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U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action

Ian Kelly
Department Spokesman
Daily Press Briefing
Washington, DC
October 28, 2009

Index for Today's Briefing
    • Secretary Clinton Arrived in Pakistan Today
    • Announced First Phase of Signature Energy Program in Pakistan
    • U.S. Extends Our Deepest Sympathies to the Victims of Today's Brutal Attack in Peshawar
    • Attack on Guest House in Kabul by the Taliban
    • Outrage Expressed By Many World Leaders
    • U.S. Committed to the Afghan People
    • Reports on President Karzai's Brother
  • CUBA
    • UN Resolution on the Cuba Embargo
    • Suggestion that U.S. is Not Assisting Cuba is False
    • U.S. a Leading Source of Humanitarian Assistance to Cuba
    • Ambassador Sung Kim Returning to Washington Tonight/Expecting a Readout
    • No Decisions About Sung Kim Going to New York
    • U.S. Delegation Arrived in Honduras Today / Meeting with Representatives from Both Sides to Discuss Strategies to move the Process Forward
  • IRAN
    • Legislation to Propose Possible Sanctions on Iran's Refined Petroleum
    • U.S. Focused on the IAEA and Iran's Response to Proposal


1:22 p.m. EDT

MR. KELLY: Okay. Good afternoon. I’d like to, first of all, give you kind of a rundown of the Secretary’s schedule today in Islamabad. She had a meeting and also lunch with Foreign Minister Qureshi at the foreign ministry. She met with Prime Minister Gillani at his residence. And she also attended a program designed to help Pakistan’s poorest women and their families, and also had a meeting with and attended a dinner hosted by President Zardari at the presidential residence.

She – throughout, she underscored America’s broad partnership with Pakistan’s democratically elected government. This is a partnership that covers all dimensions of our bilateral and people-to-people relations. She announced the first phase of a signature energy program by the United States to support Pakistan’s energy development, helping to improve the quality of life for all Pakistanis and support their economic development.

At her meeting with the prime minister, she pledged $55 million that will assist Pakistan and UN agencies to provide humanitarian relief to families displaced from North and South Waziristan and the North-West Frontier Province. She also pledged 103.5 million in U.S. support for the Government of Pakistan’s priority law enforcement and border security programs.

Finally, the Secretary participated in an event promoting the Government of Pakistan’s Benazir Income Support Program with Prime Minister Gillani and President Zardari to express our – and also make contributions, or announce the contribution, to the income support program, which is a monthly cash subsidy program designed to help some of Pakistan’s poorest women and their families. At that event, Secretary Clinton announced that the United States will contribute $85 million to this program.

And staying on Pakistan for a moment, the United States extends our deepest sympathy to the victims of today’s brutal attack in Peshawar and to the families and friends of those who lost their lives. We continue to stand with the Pakistani people who have seen firsthand the effects of violent extremism. We also honor the brave Pakistani military, police, and security personnel who are now engaged in rescue efforts, as well as those who are fighting to combat extremism and create a safe, stable, and secure Pakistan.

Pakistan is in the midst of an ongoing struggle against brutal extremist groups who kill innocent people and terrorize communities. These attacks show the lengths extremist elements are willing to go as they attempt to force their agenda onto a people who only wish to go about their daily lives in peace.

And finally, we have no indications that any Americans were injured or killed in this attack. And I think you also probably saw the Secretary’s statement condemning the attack against the guesthouse in Kabul where UN personnel and Afghan security personnel lost their lives.

QUESTION: Including Americans, right?

MR. KELLY: There was one American who was working for the UN who was killed.

QUESTION: The name of that person?

MR. KELLY: We’re not releasing the name at this time.

QUESTION: So what was the total of the amount that she went around Islamabad dispensing to various sundry people? What was the total?

MR. KELLY: Well, let’s run through it again. It’s 55 million --

QUESTION: No, no, just the total, right? In other words, it hasn’t been totaled up?

MR. KELLY: We’ll do it right now.


MR. KELLY: Fifty-five for humanitarian relief, 103.5 for law enforcement and border security. That’s 158.5 plus 85 for the support to women and their families. So are you doing the arithmetic now?

QUESTION: Wasn’t there another one in there, too?

MR. KELLY: I think it was three.

QUESTION: At the lottery event, no?

MR. KELLY: No, I don’t think so.

QUESTION: All right.

MR. KELLY: But we’ll – sorry.


MR. KELLY: 243.5.

QUESTION: $243.5 million?

