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U.S. Department of State - Great Seal

U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action


Ian Kelly
Department Spokesman
Daily Press Briefing
Washington, DC
September 9, 2009


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Index for Today's Briefing
  • DEPARTMENT
    • Secretary Clinton to Chair MCC Meeting/Decision on Honduras MCC Money to Be Decided Today
    • Business Week Ranked State Department Among the Top Federal Agencies to Launch a Career
  • MIDDLE EAST PEACE
    • Special Envoy Mitchell Upcoming Travel/No Details to Announce at This Time
    • Israel Has an Obligation to Cease all Settlements whether in East Jerusalem or West Bank
  • HONDURAS
    • IMF Loans/ U.S. Policy towards Honduras
  • INDIA
    • Indian Foreign Minister to Meet with Secretary Clinton on Thursday
  • IRAN
    • U.S. Received a Proposal from Iran/U.S. will Confer with P-5+1 Partners
    • Look to See How Iran Addresses P-5+1 Concerns in Proposals
    • DOS looking into Morgenthau's Allegations/ Allegations of Proliferation Taken Very Seriously
    • U.S. Consults with Iran's Neighbors Very Often
  • LIBYA
    • Parliament Visiting Al-Megrahi in Hospital
    • U.S. Has Urged Libya to Show Sensitivity towards Families of Lockerbie Victims
  • BURMA
    • AmCit Detained in Burma/U.S. Has Sought Consular Access in Burma
    • U.S. Urges a Fair Hearing of Aung San Suu Kyi's Appeal
  • AFGHANISTAN
    • U.S. Response to POGO
    • Secretary Clinton is Very Much Engaged/ Met with Ambassador Holbrooke
    • Secretary Clinton to be Debriefed by Senators Regarding Their Visit to Region
    • Ambassador Eikenberry Met with President Karzai
  • NORTH KOREA
    • U.S. will Wait to Discuss Bilateral Talks


TRANSCRIPT:

1:10 p.m. EDT

MR. KELLY: Okay. Good afternoon, and let me start off the way I usually start off, and give you an update on some of the events on the Secretary’s calendar today.

As you know, at 3 o'clock, she will chair a board meeting, a meeting of the board of directors of the Millennium Challenge Corporation. This will be the first meeting of the board since the recent events in Honduras. I think they last met in June. In addition to considering possible actions regarding Honduras, they will also review the upcoming signing ceremony with Senegal of a $540 million poverty reduction grant. And this signing ceremony will be here at the State Department on September 16. And, of course, they’ll also discuss options regarding the MCC’s compact with Honduras.

We expect that the MCC will announce the decisions of the board right after the meeting. That will be sometime, I would imagine, in the early evening. In addition, the MCC’s acting CEO, Darius Mans, will hold a press conference tomorrow, September 10th, at the MCC Washington headquarters at 9:30.

And the last thing I wanted to highlight is that the Secretary is very pleased and we’re all very pleased that BusinessWeek, in their annual survey, ranked the State Department at the top among federal agencies, 12th overall*, as one of the best places to begin a career. We moved up from 12th, so woo-hoo. We’re honored to be so chosen, and we particularly hope that this helps us recruit the best people possible to enable us to carry out America’s mission of diplomacy, both here in Washington and around the world.

And with that, I will take your questions.

QUESTION: On the MCC meeting, Ian --

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

QUESTION: The Honduras – what – is there anything more that can be done? I was under the impression that this had already been dealt with.

MR. KELLY: Well, the board has to decide – you know how we feel. We terminated our assistance to Honduras last week.

QUESTION: Is there more than the 11 million that --

MR. KELLY: Well, there is MCC money, too. I keep looking over at Arshad, because I know Arshad is an expert on this. But the MCC board has to decide on what to do with the Honduras contract.

QUESTION: Right. But --

QUESTION: As I recall last week, you had told us that the MCC – that the 11 million, as Matt referred to, had been terminated.

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

QUESTION: That was from the MCC. And then in the background conference call, you guys kind of danced around the question as to whether it had actually been terminated or not.

MR. KELLY: Yeah, right.

QUESTION: And nobody was able to answer my questions.

