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U.S. Department of State - Great Seal

U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action

Mark C. Toner
Acting Department Spokesman
Daily Press Briefing
Washington, DC
July 9, 2010

Index for Today's Briefing
    • Deputy Secretary Steinberg participates in a panel on relations between the US and Latin America today at the Aspen Ideas Festival
    • USAID Administrator Shah is in Port-au-Prince to review relief and recovery efforts
    • Department of State is pleased with the Secretary of Homeland Security's decision to extend Temporary Protected Status to affected nationals of El Salvador for an additional 18 months
    • U.S. is deeply concerned about the decline in political freedoms in Tunisia / Sentencing of journalist Fahem Boukadous
    • Successful resolution of Russian Spy Case / Shows progress in U.S.-Russia relationship / U.S. is permitting the children to depart at anytime / Cannot confirm that they have left the U.S. / Not able to confirm the Names or travel plans of the four individuals released by Russia
    • Swedish diplomats visited Mr. Gomes today at the request of North Korea / U.S. urges North Korea to release Mr. Gomes on humanitarian grounds / Swedish diplomats have visited Mr. Gomes eight times / Last visit prior to today was June 10
    • UN Security Council Statement on Cheonan attack / Message to North Korea is clear / Unanimous condemnation of attack / Legitimizes investigation and North Korean responsibility
  • IRAN
    • Have seen reports that Iran has stated that Sakineh Mohammadi-Ashtiani will not be executed by stoning / Unclear whether or not she still faces a death penalty / Urge Iran to uphold due process commitments under the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights
    • License for Google is a matter between China and Google
    • Not aware of any discussion or secret letter on nuclear energy or nuclear weapons
    • U.S. has serious concerns about the democratic process in Burma
  • NATO
    • Constantly looking at ways to adapt our overarching goal in Afghanistan to the situation on the ground
    • Extend condolences to the families of the victims of terrorist bombings in Pakistan / U.S. supports Pakistan in its efforts against terrorism


Today's briefing was held off-camera, so no video is available.

1:27 p.m. EDT

MR. TONER: Just a few quick things at the top and then we’ll get to your questions. Deputy Secretary Steinberg will take part in a panel on relations between the United States and Latin America at the Aspen Ideas Festival today. Other panelists include Mexico’s Ambassador to the United States Arturo Sarukhan and former Peruvian President Alejandro Toledo, and the moderator will be the NPR correspondent Tom Gjelton. And they’ll discuss some of the common challenges and opportunities we face in areas such as regional security, democratic governance, and expanding economic opportunity and social inclusion.

As you know, I think I mentioned yesterday Dr. Rajiv Shah, USAID administrator, is in Port-au-Prince, Haiti today. Earlier this morning, they conducted several visits to sites where post-earthquake work is ongoing. They saw housing, habitability assessments being done by the Government of Haiti’s Ministry of Public Works, met with camp and community leaders, observed repairs being done to damaged structures, and toured former American Embassy building that was donated to the Government of Haiti and is now being used as an interim Haiti Reconstruction Commission’s offices. While there, they met with the IHRC co-chair, Prime Minister Max Bellerive, to discuss reconstruction efforts. They’ll also meet with Ambassador Merten, Kenneth Merten, as well as the USAID mission director, and hold a roundtable discussion with NGO representatives.

On El Salvador, the Department of State is very pleased with the Secretary of Homeland Security’s decision to extend temporary protected status for affected nationals of El Salvador for an additional 18 months. This action demonstrates U.S. support to the people and Government of El Salvador. I refer you to the Department of Homeland Security for any further questions.
And finally, in Tunisia, the United States is deeply concerned about the decline in political freedoms, notably severe restrictions on freedom of expression in Tunisia. In particular, we’re troubled by the recent sentencing of independent Tunisian journalist Fahem Boukadous to four years imprisonment for his coverage of protests in the Gafsa mining region of Tunisia in 2008.

I’ll take your questions.

QUESTION: So are we at a stage where you won’t refer us to the Justice Department anymore (inaudible)?

MR. TONER: (Laughter.) Well, yes, I suppose so.

QUESTION: What was the State Department’s role in negotiating this deal?

