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U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action


Gordon Duguid
Acting Deputy Department Spokesman
Daily Press Briefing
Washington, DC
June 29, 2010


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Index for Today's Briefing
  • DEPARTMENT
    • The murder of Tamaulipas candidate Rodolfo Torre Cantu and his colleagues
    • China and Taiwan sign a cross-strait economic cooperation framework agreement
    • National Space Policy
    • Ambassador Wi Sung-lac is visiting Washington for consultations on North Korea/Will meet with Deputy Secretary Steinberg, Assistant Secretary Campbell, Special Representative Bosworth, and Ambassador Sung Kim
    • Senator Mitchell met with Israeli Opposition Leader Livni today/Will meet with Prime Minister Netanyahu and Defense Minister Barak Wednesday/Will meet with President Abbas and Prime Minster Fayyad Thursday
  • RUSSIA
    • U.S. is in contact with Russia on the arrest of individuals on charges of spying / Ongoing investigation / Refer to the Department of Justice
  • MEXICO
    • Fight against drug cartels and violence must continue / U.S. and Mexico must strengthen and pursue our strategy vigorously
  • AFGHANISTAN
    • U.S. encourages the international community to take an interest in the economic development of Afghanistan / Trying to develop a viable market economy / Private investment in Afghanistan
  • ISRAEL/PALESTINIANS
    • U.S. continues to work with Israel to achieve a two-state solution
  • CHINA/TAIWAN
    • Framework agreement for tariffs / Try to increase trade / Increased trade leads to more peaceful ties between nations


TRANSCRIPT:

1:24 p.m. EDT

MR. DUGUID: Thank you all for attending today. Welcome to the State Department. I have several announcements just before we begin. In the first, I would like to say that the United States is shocked and saddened by the brutal murders of Tamaulipas candidate Dr. Rodolfo Torre Cantu and his colleagues which occurred on June 28th. We offer our condolences to the families and we offer our condolences to their supporters.

I would also like to note that today the chairpersons of China’s Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait and Taiwan’s Straits Exchange Foundation signed a cross-strait Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement. The United States welcomes the increased dialogue and interaction between the PRC and Taiwan that this new agreement represents. We are encouraged by recent improvements in cross-strait relations and hope those relations will continue to expand and develop.

As you are all aware, yesterday, the President released his new National Space Policy. It is a statement of this Administration’s highest priorities for space and reflects our principles and goals to be used in shaping the conduct of our space programs and activities. This new policy not only provides a foundation for going forward in our exploration and utilization of space, to include the promotion of our commercial industry, but also commits our government to lead the way in preserving space for the benefit of all nations and future generations. The United States calls on all nations to share its commitment to act responsibly in space and to help prevent mishaps, misperceptions, and mistrust, and reaffirms the longstanding posture that all nations have the right to access, explore, and use space for peaceful purposes in accordance with international law.

QUESTION: Does it allow for space lasers?

MR. DUGUID: I will take that question. (Laughter.)

Ambassador Wi Sung-lac, Republic of Korea’s special representative for Korean Peninsula Peace and Security Affairs, is visiting Washington today for consultations on North Korea. These meetings are part of our ongoing and regular consultations with officials from the Republic of Korea. These consultations reflect the close cooperation between the United States and the Republic of Korea. Ambassador Wi is scheduled to meet with Deputy Secretary Steinberg, Assistant Secretary Campbell, Special Representative for North Korea Policy Ambassador Stephen Bosworth, and Special Envoy for the Six-Party Talks Ambassador Sung Kim.

I have a brief update for you on Senator Mitchell’s travels and meetings. He is today meeting with opposition leader Livni. Tomorrow, he will meet separately with Prime Minister Netanyahu and Defense Minister Barak. On Thursday, he will meet with President Abbas and Prime Minister Fayyad.

With those announcements, I shall take your questions.

QUESTION: Gordon, can I go back to Russia? I realize that Phil Gordon talked a little bit about this.

