

QUESTION: Ian, can I go back to something from last week on this? There was a very odd statement issued very late on Friday, just before the Secretary took off, voicing support for the UN envoy in Kabul, Mr. Kai Eide.

Why did the Administration – why did the State Department feel it was necessary to voice support for him? And given that it felt that it was necessary, why did it feel that it was necessary to do so, you know, on a Friday night, which is sort of like doing it in the dead of night? You know, if the credibility of the process is important, given all the public allegations made by Ambassador Galbraith, you know, why didn’t you stick up for Eide a lot earlier than this?

MR. KELLY: Well, as I just said, we support this process, and an important part of this process is the effort led by Kai Eide, the UN assistance mission in Afghanistan. And I think you saw that there was a press conference in Kabul where Kai Eide addressed some of the allegations that he was partial, and we simply wanted to support him in these efforts to counter these allegations.

QUESTION: Just --

MR. KELLY: Another subject?

QUESTION: Yeah, it’s on same.

MR. KELLY: Same? Okay, go ahead.

QUESTION: Yeah. If the Karzai Government refuses to accept a runoff election, if that is indeed what the commission calls for, is the U.S. going to– what’s the U.S.’s position on that?

MR. KELLY: Well, our position is that the government and that all candidates need to abide by the decision of the commission and that Afghan law, the Afghan constitution, has to be followed. And every indication we have is that the government is going to follow that. They’ve prepared the way for a possible runoff in terms of pre-planning and pre-positioning election materials, so we have no indication at all that they’re not going to follow the recommendation of the ECC and the IEC.

Yeah.

QUESTION: A follow-up to that question: What if Abdullah Abdullah and Karzai decide together that they – there’s no need for a runoff and that they’re – they – you know, if Abdullah Abdullah concedes and says, well, I’ll accept some other position in your government --

MR. KELLY: Yeah. Well, again, you’re asking me a hypothetical and we believe that there is a very good and a very credible process that is in place, and that the procedures to be followed are laid out in the Afghan constitution and all parties need to abide by this process.

QUESTION: So their national unity government and that --

MR. KELLY: Well, I’m not saying that. I’m just saying that we need to follow the process and what their recommendations are.

Goyal.

QUESTION: Going to Afghanistan, a different question. So much suffering is going on in Afghanistan and Pakistan, from the White House to the Congress, and in Pakistan and Afghanistan and around the globe – whatever the outcome will be.

Yesterday, two ambassadors from Afghanistan and Pakistan were at two different places. Pakistan Ambassador was at (inaudible) and Afghanistan ambassador was at USIP. Now, Afghanistan ambassador is saying that in order to win terrorism or have peace and stability in Afghanistan, the U.S. and NATO needs to have some kind of winning the hearts and minds of the people of Afghanistan. Now, Pakistan ambassador is saying that no one can and should tell us or give us lecture and U.S. should stop giving lecture to Pakistan because – and let’s not talk about the past, but move in the future --

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

QUESTION: -- and not to tell us what to do.

MR. KELLY: Right.

QUESTION: So – but people of Afghanistan are saying once they were (inaudible) to the U.S. for freeing Afghanistan; today they are saying that Afghanistan has become a graveyard for Afghans. So where do we go with what they’re asking?

MR. KELLY: Well, whatever we do in Afghanistan and Pakistan, we do in support of shared goals. And those goals are that we want to give the people of Afghanistan a chance to live peacefully in a stable country with – and be able to look to a more prosperous and democratic future. In the case of Pakistan, we share the same goals of trying to fight extremism. So our assistance and our advice to Pakistan is done with this in mind, is done with the idea of doing this in partnership, of doing it in support of these shared objectives.

And I think in the case of Afghanistan, I mean, we are there at the – with the support of the Afghan Government, and we think with the support of the Afghan people.

QUESTION: But many people think that they have no trust and faith in President Karzai because he did not stand with them as far as – because Taliban or al-Qaidas are helping in many parts of the areas in Afghanistan. So you think whether U.S. or NATO or the – whatever government comes in Afghanistan, they will stand with the people of Afghanistan the way – during when U.S. got freedom for those millions of Afghans?

MR. KELLY: Well, I mean, this is why we thought it was so important to have these elections, because we wanted to be sure that we had a government in place that reflected the will of the Afghan people. And our goal there is to help this government try and establish, as I said before, the kind of peaceful and – peaceful, stable, and prosperous future for all Afghans.

Yeah, in the back there.

QUESTION: I --

MR. KELLY: Yeah, go ahead. Yeah, actually, I’ll get you next, but go ahead.

QUESTION: Okay.