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

QUESTION: And all of this is outside of Kerry-Lugar and what has been previously pledged?

MR. KELLY: I believe so. We’re going to put out media notes on all three of these programs, so we should have more details than that. The humanitarian is definitely outside of the Kerry-Lugar.

Yes, in the back.

QUESTION: Yes. My name is Nazira Karimi, correspondent for Ariana Television from Afghanistan. And I’m from Afghanistan, too. This morning, tragedy was so sad in Afghanistan in Kabul. What do you think about this new attack by the Taliban (inaudible) Obama’s Administration considering about Afghanistan strategy? Do you think it’s going to be affected on it?

MR. KELLY: Well --

QUESTION: And the second round election also be very close.

MR. KELLY: Yeah. I think – well, first of all, we’ve seen that the Taliban did claim responsibility for this savage attack on people who are in Afghanistan to help Afghanistan develop a better and more prosperous future. These were unarmed civilian workers who were targeted. And this is all part of an overall campaign to intimidate the Afghan people to try and discourage them from exercising their democratic rights. It’s also a way to try and discourage their international supporters.

I think you’ve seen statements of outrage and – but also statements of support from leaders from all over the world. I mentioned Secretary Clinton’s statement. The UN Secretary General also issued a very strong statement reiterating the commitment of the UN and the international community to support the people of Afghanistan. And if that is their purpose here to try and discourage us or intimidate us, it’s not going to work. We are committed to this. We are committed to the Afghanistan people and we are committed to seeing this through.

QUESTION: Ian, quite apart from any report that may have appeared today or in the recent past, what does the Administration think about President Karzai’s brother?

MR. KELLY: What do we think about his brother? I don’t know that we necessarily have a view on his brother. I mean, we support the government of President Karzai, and our views are very well known on that.

QUESTION: Well, what do you think of the influence his brother might wield?

MR. KELLY: I don’t think I necessarily have that kind of information.

QUESTION: Okay. Perhaps then maybe you can the guidance you have for the question that you were expecting.

MR. KELLY: You’ve got to ask me the question before I read the guidance. I’m happy to read the guidance, if you’ll ask me the question.

QUESTION: All right.

QUESTION: What about reports that President Karzai’s brother is being paid by the CIA for various activities?

MR. KELLY: We don’t comment on intelligence matters.

QUESTION: But you’re not denying it?

QUESTION: Was that so difficult?

MR. KELLY: I just needed to have --

QUESTION: You’re not denying it?

MR. KELLY: -- the question asked, and I was happy to say it. I’m just saying, we don’t comment.

QUESTION: You’re not denying it?

MR. KELLY: I mean, you know, in general, we don’t --

QUESTION: You don’t comment on people that you pay off?

MR. KELLY: We don’t comment on intelligence matters.

QUESTION: Well, I mean, just because it was paid for by the CIA, doesn’t – mean it was an intelligence matter. I mean, it sounds like you talk at great lengths about the war on drugs from this podium and combating drugs in Afghanistan and combating warlords in Afghanistan.

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

QUESTION: So I’m not necessarily sure if it’s an intelligence matter or just because the CIA is involved.

MR. KELLY: If it’s an – if the CIA is involved, it’s an intelligence matter.

QUESTION: So you’re not denying that you’re paying him?

MR. KELLY: I’m just saying, we don’t comment on intelligence matters.

QUESTION: And you’re saying that you don’t have any opinion about the role that the president’s brother plays?

MR. KELLY: I just am not going to – I don’t, as the spokesman of the State Department --

QUESTION: I’m not talking --

MR. KELLY: -- have any particular view on the role of the --

QUESTION: Well, the State Department has an entire office led by a special envoy who deals with Afghanistan. And this guy is – whether or not anything that has been reported about him is true or not, he is obviously a player in that country. Surely, there must be some kind of opinion about him.

MR. KELLY: I’m sure there are opinions. It’s just that --

QUESTION: And contacts.

MR. KELLY: -- I do not have an opinion from this podium on --

QUESTION: I mean, outside of --

MR. KELLY: -- the president’s brother.

QUESTION: -- outside of any payments that he received from the CIA, you’re saying that this building – representative – Special Rep Holbrooke on that – the whole office that deals with Afghanistan has no dealings with --

MR. KELLY: I’m not saying that at all. I’m sure people have an opinion.

QUESTION: Well, could you take the question what the dealings are with him?

MR. KELLY: No, I’m not going to take that question. I mean --

QUESTION: Why not?