MR. KELLY: Right. Well, the answer is that that’s for the board to determine.

QUESTION: So it wasn’t terminated last week, but it could be at this board meeting?

MR. KELLY: Yeah. We will make a decision today.

QUESTION: Is there more than 11 million at stake?

MR. KELLY: I don’t have the exact figures in front of me right here, but --

QUESTION: Could you get that clarified, because --

MR. KELLY: Yeah. We will.

QUESTION: -- there was some conflict last week. I wasn’t here, but apparently there was a conflict between you guys saying 11 million and someone else – I don’t know if it was the MCC – saying it was 24 million.

MR. KELLY: Yeah. Let’s sort this all out, and we’ll get it out to you.

QUESTION: And then one --

QUESTION: Can you preview a little bit what Secretary Clinton will tell the board, apart from cutting the aid?

MR. KELLY: Well, I – our position is clear. I mean, we’ve already – she’s already done what’s the – what’s under her purview, and that’s to terminate the aid that’s USAID aid. And the Defense Department has made a similar decision. The MCC money is – the disposition of that money is determined by this board of directors that she’s the chairperson of, so they’re meeting today to vote on that.

QUESTION: And one other thing about this, Ian. You said that they would announce the results after the meeting. Will that be in a statement?

MR. KELLY: I believe they’re planning to put out a statement, yes.

QUESTION: Okay.

MR. KELLY: They did something similar – they made some decisions relating to the MCC compacts with Nicaragua and Armenia in June, and they did something similar to this. They put out a statement right after.

QUESTION: I’m still not sure I understand why exactly the building can’t get us a straight answer on this.

MR. KELLY: On what?

QUESTION: On how much money the MCC board is going to be looking at for Honduras today --

QUESTION: And whether it was terminated last week or not.

QUESTION: -- and whether it was, in fact, terminated last week, as we --

MR. KELLY: It was not terminated last week.

QUESTION: Well, then why were we told that it was?

MR. KELLY: Well, we may have misspoken. But the MCC programs, as I say, are under the purview of the MCC board.

QUESTION: So the decision wasn’t even made by the MCC last week to terminate?

MR. KELLY: No. The decision will be made today.

QUESTION: Okay.

MR. KELLY: And I apologize for any confusion that we may have caused last week.

QUESTION: Okay. Thanks for the apology, but this is – it came up repeatedly last week, and it really should have been possible, I think, by the end of the day, to have a clear answer.

MR. KELLY: Yeah. Fair enough.

QUESTION: Can we move on to a new subject?

MR. KELLY: Sure.

QUESTION: Middle East. Is there anything set yet on Mitchell’s trip, and what is your reaction to the new – the announcement by the Israelis of these new housing units in East Jerusalem?

MR. KELLY: Yeah. First of all, on Mitchell’s trip, no, we have no itinerary to announce. We still expect him to leave probably – I think we said the end of the week, so I think it’s probably Friday. I think there will be several stops, but we don’t have any specific information on the trip itself.

Regarding Iran, let me just say, first of all –

QUESTION: No, no.

QUESTION: Sorry?

QUESTION: Iran. No.

MR. KELLY: No.

QUESTION: Not yet.

MR. KELLY: What was the other one?

QUESTION: You’ll get a question about Iran, but --

MR. KELLY: Okay.

QUESTION: But about the new housing units that have been announced for East Jerusalem.

MR. KELLY: Oh, the new housing, I don’t have anything to add to what the White House said on Friday.

QUESTION: Well, that was – that was about the West Bank. This is new housing units in East Jerusalem.

MR. KELLY: We – our position is clear. We do not – we believe that Israel has an obligation to cease all settlement activity in East Jerusalem or the West Bank or wherever it may be over the 1967 border.

Yes.

QUESTION: I have a question on the settlements. There are reports that Americans who hold dual Israeli citizenship have been helping to finance certain settlements in East Jerusalem in areas that are heavily populated with Muslim communities, which would be in contradiction to your policy. Is it concerning that there are American citizens who are doing this, and is it counter-productive to your objectives?