MR. DUGUID: He talked a lot about it, Matt. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: Well, I was on the phone doing something else, so I missed most of it.

MR. DUGUID: Sure.

QUESTION: What was the State Department’s role, if any, in this investigation?

MR. DUGUID: In the investigation, I’m unaware that the State Department did have a role. This was a Department of Justice FBI investigation. For the State Department, we are in communication with Russian officials regarding this matter as it unfolds, but it is a Department of Justice-led investigation and they have had the action (inaudible) on that.

QUESTION: The court papers say that the Department – that the FBI approached the State Department and asked you to confirm the identity of a person who the court papers say is the second secretary of the Russian mission to the United Nations and that the State Department provided them with a photograph that this guy had used when he applied for his U.S. visa. Is that correct?

MR. DUGUID: I’ll have to take that, Matt, and get that right back to you. I don’t have that in my information that DS played that role.

QUESTION: I’m not sure how --

MR. DUGUID: I don’t doubt your court papers. I don’t have that to confirm for you. I’ll get it for you right after the briefing.

QUESTION: It’s been almost 24 hours. This was obviously going to be a topic of discussion.

MR. DUGUID: Yes, it was.

QUESTION: Is there some reason that you – that this building doesn't know what’s in the court papers?

MR. DUGUID: I don’t say that the building doesn't know. I just said that I don’t have that to confirm for you at this particular point. There is an ongoing investigation and I will see what we can confirm pending that ongoing investigation right after this briefing.

QUESTION: Okay. When you say that you have been in contact with Russian officials, where and who?

MR. DUGUID: I don’t have the who for you, but both here and in Moscow. And yes, within the last 24 hours.

QUESTION: Can I ask whether you’re, at this point, considering any Russian officials in New York or in Washington persona non grata?

MR. DUGUID: Not at this point that I’m aware.

QUESTION: Do you expect any U.S. --

QUESTION: Have the contacts brought to the State – been brought to the State Department?

MR. DUGUID: Pardon me?

QUESTION: Have any of the contacts involved, people coming to the State Department, Russian diplomats, called to the State Department? Are these telephonic conversations?

MR. DUGUID: Well, I’m not prepared to define what we’ve done. We’ve reached out to the Russians. I’m unaware that any of the meetings were here. However, whether we went to them or phoned them, I don’t have that --

QUESTION: Did Secretary Clinton speak with her counterpart in Russia?

MR. DUGUID: Not that I’m aware of at this point.

QUESTION: Did – do you have any understanding that any U.S. officials are going to be PNG’d from Russia?

MR. DUGUID: We haven’t heard that at all.

QUESTION: And just back on Bob’s question earlier, could you let us know about any of these people – whether they’ve ever made any trips to – any of these people that were arrested, have they ever made any trips to the State Department?

MR. DUGUID: As I said, there’s an ongoing investigation. We’ll share with you what information that we are able to pending that investigation, and I’ll see what we can do --

QUESTION: There was a --

MR. DUGUID: -- your question.

QUESTION: There was an article today – I forgot which one exactly – but said that President Obama and the Administration were unhappy with the timing, given that --

QUESTION: New York Times.

QUESTION: New York Times, excuse me. That they were unhappy with the timing, given the Russia reset. So, obviously, there is some consternation that this arrest and this scandal is going to affect the reset.

MR. DUGUID: Well, I have to refer you to the White House for the President’s feelings on the issue. And as to the timing, the Department of Justice conducted a 10-year, as I understand it, investigation and moved forward on that investigation when it felt it was time to move. I have to refer you to them for their statement on why it was that they moved on the particular day that they did. I do know that the Administration is committed to protecting the security of the United States, and the Department of Justice seems to have moved in that role very forcefully.

QUESTION: Did they let you know --

QUESTION: Was the State --

MR. DUGUID: One at a time, please.

