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U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action


Ian Kelly
Department Spokesman
Daily Press Briefing
Washington, DC
October 23, 2009


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Index for Today's Briefing
  • IRAN
    • U.S., France, and Russia indicate positive response to talks / Iran wants to wait until next week to respond
    • The international community's been waiting a long time for Iran to address some real concerns about their intentions
    • Inspection of Qom on Sunday
    • Want to see concrete Steps from Iran / International patience is not limitless
  • BURMA
    • Policy review is finished and dialogue with senior officials has begun
    • Working on direction of dialogue and parameters of meetings with Burmese officials
    • Hope that that dialogue will entail face-to-face meetings in Burma, but we still have not decided on how exactly that dialogue will be organized
  • JAPAN
    • Continue to believe implementing agreements already in place is best way to ensure this alliance remains strong
  • PAKISTAN
    • General Musharraf is a private citizen / Unaware of any contact with General Musharraf recently
    • U.S. assistance to Pakistan is designed to meet the common threat of militant religious extremism
  • INDIA
    • Relationship is strategic and important
    • No details on military aid to India
  • TURKEY
    • U.S. has supported the normalization of relations between Turkey and Armenia without preconditions / Our policy has been very clear
  • ISRAEL/PALESTINIANS
    • U.S. committed to a two-state solution
    • Senator Mitchell will continue to get the two sides to sit down together
    • Urgency to the situation
  • HONDURAS
    • De facto regime is presenting another proposal to address the return of President Zelaya
    • U.S. disappointed an agreement has not been reached
    • Bothe sides need to reach an agreement and implement it expeditiously so there can be a fair and free election
    • U.S. is focused on reconciliation and restoration


TRANSCRIPT:

1:22 p.m. EDT

MR. KELLY: All right. Those of you who want to ask questions about the rest of the world – (laughter) – if I could ask you to take your seats and we can get started. It’s Friday. I’m sure all you guys want to get going with the rest of your lives, and so would I.

So – and I don’t have anything at the top of this, so Rob?

QUESTION: Ask you – Ian, about Iran and their response thus far to the Vienna agreement on the low-enriched uranium, they want to --

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

QUESTION: They want to go back to what they originally had proposed, which is that they purchase it --

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

QUESTION: -- rather than use their own. What’s the State Department’s view on that?

MR. KELLY: Well, this is a – I mean, it’s a rapidly unfolding situation even as we speak, but this is what I understand. This is what I understand from our colleagues out at the IAEA, that the U.S., France, and Russia all indicated today that they have a positive response to the proposal of Director General Mohamed ElBaradei to supply Iran with nuclear fuel for its research reactor. And Iran, at the same time today, informed the Director General that it’s still considering the proposal; in depth and in a favorable light is what we’ve heard from the IAEA.

QUESTION: Is that their exact words?

MR. KELLY: This is what we hear from the IAEA, and I think there’s a press release coming out.

QUESTION: It’s out.

MR. KELLY: It’s out, okay, but that it needs time until the middle of next week to provide a response. And of course, you know what our stance on this is – that this is a real opportunity for Iran to help address some of the real concerns of the international community about its nuclear program, and at the same time, still provide for the humanitarian needs of the Iranian people. So like the Director General, we hope that they will next week provide a positive response.

QUESTION: You don’t have a problem with them seeking to delay their response till next week?

MR. KELLY: Well, obviously, we would have preferred to had a response today. We approach this with a sense of urgency. The international community’s been waiting a long time for the – for Iran to address some of our real concerns about their intentions. But we – all along, we have said that the IAEA is taking the lead on this, and we hope that there’s no more delays than these next few days.

QUESTION: At the top of the October 1 meeting, the P-5+1 officials have made clear that they had an expectation for a follow-up meeting with the Iranians toward the end of the month.

MR. KELLY: Right.

QUESTION: Is there any plan to have a follow-up meeting prior to their giving you their answer whenever they do so?