MR. KELLY: Yeah. Well, first of all, these are private American citizens. I’m not going to pronounce on investment decisions that are not contrary to U.S. law that are made by private American citizens. Again, you know what our policy is, that we need to get to the point where
we have the proper atmosphere for the two sides to sit down and come up with a solution to this longstanding conflict. We need to remove all the obstacles in the way of getting to that point of being able to start talks.

QUESTION: Would that be one of the obstacles?

MR. KELLY: And this would – we see the settlements as one of the obstacles to these talks.

QUESTION: And if I could just --

MR. KELLY: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Not really a follow-up question, but it was on Honduras. The IMF actually awarded Honduras, the de facto government down there, $175 million, which is almost four or five times the amount that was cut here at the State Department. Seems like a bit of a contradiction given you’re trying to pressure the Micheletti government to put Zelaya back in power.

MR. KELLY: Yeah. I’ve only seen press reports on that. I think these are loans; these aren’t awards, right? IMF is --

QUESTION: Yeah.

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

QUESTION: Yeah, but it’s – essentially, they’re still giving them money.

MR. KELLY: Yeah. Well, again, our policy is clear. We need to get to the point where the de facto regime in Honduras has – it should come to the right decision, and that’s to sign on to the San Jose Accords.

QUESTION: Is it correct --

MR. KELLY: Can I just finish? And that’s why we made these decisions, such as revoking visas and terminating aid, to put pressure on Honduras to come to that decision. But as far as the IMF is concerned, it’s a multilateral organization. I’d have to refer you to them for their position on it.

QUESTION: Is it not correct that if the Secretary had made the determination that it was, in fact, a military coup, that you would have been forced to oppose IMF or World Bank funding for Honduras?

MR. KELLY: Yeah. I’ll have to take that question, Matt. It’s a good question. I don’t know. I don’t know if that would necessarily kick in as a --

QUESTION: Can we go back to Mitchell for a second?

QUESTION: And is MCC not – sorry, just following on that, is MCC not also under the same obligation of the U.S. Government to automatically cut off that aid? I mean, I’m just trying to understand, is this just a pro forma thing where they’re just going to take a vote and automatically cut off that remaining 11 million? Aren’t they obliged to do --

MR. KELLY: No, I wouldn’t call it – well, first of all, I wouldn’t call it pro forma. This is a – we’re talking about a board of directors that includes the Secretary.

QUESTION: You better hope that it’s pro forma since you announced last week that they’ve done it already.

MR. KELLY: Well, this – I mean, this board includes Secretary Geithner, Trade Representative Kirk, Acting USAID Director Alonzo Fulgham, and some very distinguished private sector representatives as well. I mean, we – the Secretary will make our position clear and I’m sure she’ll make it forcefully, but I’m not going to say --

QUESTION: And it does not apply --

MR. KELLY: -- that it’s an automatic or a pro forma meeting.

QUESTION: -- about the – under that same coup designation?

QUESTION: They’re not. They have so-called notwithstanding authority, under which they don’t have to automatically terminate it. It’s up to the board to even have the determination to make.

Can we go back to Mitchell?

MR. KELLY: Sure.

QUESTION: You said there were going to be several stops. Are there going to be stops other than in Israel and the Palestinian territories?

MR. KELLY: I believe so. He’ll go to other places in the region, but we just haven’t – we haven’t nailed down all the details. So we want to refrain from announcing the trip till we have the whole thing put together.

QUESTION: Will he be meeting Prime Minister Netanyahu?

MR. KELLY: That – I don’t know. It’s quite possible.

QUESTION: Another subject?

MR. KELLY: Another subject, okay.

QUESTION: Ian, thank you. A couple questions on South Asia. One, Indian Foreign Affairs Minister – Home Affairs Minister P Chidambaram is coming or is here in town, in Washington. Is there an urgency that home minister of India has to visit and it’s so – urgency? Is there something going on between the two countries regarding the situation about India-China, India and Pakistan, and all that?

MR. KELLY: Yeah. Yeah. I know that he’s – he is meeting with the Secretary tomorrow, and a lot of this, of course, will be follow-up from the Secretary’s trip to India. We have a large and growing bilateral agenda with India, including cooperation in the area that would come under his portfolio, under home affairs. And we look forward to continuing that dialogue that we began when we were in India a few months ago.

