12:57 p.m. EDT
MS. NULAND: Good afternoon, everybody. Sorry to keep you waiting. I did not expect to see so many people here after our travel of last week. But good to see you all. I have nothing at the top, so why don’t we go to what is on your minds? I think Said had his hand up first, and we have no Matt today, so go for it, Said.
QUESTION: All right. Now that Ambassador Ford has been withdrawn from Damascus, what is the next step – what is the likely next step? Second, what is the next step as far as the Syrian ambassador in Washington?
MS. NULAND: Well first, Said, let me correct a misimpression in the media. Ambassador Ford has been asked to come home for consultations. He has not been withdrawn. He has not been recalled. He has been asked to come for consultations.
First of all, we want a chance to consult with him, talk to him about how he sees the situation in Damascus. I also – it’s also the case that the situation there is quite tense and we want to give him a little bit of a break. So just to reiterate, he has been asked to come home for consultations; he has not been recalled and he has not been withdrawn.
Second, as our statement said this morning, we are concerned about a campaign of regime-led incitement targeted personally at Ambassador Ford by the state-run media of the Government of Syria, and we’re concerned about the security situation that that has created. So I want to take this opportunity to call on the Government of Syria to immediately end its smear campaign of malicious and deceitful propaganda against Ambassador Ford.
Finally, I want to say that we do expect Ambassador Ford will be returning to Damascus after his consultations are completed. And it will be incumbent on the Government of Syria to provide for his security when he returns and to meet its Vienna Convention obligations just as we do in protecting Ambassador Moustapha here.
QUESTION: How long do you expect him to remain in town? Is there a time set for that?
MS. NULAND: I think there’s been no decision yet. We’re going to have some consultations with him and then we’re going to see.
QUESTION: But there’s been no communication with Ambassador Imad Moustapha in town as to his status or whether the recalling for consultation of Ambassador Ford would impact him in any way?
MS. NULAND: Well, again, we have made clear to the Syrian Government that we considered that what is going on the state-run media with regard to Ambassador Ford is unacceptable. As you know, a couple of weeks ago Assistant Secretary Feltman did see Ambassador Moustapha. But our main point here is that we protect Ambassador Moustapha’s security here in the United States as we are required to do under the Vienna Convention and we expect the same of the Syrian Government with regard to Ambassador Ford when he returns to Damascus.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) there was no – any particular threat to Ambassador Ford other than the incitement?
MS. NULAND: I’m not going to speak to our intelligence information one way or the other. But as I said, we are concerned about what we’ve seen on the Syrian state-run media.
QUESTION: Just so we’re clear; has what has been on the Syrian state-run media been actual calls for attacks on Ambassador Ford, or is it more that it is unseemly or critical or harsh rhetoric about him that you feel might give rise to attacks on him?
MS. NULAND: Well, first of all, I’m not going to dignify what’s been running on Syrian state-run media by repeating it here. I would, if some of you are interested in the kinds of things we’re concerned about, draw your attention to accusations in al-Baath of October 3rd, accusations in al-Thawra of October 16th as incidents indicative of the kind of malicious smear campaign that we think the regime is conducting here.
QUESTION: But is it – are they actual – just so we’re clear, is it your understanding, and I’m not asking you to repeat them, but I think it is important to understand whether it is your belief that the Syrian Government, through the state-run media, is actually issuing calls for some kind of violence or attacks on the ambassador or not?
MS. NULAND: I think the concern here is that the kinds of falsehoods that are being spread about Ambassador Ford could lead to violence against him, whether it’s by citizens, whether it’s by thugs of one kind or another. So the campaign on the state-run media that is personally directed against him must end.
QUESTION: Why do you think the – since you believe that the Syrian Government is behind this, because you’re seeing this on the Syrian state-controlled media, why do you think they are doing this?
