2:32 p.m. EDT
MR. TONER: I had to make sure we were clear of any events in New York today, and of course, we also had a – I think I’m going to stand up – and we also had a Foreign Press Center event on tomorrow’s NATO-Russia Council meeting.
I don’t have a lot today, but let me just start, walking quickly through the Secretary’s day. She had two major public events that highlighted our commitment to improving the health and nutrition of children and women worldwide. First, of course, was the 1,000 Days: Change A Life, Change The Future event that she co-hosted with the Irish foreign minister. Second is the event – I think it just concluded – announcing the new Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, which is a public-private initiative to create a market for clean and efficient household cooking solutions.
On her bilateral front, she had bilateral meetings with the foreign ministers of Libya, Saudi Arabia, as well as meetings with Sudanese Vice President Osman Taha – Ali Osman Taha, and the Amir of Qatar Hamad Al Thani. She’ll also participate in meetings of the Quartet and the Arab League Committee and meet separately with Quartet Representative Tony Blair. I believe there’s going to be a readout in the UN on that Quartet meeting. And then finally, she’ll hold meetings this evening with EU foreign ministers and then host the traditional transatlantic dinner with foreign ministers from both NATO and EU countries. As with yesterday, I’ll defer to P.J. I think he’s briefing later this afternoon around 5:30 to give you a readout on those events.
I’ll call your attention to the statement released by Secretary of State Clinton as well as the foreign secretaries from the UK and Norway recognizing progress on referendum preparations and as well as calls for further efforts on behalf of the parties. The three secretaries of state – foreign secretaries commended recent progress on preparations for Southern Sudan’s referendum. They also called on the CPA parties to take swift action to ensure the peace – that peaceful referenda take place on time in a manner consistent with the will of the people of Sudan, Southern Sudan, and Abyei. They also highlighted the responsibility of the parties to ensure that the commission moves quickly to take critical decisions on further preparations, including, most immediately, finalizing an operational plan of budget, agreeing on voter registration criteria and procedures, and hiring and training of registration workers, among other things.
That’s really all I have, so I’ll take your questions. Anybody? No questions?
MR. TONER: I do. He will lead a joint State Department-Treasury team to Beijing. The dates are September 28th and 30th. And they’ll discuss a range of issues, but obviously, a heavy emphasis on Iran and North Korea. He’ll be accompanied by Daniel Glaser, who is the Treasury Department’s Deputy Assistant Secretary for Terrorist Financing and Financial Crimes, as well as David Goldwyn, who is the Special Envoy for International Energy Affairs. And I believe P.J. announced this yesterday up in New York. It came up during the Secretary’s meeting with the Chinese foreign minister.
QUESTION: He’s only going to Beijing or he’s going --
MR. TONER: That’s correct.
QUESTION: Or rather --
MR. TONER: Yeah, just to Beijing.
QUESTION: Is there an update? Yesterday, there was a question about the Mexican journalist, Jorge Luis.
MR. TONER: Right. Not much of an update, only that we don’t discuss asylum cases. And obviously, that’s for the protection of the individuals. We can’t confirm, deny, or otherwise comment publicly on applications for asylum.
Obviously, on the broader issue of journalist safety in Mexico, we’re aware that the increasing violence caused by organized crime, drug trafficking organizations targeting journalists in Mexico – we obviously condemn these acts and have expressed our concerns about the safety of journalists to the Mexican Government, which has, in fact, stated its commitment to protecting journalists and the freedom of the press. In the past five years, for example, 56 journalists have been killed in Mexico – pretty startling figure.
QUESTION: Can you speak in general about applications from Mexico and asylum grants?
MR. TONER: What do you want to know? (Laughter.)
QUESTION: Have there been --
MR. TONER: Have there been an uptick in asylum seekers?
QUESTION: Have there been requests and are – have they – are they granted?
MR. TONER: That’s a fair question. I can either try to find out in – from DHS, which really has oversight for this, whether there’s been any kind of increase and get back to you. I’m not aware.
QUESTION: On a different issue?
MR. TONER: Yes.
QUESTION: The European Union executive arm – earlier today, they talked about passenger data, how they have some concerns about confidentiality, how they want to essentially make some revisions in the way they share data with the U.S. on airline passengers. What’s the U.S. stance on that? Is the U.S. willing to talk to them, reach some new agreement? How does it feel about the EU statement?
MR. TONER: Now, so there was the – there was an agreement on sharing passenger name record information in 2007, right? And this is the follow-on from that, I believe. We obviously want to ensure safe and secure air travel to the United States, but we also want to respect passengers’ right to privacy. We think that the current agreement that’s under discussion right now satisfies both those requirements, so we would just ask for passage of that agreement.
QUESTION: As in, there’s not potentially room for maneuvering right now, room for --
MR. TONER: We think it – as I said, we think it satisfies the requirements of both protecting passenger privacy as well as ensuring safety of passengers. We think it’s a good agreement.
Go ahead, Charley.
MR. TONER: Yeah, we – the reason I’m looking around is for Julie. We were just talking about it on the way over here. We’re aware of some kind of anti-terrorism --
MS. RESIDE: Media reports.
MR. TONER: -- yeah, media reports on some kind of anti-terrorism action, but we’ll try to get more details. I really have no specifics on it.
Is that about right, Julie?
MS. RESIDE: Yeah, these were reports from yesterday out of Yemen about government clashes with al-Qaida.
MR. TONER: I mean, obviously, we support Yemeni counterterrorism efforts. But as to any specific actions, we’ll have to get the details and get back to you.
MR. TONER: Go ahead, Charley. It’s your day.
QUESTION: Just on the Middle East, there were some reports that the Israelis were again raising the possibility of the release of Pollard, particularly in regard to granting an extension on the construction ban.
MR. TONER: Yeah.
QUESTION: You have any --
MR. TONER: I’m aware of the news reports. Really no comment on any kind of deal or swap or suggestion of that. Both the President and the Secretary of State have been clear in saying that an extension of the moratorium makes sense given the peace talks underway, negotiations underway. But as to your specific question, I have no comment on that.
QUESTION: Does that continue to be a source of conversation or negotiations between Israel and the United States, the possibility of releasing Pollard?
MR. TONER: I’m not aware of any recent conversations about it.
QUESTION: One thing that’s come up in briefings recently is this – the North Korea party meeting. Apparently, the state media has actually announced a date now that’s going to be next week. Is there any – I know the U.S. may not have much indication about what’s going on, but is there any sort of general message that the U.S. wants to send out ahead of that?
MR. TONER: Well --
QUESTION: Any hopes for what it wants?
MR. TONER: I mean, it’s a fair question, Sean. We are aware of the dates and we are aware of the meeting, but beyond that, we don’t really have any other information. But speaking more broadly, the Secretary met with the Chinese foreign minister yesterday. It was another occasion to sort of call attention to the fact that among the – among China and the other members of the five parties, that the way forward for North Korea is to live up to its commitments. And we’re still seeking specific actions that we believe would signal its desire to return to Six-Party Talks. Anything it could do in that front to – would be welcome.
MR. TONER: Okay.
(The briefing was concluded at 2:42 p.m.)
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