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U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action

Gordon Duguid
Department Spokesman
Daily Press Briefing
Washington, DC
May 19, 2010

Index for Today's Briefing
    • Under Secretary Otero is in Indonesia / Signed Memorandum of Understanding / Partnership between USAID and Bank Rakyat Indonesia
    • Under Secretary McHale hosts Russian Deputy Minister Alexander Golutva, U.S. and Russian cultural leaders to discuss progress of their working group under the U.S.-Russia Bilateral Presidential Commission
    • USAID Administrator Shah delivers the keynote speech Thursday at a symposium that is part of the Chicago Council's Global Agricultural Development Initiative
    • U.S. deeply deplores violence and loss of life as a result of clashes between security forces and protestors from the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship / Call on both sides to show restraint / Work to resolve differences
    • U.S. Embassy is closed to the public / Providing emergency and limited routine consular services to U.S. citizens at the Westin Grand Sukhumvit Hotel / Check Embassy website for more details and scheduling
  • CUBA
    • The U.S. and Cuba are holding talks on the Deepwater Horizon oil spill / Talks are being held at the working level
    • Seventeen countries have offered assistance / Most offers have been for boons and dispersants / U.S. Coast Guard will make decisions on offers of acceptance for the U.S. Government
  • IRAN
    • Talks on sanctions and annexes are ongoing at the UN Security Council / Turkey and Brazil are part of those discussions at the Security Council
    • Not aware of any movement to designate North Korea as a State Sponsor of Terrorism
    • Expect South Korea to release its report this evening on the results of the investigation into the sinking of the Cheonan
    • North Korea should cease all provocative actions, denuclearize, comply with UN Security Council resolutions and rebuild the confidence of the international community
    • U.S. is dedicated to the security of South Korea


12:50 p.m. EDT

MR. DUGUID: Okay, folks, I’m going to read a couple of announcements for your edification, our mutual edification I should say, and then we’ll get started on the meat of the discussion. Is everybody here who wants to be here? I don’t want to start before we’re – okay.

First off, Under Secretary for Democracy and Global Affairs Mario Otero is currently in Indonesia. Yesterday, she signed a Memorandum of Understanding establishing a partnership between U.S. Agency for International Development and Bank Rakyat Indonesia to expand innovative microfinance tools for low-income people that will provide better access to water and basic sanitation.

Can we close that door up there, please?

Under Secretary Judith McHale is today hosting Deputy Minister of Culture Alexander Golutva, along with delegations of Russian and American cultural leaders, to discuss the progress of their working group under the U.S.-Russia Bilateral Presidential Commission. The group is looking at ways to increase ties between the U.S. and Russia in areas of visual arts, performing arts, film, and literature.

Under Secretary McHale also oversees the sports working group of bilateral – of the bilateral commission. And the first sports exchange to be carried out as a result of that group’s efforts is taking place this week with 22 young Russian basketball players in Washington, D.C., on a Sports United program organized by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. The group will take part in basketball clinics at various levels, including one today at the Verizon Center taught by women’s National Basketball Association and the National Basketball Association, as well as basketball skills training with their American counterparts at local high schools.

And tomorrow, USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah will deliver a keynote speech at the start of a day-long symposium, which is part of the Chicago Council’s Global Agricultural Development Initiative. He will outline the U.S. Government’s new architecture for food security and officially release the Feed the Future Guide, the implementation strategy for the U.S. Government’s Global Hunger and Food Security Initiative.

QUESTION: That’s in Chicago?

MR. DUGUID: That’s in Chicago.

QUESTION: No, the event is here.

MR. DUGUID: The event is here, I beg your pardon.

QUESTION: The event is here?

MR. DUGUID: It’s part of the Chicago Council of Global Agricultural Development Initiative, which – I stand corrected – is here.

QUESTION: Gordon, do you have anything that’s actually newsworthy? (Laughter.)

MR. DUGUID: I have maybe one or two things there, Matt.

I know that Assistant Secretary Campbell mentioned the ongoing violence in Thailand during his intervention just a moment ago. I would like to say that the United States deeply deplores the violence and loss of life that has resulted from clashes between security forces and protests from the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship. We call on both sides to show restraint and to work to resolve differences through Thailand’s democratic institutions.

We are encouraged by the actions of the Red Shirt leaders who have surrendered to law enforcement agencies and support their call to supporters to return home peacefully. However, we are deeply concerned that Red Shirt supporters have engaged in arson targeting the electricity infrastructure and media outlets and have attacked individual journalists. We condemn such behavior and call on UDD leaders and affiliated opposition politicians to urge their supporters to stop such acts. We remain very concerned about the situation in Thailand and we will continue to monitor those events closely.