MS. NULAND: Well, I certainly am not going to speak for the motives of the Syrian Government. I’d refer you to them to get inside their heads. One thing I would say is that this tactic certainly could be serving to try to deflect attention inside the country away from the legitimate grievances of the peaceful protesters and again try to direct things in the direction of foreigners. And instead of attacking Ambassador Ford or outside (inaudible) of any kind, the Syrian Government ought to be spending its time and its energy dealing with the significant and legitimate and growing list of grievances of their population as represented by these demonstrations of peaceful protesters that are continuing.
QUESTION: And for his return, are there any conditions that you need to see fulfilled before he returns or is it just the matter of the consultations?
MS. NULAND: Again, I’m not going to speak to precise conditions one way or the other. When he does return, we expect him to be well-protected by the Syrian Government under the conditions of the Vienna Convention, as we protect theirs here.
QUESTION: So if the Syrian Government doesn’t show any willingness to change the way it has protected him, it would be fair to assume that he wouldn’t be rushing to return?
MS. NULAND: Again, I’m not going to speak to hypotheticals. Our expectation at the moment, Brad, is that he will return to Damascus. That is what we are planning for, and we are calling on the Syrian Government to ensure that his security is protected when he goes back. But clearly, this kind of stuff that we’ve seen on Syrian state-run media creates a very difficult and bad and inappropriate environment.
QUESTION: I have a follow-up.
MS. NULAND: Sorry. Brad.
QUESTION: What has changed recently? Because some of these pressure tactics have been going on for quite a while. He’s had acts of violence against him, and now I think it was three weeks ago the White House said definitively there were no plans for him to leave the country. What’s changed in the last three weeks particularly that you needed to take him out of the country for the time being?
MS. NULAND: Well, again, as I said at the top, we’ve asked him to come home for consultations. People want to get his fingertip sense of what is going on. The environment that he works in is very tense, it’s very intense. We also want to give him a break. And it is our intention that he go back. But we’re also taking this opportunity to say to the Syrian Government that this kind of incitement has got to stop.
QUESTION: But sorry – you didn’t even mention the security concerns, which was mentioned in your statement. So what has prompted – what has changed in the last three weeks? Has the campaign against him grown more malicious, grown more credible in terms of threats as opposed to before?
MS. NULAND: Well, you’ve seen the incidents that he has encountered. On top of that, now we have these incidents of state-run media – Al-Thawra, Al Baath -- going after him personally, spreading lies about what he is up to. And the concern is that this could lead to further violence.
QUESTION: Has Ambassador Moustapha informed you that he’s been recalled or sent back to Damascus? And secondly, if you can explain to us why hasn’t the U.S. kicked him out. I mean, you’ve accused him essentially of spying on dissidents and family members of those dissidents have been beaten up, disappeared, arrested at home. So why not kick him out?
MS. NULAND: Well, first of all, to my knowledge, we have not been informed by him that he’s been similarly asked to come home for consultations. We believe that Ambassador Ford ought to be able to work and conduct his diplomatic activity in Damascus in conformity with the obligations of the host government under the Vienna Convention. Our posture with regard to Ambassador Moustapha has been to provide him the appropriate courtesies and protections and security under the Vienna Convention while also calling him in when necessary to tell him that the regime’s behavior is inappropriate, as we did a couple of weeks ago.
So our view is that Ambassador Ford, when he heads back, ought to be able to do so in an environment that is as conducive to diplomatic activity as the environment that we provide for Ambassador Moustapha here.
QUESTION: What was the timing of the state-run media against Ambassador Ford? Was it in the weekend started or from before?
MS. NULAND: Again, I’m not going to go through chapter and verse of what the state-run media is saying. I don’t want to dignify it by repeating it. But if you want to get a sense of the kinds of things we’re concerned about, there was a particularly egregious incident on Al-Baath on October 3rd, something else egregious on Al-Thawra on October 16th. That’ll give you the sense of what we’re concerned about.