MR. KELLY: -- how is that germane necessarily to --

QUESTION: It is germane. There are questions about corruption, about --

MR. KELLY: Well, we have opinions on corruption.

QUESTION: Well, we’re asking specifically about corruption related to --

QUESTION: Do you think it’s a good thing? (Laughter.)

MR. KELLY: No, we don’t think it’s a good thing. (Laughter.) We think it’s a very bad thing --

QUESTION: We’re talking about corruption --

MR. KELLY: -- and we’ve made that clear to the Government of Afghanistan, that we are very concerned about corruption and its very negative influence on how the people of Afghanistan see their government. We made it quite clear that we are going to seek a new understanding with the Government of Afghanistan on this issue, once the elections are completed and we have a post-election administration in place, we’re going to discuss these issues with them.

QUESTION: Well, but there are a lot of concerns specifically about President Karzai’s brother and related to corruption. And if it’s true what Secretary Clinton has said on the record that she expects that President Karzai would win a run-off election, presumably this gentleman would also have a role in the next government.

MR. KELLY: Well, let’s see what the next government consists of. I mean, right now, we need to get through the second round. And our focus is on that, on providing support for the Afghans as they go through this process.

QUESTION: So it doesn’t matter if there’s corruption related to this brother until the run-off is over?

MR. KELLY: I’m not saying that at all. I mean, I’m just saying that we are very concerned about corruption. But I’m not going to comment on the relationship of President Karzai’s relation – relationship with President Karzai with his brother and how it may or may not influence policy?

QUESTION: But you say that you’re concerned corruption. And a lot of the reports coming from Afghanistan – this report this morning about payoff to him notwithstanding – many of the reports and the anger in Afghanistan right now is centered around President Karzai’s brother.

MR. KELLY: Like I say, we are concerned about corruption and the very --

QUESTION: Just not about his brother?

MR. KELLY: -- deleterious effect that it has the view of the Afghan people about their government. I mean, that – we’re very clear on that. But I don’t have any --

QUESTION: Including his brother?

MR. KELLY: I’m not going – like I say, I don’t have any views on his brother.

QUESTION: So you’re concerned about corruption -- you’re concerned about corruption, but you have no views on corruption related to President Karzai’s brother?

MR. KELLY: At this moment, no, I don’t.

Yes, in the back.

QUESTION: Yeah, do you have anything on a statement at the UN by Philip Alston about the U.S. might be breaking international law in summary executions by their drone attacks?

MR. KELLY: Yeah. We – I mean, we saw that statement, and this is a – it’s a legal issue. I mean, he raises some legal issues. And give us a chance to look at what he said. And this question I will take, and we will get back to you.

QUESTION: Speaking of the UN, the General Assembly had its annual vote today on the Cuba embargo. You got two people to join you, two countries. Can you remind – (a) remind of what those two countries are, and (b) tell us what you think of the vote?

MR. KELLY: I think one was Palau, Matt. Who was the other one?

QUESTION: I don’t know. I think it – it’s usually, generally, the Solomon Islands.

QUESTION: I thought it was Micronesia.

QUESTION: Or Micronesia.

QUESTION: Or was that about Israel?

MR. KELLY: All right. Well, let me give you the guidance on this. The United States believes it has the sovereign right to conduct economic – its economic relationship with Cuba as determined by U.S. national interests. Sanctions on Cuba are designed to permit humanitarian items to reach the Cuban people, while denying the Cuban Government resources that it could use to repress its citizens.

This yearly exercise at the UN obscures the fact that the United States is a leading source of food and humanitarian relief to Cuba. In 2008, the United States exported $717 million in agricultural products, medical devices, medicine, wood, and humanitarian items to Cuba.

QUESTION: Sorry. Wood?

MR. KELLY: Wood.


MR. KELLY: Sanctions is one part of the United States policy approach to Cuba. In recent months, as you know, we’ve reached out to the Cuban people. We’ve taken steps to promote the free flow of information, we’ve lifted restrictions on family visits, and we’ve expanded the kinds and amounts of humanitarian items that the American people can donate to Cuba. We’ve also taken steps to establish a more constructive dialogue with Cuba. We’ve reestablished dialogues on migration, and we’ve initiated talks to reestablish direct mail service.

We remain focused on the need for improved human rights conditions and respect for fundamental freedoms in Cuba, and we would need to see improvements in those areas before we could normalize relations with Havana.

QUESTION: But, I mean, you have no opinion on the fact that the rest of the world thinks that this is a bad way to go?