With that, I’ll take your questions.

QUESTION: Is the American Embassy opened, closed, whatever?

MR. DUGUID: The U.S. Embassy is currently closed, however it is providing some emergency services and limited routine consular services to U.S. citizens at the Westin Grand Sukhumvit Hotel --

QUESTION: Sukhumvit.

MR. DUGUID: Sukhumvit – I beg your pardon – working from 8 a.m. until noon, Monday through Friday. Americans in Thailand, or people who need routine consular services, should consult the Embassy web page for more details about the services offered and scheduling an appointment.

QUESTION: I had a question on Cuba.

MR. DUGUID: Yes, sir.

QUESTION: Do you want to talk about U.S.-Cuban talks on the oil slick?

MR. DUGUID: I can confirm that today --

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

MR. DUGUID: I can confirm that they are ongoing and they are going on at the working level. I don’t have more details than that.

QUESTION: You don’t know who the workers are?

MR. DUGUID: Not at this point.

QUESTION: When did they start working?

MR. DUGUID: I only know that they have – they’re ongoing today. I do not know if they started yesterday.

QUESTION: Do you know where they’re taking place?

MR. DUGUID: I don’t have all that information for you. As soon as I do, I will --

QUESTION: I know you say you don’t have any more, but just in case, have the Cubans offered to help at all?

MR. DUGUID: I don’t have the outcome of the discussions yet. They’re ongoing. As soon as we have something on those discussions, I’ll be happy to share it with you.

QUESTION: P.J. said there was some level of obligation on the U.S.’s part when an oil spill happens to talk to other islands in the Caribbean about this. Does – is there any obligation beyond simply notifying these countries that this has occurred and that this could pose an environmental or economic threat to these other countries?

MR. DUGUID: Well, I’m not sure of the specific treaty obligations or international law obligations. Of course, it is incumbent upon us to inform all of our neighbors, not just the islands, but those countries that could be affected by disasters that happen within our territorial waters. I think that we are meeting our obligations in trying to clean up the oil as quickly as can be effectively done. Beyond those two, I do not know if there are other obligations that we have. But those seem to be the two most immediate.

QUESTION: Okay. Could you find out if there is anything beyond that?


QUESTION: Can you update us on how many countries have offered assistance?

MR. DUGUID: It’s still at 17.

QUESTION: Still at 17?


QUESTION: Can you tell us why none of those have been accepted so far?

MR. DUGUID: I don’t know that none of them have been accepted. I know that BP has accepted some directly without going to the U.S. The offers were mostly for booms and dispersants. There are some offers of support which come in the form of “If you let us know what you need, we’ll be happy to see if we can provide that.” There are others that were for equipment that the U.S. or BP had in supply at the time and was not running short. So there were different types of offers, and I have an understanding that BP may have accepted one or two. I don’t have the details of that.

QUESTION: Just on what maybe they have accepted, I think when P.J. first told us about some of the things he listed as being offered were expertise. And it sounds like they could use as much as they can get right now, seeing that they haven’t been able to stop the damn thing. Can you tell us --

MR. DUGUID: We’ll let BP decide on what expertise they do need.

QUESTION: So it was up to BP earlier? It’s not your decision?

MR. DUGUID: The decision on what to accept is being done for the U.S. Government by the Coast Guard. They are the authoritative agency to make those decisions. BP, being a private company, can accept the help that is offered to it directly. We don’t control that. However, the expertise that is there in the Gulf is working very hard to try and contain this spill and to cap that – cap the well.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) tell us why the U.S. Government hasn’t accepted any of it yet?

MR. DUGUID: Again, we are ready to accept as soon as we feel we need the offers that are on the table. The booms and the dispersants on offer were not needed at the time, but they were made. We are keeping an eye on what supplies we do need. And as we see that our supplies are running low, it may be at that point in time to accept offers from particular governments. But we haven’t done so at this moment, as far as I know.

QUESTION: On Iran, after yesterday’s session, you got feedback from the members, and when do you expect the vote?

MR. DUGUID: Well, the feedback will be ongoing as the talks are ongoing right now, not only on the sanctions itself but also on the annexes. The work is, of course, underway today. I’m not at liberty to go into any reaction by other members of the Security Council, but the sanctions are being worked on at the moment. The – this process now has a momentum of its own. As you’ve seen in past UN Security Council resolution discussions, things will move at a pace that is now determined the Security Council. And we’ll wait and see how on a day-to-day basis if we need to, but certainly over the course of time what we’re going to come out with in the end.