QUESTION: Al-Manar Television actually a while ago reported that Ambassador Moustapha has been recalled for consultation, so I guess that falls into what you said that you have not been informed on that. But --
MS. NULAND: I haven’t personally. It doesn't mean our people upstairs might not know about that.
QUESTION: Right. Just looking at the performance of Ambassador Ford, I know you spoke very highly of his job in Damascus. But can you evaluate it within the diplomatic kind of behavior? Is it normal for an ambassador to be – have high visibility to speak against a brutal regime like in Syria, to side with the opposition, to be active on social media like the Facebook? Is this normal for other ambassadors, U.S. Ambassadors all over the world?
MS. NULAND: Our ambassadors all over the world are very outspoken about U.S. policy. We also encourage our ambassadors to use not only their official calls, not only their speeches, but also new media, digital media, to be in dialogue with the citizens of the country that they’re in. It is extremely common for American ambassadors to have Facebook pages, to tweet, to have an interactive relationship with the people of the country. So this is not unusual in the least.
QUESTION: So as far as you’re concerned, the targeting of the Ambassador was only him or other staff member in the Embassy serving in Damascus?
MS. NULAND: Our concern is about the personal attacks on Ford.
QUESTION: Only – one last question about Senator McCain. He said in the weekend that he can see a similar situation where military force could be used in Syria, as we have seen it in Libya. Is this something the Administration endorse? It is something that you foresee in the future?
MS. NULAND: I think our position on this hasn’t changed. As we have said, the vast majority of the Syrian opposition continues to speak in favor of peaceful, nonviolent protest and against foreign intervention of any kind, and particularly foreign military intervention into the situation in Syria, and we respect that.
QUESTION: The Embassy in Damascus, is it still – I apologize if I missed this, but the Embassy’s still fully staffed, operating as normal?
MS. NULAND: Yes.
QUESTION: Just the ambassador’s not there?
MS. NULAND: Yes. And again, he is home for consultations. He has not been withdrawn; he has not been recalled.
QUESTION: Toria, are you – you have often – and your predecessor has spoken from this podium about the utility of having an ambassador in Syria. As you’re aware, there was a six-year period when you didn’t have one there. And I wonder if you may not consider that you’re playing into the Syrian Government’s game here. As you know, most foreign journalists, or virtually all, are out of Syria, and you’ve talked about the utility of having an ambassador there to serve as your eyes and ears and to champion your views. You no longer have an ambassador there. Doesn’t this simply work to the government’s advantage if they are, in fact, trying to reduce scrutiny of what is transpiring?
MS. NULAND: Well, again, as I said, Arshad, we have every expectation and every intention that Ambassador Ford will be going back. That is our plan. So – and why is that our plan? Because we do believe that having him there representing strongly and publicly the views of the United States Government, particularly our view that it’s time for Asad to step aside, it’s time for the violence to end, it’s time for a real a dialogue about a democratic future to begin in a peaceful context, needs to be represented fully and strongly. So we do intend for Ambassador Ford to go back, and our statement here is to call on the Syrian Government to ensure that the conditions for his operation in Syria meet the Vienna Convention standards that he is secure and that he is treated at least as well we treat Ambassador Moustapha here.
QUESTION: To go to Brad’s point, you’ve essentially given them a veto over this. I mean, if the Syrian Government does not provide what you regard as adequate circumstances for Ambassador Ford to go back, you don’t have an ambassador there anymore.
MS. NULAND: Again, we’ll make our own decision when he will go back. The decision hasn’t been made yet. But our intention is that he will go back.
QUESTION: But they have a veto on this.
MS. NULAND: I did not say that. We will make the decision when he goes back. And when he goes back, we expect that he will be safe, that he will be secure, and he’ll be able to operate.
QUESTION: Toria, just a clarification.
MS. NULAND: Said.
QUESTION: The head of mission now is (inaudible), the chargé d’affaires; is that the name of the head of the mission?
MS. NULAND: That’s my understanding.
