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U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action


Ian Kelly
Department Spokesman
Daily Press Briefing
Washington, DC
September 21, 2009


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Index for Today's Briefing
  • SECRETARY
    • Secretary Clinton at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) / Meetings /Readouts
  • UN GENERAL ASSEMBLY
    • President Obama Will Hold Trilateral Summit with Israel and the Palestinians to Help Advance Efforts and Resume Meaningful Negotiations for Peace in the Region
    • Secretary Clinton Looks Forward to Participating in President Obama's Program of Nonproliferation, Climate Change, and Food Security
    • Important Departure from the Practice of a Few Years is a UN Security Council Meeting at the Head-of-State and Government Level
    • Mr. Qadhafi Will be Coming to the UN General Assembly / Will Participate in a Number of Meetings
    • U.S. has Broad Bilateral Agenda with Libya and We Have a Number of Programs of Cooperation
    • There are No plans to Meet with Any Officials from North Korea in New York
  • PAKISTAN
    • U.S. Concerns About A.Q. Khan Have Been Very Clear and Public / Working Closely with Government of Pakistan to Ensure Proper Safeguards for Their Own Nuclear Program
  • HONDURAS
    • President Zelaya has Returned to Honduras
    • U.S. calls on Both Sides to Exercise Restraint and Refrain from Any kind of Action that Could Provoke Violence
  • SCOTLAND
    • U.S. Recognized that Mr. MacAskill had the Right to Do What He Did
    • U.S. Objected Extremely Strenuously to the Release of Mr. Megrahi
    • U.S. Looking to Continue Cooperation that We Have with the United Kingdom and Scotland
    • U.S. and Scotland are Close Allies


TRANSCRIPT:

1:28 p.m. EDT

MR. KELLY: Good afternoon. I think as you know, the Secretary is in New York. She has a number of meetings today that she’s arranging before the President arrives later this afternoon. She plans to have or has had, depending on the case, bilateral meetings with foreign ministers from South Korea, Czech Republic, Turkmenistan, and Japan. She will also be meeting with the presidents of Costa Rica and Georgia, and is also going to participate in a trilateral strategic dialogue with Japan and Australia.

My colleagues have established a press office up in New York, and so obviously any questions related to these meetings I would refer to them. And I think that briefings are being arranged for most of these meetings, kind of readout type briefings.

So with that, I will turn it over to your questions. Indira.

QUESTION: Yes. Ian, can you tell us a little bit about this trilateral summit that Obama is going to have with the Israeli and Palestinian leaders, and what do they actually hope to accomplish given that both sides have said that this is not really a return to talks?

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

QUESTION: Is it just symbolic? Even Robert Gibbs has said that they’re not expecting any grand expectations to come out of it, so why have it if it’s just symbolic?

MR. KELLY: Well, I think anything that helps advance our efforts towards our ultimate goal of resuming meaningful negotiations that would lead to a regional peace in the region, that any such meetings would be helpful and valuable. And this is exactly what they plan to do tomorrow in New York. I think it’s – as the White House said over the weekend, it’s also an indication of the President’s own deep commitment to finding a way forward to this comprehensive peace, and it shows that he is personally engaged in the effort.

QUESTION: Can I just follow on the UN? What will be new this year under the new Administration of President Obama? This is the first time for him to address the UN.

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

QUESTION: Because as far as terrorism is concerned or communism or dictators are still on the rise.

MR. KELLY: Yeah. Well, Goyal, there’s not much I can add to what has already been said on different occasions. You had the Secretary on Friday, and you had Ambassador Rice also at the White House briefing room on Friday. The Assistant Secretary for International Organizations had a briefing up in New York today as well.

The Secretary looks forward to participating in the President’s program over the next few days, and the President will have a speech to the UN General Assembly on Wednesday, when he will lay out some of our priorities. Some of these priorities have already been laid out in terms of issues like nonproliferation and climate change, the need to address the problems of climate change and the need to address the issues of food security. So I’ll let the President speak for himself in a couple of days.

QUESTION: Are we going to see anything new this year than comparing the past, or let’s say the eight years or whatever, as far as outcome?

MR. KELLY: Yeah. Well, I think – I don’t know if it’s new or not, but I think that an interesting and important departure from the practice of a few years is that we’re going to have a meeting of the UN Security Council at the head-of-state and government level, and I just think that that indicates the importance this Administration gives to the need for a multilateral approach to the important issues of our day, particularly relating to security issues.