MR. KELLY: Prior to the middle of next week, you mean?

QUESTION: Correct, yeah.

MR. KELLY: I think, as you point out, Arshad, that it was our expectations that we would have this follow-up meeting, that the P-5+1 would have this follow-up meeting by the end of October. And of course, that – the end of October is approaching rapidly. And this is – I believe that Javier Solana is still working out with the members of the P-5+1 and with Iran the exact parameters and time for the meeting. But we haven’t heard anything. Nothing’s been confirmed yet about the time and the agenda of the meeting.

QUESTION: The reason I’m asking is, I mean, you’re not going to meet with them until they give you an answer, right? Or is it possible you could hold a meeting with them and get the answer maybe then? I mean, it seems a reasonable question to ask. Are you going to agree to have a meeting with them until you get their answer on the low-enriched uranium?

MR. KELLY: I don’t think necessarily that there is a –there are several tracks going on here. There’s also the inspection of the facility in Qom, which we expect to happen on Sunday, and from every indication, it will happen. A lot of the preparatory work has been done, so we expect it will happen on Sunday. And then we’ve got this other track which is operating within the IAEA. So I think these things can all happen independent of each other.

QUESTION: Okay.

MR. KELLY: So they’re all leading toward the same thing, of course, which is getting Iran to address the concerns of the international community about its nuclear program.

QUESTION: And the last thing on it from me on this one, I mean, is it fair to say that you will not make a decision on whether to attend a meeting until after you have seen – until after Sunday and you have seen what happens with the inspection at Qom and whether it’s gone off satisfactorily?

MR. KELLY: Yeah. I mean, clearly, we’re looking for Iran to make concrete steps, and there is an agreement in principle for them to take several steps – the inspection at Qom, the agreement in principle to send out their low-enriched uranium to Russia. We see these all as positive and constructive steps. But we also have – we have to keep in mind that we want to reach this ultimate goal, and the P-5+1 – the ultimate goal of getting Iran to raise the international community’s confidence in their nuclear program, the P-5+1 is the forum for that.

I don’t know necessarily that we’re attaching conditionality – you must do this until we’ll do that. I think we’re still working towards a meeting toward – by the end of October with Iran.

QUESTION: Okay. I mean, the reason I asked is just that – you know, yeah, they’ve agreed to the inspection at Qom, but they haven’t carried it out, right?

MR. KELLY: Right.

QUESTION: And you don’t know what level of access they’ll get. They – initially, at least, you guys said, and you yourself said that they had made the agreement on the low-enriched uranium. But they have just missed their deadline for --

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

QUESTION: -- getting back to you, and they’ve said they view it favorably, but they need more time. I mean, as you said before, the international community’s waited for a long time and Iran tends to take its time about such things. And I, therefore, wonder why you would actually consider scheduling a meeting unless they actually not just say they’re going to do something, but actually do things on the inspection at Qom and on actually accepting the terms for the export of the LEU.

MR. KELLY: Yeah. Well, you’re right. We’re looking for concrete steps. And we take it as a positive sign that they’ve agreed in principle to taking a couple of significant steps – the opening up the Qom facility and then working out a procedure for having their low-enriched uranium reprocessed in another country. And at the same time, our patience is not limitless. I think that we can stretch things a few days, and that’s really what we’re talking about, but, we’re not going to wait forever.

Yes.

QUESTION: On – going back to South Asia, this was a question for Ambassador Holbrooke, but he didn’t – was – I didn’t get a chance to ask. He’s going to India next month. What be – will be on his agenda when he goes to --

MR. KELLY: Oh, boy, you really should have asked that of Ambassador Holbrooke. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: (Inaudible) out there?

MR. KELLY: Can I take the question and we’ll get you the answer?

QUESTION: Yeah. And secondly, Assistant Secretary Kurt Campbell will be going to Burma next week.