QUESTION: In the absence – okay. And can you tell us the number of diplomats – those with diplomatic immunity in Syria or diplomatic status at the Embassy?
MS. NULAND: I can’t. But in general, we don’t speak to the size of our –
MS. NULAND: Please.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) general question that includes Syria. What happened last week in
Libya, are you – you think all other dictators, including in Syria, Iran, and also in China and Saudi Arabia and some of the many other dictators now who do not follow the rules and regulations and they’re harsh and killing and – the citizens, this message is going all of the dictators, you think?
MS. NULAND: Well, I can’t speak to what message other dictators might be taking from world events. I think you know that we are obviously gratified by the fact that Libya is now fully free and beginning to take the next steps on its path to democracy, and that we certainly support similar aspirations around the world.
QUESTION: Even Iran is getting this message?
MS. NULAND: You’d have to talk to those folks.
QUESTION: Can I ask you real quick about – a year ago, or 10 months ago when Ford was first nominated, the idea was that this government would engage Asad’s government, maybe pull them away from some of their allies that have been traditionally anti-American. Are you disappointed in that it’s come to this, and where is engagement at this point? Is there any strands left to that engagement policy?
MS. NULAND: Well, Brad, I’ve spoken to this before, that when this Administration came in, it did make a good faith effort to try to engage wherever we could, even as we remained vigilant about our own interests and our own values and our own expectations. Whether that was in Syria, whether that was in Iran, whether that was in North Korea, we had an effort to really engage strongly with a number of countries around the world. In some cases, that engagement strategy has borne fruit and we’ve had a positive reset in relations. And in other places, like in Iran and like in Syria, it hasn’t worked, but not because the U.S. wasn’t willing to give it a try, but rather because these regimes have chosen a different course.
QUESTION: Then is engagement as an idea essentially over as a guiding principle to our diplomacy with Syria at this point?
MS. NULAND: Well, we’ve certainly said we believe Asad needs to step aside, so engagement with him is certainly over, but we are prepared to engage with Syrians of all stripes as they – and if they – are able to take the next steps to pursue a democratic future and start a dialogue. And we do, through Ambassador Ford, through our contacts here, through the work of our Embassy, have a broad engagement with many, many Syrians from all walks of life.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) anything about – on this conversation, engagement with the opposition. Obviously, is it Syrian National Council in Turkey. They have been trying to get their acts together. What’s the current status of your engagement with this particular group, claims to be umbrella organization for the other opposition groups?
MS. NULAND: Well, I think the Syrian National Council itself has said that it is seeking to unify other groups, but even as recently as this weekend, it has made clear that it doesn’t claim to represent all groups. So even as we talk to and work with the Syrian National Council, we are also talking to and working with many other opposition actors and opposition groups in Syria. And you know where we’ve been, that we would like to see these groups come together as much as possible. We want to see them set forth a clear platform for taking the country in a democratic direction, the kind of platform that could really attract Syrians of all walks of life, whether they were Aloite or Sunni or Druze or Christians, and could really provide a vision of a nonsectarian, unified, increasingly democratic Syria because that’s certainly a Syria that we would be proud to be supportive of. And that’s what we think the Syrian people deserve.
QUESTION: You’re leaving other Embassy staff behind there. You don’t think there’s any threat against their safety? Only Ambassador Ford is being threatened right now?
MS. NULAND: Again, we’ve brought Ambassador Ford home on consultations. There were a number of reasons for this. We want to have a chance to talk to him directly about the situation. We also want to give a guy who works in very intense circumstances a little bit of a break, a little bit of a rest, but also we have this concern about the direct targeting of him personally in a very malicious way on the state media.
QUESTION: Toria, thank you. Do you see a similarity between what happened in 2005 when Ambassador Margaret Skobey was recalled because of the assassination of Rafik Hariri? But she never went back. So this is a bit more --
MS. NULAND: Look, this isn’t --
QUESTION: -- certain this time that Ambassador Ford will return?