MR. KELLY: Well --

QUESTION: That the whole world – I mean, Palau notwithstanding – excuse me.

MR. KELLY: This – it seems to me to be an annual exercise that --

QUESTION: It’s an annual exercise to tell you that the rest of the world thinks --

MR. KELLY: -- seems to be – kind of has inertia from the Cold War. The suggestion that we’re not assisting Cuba is just false. I mean, we are one of the major providers of humanitarian assistance to Cuba. But we don’t believe that we should – while there are repressive measures in place in Cuba, that we should reward the Government of Cuba by lifting the economic sanctions that could assist the Government of Cuba in its repression of its own citizens.

QUESTION: Well, it seems that the rest of the world thinks that, in fact, if you were to lift the embargo, that could help the repression – lift it.

MR. KELLY: Well, we don’t think it’s time to lift that embargo. The – we will consider that when the Government of Cuba starts to make some positive steps towards loosening up its repression of its own people.

QUESTION: Ian, without getting into a philosophical and – especially a lengthy or philosophical debate about this, you said that this, as an annual exercise, is a Cold War remnant.


MR. KELLY: Yeah.

QUESTION: Well, there a lot of people who would argue that the embargo is a Cold War remnant. I mean, this is the first year that this vote has happened, where you’ve been in this tiny minority that you are – that the U.S. is the only country in this hemisphere not to have diplomatic relations with Cuba.

MR. KELLY: Well, I mean, we – our policy in Cuba is designed to try and move Cuba to doing the right thing towards its own people. And they have not taken the kind of steps to show us that they’re willing to open up their society and open up their economy. And until they do these things, we’re not willing to change our policy. Having said that, we also want to have --

QUESTION: Having said that --

MR. KELLY: -- a productive dialogue.

QUESTION: -- how long has the embargo been in place now?

MR. KELLY: I think it’s been in place almost 50 years.

QUESTION: Yeah, yeah.

MR. KELLY: Well, that’s a long time to have a repressive system.

QUESTION: Well, it’s also a long time to have a policy that has produced absolutely no results.

MR. KELLY: Well, we’re – we are looking to try and put our relationship – with Cuba on a more productive path.

Yes, go ahead.

QUESTION: Any updates for (inaudible) bilateral meeting between Ambassador Sung Kim and Lieberman?

MR. KELLY: Ambassador Kim is returning to Washington tonight, and we expect to have a readout from him when he comes back – a readout sometime tomorrow. But I don’t have any other announcements regarding the bilateral talks with North Korea.

QUESTION: Nothing in New York?

MR. KELLY: Sorry?

QUESTION: Nothing in New York?

MR. KELLY: No. No decisions on participation in the New York conference.

QUESTION: So he’s not working here?

MR. KELLY: Sorry?

QUESTION: So he isn’t working here?

MR. KELLY: We – no decisions have been made about Sung Kim going to New York.

Samir, go ahead.

QUESTION: Yes. There are reports in the Israeli press that Secretary Clinton will arrive Sunday to Israel, and Senator Mitchell Thursday. Can you confirm these reports?

MR. KELLY: I don’t have any announcements at this time. I think if there are any changes to the Secretary’s schedule, they’ll come from the traveling party. But right now, I don’t have any announcements.

QUESTION: Just back to the –

MR. KELLY: Matt, do you have a question?

QUESTION: Yeah, just back to the Western Hemisphere. Is there anything new on the – did the delegation leave for Honduras?

MR. KELLY: Yeah, they’re there now.

QUESTION: They’re there?

MR. KELLY: Yeah, they’ve just arrived.

QUESTION: Have they got – have they actually be able to do anything yet, or did they literally just get off the plane?

MR. KELLY: I think they’re starting the program right around now. As you say, they’re – Tom Shannon, Craig Kelly, Dan Restrepo are in Honduras today. They’re meeting from – they’re meeting with representatives from both sides to discuss strategies to move this whole process forward. They’re urging both sides to show flexibility and redouble their efforts to bring this crisis to an end. They see their role as to promote a Honduran solution to this crisis. Secretary Clinton believes that the United States could play a constructive role now to encourage all sides to return to the negotiating table. And so they have meetings all this afternoon. They’ll have meetings tomorrow morning. We expect that they’ll have a press conference at the end of their program tomorrow.

QUESTION: So they’re leaving tomorrow night?

MR. KELLY: We anticipate they’ll be leaving tomorrow afternoon. But they’re willing to stay on, if they could be useful by staying on.

QUESTION: Who do they plan to meet? Will they meet – will they try and meet Zelaya, Micheletti?