MR. KELLY: I don’t think actually that we have --

QUESTION: That’s the news (inaudible) --

MR. KELLY: -- actually made the decision for Assistant Secretary Campbell to go to Burma next week.

QUESTION: But the Burmese officials are saying this.

MR. KELLY: I think what we’ve said is that we’ve had a policy review. We finished the policy review. We began a dialogue with – a senior-level dialogue with Burmese officials that – in New York. And I think we look forward to continuing that dialogue. We hope that that dialogue will entail face-to-face meetings in Burma, but we still have not decided on how exactly that dialogue will be organized.

QUESTION: Are you seeing any progress from the Burmese side, the issue that you raised in the first meeting, it’s still too early to say?

MR. KELLY: Oh, I'm sorry, Lali. Can you repeat the question?

QUESTION: Do you see any progress from the Burmese side about the issue that you raised in the first meeting in New York last month?

MR. KELLY: Well, I don’t know if I’d characterize it as progress. I mean, we’ve begun the dialogue, which is positive, and – but we are still working out the – exactly where we’ll go from here. I mean, as I say, we hope to be able to continue the dialogue, but we – nothing is confirmed at this point.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: Can I just clarify something on that?

MR. KELLY: Yeah, sure.

QUESTION: Are you – are you still trying to decide if you’ll have the meeting, or who you’ll send to the meeting?

MR. KELLY: I think what we’re trying to work out is exactly – working out the parameters of it. We’re working out how exactly this meeting will be conducted and at what level, but that has not been – a lot still needs to be worked out, just to say it in very quick terms.

Yes.

QUESTION: Yesterday, Japanese Foreign Minister Okada showed some flexibility on Futenma issue by saying that moving the facility outside of the Okinawa prefecture is not an option. Do you see this as a positive sign to reach an agreement?

MR. KELLY: Well, I haven’t seen those remarks, so it’s difficult for me to respond to remarks that we haven’t seen yet. But we understand that Japan is still reviewing a whole range of policies. We continue to believe that implementing the existing agreements is the best way to ensure that the U.S.-Japanese security alliance, which is so important to both our countries and to the region in general, that this alliance remains strong, and also that we’re able to reduce the footprint of U.S. military bases in Japan, which is one of the goals of the agreement.

QUESTION: As far as General Musharraf is concerned, if anybody had any contact from this building, in any way met with him or saw (inaudible) as far as a new U.S. military to Pakistan is concerned? Are you in touch or were you in touch with India? Because in the past, candidate Obama and President Obama, he said that most of the U.S. aid was used against India. And now this time, what guarantee and security can you give that --

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

QUESTION: -- which will be a different story than in the past?

MR. KELLY: Yeah. Well, as far as General Musharraf is concerned, General Musharraf is a private citizen now. I’m not aware of any official contacts that we’ve had with General Musharraf – that’s not to exclude that we haven’t had official contacts.

Regarding our assistance to Pakistan, our assistance to Pakistan is designed to meet a common threat. This is a threat not only to Pakistan, but also to the U.S., and we would argue to India as well, and that’s the threat of militant religious extremism.

And so our entire package is designed to help Pakistan in the spirit of partnership to meet this challenge. And our relationship with India is strategic and important, and we are conducting our assistance with Pakistan in a very open and transparent way in general – with the public, with the media, and with important strategic partners like India.

QUESTION: Just to follow up quickly. Prime Minister Singh is coming next month –

MR. KELLY: Yes.

QUESTION: – meeting with President Obama and other officials in the White House – and the State. I understand there is a package for India. As far as military aid is concerned, U.S. military alliance at least $3.5 billion, excluding almost $40 billion in the civil nuclear agreement. How you are going to balance with India and Pakistan? You’re giving aid to both countries, military aid.