MS. NULAND: This is a different time in Syria. It’s a different Administration. It’s a different representative. It is our intention for Ambassador Ford to return. And when he does return, we expect the Syrian Government to meet its security obligations to him, to us, under the Vienna Convention.
QUESTION: Two things here. One, just to be clear, the decision to recall Ambassador Ford --
MS. NULAND: Arshad --
QUESTION: -- to bring him back for consultations --
MS. NULAND: Thank you.
QUESTION: -- was a function solely of the public commentary and the incidents that we are aware of that have been public in terms of attacks, or is there also a component – and I’m not asking you to describe it – of intelligence information that suggested threats against him? In other words, is it just what we know about in public or is there intel behind this decision as well?
MS. NULAND: I’m sure you don’t expect me to answer that question, Arshad. I’ve spoken to a full array or reasons that it made some sense for Ambassador Ford to come home.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) you had credible threats was the term this morning, and it feels slightly as if its backtracked now. I think that’s where the question is coming from.
MS. NULAND: Well, I – certainly, I stand by the statement that we made this morning, and I’m not going to go further than it.
QUESTION: And then one other thing. Can you please take the question: Since you yourself don’t know where Ambassador Moustapha is, can you please check and get back to us in a timely manner on that?
MS. NULAND: We will do that, although I would refer you to the Syrian Embassy. They’re probably the best source of that information. How about that?
QUESTION: Can I ask you --
MS. NULAND: Why don’t we just leave it that you’ll ask the Syrian Embassy where he is.
QUESTION: Will the chargé d'affaires or any other American official in Syria assume the very public role that Ford had played while he is absent?
MS. NULAND: I can’t speak to that at this moment, but I’m sure that the Embassy website will be maintained, et cetera.
QUESTION: But will that be a significant loss for the opposition, in that for the time he is outside the country, they will not have this voice that we’ve heard from this podium has been such a powerful force of solidarity with the protestors?
MS. NULAND: Well, again, I think we will continue to make our views known and our support for the goals and aspirations of the opposition for a better future for Syria available and known from this podium and from – in all the venues where we speak about this.
QUESTION: Other officials will continue to meet with prominent opposition figures despite threats, or they’ll continue to travel to restive areas of the country? Will that activity continue?
MS. NULAND: Our expectation is that the Embassy will continue to do its work as normal, yes.
QUESTION: Did you have to inform the Syrian Government that Ambassador Ford is leaving for consultation prior to his departure? Was it something that --
MS. NULAND: I don't think that’s normal diplomatic prior practice when you come out for consultation.
QUESTION: Another subject?
MS. NULAND: Are we finished with Syria? Have we exhausted Syria? I’m exhausted. I don’t know about you guys.
QUESTION: Now, just one more clarification on his question, actually, that Ambassador Ford was such a public figure, and then suddenly – so we today – we do not have an engagement, or we’ll have a subtle engagement?
MS. NULAND: First of all, let’s put this in the present tense. Ambassador Ford is such a powerful figure and a powerful engager, and our engagement continues with the Syrian opposition in all forms.
QUESTION: Even in his absence?
MS. NULAND: Absolutely.
QUESTION: Without a figurehead?
MS. NULAND: Absolutely.
QUESTION: A delegation from the Arab League is about to visit Damascus. What would you – what should we expect from this visit? I believe they gave another final two weeks notice to Damascus. What would you like to see out of these discussions?
MS. NULAND: Well, first and foremost, we obviously support the Arab League delegation’s stated intent that their number one message to the Asad regime will be that the violence in all of its forms – the intimidation, the brutality, the arrests, the torture – have to stop; and second, that the people of Syria should be allowed to exercise their right to protest and that a peaceful transition should begin, including dialogue. So we will see if Asad will listen this time. I wouldn’t say that our expectations are terribly high.