QUESTION: Was the State Department consulted at all about the timing of this (inaudible)?

MR. DUGUID: This is a Department of Justice-led investigation and it was the Department of Justice that made the decisions.

QUESTION: So no?

MR. DUGUID: I don’t have any evidence that we were consulted on the timing, no.

QUESTION: Do you think it was a poorly timed --

MR. DUGUID: My personal opinion is not what I’m up here to discuss.

QUESTION: Well, what about the --

QUESTION: It’s your last day.

QUESTION: -- opinion of the Secretary or the State Department --

MR. DUGUID: We haven’t made our opinions known on this. The Department of Justice has made its determination on how to proceed with the case, and we refer you to the Department of Justice for the reasons why they’ve done that.

QUESTION: You’re in communication with the Russian Foreign Ministry --

MR. DUGUID: Pardon me, sir?

QUESTION: In your communication with the Russian Foreign Ministry, do you advise them against any tit-for-tat measures?

MR. DUGUID: I have nothing to share with you about our diplomatic communications with the Russians on this issue.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) but would you advise against any such action?

MR. DUGUID: I have nothing to share with you on our diplomatic communications on this issue.

Yes, Kirit.

QUESTION: Apparently, Putin met with former President Clinton today and voiced his displeasure publicly. Is that – has that been a channel of communication through the former president back to the Administration about any Russian displeasure?

MR. DUGUID: Not that I’m aware of. The former president is fully capable of expressing his own views as to how things unfold as an expert on many foreign policy matters, and will do that, I’m sure.

QUESTION: No, the thing was it was Putin speaking to former President Clinton. I was wondering whether the Putin message was passed on through --

MR. DUGUID: I have only seen the Putin message passed on through the media.

Yes, sir.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) in Cyprus (inaudible) arrested an 11th suspect and he was traveling on a Canadian passport, so are you looking at other countries in this case?

MR. DUGUID: The Department of Justice will be able to answer the questions better on how the investigation will proceed. I also have seen the press reports and I have heard the Ministry of Justice in Cyprus describe an arrest today of another person in conjunction with this case. But I’ll have to refer you to the Department of Justice to talk about how it is pursued from this point on.

Same subject? Different subject? Yes, please.

QUESTION: On Mexico, I would like to know, do you believe this is a serious setback to the efforts of Mexico and the U.S. to control the violence originated by the drug cartels? Do you also believe this is maybe the steps that Colombia was following when they had a similar problem?

MR. DUGUID: What has happened is a tragedy and it is evidence that our fight against drug cartels and against criminal violence needs to continue, it needs to be strengthened, and we need to pursue it vigorously. The loss of any life is regretted and regrettable, but it is not a loss of our confidence that we can together as two nations defeat this violence.

QUESTION: But do you think this escalation of violence can maybe force to change the current strategy from --

MR. DUGUID: I think that in some cases, as it has been described to me, that a resulting uptick in the violence is a reaction to the success of the program. That isn’t to say that there isn’t much work to be done and certainly the protection of civilian life, innocent life, is something that programs that we share together must try and address. But I don’t see that we should change our strategy based on this particular incident. What we should is strengthen and pursue our strategy vigorously.

QUESTION: Do you believe this is going to get worse before it gets better?

MR. DUGUID: I won’t speculate on where the course goes from this point.

Okay, yes.

QUESTION: Afghanistan. Afghanistan?

MR. DUGUID: Yes.

QUESTION: The attorney general of Afghanistan today said that he was threatened by the U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan Karl Eikenberry that he’ll be removed from the post if he didn’t take any action against a banker. Are you aware of this allegation? Is this – have you done your own investigation?

MR. DUGUID: I am completely unaware of this allegation. We’ll see what we can get for you, if indeed it did happen.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

MR. DUGUID: Yes, David.

QUESTION: Yeah, Gordon, in time for the Mitchell mission --

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

MR. DUGUID: Stay on Afghanistan?