QUESTION: Ian, sorry.

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

QUESTION: Just following on the original question, I just want to follow-up with you. The whole idea of what we could possibly expect out of it --

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

QUESTION: Since the Palestinians have said there’ll be no new negotiations until Israelis do a settlement freeze, what can we – and this is not a real return to talks – this summit.

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

QUESTION: What can we realistically expect to come out of this summit?

MR. KELLY: Well, I mean, this meeting is going to happen tomorrow.

QUESTION: Right.

MR. KELLY: It’s the – or meetings, I should say, because there will be two bilateral meetings, then, of course, the trilateral meeting. Again, I just think it really – it shows that we are ready to engage at the highest levels of our government to try and bring about something that we’ve all wanted, that all sides have wanted, for decades, and that’s a lasting regional peace. But I’m not going to tell you what necessarily we expect to achieve out of this. I think that’s really a question for the White House.

Yeah.

QUESTION: Just wanted to get you to respond to an article in Britain’s Sunday Times newspaper written by Simon Henderson. In it, he talks about a letter dated December the 10th, 2003, which he says was written by A.Q. Khan. And the suggestion here is that the narrative around A.Q. Khan has been that he has been singled out as pretty much the sole source of the proliferation problem that Pakistan had, whereas the suggestion is that there was a much broader problem within Pakistan in terms of encouraging proliferation with the likes of China, Libya, Iran, and North Korea.

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

QUESTION: Do you have any response to that?

MR. KELLY: Well, I haven’t seen the article that you’re referring to. I certainly will look it up after the briefing. But I think that our concerns about Mr. A.Q. Khan have been very clear and very public, and we’ve passed them both through private diplomatic channels, and we’ve also made our views known publicly. I think that we’re working very closely with the Government of Pakistan to ensure that there are proper safeguards for their own nuclear program. And we’ve also worked very closely with them in terms of making sure that there isn’t any kind of proliferation of any kind of technology or information or hardware.

QUESTION: Do you know if the U.S. has seen this letter and whether there --

MR. KELLY: No. I don’t know what letter you refer to, so we’ll have to take a look at that, and maybe tomorrow we can get you some more information on that.

Yeah.

QUESTION: On Honduras, please?

MR. KELLY: Yes.

QUESTION: Do we know if President Zelaya has come home? And what does it signal?

MR. KELLY: Well, you know, literally, as I was about to come down, I saw the news report and I was able to talk to my colleagues in the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs. It does seem to be true that he has returned to Honduras. And the Embassy is still seeking details about what he hopes to achieve and what his next steps are.

I think that at this point, really, all I can say is reiterate our almost daily call on both sides to exercise restraint and refrain from any kind of action that would have any possible outcome in violence, refrain from activities that would – could provoke violence.

QUESTION: How did he come in, and where is he? What --

MR. KELLY: Don’t know.

QUESTION: When did it happen?

MR. KELLY: Like I say, the Embassy is trying to find out these details. But I do know that we have confirmed that he’s in Honduras. Where exactly he is, I don’t know. And we’re just trying to find out more details.

QUESTION: Last time we tuned in, he was under threat of arrest if he came home. Is that still what’s in play right now?

MR. KELLY: I’d have to refer you to the de facto regime in Tegucigalpa. Of course, we believe that he’s the democratic – democratically elected and constitutional leader of Honduras.

Yes.

QUESTION: Glenn Campbell from the BBC. Has the United States forgiven the Scottish Government for releasing the man convicted of the Lockerbie bombing?

MR. KELLY: Well, our views on that issue, of course, are extremely well known. Again, we’ve passed these views both in private channels and in – also publicly. I think just about everything that we have said to the governments in London and Edinburgh through diplomatic channels have mirrored what we’ve said publicly. I don’t think it’s a matter of forgiving anybody. I think all along, we recognized that Mr. MacAskill had the right to do what he did. We objected extremely strenuously at many different levels and in many different channels to the release of Mr. Megrahi.

I think at this point, we’re looking to move on. We’re looking to continue the very important cooperation that we have with the United Kingdom and with Scotland. We have very deep and abiding ties with Scotland. These ties are cultural. They’re – we share political values. We have many family ties. My own father, as you probably can guess from my first name, is Scottish. He was born in Edinburgh. So we’re looking to move on. We’re looking for a – to continue this important relationship that we have with Scotland.