QUESTION: I have a quick follow-up: Would you consider, that after the President and the Secretary of State, that Ambassador Ford is really the point man, the expert on Syria, and that his analysis of what’s going on in Syria influence policy directly?
MS. NULAND: Well, certainly his views on Syria influence policy directly, and he is a strong voice in our policymaking process as well as our public advocacy, as you see. But we also have many other senior officials who play and participate in this process strongly.
Still on Syria?
MS. NULAND: Okay.
QUESTION: One last one on Syria.
MS. NULAND: Okay. One on Syria in the back.
QUESTION: Regarding Ambassador Moustapha, like you said, he’s apparently been recalled, but I’m just curious how, legally, can the State Department allow him to operate here given last week you just indicted someone for allegedly trying to torture or even kill Syrian opposition figures, when everyone knows that this is being run through the Embassy? I mean, I can understand why you both want to have this kind of equal treatment in Washington and Damascus, but with this – just legally, isn’t it irresponsible to let them continue to operate, given what we’ve already – the FBI and the Justice Department has stated?
MS. NULAND: Well, you’re implying that we’re not doing anything about this. As you know, we protested most vehemently. We called him in at the time. We’ve now indicted this individual. A full case will go forward. And as we see this case go forward, we will see where it leads and we will take appropriate next steps.
QUESTION: Actually, Victoria, there are news that (inaudible) some kind of – the person that was arrested was actually let go.
MS. NULAND: That the guy that the --
QUESTION: The person that was arrested.
MS. NULAND: Well, you have to – I would refer you to Justice in terms of exactly how this case is going forward. But certainly the case is going to come to trial, and appropriate measures will have to be taken as it does.
QUESTION: Just to go back to (inaudible) question though, I mean, what the FBI and the Department of Justice have so far said – these are allegations, correct?
MS. NULAND: Correct.
QUESTION: No one has yet been convicted, correct?
MS. NULAND: Correct, correct.
QUESTION: So would you normally act against an embassy in a circumstance where they are subject to allegations that are as yet unproven in the justice system?
MS. NULAND: Well, I think your post is absolutely right, Arshad, that we have a judicial process underway. These are allegations, and the judicial process needs to go forward.
QUESTION: Another subject?
MS. NULAND: Please. Yeah.
QUESTION: Just --
QUESTION: I have one more on this – Syria.
MS. NULAND: Please.
QUESTION: Over the weekend, I believe (inaudible) Washington Post Blue Coat – the name of the technology firm is Blue Coat according to the news, is a technology firm the Syrian regime has been using to censor social networking site. Have you been taking any steps to deal with this company?
MS. NULAND: Let me say that we are aware and we are concerned about reports of the use of technology by repressive regimes in general, but Syria in particular, to target activists and dissidents. We are reviewing the information that we have and monitoring the facts as they come in. As you know, we have very strict controls on most exports to Syria. We’ve had them since 2004, with some very tiny exceptions, including for the download of some software that we think can be helpful to the people. Exports that are not covered by those tiny exceptions would be a violation of U.S. law, so we are looking into this.
MS. NULAND: Yes.
QUESTION: Okay. According to some reports during the weekend, the negotiation over training missions still on. How that would confirm with – it add up with the President announcement that all military will be withdrawn end of the year? What kind of training that we’re talking about here?
MS. NULAND: Well, I’m not sure what reports you are referring to.
QUESTION: It was in the Washington Post, I think.
MS. NULAND: But as the President said very clearly in his statement, as the Secretary said during her appearances over the weekend, we do plan and intend and have agreed with the Iraqis that, as we do in many countries around the world, we will have a training and security assistance unit, a sizeable one, in our Embassy in Baghdad, which is a different matter than having troops, which we will not have.