QUESTION: If I may go back to Goldstone – Senator Goldstone report? I wonder how are you going to deal with the discrepancy that has been caused now by your decision to vote against his report, when the rest of the world, most of the countries around the world, are considering this report as a report that deals with the human rights violation and crimes against humanity that the Israelis have committed in Gaza? Why you believe – you stated that the best way to pursue forward is to deal with the final issues of the Palestinian problem?

Now the stocks of President Obama’s speeches in the Islamic world and the efforts, the U.S. efforts for several years with – at public diplomacy in order to gain more – or regain – to regain credibility around the world, this has been drastically now affected in the Arab streets after – especially after the U.S. stance that has changed concerning the Israeli building of settlements. Now how are you going to bridge these differences between the way you look at these problems and how the rest of the world does, especially the Islamic and Arab world?

MR. KELLY: Yeah. Well, I think we just have to reemphasize that our voting no against this in no way diminishes the seriousness of the allegations in the report. We simply think that we need to focus on the most important issue here, and that’s getting the two sides to sit down and getting to the goal that all of us share here in the U.S. and in the Middle East, and that’s a lasting peace that would include two states living side by side in peace and security.

We had a problem, as I said before, with the timing of this. For one thing, we’ve got Special Envoy Mitchell, who’s very intensively involved in talking to both sides and getting them to agree to talk directly. And we’re just concerned that this is a – this is going to distract from this important focus. We also think that, as I said before, we needed to give the respective parties time to study the report and allow their own institutions to investigate the allegations.

So we are just very concerned that this report will set us back from reaching our goal, which is coming up with a comprehensive peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians.

QUESTION: You just said again that – you repeated that phrase that the time – you would give the parties time to study the report and to allow them to investigate, or their own institutions to investigate. One, don’t you think they’ve had enough time to study it? It’s not as if this thing came out yesterday.

MR. KELLY: Oh, I – well, it was – it just came out --

QUESTION: It’s been out for weeks now.

MR. KELLY: Well, weeks is not – that’s not a whole lot of time to set up mechanisms to try and investigate these --

QUESTION: No, no, I’m not saying that.

MR. KELLY: -- allegations.

QUESTION: But to study it, surely they know what’s in it by now.

MR. KELLY: Yeah, I know. But you --

QUESTION: I mean, you’re talking like they --

MR. KELLY: -- can’t set up these kind of structures in a matter of weeks.

QUESTION: Right, okay. If the – fair enough, but they’ve had enough time to study it. So you’re talking about allowing them time to set up something to investigate --

MR. KELLY: Right.

QUESTION: -- and set up their own institutions to investigate?

MR. KELLY: Right.

QUESTION: So both sides, really, Hamas?

MR. KELLY: Well --

QUESTION: The U.S. thinks that Hamas has the --

MR. KELLY: Well, I mean, we recognize --

QUESTION: -- an interest, the will and ability to set up a credible investigation?

MR. KELLY: Yeah. We recognize President Abbas as the – as – and his government as the Palestinian Authority.

QUESTION: So you think the PA in Ramallah is capable of setting up an institution --

MR. KELLY: I think we should give them a chance.

QUESTION: -- to investigate what happened in Gaza --

MR. KELLY: I mean, we didn’t even --

QUESTION: -- when they don’t know what’s going on?

MR. KELLY: We didn’t even give them a chance. This was done precipitously, I think, passing this resolution.

QUESTION: This does – this report does not concern the PA at all.

MR. KELLY: Well, yes, it does. It does make allegations against the Palestinians.

QUESTION: It makes allegations against Hamas, which is not the same as –

MR. KELLY: But – yeah, but what I’m saying is, is that if we recognize the Palestinian Authority, we should have given them a chance to develop the kind of (inaudible) --

QUESTION: Okay, so you’re not hoping or wishing or somehow otherwise pushing for Hamas to set up --

MR. KELLY: No.

QUESTION: -- some investigation --

MR. KELLY: No, we’re not.

QUESTION: -- on its own?

MR. KELLY: No.

QUESTION: Do you think that they’re capable of doing that?

MR. KELLY: Well, I – we don’t recognize Hamas as the representative of the Palestinian people.

QUESTION: Well, would an investigation by Hamas into this be okay with you, or would you accept the results of an investigation that Hamas would conduct?

MR. KELLY: You’re again asking me a hypothetical. I don’t think Hamas is setting up any kind of investigation into this.

QUESTION: Well, then, so why are you saying to allow the – when you talk about the parties, you’re talking about the PA on the Palestinian side.

MR. KELLY: The Palestinians and the Israelis.

QUESTION: But you’re talking about Abbas and the --

MR. KELLY: And the Palestinians and their legitimate representatives, and the Israelis and their legitimate representatives.