QUESTION: Yeah, I just had a – does this building have any thoughts about Chinese investment in Afghanistan and whether this is a good thing or not?

MR. DUGUID: It can be a good thing. As a matter of fact, we encourage most of the – all of the international community to take an interest in the economic development of Afghanistan. Working with our coalition partners and other interested parties, we are trying to establish a market economy, a viable market economy, in Afghanistan. This is one way to wean people from illicit activities and also to fight the ideology of the terrorists.

So investment in the private sector in Afghanistan is a good thing as long as it is done, of course, according with Afghan laws and free and fair competition rules that much of the world respects.

QUESTION: And that would include investment from China?

MR. DUGUID: That would include investment from China.

QUESTION: On Afghanistan?

MR. DUGUID: Yes, please.

QUESTION: Yeah. Afghanistan has been receiving private sector investment from China, other countries, but private sector investment from U.S. is not going into Afghanistan. What steps you are taking to bring U.S. companies into Afghanistan?

MR. DUGUID: The U.S. commitment to Afghanistan does go across the board and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, I am sure, is working with U.S. companies to try and find those sectors that U.S. companies are interested in investing in. The U.S. Government, however, does leave the private sector to run much of its own affairs, and so for private industry there are certain bases that have to be available before large-scale investment does take place. But I don’t think it’s correct to say that there is no U.S. private investment going into Afghanistan. Whether or not many companies see opportunities there given the economic base that exists and given the state of conflict in many of the regions is another question entirely.

David.

QUESTION: Can you give us some figures about U.S. private sector investment --

MR. DUGUID: I don’t have those (inaudible). We have – please, we’ll take that question of what are the figures of U.S. private investment in Afghanistan.

QUESTION: Gordon, the foreign minister of Israel Lieberman said today that there’s no chance of a Palestinian state by 2012. Wouldn't that seem to negate what George Mitchell is trying to achieve?

MR. DUGUID: We are working with the Israeli Government to try and achieve the two-state solution. I haven’t seen this particular comment and the whole point about holding things to particular calendars is something I’m not going to address here. We are working right now for – through the proximity talks that will lead to direct negotiations that will then help to achieve the final status and the creation of two states in the Holy Land. So whether or not a particular date is going to be achievable or not, I will leave that to the negotiators once they are face-to-face to discuss, and not try and get out ahead of them here.

Yes, please.

QUESTION: Gordon, on ECFA. Do you think the signing agreement between China and Taiwan will bring any changes to the region; for example, other country might want to have similar tie with China? Does U.S. foresee that for countries (inaudible)?

MR. DUGUID: China being an economic power, I don’t think it’s limited to other states in the region. And I do believe that most of the states in the region do have very strong economic relationships with China. This particular agreement is one of a framework for tariffs and so the two – both PRC and Taiwan will be looking at their tariff structure to try and increase trade. Increased trade does create more peaceful ties between nations. And as far as that can carry forward a more stable Asia, a more stable Southeast Asia, we are certainly in favor of that taking place.

Yes. Sorry, one in the back? Charlie.

QUESTION: Well, I was going to say, if we don’t have any more questions, I’d just like to take the opportunity to say thank you as you move on to another assignment on behalf of many of us in the press corps, if not all of us.

MR. DUGUID: Thank you very much.

QUESTION: We’ve enjoyed working with you and good luck.

MR. DUGUID: Thank you very much.

QUESTION: Good luck, Gordie. (Applause.)

MR. DUGUID: We may have one more question.

QUESTION: I actually was going to say that. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: I’m sure you’ll say it better. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: Or you can say it again.

QUESTION: No, but just to wish you all the best down the street, and hope your Spanish improves. (Laughter.)

MR. DUGUID: It will. It will. And very quickly as well. Thank you all very much.

QUESTION: Thank you. Good luck.

(The briefing was concluded at 1:43 p.m.)

DPB # 104

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