MR. TONER: Well, obviously, the resolution of this matter involved many different entities, including the State Department. And as a senior official stressed last night, the handling of this case and its aftermath reflects the progress we’ve made in U.S.-Russian relations. Senior U.S. officials coordinated closely with their Russian counterparts to facilitate this exchange.

I’m sorry I don’t have a lot more details to provide beyond that. Suffice it to say we believe that this is a successful resolution to the situation, one that was handled quickly and pragmatically, and we’re now looking to move forward in addressing our agenda that we have with Russia and focus on resetting the relationship.

QUESTION: How does it show progress in the relationship?

MR. TONER: How does it show progress in the relationship?


MR. TONER: The fact that we were able to deal with the matter quickly and effectively.

QUESTION: How were you able to deal with it quickly and effectively?

MR. TONER: Matt, I don’t have a lot more details other than that.

QUESTION: Well, don’t come out – here, this is --

MR. TONER: We worked closely --

QUESTION: This is my problem with this guidance you guys are getting. You say that – you put out a statement saying this shows progress in our relationship, but you’re completely unable to back it up.

MR. TONER: That’s not true. I think the very --

QUESTION: Yeah. How exactly does this show progress in the relationship?

MR. TONER: Well --

QUESTION: Who talked to who?

MR. TONER: Well --

QUESTION: And why is that --

MR. TONER: -- as I said --

QUESTION: (Inaudible) five years ago? How is that – I mean, spy swaps have been going on for decades.

MR. TONER: Well, a couple of things. One is that there’s more to the fact that we’ve reset our relationships and they’re working successfully than the spy swap. There’s the START agreement, the new START agreement. There’s a host of other things. There’s Medvedev’s trip here just a few weeks ago. And there’s the bilateral commissions that are working effectively.

QUESTION: But I’m not the one who singled this out as showing progress in the relationship. You are.

MR. TONER: Well, I do believe, and others have said the same, that this shows progress in the sense that we were able to find an adequate resolution to a difficult situation.

QUESTION: Okay. But do you understand that you have been finding adequate solutions to these difficult situations for years? I mean, more than 50 years. So --

MR. TONER: I understand that. For one thing, it was – it exhibits close cooperation and the fact that it was done – I think you have to say that it was done a lot more quickly than ever before.

QUESTION: Can you say --

MR. TONER: Yes, (inaudible).

QUESTION: -- any of the reasoning for dropping this one guy off in the UK?

MR. TONER: I can’t discuss that or confirm it.

QUESTION: Can you tell us who is coming here?

QUESTION: (Inaudible) plane on the ground or two?


MR. TONER: And it’s in (inaudible).

QUESTION: Can you tell us who, if any of them, are coming here?

MR. TONER: I cannot.

QUESTION: Why? Why not?

MR. TONER: I can’t.

QUESTION: Can you confirm that that plane is coming with somebody?

MR. TONER: I cannot. I’m – just so you know, if I get more details, I will come back and – later and give them to you. But I cannot confirm any of that.

QUESTION: In the quickness, do you regret – because the final score was 4-10, so do you regret that you kind of gone up –

MR. TONER: We’re talking about the World Cup or – no, sorry.

QUESTION: Above the World Cup importance. The score was finally 4-10 and so do you think you could have missed some names to add to the –

MR. TONER: We believe it was a successful resolution.

QUESTION: Can we get back to these four people? Why were they important? Why were they chosen? What was the importance to the United States?

MR. TONER: I think one of the things that they talked about was that some of them were in poor health.


QUESTION: What about the rest of them?

MR. TONER: Well, I just would say that it was deemed in the vital national security interest of the U.S. Government.

Go ahead.

QUESTION: And Aijalon Mahli in North Korea – say that he committed suicide. Do you – can you comment?

QUESTION: Can we stay on the Russians?

MR. TONER: We – no, we’re not done with the spies. Okay, Charlie, go ahead.

QUESTION: Can you tell us what’s happened to the children of the various couples in --

MR. TONER: I don’t have an update. I mean, I know what we talked about, that under the terms of the agreement the United States is permitting the children of these defendants to depart the United States at any time as long as that departure complies with the wishes of their parents and the applicable requirements under U.S. law. I cannot confirm whether that has happened, Charlie. I can try to.

QUESTION: So can you confirm that they did not go with the parents last night?

MR. TONER: I don’t believe so, but I’ll check.