QUESTION: All right.

MR. KELLY: Yes, in the back.

QUESTION: Okay, so it seems more and more Palestinian officials are voicing their frustration with the absence of any progress on the – Senator Mitchell’s efforts and – between Palestinians and the Israelis. Is Senator Mitchell going to pursue the same strategy after Secretary Clinton submits her report to the President? And for that matter, is he going to continue as the special envoy? And do you have update on when Secretary Clinton is going to submit her report?

MR. KELLY: As I understand it, Special Envoy Mitchell is continuing his discussions today with the Israeli experts that are here. And then next week, I believe on Tuesday, he’s going to meet with Palestinian experts. And Secretary Clinton will submit the update that the President asked her for after that. So sometime after October 20th, Secretary Clinton will be giving her report to the President.

QUESTION: Are you absolutely sure that the --

QUESTION: But as --

QUESTION: -- talks with the Israelis are continuing today? I thought the Israelis were meeting yesterday.

QUESTION: I'm sorry. I want to follow up on that.

MR. KELLY: I believe they’re – yeah, he’s meeting with Mr. Herzog and Mr. Molho today at the Department.

QUESTION: Yeah, but is Senator Mitchell going to pursue the same strategy after Secretary Clinton submits her report?

MR. KELLY: Well --

QUESTION: Is he going to follow up with this strategy after nine months of nothing? More – probably more settlements, actually?

MR. KELLY: Well, again, you’re asking me to prejudge what we’re going to report to the President and what our strategy will be going forward. So I’ll reserve comment until we see what’s in that report.

Yes.

QUESTION: Different topic?

MR. KELLY: Uh-huh.

QUESTION: Latin America, Honduras? The ALBA members, the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas meets today in Bolivia. And members, they are calling for more sanctions against Honduras. I would like to know what is your position on that, because yesterday you said that it’s a great opportunity --

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

QUESTION: -- to reach an agreement. And now --

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

QUESTION: -- the other members are calling for sanctions.

MR. KELLY: Right.

QUESTION: What is your position?

MR. KELLY: Well, our position is that there are negotiating teams right now who are involved in intensive negotiations. These teams are representing President Zelaya and the de facto regime. And we need to give those teams a chance to work this out. As I understand it, these discussions have been constructive, and we need to give them a chance to work.

QUESTION: But do you have regular communication with the ALBA members, I mean, regarding Honduras or other topics?

MR. KELLY: I don’t know the answer to that question.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) with Bolivia? No?

MR. KELLY: I mean, we have diplomatic, of course, representation in these countries, but I’m not sure about our --

QUESTION: Communications --

MR. KELLY: -- communications with ALBA as a group. I would say it’s mostly on the --

QUESTION: So it was regarding --

MR. KELLY: It’s mostly on the bilateral basis.

QUESTION: All right.

QUESTION: On global hunger?

MR. KELLY: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: What steps do you think – new steps the UN or U.S. will take because one part of – the reason so much food is wasted, and another part of the reason people are dying every day, and that there is much politics behind everything.

MR. KELLY: Well, as you know, again, in about 20 minutes you’ll have a chance to – to address these questions directly to Secretary Clinton and Secretary Vilsack. But our position is that this is not just a bilateral issue. I mean, we are going to make great efforts on – through our own aid program. But this is a global program that needs to be coordinated globally.

QUESTION: But global hunger has been going on for many, many years. I mean, it is not an issue for today or yesterday.

MR. KELLY: It’s a – it’s an important issue that we need to address today and tomorrow and every day after that.

QUESTION: A quick one Zimbabwe.

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

QUESTION: The MDC has – the opposition MDC has said they would boycott the power-sharing government until certain of its demands are met. Is this a good thing?

MR. KELLY: Well, I think our position hasn’t changed, is that we are looking to Mr. Mugabe to implement the Global Political Agreement and foster democracy and respect for human rights. We do understand that the MDC has indicated that it will disengage from the government. But our position remains the same, that there is a way forward in place through this Global Political Agreement, and we would urge President Mugabe to implement his part of it.

QUESTION: Do you think it’s worse for the country if the opposition disengages from the government?

MR. KELLY: Well, I think that everybody needs to continue to put pressure on Mr. Mugabe to implement the agreement. I mean, we understand the frustration of the opposition and the lack of progress on this. And this is an agreement that Mr. Mugabe himself signed. And he hasn’t taken the concrete steps to show a commitment to democratic reform and opening up his political system. And – but what this will mean, I think, just – is too soon to say.

Yeah.