MR. KELLY: Well, again, our assistance to Pakistan is primarily designed to meet this common threat, a threat to all of our partners and democracies in the region. It’s not designed against any other neighbor in the region. The – as far as the details of a military package for India, I don’t have the – I don’t know what the scope of this package is, so I can’t really comment on it, but our cooperation with India is important, and as I say, it’s strategic.

Yes, go ahead.

QUESTION: The North Korean official Ri Gun will be in New York today. He’s arriving --

MR. KELLY: Is it today?

QUESTION: Yeah. So is there any possibility that Sung Kim or any other U.S. official will meet with him over the weekend before the Track II in San Diego?

MR. KELLY: I wouldn’t exclude that. I don’t have anything to announce about that, but I certainly wouldn’t exclude it.

Yes.

QUESTION: Thank you. I’m from Armenian television. Right after signing the Turkish-Armenian Protocols in Zurich, the Turkish foreign ministry announced that they will open the border with Armenia after Nagorno-Karabakh – problem were resolved, putting kind of precondition, while there were no preconditions in protocols themselves.

So my question is: Does the U.S. Government change its position or State Department still supports the reopening of the border and normalization of Armenian-Turkish relations without any --

MR. KELLY: We have not changed our position. We believe that – we support the protocol that was signed in Switzerland. And we have all along supported the normalization of relations between Turkey and Armenia without preconditions, and our policy has been very clear on that.

Yeah, Michel.

QUESTION: Regarding the peace process, what are you planning to do after Secretary Clinton’s report yesterday to the President?

MR. KELLY: Well, I think in terms of next steps, I think you probably saw the readout from the White House yesterday, where we talked about the possibility of Secretary Clinton pursuing some of these issues at the meeting in Marrakesh in Morocco. So she looks forward to that. I think Senator Mitchell looks forward to returning to the region in the near future.

And we intend to stay on the course that we’re on right now and very – in a very determined fashion. And we’re going to – we are going to stay committed to vigorously pursuing the goal of a comprehensive peace, based on a two-state solution, and that we believe that the time is now for the two sides to sit down and begin talking directly. And we’ll continue to do everything we can to try and get the two sides to agree to that.

QUESTION: Is there any possibility to work on another track, like the Syrian-Israeli track or Lebanese-Israeli track?

MR. KELLY: Well, I think you’ve seen that we have taken a regional approach to this. That Senator Mitchell has, of course, concentrated most of his energies on getting the Israelis and the Palestinians to agree to sit down, but he’s also looked at this from a regional perspective, too. He’s gone to Lebanon, he’s gone to Syria, he’s talked to the Egyptians. But as I say, I think our focus right now is on getting the two sides to sit down. We think that there is a – there’s a real urgency to this and that the time to move forward with talks is now, that we need to do this as soon as possible.

Yeah, Janine.

QUESTION: I don’t like to be a travel agency reporter, but is there any reason why you can’t just tell us which U.S. officials are going to meet with the North Koreans, both in New York and in San Diego, and just firm it up?

MR. KELLY: It’s very simple.

QUESTION: You don’t know or because they don’t know or --

MR. KELLY: It hasn’t been decided yet. It’s as simple as that.

QUESTION: Can you – just to follow up on that, can you promise us that you will let us know --

MR. KELLY: Yes.

QUESTION: -- if – yes, if U.S. officials --

MR. KELLY: Over the weekend, I will let you know.

QUESTION: Okay, and when and how long and supplement the readout.

MR. KELLY: As soon as it’s determined who’s going to go to participate in these meetings, we’ll let you know.

QUESTION: And also separately, just because – I mean, there is this propensity to try to talk about these meetings, which have occurred for many, many years, as sort of Track II.

MR. KELLY: Right.

QUESTION: But the reality is the North Koreans – you can call them Track II, but they’re --

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

QUESTION: -- they are Track I officials, they’re actual officials. And if Sung Kim or somebody else is going to have any kind of a separate interaction with them that’s a material thing. So you’ll let us know about that?

MR. KELLY: I agree with you, Arshad.

QUESTION: Okay.