QUESTION: I have a clarification. Earlier this week, you said that these four individuals were not spies for the United States, so why is it in U.S. national interest that they be released?

QUESTION: He didn’t say that. He said they were spies of Western --

QUESTION: Oh, of Western governments. Fine. But you wouldn't confirm one way or the other whether they had actually worked for the U.S. I mean, why is it in the U.S. national interest – national security interest to have them released?

MR. TONER: I just can’t comment beyond what I’ve said.

QUESTION: Okay, can we break that down?

QUESTION: Can you explain why you said what you did say? I mean, I don’t understand that statement given what you said previously.

MR. TONER: I’m sorry, which statement didn’t you understand?

QUESTION: I don’t understand why you say it’s in U.S. national security interests for them to – for these four to be released. You just said that two minutes ago.

MR. TONER: Yeah, I did. I said in the vital national security interest.

QUESTION: But I don’t understand why you say that if you said that these guys didn’t work for you.

MR. TONER: Well, again, I can’t really go beyond what I’ve just said.

QUESTION: Mark, the other day you said he is not a spy, meaning Sutyagin, right? Now, can I just make sure that I understand the other three – what is the position of the United States? Were they working for foreign intelligence? Is it – in other words, does the U.S. admit that they were agents?

MR. TONER: We do not admit that.

QUESTION: Do not admit --

MR. TONER: We do not admit that.

QUESTION: That they --

MR. TONER: No, we don’t confirm that.

QUESTION: Or deny it.

QUESTION: Confirm or admit?

MR. TONER: We don’t acknowledge that.

QUESTION: We do not acknowledge that – what?

MR. TONER: The charges against them.

QUESTION: Against any of them?


QUESTION: You did not confirm yesterday also in the – and can you update on why that was or that it – that in case the attorney general agrees they can come back to the U.S.?

MR. TONER: Yeah. I’d refer you to the Justice Department on that detail.

QUESTION: Yesterday, there were two special senior officials and they also said that they cannot comment on that.

MR. TONER: I don’t have an answer for you. Sorry.

QUESTION: So do you object to us calling this a spy swap? Is that not what we should be saying? (Laughter.)

MR. TONER: I don’t object to however the media --

QUESTION: You don’t object?

MR. TONER: I don’t object to however the media wishes to portray it. I mean, it’s a free – it’s a free press in this country.

QUESTION: Well, if it’s – I mean, it’s free, but it’s either accurate or inaccurate.

MR. TONER: Matt, I’m sorry.

QUESTION: Can I just ask you what you mean by you will permit the children – these children to leave? Can’t they – why is that so grand? Can’t they leave anyway? (Laughter.) Do we now require exit visas to leave this country?

MR. TONER: Well, you’re right. I mean, they are obviously – the ones that were born here are American citizens –

QUESTION: Okay. So what is the big deal about permitting them to leave? Why is that some grand gesture?

MR. TONER: I don’t know that it’s a big deal or not. We’re just – that’s our position. I’m just giving you our position.

QUESTION: Mark, do you think you could –

MR. TONER: We’re allowing them to rejoin the families if the parents so desire.

QUESTION: If you have a good relationship with Russia and they essentially force, which is what was said last night – force them to admit that they were guilty and sign a document to that effect, how do you – how does the U.S. react to having these people whose guilt you do not acknowledge, acknowledge that they were guilty?

MR. TONER: Well, I think they said last night that was a stipulation that the Russians had. You really have to ask those individuals about their circumstances and their actions and their story.

QUESTION: Why is it that the U.S. can’t confirm any of their names or identities before? I mean, if this is a swap that you’ve acknowledged that the U.S. was obviously involved in, the State Department took a role in the coordination --

MR. TONER: I said we’re not able to confirm them at this time, and that’s all I can really say.

QUESTION: Right. But --

QUESTION: Mark, can you confirm that they’re landing at Dulles this afternoon?

MR. TONER: No, I --

QUESTION: Or what will be done with them afterwards?

MR. TONER: I cannot, I cannot.

QUESTION: Nothing? Nothing?

MR. TONER: Nothing.

QUESTION: Is all of this non-talking and non-answer, your ability not to answer anything, contingent upon their arriving wherever they’re going? Or is this going to be, no, it’s a spy deal and we can’t talk about it forever?