QUESTION: Do you have any detail about the meeting with Iran next week – for instance, it will be the U.S. negotiator?

MR. KELLY: Yeah. We don’t have any announcement to make. I would anticipate, though, that very soon we will make an announcement about who will be in our delegation. And of course, this is an important meeting. And we’ll look to the Iranians to show that they’re serious in following through on the agreements that they made in Geneva. Well, in this case, the agreement that they made to transfer low-enriched uranium to Russia for reprocessing.

QUESTION: You’re talking about the meeting on Monday, right?

MR. KELLY: Right. Yeah.

QUESTION: What’s today?

MR. KELLY: Today is Friday.

QUESTION: Don’t you think it would be good to have a delegation set up and ready to go, since they’re going to have to leave on Sunday?

MR. KELLY: Yeah. Well, we have a delegation set up and ready to go. We just haven’t made any announcements yet.

QUESTION: Who is it? Who’s on it?

MR. KELLY: Well, we will make an announcement at the appropriate time.

QUESTION: Right. Monday afternoon, after the meeting is over?

MR. KELLY: We will make an announcement.

QUESTION: Is it a secret? What’s the problem?

MR. KELLY: No, it’s not secret. It – we’ll make an announcement soon.

QUESTION: It’s a secret. If you’re not announcing it, it is a secret. (Laughter.)

MR. KELLY: No, it is not a secret. It’s just – we will make an announcement at the appropriate time.

QUESTION: Well, don’t you think that Friday before a Monday meeting is an appropriate time?

MR. KELLY: We will make an announcement at an appropriate time.

QUESTION: Did you see the David Ignatius piece today in which he (inaudible) on a publication I think called Nucleonics Monthly or Weekly. I’m not a subscriber.

MR. KELLY: I’m shocked.

QUESTION: Apparently, they have a story saying that Iran’s low-enriched uranium has impurities that would render it unusable for bomb making and that if that’s the case, that this could be a very clever ploy to get foreign help to essentially purify uranium that has impurities. Do you know if there’s anything to that report?

MR. KELLY: You’re really testing my knowledge of physics. So I – no, I don’t have any response to that report, just that, of course, as I said before, we hope that Iran comes on Monday with some very serious and credible concrete steps that they’re going to take to follow through on the agreement that they made in Geneva.

Yes.

QUESTION: I’d like to ask you a question that – have to be with the designation of the Deputy Secretary for the hemisphere for the Western Hemisphere. I understand that Arturo Valenzuela, that was the person that Obama suggested, that I think that for the last four months this nomination was in the Congress and it stopped there. And I want to know if there’s going to be any work with the Congress to help somebody from the State Department more active with Latin America or with the Western Hemisphere or maybe you want to suggest another person or how this continues?

MR. KELLY: No. I mean, we have submitted – or I should say the President has submitted the name of Arturo Valenzuela to be assistant secretary for Western Hemisphere affairs. We are involved in constant consultations with the Senate to see that his nomination is acted on. And we hope that the Senate will indeed act on and confirm him as well as the nomination of Tom Shannon to be ambassador to Brazil.

Yeah. Go back there.

QUESTION: This is on the Secretary’s recent trip to Russia.

MR. KELLY: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: There’s some reports that in an interview with Russia Newsweek that she said the U.S. is putting pressure on Russia not to sell the S-300 system to Iran, and that it had not been exported yet.

MR. KELLY: Right.

QUESTION: Can you kind of clarify her comments?

MR. KELLY: Well, I mean, we have – I don’t believe that that interview has been published yet, right?

QUESTION: It was published.

MR. KELLY: It was published? Okay. So I didn’t – I haven’t seen the article. But she was simply reiterating U.S. policy that we do not believe that this is a – that this is the time to sell Iran this kind of sophisticated defense capability. The S-300 is a very advanced surface-to-air missile. And we, of course, are – we’ve understood from the Russian Government that they have no plans to ship this sophisticated system to Iran at this time.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MR. KELLY: Well, I think Peter has got one. And I think I know what his question is.

QUESTION: Yeah, you know. Whether – can you confirm or decline about the Secretary’s meeting with Boris Nemtsov at Carlton Ritz Hotel?

MR. KELLY: There was no meeting that was planned between Mr. – between the Secretary and Mr. Nemtsov and Mr. Milov. But regarding any kind of unintentional or unannounced meeting, I understand that they did meet and it was more of a social setting, what we would call an off-the-record event. But beyond that, I don’t have anymore details for you, Peter.

QUESTION: And you couldn’t say what she told him?

MR. KELLY: No. Again, it was an off-the-record event. Thank you.

QUESTION: Thank you.

(The briefing was concluded at 2:18 p.m.)



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