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U.S. Department of State - Great Seal

U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action


Mark C. Toner
Acting Deputy Department Spokesman
Daily Press Briefing
Washington, DC
March 30, 2010


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Index for Today's Briefing
  • DEPARTMENT
    • Secretary Clinton's schedule for today/meeting with G8 counterparts/Press Avail
    • Secretary Clinton's participation in Haiti Donors' Conference tomorrow
    • Counselor Cheryl Mills, Assistant Secretary Brimmer, and Assistant Secretary Arturo Valenzuela will brief members of the Foreign press on the International Donors' Conference Towards a New Future for Haiti
    • Secretary's meeting with Foreign Minister Okada/discussed wide-range of bilateral, regional, and international issues/base realignment/issuance of joint statement on Asia-Pacific economic cooperation and regional economic affairs
    • U.S. and Vietnam have reaffirmed a common commitment to the responsible expansion of civil nuclear power/memorandum of understanding/increased cooperation
  • JAPAN
    • Japan shared its current thinking with regard to Futenma/good, positive meeting/U.S. continue to talk to Japanese
  • RUSSIA
    • Bombing in Moscow/refer to Russian authorities/issued public statement expressing deepest condolences
  • VIETNAM
    • 123 Agreement/a step in that direction/country-by-country basis
  • CHINA
    • Forward movement on Iran from the Chinese side/consulting/ongoing process/goals among the P5+1 remain the same/obligations with the IAEA, the NPT, UN Security Council/continue to consult closely with P5+1/dual-track approach
    • Google/we've made our concerns known on this case to the Chinese Government/internet freedom
  • THAILAND
    • Prime Minister Abhisit and the red shirt demonstrators/watching current situation/encouraged by the recent talks between the government and opposition leaders/addressed through Thailand's democratic institutions/demonstrations are a hallmark of a democratic society/foreswear the use of violence/right to assemble


TRANSCRIPT:

1:23 p.m. EDT

MR. TONER: Good afternoon, everyone. Welcome to the State Department. I’d like to begin just with a brief rundown of the Secretary’s activities today. She spent this morning meeting with her other G-8 counterparts in a session focused on nonproliferation and disarmament. She’ll have a press avail at – with her colleagues later in the day, I think around 2:30, and then she’ll depart Canada and head to New York, where she’ll participate in the Haiti donors’ conference tomorrow.

On that note, just a reminder too, at 2 o’clock, Counselor Cheryl Mills, Assistant Secretary Esther Brimmer, and Assistant Secretary Arturo Valenzuela will brief members of the foreign press on the International Donors’ Conference Towards a New Future for Haiti. And that will be at the New York Foreign Press Center, and I believe we’re going to have that piped down to the bullpen room as well. So we need to hurry.

Just – since it took place last night, I just wanted to give folks – or yesterday evening, rather – a quick rundown or a quick readout of the Secretary’s meeting with Foreign Minister Okada that took place – Japanese Foreign Minister Okada that took place in Ottawa. They discussed a wide range of bilateral, regional, and international issues, including base realignment. They also discussed North Korea, Iran, Burma. In addition, the two sides issued a joint statement on cooperation on Asia – on the Asia-Pacific economic cooperation and regional economic affairs during 2010 and 2011.

And I also wanted to call your attention to – the United States and Vietnam have reaffirmed a common commitment to the responsible expansion of civil nuclear power and reiterated that this expansion must proceed in a manner that maximizes nuclear safety and security and minimizes proliferation risk. On March 30th, 2010, the U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam and the vice minister of science and technology, the Vietnamese vice minister of science and technology, signed a memorandum of understanding concerning cooperation in the civil nuclear field. This memorandum will open the door for increased cooperation in such areas as the development of human resources and safety and security infrastructure, access to reliable sources of nuclear fuel, and the management of radioactive waste and used fuel.

Vietnam has demonstrated its commitment to responsible expansion of nuclear power through careful steps taken in cooperation with the United States among other international partners towards the development of the robust nuclear infrastructure needed to oversee the deployment of its first nuclear power plant over the coming decades.

Have we released that media note yet or is it –

STAFF: (Inaudible.)

MR. TONER: Okay. We’ll release that shortly. That’s all I have for you. I’ll take your questions.

QUESTION: Could we follow up on the Okada-Clinton meeting?

MR. TONER: Sure.

QUESTION: Just on the – I was wondering in how much detail the base realignment issue came up and whether – I know they didn’t give a final proposal or anything, but how much --

MR. TONER: Sure.

QUESTION: -- whether there is the sense that that’s moving forward.

MR. TONER: Well, I’d say that the Government of Japan certainly shared its current thinking with regard to Futenma, and obviously will carefully consider that. It was a good, positive meeting. Of course, our views remain the same. They haven’t changed. But we’re going to continue to talk with the Japanese as we move forward.

Yes, sure. Jill.

QUESTION: Mark, on the bombing in Moscow, the Foreign Minister Lavrov is being quoted as saying that there might – he can’t exclude the possibility of having a connection to al-Qaida. Does the State Department agree that that might be a possibility?

MR. TONER: Sure. I don’t have a lot on this issue. I just would refer you to the Russian authorities. I mean, I’ve seen the press reports, as you have, obviously. As you know, the President – we issued a public statement. The President as well as the Secretary expressed our deepest condolences. But in terms of any responsibility or any claims of responsibility or any allegations of responsibility, I’d refer you to the Russian authorities.

QUESTION: And as with the cooperation, you mentioned – or --

MR. TONER: We’ve certainly extended that cooperation, so if they ask us – if they required or asked for it, then it’s certainly there for them.

Sure, please.