MR. TONER: I mean, you’re right, Charlie. There’s a certain aspect to this that touches on sensitive intelligence matters, and because of that, we’re restricted in what we can say. We’ll just have to see as this plays out what more information we can provide, and I’m certainly trying to get as much information as I can. It’s in my interest as well as your interest to try to do that.

QUESTION: But just now you were saying that they are not spies, they did not work for the U.S. And on the other hand, you are not giving out their – if they are just normal citizens they should be –

MR. TONER: I’m just not going to discuss it.

QUESTION: Different topic.

MR. TONER: Yeah, I’m game. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: North Korea.

QUESTION: Yeah, North Korea.

MR. TONER: Oh, sure.


QUESTION: Mr. Gomes’ comments, the report that he was --

MR. TONER: Yes. Right. Today, July 9th, at the request of the DPRK, the Swedish Embassy in Pyongyang visited Mr. Gomes in their capacity as the U.S. protecting power –

QUESTION: Wait, can you start again from the beginning? The entire Swedish Embassy went to visit him?

MR. TONER: (Laughter.) I don’t know how many individuals went to visit him.

QUESTION: Can – well, can you say like Swedish diplomat or something?

MR. TONER: Sure. Swedish diplomats –

QUESTION: So can you start again from the beginning?

MR. TONER: I will do so. Today, on July 9th, at the request of the DPRK, Swedish diplomats in Pyongyang visited Mr. Gomes in their capacity as the U.S. protecting power in North Korea. We reiterate our urge for the North Korean Government to release Mr. Gomes on humanitarian grounds.

QUESTION: Did they visit him in the hospital? Can you confirm the reports that he attempted suicide?

MR. TONER: Well, out of respect for the family’s privacy, I don’t want to go into details about his condition.

QUESTION: Can you say --

MR. TONER: I’d just say that they requested that the Swedish Embassy or the Swedish diplomats --

QUESTION: Did they visit him?

MR. TONER: No, the DPRK Government.

QUESTION: Did they visit him at a detention facility or at a hospital, or can you say?

MR. TONER: I don’t know about the locale. I can take that question.

QUESTION: Is he in (inaudible)?

QUESTION: So he’s in hospital or not?

MR. TONER: I can’t talk any more about his – I mean, it’s out of respect to the family’s privacy. I can’t discuss any more what his condition is.

QUESTION: You can’t talk because you don’t know or because they won’t let you?

MR. TONER: Out of respect for the family.

QUESTION: Did they –

QUESTION: What question did you just take then about --

MR. TONER: Oh, I said his locale, where they visited him.

QUESTION: He just asked if he’s at the hospital or not. So –

QUESTION: You said you would take the question about the locale –

MR. TONER: Yeah, I did. Yeah, yeah. I can do that.

QUESTION: Okay. But then you said you can’t say whether he’s in the hospital or not.

MR. TONER: Oh, I’m sorry. I thought he said about his condition, whether he was suicidal.

QUESTION: Oh. No, no, no. All right, well --

MR. TONER: Yeah, I can’t talk about what his condition is. I can certainly take the question about where he was visited.

QUESTION: Are there concerns that he may have been mistreated?

MR. TONER: Just to clarify. Well, we’ve asked them to release him on humanitarian grounds.

QUESTION: State Department?

MR. TONER: I don’t know when our most recent – State Department.

QUESTION: Did the State – State Department asked to release?

MR. TONER: Asked the DPRK --

QUESTION: DPRK to release –

MR. TONER: -- that they release him on humanitarian grounds.

QUESTION: -- him on humanitarian grounds.

MR. TONER: I’m not sure when the last time he had a consular visit prior to today. And I don’t know –

QUESTION: Seven times –

MR. TONER: Seven times, yeah.

QUESTION: -- the Swedish Embassy visit.

MR. TONER: Thank you.

QUESTION: But when did --

MR. TONER: I mean, clearly, we’re – actually, yes, you’re right. A Swedish official had been granted consular access eight times, including today’s visit. Look, I think we’re concerned about his welfare and – as we would with any American citizen.

QUESTION: And the last one was --

MR. TONER: Sorry?

QUESTION: The last one prior to today was when?

MR. TONER: That’s what I was looking for. June 10th.