QUESTION: The China situation – what is it about – to the U.S. as far as – between India and China?

MR. KELLY: I’m not sure of your specific question, Goyal.

QUESTION: A lot of situation – a lot of situation going on now between India and China as far as security issues and threats and all that.

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

QUESTION: Is that a concern to the U.S., or this will be on the table when they meet?

MR. KELLY: I’m not aware this would be something that would be on the table in our discussions with the minister of home affairs. But of course, we encourage dialogue between India and China in working out any issues that divide them.

QUESTION: I had another question related. The situation between India and China is also related to Tibet, and the Tibetans are asking His Holiness Dalai Lama to visit Tibet and to come and end the isolation that there, millions of Tibetans are living under the Chinese rule.

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

QUESTION: Do you have any comments about they --

MR. KELLY: Well, we have --

QUESTION: -- approve the visit?

MR. KELLY: We have immense respect for the Dalai Lama. He is one of the leading spiritual
figures in the world, and we have always encouraged a more open exchange between China and the Dalai Lama and his followers. I don’t – I’m not aware of any specific plans for the Dalai Lama to go back to Tibet, so I can’t comment on how we would stand on it right now. But we do encourage more dialogue.

Yeah, you’ve – I’m sorry – you’ve had your hand up.

QUESTION: Okay, thank you. I have two questions I’ve submitted in advance, so I hope that they reached you. A Middle Eastern nuclear scientist has been arrested in Indiana. His name is Amir H. Sanjari. He’s in the Elkhart County Corrections Center. No one seems to know why he’s been arrested.

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

QUESTION: And I’m asking, does the State Department know why he has been arrested?

MR. KELLY: I think the short answer to that, unfortunately, is no. And I’m not sure that we would have a comment on it necessarily because it’s a – that sounds to me to be a judicial or a law enforcement issue. But we did get your question by email, and if we do have a comment, we’ll be happy to get back to you.

QUESTION: Okay. Second question: The Kingdom Assembly of Iran has taken responsibility for an attack in southern Iran where civilians were killed. They’re saying in a link in their website that they received money from the United States. What is the official stand from the United States on this organization?

MR. KELLY: Yeah. Well, I mean, you’ve asked several questions there, and I think that we would need to look at the event itself. I mean, obviously, if it was an event that – where innocent people were killed, we would deplore that. We deplore all acts of terrorism. And regarding their funding, I don’t know that we would have a comment on that. But if you want to send us the link, we can see if we can get something for you.

QUESTION: On Iran, has the United States received this new proposal from Motaki via the Swiss Ambassador?

MR. KELLY: Yeah. This is the question I tried to answer earlier. I was – I have to admit I was all locked and loaded for it.

Well, first of all, let me say that the Administration has made it clear to Iran and the whole international community that we have a new approach to Iran. And we’ve made it clear to Iran that the choice really is theirs to make. They have a stark choice: They can continue down this path of isolation from the international community, or they can choose to reintegrate with the international community. And that choice is out there for them, and we look forward to learning their choice.

We have received a proposal. We are literally in the last few minutes. We’re now reviewing it seriously and carefully. We plan to confer with our partners in the P-5+1 group. And I expect that we’ll have more to say about it in the coming days.

I think what we’ll be looking for in these proposals, or in this proposal, is, first of all, if they’ve responded to our longstanding offer to engage with us in the P-5+1 process. And second of all, we’ll look to see how in this proposal they address these longstanding concerns of the international community about Iran’s failure to comply with its nonproliferation treaty, IAEA, and Security Council obligations. So those are a few of the things that we’ll be looking for.

QUESTION: What --

MR. KELLY: I don’t have any comment on it now, obviously, because we just got it, literally, right before I --

QUESTION: So was it the Swiss ambassador --

MR. KELLY: -- came down here and then --

QUESTION: -- who received it on behalf –

MR. KELLY: I understand – yeah, I understand from press reports that all six of the representatives received it from the foreign minister.

QUESTION: Was there a separate letter specifically for the U.S.?

MR. KELLY: That I am not aware of. I mean, normally in these kinds of diplomatic communications, there is a cover note. But I have not --

QUESTION: It went through the --

MR. KELLY: -- physically seen the --

QUESTION: But it went through the Swiss, so we can say the U.S. letter went through --

MR. KELLY: That’s my understanding, yeah.