QUESTION: Has anybody spoken to Turkey and Brazil since the Secretary’s announcement yesterday?

MR. DUGUID: Not to my knowledge since the Secretary has spoken to them. However, I know that Turkey and Brazil are part of the discussion in New York because we are discussing this with the Security Council.

QUESTION: On the annexes, have you made progress? I mean, these are companies controlled by the Republican Guard. Will it need to be put on that list? Are there any –

MR. DUGUID: Yes, progress has been made on the annexes. They are working on it now.

QUESTION: Have you got some names now, companies?

MR. DUGUID: Names are not normally made known until the work is completed.

QUESTION: But you have decided on the number of names already?

MR. DUGUID: They are working actively on the annexes and they have made progress.

QUESTION: On North Korea?


QUESTION: A congressperson sent a letter to Secretary Clinton requesting for the consideration of re-listing North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism. So what is your reaction to that?

MR. DUGUID: I’m unaware of having received any letter on the status of North Korea on the state sponsor of terrorism list. As you know, the state sponsor of terrorism is a designation that has a number of legal requirements to achieve the designation. And the decision to de-list North Korea was taken some two years ago. I have not seen any move to put them – North Koreans, that is – back on that list at this point.

QUESTION: Regarding Cheonan incident caused by North Koreans, is U.S. open to re-listing North Korea on the list or not?

MR. DUGUID: Again, I believe that there will be the official release of their investigation this evening, our time. Once that document is released, we will then look at where we go from here. And I don’t think I can add any more or any less, but the decisions will certainly be discussed in some detail in the upcoming visits.

QUESTION: Would you say it’s a possibility, though?

MR. DUGUID: I don’t want to take a position on our actions at this point or the actions of the international community. The actions we really should be focusing on are the actions of North Korea. North Korea should cease all provocative actions, it should work to denuclearize, and it should comply with the UN Security Council resolutions in which it’s demanded that their nuclear program cease and they begin to rebuild the confidence of the international community. It’s not our intention at this particular point to start talking about what will happen after the report is released. When the report is released, we will then deal with those things..

QUESTION: You’ve been informed of the report’s results, it seems like, and you’ve prepared a response –

MR. DUGUID: Well, I think you heard Assistant Secretary Campbell say that we were a part of the investigation, that we agree with its conclusions. But it is for the Republic of Korea to release that report and make their first statements.

QUESTION: When do you expect the U.S.’s response to –

MR. DUGUID: I won’t predict when we would respond to it. We’ll wait and see when the Koreans come out with their statement and then we’ll move from there.

QUESTION: Are you going to give us a readout tonight?

MR. DUGUID: I don’t know that I’ll have anything to read out to you, but I’ll see if we do.

QUESTION: John Brennan has said yesterday that the Administration is looking for ways to build up moderate elements within the Hezbollah movement and to diminish the influence of hardliners. Can you elaborate on that?

MR. DUGUID: I’ll have to take your question. I didn’t see those remarks. Okay?

QUESTION: Thank you.


QUESTION: One more quick one. Is – at least is U.S. open to bringing this issue (inaudible) to UN Security Council?

MR. DUGUID: It’s not for the U.S. to do that. It’s for the Republic of Korea to do that.

QUESTION: But do you consider it as one option that U.S. can take?

MR. DUGUID: Well, there are a number of options that people are discussing. Let’s let the report be published and then let the Government of the Republic of Korea state its case. We, of course, support the conclusions of the report, which will come out, we believe, this evening. We, of course, also are supportive and dedicated to the security of the Republic of Korea and we are working closely with them on this issue. But it is for the Korean – the Republic of Korea to make its case by itself and not be preempted by me or anyone else in here.

QUESTION: So if South Korea asked you to be on it, you would be?

MR. DUGUID: If is an if. Okay? If is an if. We have not been asked yet, so there’s really nothing I can --

QUESTION: But they are planning, right?

MR. DUGUID: Sorry?

QUESTION: They are planning to go to the UN Security Council.

MR. DUGUID: Again, you’re already building a case on media reports and I’m not prepared to respond to what’s been in the media. I will respond when the Government of Korea makes its statement.

QUESTION: Thank you.

(The briefing was concluded at 1:05 p.m.)

DPB # 30

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