QUESTION: Slightly different topic, on North Korea at the UN. There’s this statement – North Korea is calling this a great diplomatic victory because it didn’t – in their – the way they view it, that it didn’t explicitly say that they are responsible for the sinking of the warship. What’s the U.S. view on this? Is this – does this statement actually pin the blame on North Korea? Does it take a step forward? Or China, for example, says no, it’s time to turn the page on this.

MR. TONER: Well, we think the presidential statement expresses deep concern at the fact that an international investigation led by the Republic of Korea concluded definitely that North Korea
was responsible for the sinking of Cheonan and also notes that North Korea denies this responsibility.

QUESTION: Will there be any further unilateral measures from the U.S. side regarding this incident?

MR. TONER: Fair question. I think right now we’re just allowing North Korea to sort of absorb the international community’s response to its actions and the effect that they’ve had on regional security. And we’re just going to continue to support – obviously, support North Korea – South Korea and its security.

QUESTION: Can we go back to (inaudible), please?

QUESTION: Was there any request from South Korea for additional support regarding this incident?

MR. TONER: Not that I’m aware of.

QUESTION: So you’re going to let –

MR. TONER: It’s not –

QUESTION: -- North Korea absorb the what?

MR. TONER: The magnitude of its actions.

QUESTION: Oh, really? Well, they’ve just called it a great victory. That doesn’t sound like a lot of absorption going on. (Laughter.) Are you disappointed that you didn’t get anything stronger?

MR. TONER: Not at all.

QUESTION: Like one that didn’t endorse the results of your investigation?

MR. TONER: Not at all. We think the statement under –

QUESTION: Mark. (Laughter). That’s just patently not true.

MR. TONER: Well –

QUESTION: I mean, you and the South Koreans went in there and you supported them when they put – sent their letter to the UN, to the Security Council, asking them to condemn North Korea for this – for the attack.

MR. TONER: Look, Ambassador Rice at the UN’s been out on this and made clear that this is a strong statement and that the message to North Korea is clear: the Security Council condemns this attack, warns against further attacks, and insists on full adherence to the Korean Armistice Agreement.

QUESTION: But the – well, the North Koreans do seem to have gotten that message. They are calling great victory. So what – did they misunderstand?

MR. TONER: Well, I’m not going to --

QUESTION: Their (inaudible) is wrong?

MR. TONER: Well, I’m not going to react to overblown rhetoric.

QUESTION: Because they condemn the attack but they don’t actually point the finger at North Korea. I think that’s why North Korea’s saying that it’s a victory.

QUESTION: Or are you saying that they – that it does point the finger directly at North Korea? I’m unclear what your take is on that.

MR. TONER: What it says is it accomplishes the goals, our goals, along with the Republic of Korea, our partners in the Council. It provides a unanimous condemnation of the attack. It legitimizes the findings of the Joint Civilian-Military Investigation Group and their finding of North Korean responsibility. And it also praises the Republic of Korea for their restraint in handling the incident.

QUESTION: So you would agree that it does blame North Korea for the incident?

MR. TONER: Well, what it does, it legitimizes the findings of the Joint Civilian-Military Investigation Group.

QUESTION: What does that mean?

MR. TONER: Well, the findings of that group was that – was of North Korean responsibility.

QUESTION: So your answer would be yes?

MR. TONER: My answer would be that the – it provides unanimous condemnation for the attack as well as legitimizes the findings of that report.

QUESTION: Are you satisfied with the statement?

MR. TONER: We are.


QUESTION: Could there be further action at the UN, or is this the end of it?

MR. TONER: That’s a good question. I’m unclear. I can –

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

MR. TONER: Again, I think – well, I think we’ve got a good, strong statement out of the UN that endorses this investigation.

QUESTION: No, hold on. It doesn’t endorse the investigation.

MR. TONER: Legitimizes the investigation and the findings of that investigation, and praises South Korea for its restraint. As for further actions, that’s for the UN.

QUESTION: How exactly does it legitimize the report?

MR. TONER: How – I’m sorry, what is that?

QUESTION: How does this statement legitimize the conclusions of your investigation?

MR. TONER: Well, I think it says it expresses deep concern that the fact that the international investigation concluded definitely that North Korea was responsible.

QUESTION: Yeah, but that doesn't --

QUESTION: It doesn't mean --

QUESTION: That doesn’t – there’s syllogism forming here and the syllogism isn’t complete. If you express – basically, it expresses concern about a report.