QUESTION: In Tehran or in Geneva?

MR. KELLY: In Tehran.

QUESTION: Ian, did you – you said that you expected to confer in the coming days and then have more to say about this. Is that going to be a conference call among the political directors or is that going to be some other vehicle?

MR. KELLY: I expect, because we want to do this in a very serious and – in a serious fashion, and we want to do it with dispatch, I assume it will be by conference call.

QUESTION: And among the political directors, not the foreign ministers?

MR. KELLY: Among the political directors, yeah.

QUESTION: Okay, thank you.

QUESTION: Ian, if it doesn’t contain what you’re looking for, these two items that you mentioned, are you going to go ahead and try to engage or are you going to move on to the next set of sanctions?

MR. KELLY: Again, we have to look at it carefully. We have to see how serious it is. And just as importantly, we want to make sure that we confer with our partners.

Jill, you’ve had your hand up for a while.

QUESTION: Yeah, Ian, it’s Iran, but kind of a different aspect of it.

QUESTION: Can I follow up on this first?

QUESTION: Sure.

QUESTION: Specifically on this, just – is not the fact that they gave this proposal enough for you to say, yes, they are taking your engagement offer seriously and that they’re trying to engage because they’re offering this?

MR. KELLY: Well, I think it has been concerning to us that we’ve been waiting since April – we, not just the U.S. but the other members of the P-5+1 and then Javier Solana and his office – we’ve been waiting all this time for a response that – what we thought was a very serious offer to sit down and engage. So, in the sense that we have finally some kind of official response, I mean, that, at least, is something that we can respond to ourselves. So, in that sense, I mean, this is something that we will take very seriously and look at very carefully.

Yeah. Jill.

QUESTION: Iran.

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

QUESTION: Venezuela.

MR. KELLY: Iran/Venezuela. Okay.

QUESTION: Yes. Morgenthau yesterday had this speech at Brookings in which he goes into great detail talking about efforts by Iran to use U.S. banks to subvert or go around UN sanctions, talking about pervasive system of deceitful and fraudulent practices --

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

QUESTION: -- employed by Iran to move money all over the world. And then there are other aspects to that. What does the State Department know, what does the U.S. know, about these efforts by Iran through Venezuela to undermine those sanctions?

MR. KELLY: Yeah. Well, first of all, we take any allegation of proliferation very seriously, particularly if it involves proliferation within this hemisphere. We are following the situation very closely. We are following any kind of links between Venezuela and Iran very seriously. And we would expect Venezuela, as any other UN member, to fulfill their obligations under the decisions of the UN Security Council to call upon Iran to meet its obligations under various Security Council resolutions relating to Iran.

QUESTION: Do you have doubts at this point that they are doing that?

MR. KELLY: I don’t have any specific information. As I say, Mr. Morgenthau raised some serious allegations, and we’ll look into them.

QUESTION: Are you talking to the Venezuelans or any --

MR. KELLY: I’m sure we are. We have – I mean, we have an embassy in Caracas. I’m sure we are talking to them about it.

QUESTION: If I can just go back to Iran’s nuclear issue, can I just ask about to what extent will the U.S. be coordinating a response with Iran’s neighbors in the region, both Arab nations as well as Israel?

MR. KELLY: Regarding the nuclear issue, you mean?

QUESTION: Yes.

MR. KELLY: We engage with Iran’s neighbors on a regular basis. I think, first and foremost, when we have concerns about proliferation, we’re concerned about the region and our friends and partners in that region. And so we consult with them often. They – of course, they have insights into Iran that we find – that we appreciate very much. And we listen to their concerns.

QUESTION: Defense Secretary Gates has even expressed those concerns, even urging Arab countries in the region to buy weapons to counter the Iranian threat. Are you concerned that more weapons in the region will lead to more instability?

MR. KELLY: I think that one of our main – we have a number of reasons why we’re concerned about the possibility of Iran developing ballistic missile technology and developing nuclear weapons, but one of the main reasons is that we’re concerned about destabilizing the region around Iran. We’re particularly concerned about the possibility of an arms race in the region, and this is why we’re – one of the reasons we’re encouraging Iran to take the route of integration, cooperation, and don’t take this route of going down the path of isolation.