MR. KELLY: Well, they’re going to meet with representatives from both sides. Whether they’re going to meet with the – with Micheletti and Zelaya themselves, I’m not sure, but we’ll have more information tomorrow.


QUESTION: Another subject. There’s a resolution moving rapidly through Congress. The Iran Refined Petroleum Sanctions Act, which would seem to encourage the Administration to put sanctions on Iran’s refined petroleum imports, which I guess are a vulnerability, is this legislation something that you support, encourage this --

MR. KELLY: Well, I – yeah, I know that we’re talking to the sponsors. I know that senior officials here are talking to the appropriate members of Congress on this issue. I think Assistant Secretary Feltman in fact is testifying this afternoon. Our focus now is on the IAEA. We’re still expecting a response from Iran to the Director General’s proposal to Iran to send out their low-enriched uranium to be enriched outside Iran, and we still don’t have a response. We’ve seen press reports that the response may come tomorrow, but there’s been no official response yet in Vienna.

QUESTION: So could you expand on the general helpfulness, or lack thereof, of this particular piece of legislation? Does this help your diplomatic efforts or not so much?

MR. KELLY: Well, I think all along, we’ve pursued a dual track. Right now, I think most of our energies are focused on the engagement side of it, to follow up on the P-5+1 meeting in Geneva, and waiting for a response from Iran. But all along, we – there’s also the other track, the track of pressure. And we believe that that track has to be at least planned for while we pursue the engagement track.

QUESTION: All right. But as of – up until now, you’ve specifically avoided sanctions on refined petroleum, because you thought that it would hurt the Iranian people and therefore hurt your efforts to engage Iran. So, helpful or not so helpful?

MR. KELLY: Well, I think as we look at the two sides of this – the engagement side and then the pressure side – what we prefer to do is to do this multilateral, to do this in consultation with the members of the P-5+1. We, of course, welcome the advice of Congress and are working with them as they go through their own deliberations on how to go forward in our relations with Iran. We all share the same goal, and that’s getting Iran to be more transparent about its nuclear energy program, and there’s a lot of discussions on how best to get to that end state. But like I say, I mean, right now, we’re focused on Iran providing a response to Mr. ElBaradei’s.

QUESTION: So it sounds like you don’t – if you prefer to do it multilaterally, then it sounds like you don’t think it’s a good idea.

MR. KELLY: Right now, we’re looking at – on the engagement side, again, on a response to ElBaradei’s proposal, and then we welcome Congress and their advice on how to pursue the other track, the pressure track. But like I say, we’d prefer this be done in a multilateral fashion. These kinds of methods of pressure, of course, are a lot more effective if they’re done in a multilateral fashion.

QUESTION: Ian, let me try to get some clarity here, because I don’t – it’s not very clear if you have a position at all. This legislation and similar – this bill and a similar legislation in the Senate only – it just gives the President the authority to impose these sanctions. It doesn’t actually impose them themselves. And as you said, you think that while engagement is pursued, you have to plan for the second track --

MR. KELLY: Right.

QUESTION: – the punitive track. So what’s wrong with this? What’s wrong with getting the authority to do this, even if you – I mean, you might never use it.

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

QUESTION: But it gives you an additional tool now.

MR. KELLY: Yeah. I – well, I think that the priority has to be on getting an answer from Iran.

QUESTION: So you don’t – so the Administration opposes this?

MR. KELLY: No, I’m not saying that we’re opposing it. I mean, there’s nothing --

QUESTION: Are you neutral?

MR. KELLY: There’s nothing for us to oppose at this point. There’s no – there’s no bill, there’s nothing specific.

QUESTION: It just came out of the – it just came back – just cleared Committee.

MR. KELLY: Well, it hasn’t – yeah, but it hasn’t been enacted.

QUESTION: So there won’t be any statement – formal statement of Administration policy on this?

MR. KELLY: I’m not saying there will or there won’t be. But there – right now, our focus is on Vienna.

QUESTION: Well, that’s not true.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: You just said that Jeff Feltman is up there on the Hill testifying this afternoon.

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

QUESTION: Well, the Hill --

MR. KELLY: Laying out our Iran policy.

QUESTION: The Hill – the only Vienna the Hill is close to is Vienna, Virginia. So I mean, what’s he doing up there?

MR. KELLY: He’s up there laying out our Middle East policy, including our policy toward Iran.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MR. KELLY: Thank you.

(The briefing was concluded at 1:45 p.m.)

DPB # 185

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