MR. TONER: Right. The report which found –

QUESTION: Yeah, but it’s –

MR. TONER: -- that North Korea was responsible.

QUESTION: But that is not the same as what you – what you said a little bit – a while ago, endorses. It’s not an endorsement of it. It’s an expression of concern about the report.

MR. TONER: Right, but the – okay. But the Security Council has condemned the attack and found – or identified its concern over the report.

QUESTION: Do you feel that it could or it should have taken a stronger stance against North Korea and blamed them directly? Do you feel like it could have been stronger?

MR. TONER: We feel it’s a good statement that accomplishes our goals.

QUESTION: Is there disappointment that China didn’t act as cooperatively as they might have?

MR. TONER: No, I think we’re happy that the Security Council spoke with one voice.

QUESTION: Because you said that you are satisfied and you are happy, do you think now it’s all right to move on to the negotiation process which is focused on (inaudible) process?

MR. TONER: I think we’ll wait and let the statement stand and –

QUESTION: Or do you need more tangible measure, more punitive measure to North Korea to end the situation?

MR. TONER: Well, we certainly want – again, we want North Korea to acknowledge and to accept the responsibility for its actions. As for tangible measures, I don’t have anything for you.

QUESTION: The Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, Qin Gang, said, “Now is time for us to return to the Six-Party talks.” Any comment?

MR. TONER: No, no comment. Nothing to add. Nothing to say about that.

QUESTION: You think that statement –

MR. TONER: Nothing for you on that, no.

QUESTION: -- the statement, UN statement will have a positive impact on return to Six-Party Talks?

MR. TONER: Well, again, we thought it was a good statement, one that, again, achieved our goals and South Korea’s goals. And in the days coming forward, we’ll continue to work to support South Korea, but I don’t want to predict what’s next.

QUESTION: One more on North Korea?

MR. TONER: Yeah, sure.

QUESTION: North Korea proposed military talks with the U.S. over the sinking of the Cheonan. Are you aware of that?

MR. TONER: I’m not.

QUESTION: Can you see if you have anything to comment on it?

MR. TONER: I can.

QUESTION: Change of subject?

MR. TONER: Yeah.


MR. TONER: What about Iran?

QUESTION: Are you satisfied with the Iranian statement about the stoning?

MR. TONER: We’ve seen reports that Iran has stated that Sakineh Mohammadi-Ashtiani will not be executed by stoning. However, it’s still unclear whether she faces the death penalty. So we would just urge Iranian authorities to uphold their due process commitments under the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights.

QUESTION: Do you welcome the – because death penalty you cannot say anything. Death penalty is in U.S. also, but what about the stoning? Do you welcome that she will not be stoned to death?

MR. TONER: Again, I think we’ve just seen reports right now. So we’re looking to verify.

QUESTION: Does the U.S. oppose any capital punishment for adultery? Obviously, we don’t have that in the U.S., but –

MR. TONER: Right, right.

QUESTION: That’s right. There’s no adultery in the U.S. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: No, no death penalty. (Laughter.) Plenty of death penalty, but not for adultery.

MR. TONER: It’s a question of whether the punishment fits the crime. So I don’t think so. Wait, what was your question again? I don’t –

QUESTION: I’m sorry. Whether --

MR. TONER: I’ve lost it in the --

QUESTION: Whether the U.S. would object to capital punishment for adultery (inaudible).

MR. TONER: Well, we don’t think the punishment would fit the crime.

QUESTION: So just to be clear, you still don’t know that she’s not going to be executed by stoning?

MR. TONER: I don’t. I don’t think we do. I mean, we would – I mean – yeah, no, we’ve just seen press reports. No confirmation.

Go ahead.

QUESTION: New subject?

MR. TONER: Yeah.

QUESTION: China Google, that Google got its license today. Do you have any reaction to that?

MR. TONER: I do not. I mean, it’s a matter between Google and the Chinese Government.

QUESTION: In the past in January, I think the Secretary was talking about the Google censorship issue and said that China should conduct a complete and transparent investigation into the allegations of hacking attacks. Are you aware that that investigation has taken place?

MR. TONER: I’m not aware that that was connected to the Google censorship, but I would have to –

QUESTION: In any event, are you --

MR. TONER: I’d have to – I’m not aware that that’s been done and that there’s been any progress on that. I’d have to take the question.