QUESTION: Is there any diplomatic price for the Scottish Government to pay?

MR. KELLY: We are very close allies, and I think allies – I don’t think we’re looking to punish anybody, per se. There’s no tit-for-tat here.

I’m going to go in the back, Goyal. I’ll come back to you. Yeah.

QUESTION: Just following on from that – I’m sorry, Ali Hunter, BBC Scotland.

MR. KELLY: I love these accents.

QUESTION: Thank you. What kind of welcome can Libya’s Colonel Qadhafi expect from the U.S. Government?

MR. KELLY: What kind of welcome can he expect? I liked the other question better, actually. (Laughter.)

Well, of course, Mr. Qadhafi will be coming to the UN General Assembly. He will participate in a number of meetings. We have a broad bilateral agenda with Libya and we have a number of programs of cooperation. And we, of course, look forward to continuing these – this bilateral relationship that we have.

Yeah. Goyal, back to you.

QUESTION: A quick question. One is Special Ambassador Rapp on war crimes in Sri Lanka, he has given a special report to Congress and also a copy, I think, to the Secretary or President. Have you any comments on what we’re looking as far as war crimes in Sri Lanka?

MR. KELLY: Yeah. Goyal, I don’t have anything – I don’t have a specific reaction to that or any – I need to get more background, and let me see if I can get you more information.

QUESTION: Can you give us the details of to whom in Congress he submitted that report today?

MR. KELLY: Yeah. I’ll have to get – I need to get the details for you. So we’ll take the question.

QUESTION: Another one, if you are aware of – there is some intelligence reports from Israel. Israeli intelligence has told Indians – Indian Government that there might be imminent attack throughout India beyond Mumbai that (inaudible). Do you have any idea if the U.S. is aware of that?

MR. KELLY: No. I mean, we don’t – I’d have to refer you to the Government of Israel on that. Of course, we’re very concerned about the terrorist threat. And I think the Government of India is very cognizant of the terrorist threat in general, especially after the very traumatic events of Mumbai. But I don’t have any specific comments on these specific reports.

Yeah.

QUESTION: On Iran?

MR. KELLY: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: It is reported that Iranian Government requested 25 visas for the UN General Assembly, and as of last Friday night, State Department didn’t issue – didn’t approve it yet. Do you have any updates on that?

MR. KELLY: I don’t have any visa information here before me, but if we can get some information, we’ll get it for you.

Okay? One last question? Yeah.

QUESTION: There are reports that three of the 9/11 masterminds – the alleged masterminds – want to fire their legal team (inaudible) an ACLU official. Any response to that?

MR. KELLY: No, I don’t have any responses as the State Department Spokesman, but I’d just have to refer you to both the Department of Justice and – well, primarily, the Department of Justice, but of course, the Department of Defense has some equities in this as well.

Well, I guess we have a couple more questions, then. Go ahead.

QUESTION: You mentioned that there would be a trilateral between Japan --

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

QUESTION: -- Australia and the U.S. So why?

MR. KELLY: I think this is – I remember we tried to do this in ASEAN, at the ASEAN Regional Forum, and this is postponed from that meeting. But for specifics on it, you’ll have to consult with my colleagues up in New York.

Yeah. And this is the last question, to Indira. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: Okay. Could we get any updates on North Korea, particularly the fact that the Secretary is going to get a chance to meet with her other four party partners --

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

QUESTION: -- this week? Any update on whether there will be any contacts with the North Korean delegation or whether Bosworth has accepted their invitation –

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

QUESTION: -- and what’s afoot with the North Korean talks?

MR. KELLY: Well, okay. Those are – I can give you pretty succinct answers to those. There are no plans to meet with any officials from the – from North Korea up in New York. There’s been no decision on whether or not to – whether or not Ambassador Bosworth will accept the invitation.

And then finally, yes, there will be a number of consultations up in New York, both the Secretary – as you mentioned, she’s meeting with two of her colleagues in the four parties today. And then Ambassador Sung Kim, our special envoy to the Six-Party Talks, will also have a number of meetings with his counterparts up in New York. But I don’t have a list of Ambassador Kim’s meetings at this time. But again, there are no plans to have any meetings with any North Korean.

Thank you.

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



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