QUESTION: Ian?

MR. KELLY: Yeah. Matt.

QUESTION: Tripoli, Libya. The Libyans brought a group of about, I think, 150 members of the Pan African Parliament to see al-Megrahi in the hospital. Some of those parliamentarians congratulated him on his release. Do you have any comment about this?

MR. KELLY: I haven’t seen that report. And we’ll look into it. I mean, what we’ve been saying consistently is that we all have to be sensitive to the feelings of the families of the victims of the Lockerbie disaster. And of course, we have --

QUESTION: Well, is this --

MR. KELLY: We have urged Libya to – not to give Mr. Megrahi a kind of public profile that would be distressing to these families.

QUESTION: Right. Well, does this – does it appear that this is showing sensitivity to --

MR. KELLY: Well, again, I haven’t seen the report, so we’d have to look into it.

Dave.

QUESTION: Ian, a naturalized American citizen of Burmese origin was arrested, apparently, earlier – or several days ago at the airport there. He was a activist during the 1988 uprising and he hasn’t been heard from, and I wonder if that’s a matter of concern.

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

QUESTION: I have the name if you want it.

MR. KELLY: Well, Dave, as you know, our first priority is the safety and well-being of American citizens as they travel overseas. And as soon as we saw this report, we did go to the Government of Burma and ask for additional information. But because of our obligations under the Privacy Act, I can’t give you any more details than that, I’m afraid.

QUESTION: Can you at least say whether you’ve sought contact with him, or consular access to him?

MR. KELLY: We have sought consular access to him.

QUESTION: Burma?

MR. KELLY: Yes.

QUESTION: The fighting’s still going on between the government and the people, and also the fighter for democracy again under arrest. So how long this will continue, and what action now you think the international community should take?

MR. KELLY: Well, I think that we’ve made it clear both bilaterally and also we’ve sought to highlight in multilateral fora like ASEAN that Burma needs to open up its political process, and most of all needs to free the more than 2,000 political prisoners that are incarcerated in Burma. And we, of course, are not alone in those concerns. Our allies in Europe have also called for the release of the political prisoners. We, of course, have – are aware that Aung San Suu Kyi will have an appeal heard in a couple weeks. I don’t have the exact date right now. But we would urge a fair hearing of Aung San Suu Kyi’s appeal.

QUESTION: Just a quick follow-up. Ever – Burma comes between U.S. and India when they meet – the situation in Burma ever?

MR. KELLY: Does the situation of Burma ever come up and – I think it depends on the circumstance. It depends on what’s going on in what particular forum. But since we do talk about the case of political prisoners in Burma often with our partners in that region, I imagine it does come up fairly often.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MR. KELLY: Thank you.

QUESTION: No, no, no, hold on. Ian, POGO says that it’s got no response from you guys to its 10-page letter to Secretary Clinton about the Embassy in Kabul, the guards at the Embassy in Kabul. And the response that they got is a – refers them to the daily press briefing, the answers that were given on – I believe it was September 1st. Is that really an appropriate response to an oversight or to – you know, a group that sent you – that compiled all this information and --

MR. KELLY: You’re saying this was their response to – POGO?

QUESTION: No, no. This was the State – State Department’s response to POGO to the 10-page letter that was sent to Secretary Clinton.

MR. KELLY: Well --

QUESTION: It’s a very short one-line – one or two-line thing that says, “We refer -- ” you know, it provides them with the link --

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

QUESTION: -- the URL to the month – to that transcript.

QUESTION: It almost looks computer-generated.

MR. KELLY: Can I see that? Do you have a copy of it?

QUESTION: Sure.

MR. KELLY: Okay.

QUESTION: You posted it.

MR. KELLY: All right. I’d like to see it and then we can comment on it.

QUESTION: On North Korea?

MR. KELLY: Okay. One last on --

QUESTION: Yeah, one more.

QUESTION: Well, wait. Can we stay on Afghanistan?

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

QUESTION: Is there anything new on the election fraud and contacts that you guys have had with the Afghans about this?