QUESTION: Yeah, go ahead.

QUESTION: Yesterday, you said that reports of a U.S.-Israel nuclear cooperation deal weren’t accurate at all and that Netanyahu and the President hadn’t discussed such a thing. There were reports again in the Israeli media that there was a secret letter. So I just want to ask you, was there any discussion, not of a cooperation agreement, but any discussion at all that touched on nuclear energy or nuclear weapons between the President and –

MR. TONER: Not that I’m aware of.

QUESTION: And what do you say about this so-called secret letter, secret agreement?

MR. TONER: I don’t say anything about it. I’m not aware of any secret letter.

QUESTION: Because it’s a secret.

QUESTION: On Burma, the junta has allowed the former members of the NLD to reconvene as a new party under a new name. Is this a step that the U.S. sees as positive?

MR. TONER: It’s a question – I haven’t seen the reports. So I’d have to – I’ll take the question. I mean, I think we’re – we have serious concerns about the democratic process in Burma. But as to this specific step, I’d have to just determine whether we see it as positive or not.

QUESTION: The NATO – allies of the U.S. in NATO are meeting and they’re updating their strategy. Do you have any comments on that?

MR. TONER: This is in Brussels at NATO? Well, I assume we’re involved in that discussion since we’re a member of NATO. I think we’re constantly looking at ways to adapt our overarching goals in Afghanistan to the situation on the ground and to do a better – carry out the mission in a better way.

QUESTION: I can get you the real statement.

MR. TONER: Charlie.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: No, can I ask one more thing?

MR. TONER: Oh, sorry. Yeah, go ahead.


QUESTION: Dumb question, but can you tell us why you can’t tell us anything about the spies? Can you just say why you won’t?

MR. TONER: I think the process is still playing itself out. As I get more information, which I’m trying to do, I’m more than happy to share that with you. And obviously, it touches on a lot of sensitive issues, so that’s a – that takes some time.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: But was American citizenship offered to those four people from Russia?

MR. TONER: I don’t know.

QUESTION: I have one more on North Korea. Sorry, guys.

MR. TONER: Yeah. That’s okay.

QUESTION: Did you see –

QUESTION: Can we stay on the spies for a second? Just for the record – I mean, I know you’re not going to answer, but just for the record, the Russians know the names and identities of the four they’ve released. I don’t understand why you can’t let the American people know.

MR. TONER: Well, appreciate the question, Charlie, but I can’t confirm it.

QUESTION: Is that also because of the effects on the national security reasons the names are not being released?

MR. TONER: It’s just – again, it’s a very sensitive topic. And as more information becomes available, I’ll share it with you.

QUESTION: Does it have something to do with getting their families out of the country or, I mean, can you give us any idea?

MR. TONER: I really –

QUESTION: A Privacy Act waiver?

MR. TONER: No. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: Did you see this press conference in Tokyo with the two scientists – Korean scientists that are American-based who said they recreated the Cheonan incident and that their tests show that there was no evidence that this could have been a torpedo from the North Koreans? I mean, are you taking this seriously and do you have any reaction?

MR. TONER: I mean, I just think we stand by the results of the panel that conducted the study with U.S. and other input and found conclusively that North Korea was behind the Cheonan sinking.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MR. TONER: Thank you. Oh, yeah. Lalit, I’m sorry.

QUESTION: Today there was a major suicidal terrorist attack on Pakistan. Sixty-five people were dead and the (inaudible) terrorist attack inside Pakistan. So what do you make out of the situation there (inaudible)?

MR. TONER: Well, I mean, obviously, it’s a terrible tragedy. We extend our condolences to the families and loved ones of the victims. Pakistan is engaged in an existential struggle, like the United States, against forces of terror. And we support them in their efforts.

QUESTION: So do you think Pakistan needs more support in terms of military equipment (inaudible)? Or what is your –

MR. TONER: I mean, I think the U.S. support for Pakistan has been absolute and will continue to be.

QUESTION: Is U.S. keeping a tab on the nuclear weapons in Pakistan?

MR. TONER: I’ll refer you to the Department of Defense.

QUESTION: Thank you.

(The briefing was concluded at 1:55 p.m.)

DPB # 111

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