QUESTION: Just to follow on that --

MR. TONER: Sure.

QUESTION: -- I would take it that means that they haven’t asked for anything specific yet?

MR. TONER: Not to my understanding --

QUESTION: Okay.

MR. TONER: -- or my knowledge, rather.

QUESTION: Thanks. What I was going to ask you was what are the similarities between this memorandum that you’ve signed with the Vietnamese and a nuclear 123 agreement? Or what’s the difference, rather?

MR. TONER: Sure.

QUESTION: Yeah.

MR. TONER: Let me see if I have a little bit more detail on that for you.

QUESTION: Is it one step short of that or --

QUESTION: Yeah, that’s what --

MR. TONER: I think you’re correct on that, but hold on. Let me just --

QUESTION: Yeah.

QUESTION: A step in that direction, maybe?

MR. TONER: Yeah. I think what it is, is it’s – it is, in fact, a step in that direction. And again, we do these on a country-by-country basis, but certainly moving towards the – towards that eventual goal.

QUESTION: It doesn’t involve in any congressional – and there’s no need for any congressional input on this? Like, for the 123 agreement, I know that Congress can --

MR. TONER: Right.

QUESTION: -- sort of stop it, they can block it. But I take it this is not --

MR. TONER: Sure.

QUESTION: -- as far as you know, blockable? (Laughter.)

MR. TONER: At this stage, I’m not sure. So we can certainly check on that, Sue, and get back to you.

QUESTION: Okay. Fine.

MR. TONER: Sorry, right behind you and then Jill.

QUESTION: North Korea’s highest-ranking defector Hwang Jang Yop will arrive in Washington, D.C. today. Do you have any information on that, or will any members from the State Department will meet him?

MR. TONER: Sure. I’m not sure – the last part of your question was – he’s where?

QUESTION: He will arrive Washington, D.C. today.

MR. TONER: Oh, okay. I’m not aware of that. If we have anything to say or to announce on it, I’ll let you know. But I wasn’t aware of that.

Jill.

QUESTION: On the nuclear summit that’s coming up on the 13th, is – do you know yet what participation the Secretary might have in that?

MR. TONER: I don’t. When we have something to announce, we’ll let you know, but nothing at this point.

Sure.

QUESTION: Sure. On China, yesterday the new Chinese ambassador presented his credentials to the President and there was a very positive reaction from Beijing to the – to that, to the statements by the White House.

MR. TONER: Sure.

QUESTION: Also, yesterday Jim Steinberg was mentioning that he sees some sort of forward movement on Iran from the Chinese side. I just wondered if there could be a bit more detail in terms of how you see that, particularly with Iran. Do you see China supporting more robust measures, such as sanctions, or is it not at that stage yet?

MR. TONER: Sure, sure. Well, look, the Secretary and the President – everyone has been quite clear that we’ve been consulting, this has been an ongoing process. Our goals among the P-5+1 remain the same, and that’s a unified, unambiguous message from the international community, and that’s one that holds Iran accountable to its obligations with the IAEA, the NPT, and of course, the UN Security Council.

In terms of what we’re looking for or in terms of where we’re at with China, I would just say we continue to consult closely with all the P-5+1, and China is certainly part of that process. And I think the Secretary alluded to it or spoke to it, addressed it yesterday in her interview with CTV, which is simply that we continue to work closely with China, and China certainly agrees and supports the dual-track approach. So – but as to specific sanctions or where we’re at with that process continuing, dialogue continuing, but nothing concrete yet.

Sure, in the back.

QUESTION: Does the State Department have any comment on what’s happening with Google in China apparently shutting access to –

MR. TONER: I saw something about that. I saw some press reports that their internet access was blocked or it appeared to be. I don’t think we go much beyond what we’ve said recently, just because I haven’t had, frankly, a chance to digest it. If we have something to say more to that specific point or the specific news, we can get that to you later. But obviously, we’ve made our concerns known on this case to the Chinese Government. And obviously as well, the Secretary and the President have both spoken a great deal about the importance of internet freedom and the fact that it’s a core foreign policy goal of this Administration.

Sure, Jill.

QUESTION: One more on that.

MR. TONER: Yeah.

QUESTION: Nonproliferation, et cetera, disarmament. What exactly is the Secretary – can you give us a little bit more on that, what she’s –

MR. TONER: Oh, what she’s doing up at G-8 or today?

QUESTION: Yeah, specifically on the nonproliferation/disarmament side of it. Did I understand that, or was that –

MR. TONER: She’s attending – no, she’s certainly attending a session this morning. I mean, frankly, I don’t want to get out ahead. She’s doing something at 2:30 where she’ll kind of give an overview of her day. So it’s, frankly, better for her to address from there rather than me from here. Sorry.

QUESTION: Okay.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: Wait --

MR. TONER: Go ahead, one more.

QUESTION: Sure, just on a different topic. In Thailand, the situation has been tense for the past – for a while there. But apparently, there’s been a breakdown in the communication between Prime Minister Abhisit and the red shirt demonstrators.

MR. TONER: Right.

QUESTION: Does the U.S. have a stance on that and where they’d like Thailand to go?

MR. TONER: Sure. We are closely watching, obviously, the current situation. We are encouraged by the recent talks between the government and opposition leaders. And we hope, frankly, that differences can be addressed through Thailand’s democratic institutions, and certainly not through violence. I’d just add that peaceful demonstrations are a hallmark of a democratic society, and we certainly call on protestors and their leaders to foreswear the use of violence and to exercise their right to assemble and protest peacefully in accordance with the law.

Is that it? Thanks, guys.

(The briefing was concluded at 1:35 p.m.)



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