MR. KELLY: I don’t really have anything to update from what I said yesterday in terms of what’s going on the ground in Kabul. I can say that the Secretary is very much engaged in the issue of Afghanistan. It’s fair to say that it’s moved to the top of her agenda, really, in the last few days. She’s spoken a couple times with Ambassador Eikenberry. She met with Ambassador Holbrooke today, and he just came back from the region. She’s looking forward to speaking to Deputy Secretary Lew tomorrow when he comes back from Kabul.

She also is going to meet with a number of senators tonight who have just come back from the region, and get a debrief from them – this is Senators Levin, Reed, and Kaufman. And she’s touching base around town here – White House, NSC, DOD. This is – it’s a very important issue to us and it’s very – it’s important that we get it right.

QUESTION: Did Eikenberry meet with Karzai yesterday? Did Eikenberry meet with him a second time?

MR. KELLY: I believe he did.

QUESTION: Okay. Could you tell us what the agenda of that meeting was compared to --

MR. KELLY: Well I can – I can’t give you a detailed readout of it, but what I can tell you is that they did discuss the elections, and the message that he delivered is very much the same message that we’re delivering publicly on the need for these elections to be seen as credible and legitimate in the eyes of the Afghan people and the eyes of the world.

QUESTION: And since your public call for patience among the – and for him to not declare victory, are you satisfied with the way he’s acted?

MR. KELLY: We’re very satisfied with the way the Afghan authorities have responded to this with the --

QUESTION: What about Karzai?

MR. KELLY: Well, the – Karzai, I think, has – he is also refraining from publicly commenting on the outcome of the election, giving a chance for the process to work out. Afghan governmental organs are also responding to the allegations of complaints. The – I think we all need to focus on this process and keep in mind that we’re dealing with a country that didn’t have any of these institutions even a few months ago. And so it’s encouraging that they do have this mechanism in place, and we all need to give it a chance to work.

QUESTION: When you say it’s gone to the top of her agenda, it may imply she might make a statement about this or --

MR. KELLY: Oh, I’m not aware that she’s going to make a statement. I think we’ll have more to say in the coming days, especially as Deputy Secretary Lew gets back and has a chance to debrief and, of course, Ambassador Holbrooke’s had a chance to debrief.

QUESTION: What do you make of the NATO Secretary General’s points that this is – he’s expressed concern about the growing public skepticism because of this lack of – seeming lack of legitimacy over the --

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

QUESTION: -- election results? He said that this is something that he’s very concerned about and --

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

QUESTION: -- he’s thinking that the discourse has started to go in the wrong direction.

MR. KELLY: Well --

QUESTION: Do you disagree with that?

MR. KELLY: Yeah. I haven’t seen his precise remarks, and I would want to see them before I would comment exactly on what he said, but – I mean, clearly, we are concerned. We’re concerned that all of these allegations, and the – as the Election Complaints Commission itself said, there is clear and convincing evidence that there was this kind of fraud on a large scale. So we are concerned that the proper authorities in Afghanistan take these charges very seriously and deal with them in a way that people can have confidence in these elections.

QUESTION: The Europeans are calling for a conference on Afghanistan. Is that something you’re – the U.S. would be participating in towards --

MR. KELLY: Yeah. Yeah. I think this was asked yesterday and I – we would be – of course, we look forward to further details of this conference, and we would look forward to participating in it.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MR. KELLY: Last question back there.

QUESTION: Yeah, okay, on North Korea. Today in Seoul, a South Korean Government official told reporters that the five parties except North Korea came to an understanding of having U.S.-North Korea bilateral meeting to facilitate the Six-Party Talks. So now is it possible that U.S. have bilateral talk with North Korea --

MR. KELLY: Well --

QUESTION: -- outside Six-Party Talk --

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

QUESTION: -- to facilitate the Six-Party process?

MR. KELLY: Yeah. I want to give a chance to the delegation to come back and debrief us on it. I think we’ve been clear all along that whatever we do has to be in very close consultation with our parties because we believe that’s the best way to solve this conflict, in a Six-Party context.

Okay. Thank you.

(The briefing was concluded at 1:41 p.m.)



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