MR. KELLY: I mean, you’re right. I mean, this is really kind of a hybrid. It’s not just Track II. It’s really a combination.

QUESTION: So you will let us know?

MR. KELLY: It’s official and unofficial.

QUESTION: So you’ll let us know if any official --

MR. KELLY: Yeah. We will – I promise I’ll let you know –

QUESTION: Thank you.

MR. KELLY: -- over the weekend.

Yes.

QUESTION: Thank you. On Honduras, again?

MR. KELLY: Uh-huh.

QUESTION: Dialogue is again broken. I know the U.S. supports an electoral solution for that, but positions seems to be divided because the rest of the countries – I mean, the rest of the international community is not really very clear if they are going to recognize the results of this election. So where do we stand?

MR. KELLY: Yeah. Well, I’m glad you asked. It is – I don’t know if I would characterize the situation as the talks have broken off, because the latest we heard this morning is that the de facto regime was going to present another proposal this morning to try and address this most contentious issue, which is the return of the democratically elected leaders – first and foremost, of course, President Zelaya to office. And – certainly we are disappointed that the two sides have not been able to reach a solution. But I wouldn’t say that the talks have broken off. There is this proposal that has to be discussed and –

QUESTION: Are you confident that the way out is going to (inaudible) to – for the crisis?

MR. KELLY: Well, I would just say that – again, I would use that word or words “sense of urgency.” I think that there is a real need for the two sides to reach an agreement, and then implement it expeditiously.

Go ahead.

QUESTION: Yeah.

MR. KELLY: You have a follow-up?

QUESTION: Yeah. Actually, the main problem seems to be elections and reelections in the region. And you fix yesterday your position regarding Nicaragua. Is it something that you are worried about it, not only Nicaragua, Venezuela, or other countries? And what is – what next?

MR. KELLY: Yeah. Well, I --

QUESTION: What can we expect?

MR. KELLY: One reason why I say there’s a sense of urgency is because the clock is ticking. I mean, you’ve got the elections the end of November. And we do want to reach a resolution of this problem between the de facto regime and President Zelaya, and reach a point where Honduras can address these concerns of the international community and have the legitimately elected leaders return to power, and then we can have elections that can enjoy legitimacy. And of course, in order to do that, we would like these elections to be carried out in an open and transparent way, and there needs to be certain mechanisms put in place in advance of these elections, and that’s why we need to do this now. The two sides need to seal this deal now. Time is running out.

QUESTION: Can – in just – I mean, you’re certainly right, I think their time is running out because you have now very, very few weeks --

MR. KELLY: Right.

QUESTION: -- until the elections. And it’s even questionable at this point, I think, now whether people like the Carter Center would regard an election – it’s less than five weeks right now --

MR. KELLY: Right.

QUESTION: -- so, as legitimate given the – so, here’s the question. I mean, when you – you all issued a statement during the course of the summer in which you said that you could not, at this time, regard elections held under the current circumstances as legitimate.

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

QUESTION: Is there any possibility that the Administration will bend or abandon that position? And if you don’t get a deal, just decide that, okay, we’re going to view the elections as legitimate. It’s a way for the people to express themselves despite the current situation.

MR. KELLY: Yeah. Well, you’re asking me to speculate on what we may or may not do. But what we’re focused on right now is reconciliation and restoration. And we believe that that’s the best way for the two sides to have a government that has international legitimacy, that reflects a process that is constitutional and open and transparent. So that’s what we’re focused on now. We haven’t given up on it. The OAS hasn’t given up on it. And we just hope that they move quickly on it.

QUESTION: But you would acknowledge in your language on that – sorry, last one for me – leaves open the possibility you can change your position at this time?

MR. KELLY: Like I say, we’re focused on these guys sitting down and agreeing.

QUESTION: Okay. Thank you.

MR. KELLY: Thanks.

(The briefing was concluded at 1:47 p.m.)



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