So we will have, as we do in countries like Mexico, countries like Colombia, a sizable entity in our Embassy that will – it’ll be called the Office of Security Cooperation, and it’ll be the primary mechanism for our ongoing security relationship with Iraq, which includes supporting and training them on the American equipment that they are buying. We have a police training effort, as you know. They – and we expect to be able to work with them in an advisory capacity as we do with many, many other countries around the world.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) agreement to follow the withdrawal? Is that your (inaudible)?
MS. NULAND: I’m not sure what you’re talking about. We have already agreed with Iraq on this issue of the security and training effort inside the Embassy.
QUESTION: Can I (inaudible).
QUESTION: Just wait, hold on.
QUESTION: Just wait, one – actually, the President’s statement was that – there was an element of finality in it, but in fact, the Iraqis came out yesterday and they said there were some negotiating going on to actually have not a robust, but a somewhat robust American presence for training and so on purposes, not – suggesting not the contractors and so on, but perhaps military – direct American military presence in there. So do you know anything about that?
MS. NULAND: I think we’ve said a couple of things. We’ve said that all the combat forces are going to leave as President Bush planned, as President Obama committed, and as we’ve now decided with the Iraqis to do. That’s point one. Point two is we are nonetheless going to have a very robust relationship with Iraq in general, some 1,700 diplomats under our Embassy and with all of the functions – political, economic, and security. That within the Embassy, as we have in many embassies around the world, we will have a strong unit designed to support and train them on equipment that they’ve bought, police training effort, other things. There will be diplomatic personnel, there will be a contractor support personnel for this.
Now the last piece: Should the Iraqis want to do something further than that, I think we’ve said that in the context of Iraq being a sovereign nation now, being our strong partner, wanting to continue a security relationship that meets their needs, were there to be additional requests in the future, our door is open to that. But this is where we are at the moment.
QUESTION: Different topic?
MS. NULAND: Please.
QUESTION: Just about one in Iraq. When you talk about a sizable entity, are we talking about hundreds or thousands?
MS. NULAND: In terms of the Office for Security Cooperation?
QUESTION: Yeah, the number.
MS. NULAND: I think you’re talking about – within the Embassy and folks under the Chief of Mission’s authority, you’re talking about 100, 150, but they’ll also be supervising a large contractor force, which remains to be sized and determined as we work forward on what the Iraqis need.
QUESTION: So the contractors will work within the Embassy under the supervision of the --
MS. NULAND: Under the supervision of – yeah.
QUESTION: So they will have immunity as – part from the Embassy?
MS. NULAND: Those under Chief of Mission authority will have – those who work for the Ambassador will obviously have the regular immunities that come with diplomatic personnel, as we have with our Embassy personnel in places like Jordan, places like Egypt. With regard to the contractors, I think we’re working out exactly how that relationship will work.
QUESTION: I’m sorry. Will that be the same number of people that you have in the Mexican – in the U.S. Embassy in Mexico?
MS. NULAND: I think we’re still working on exactly how many we will need, and as we go forward, we’ll be able to size it. But as the Secretary said yesterday, it’s the same kind of relationship we have in places like Mexico, places like Colombia, where we have very robust security relationships; we support the efforts of the host government.
QUESTION: Now the Washington Post this – has got an article today in regards with how the Mexican Government have shift from the most ambitious and biggest eradication plan of drugs to chasing leaders of the drug cartels. As a result, it’s now the second-largest country producing heroin in the world after Afghanistan. Do you have any specific concerns about that?
MS. NULAND: I have to say that I don’t have anything specific that’s new with regard to our policy on Mexico. You know that – where we’ve been, that we have a robust support relationship for the Government of Mexico’s interdiction and law enforcement efforts, that that is a very, very important partnership for both of us, and that we’re very, very committed to it, and we think it’s been effective.
QUESTION: But if they were focused more in stopping the violence and the killings, applying resources, all resources they have, will U.S. – maybe will support some of the way to keep the eradication programs?
MS. NULAND: Well, I think you’re getting me into hypotheticals that I don’t want to get into, but in general, in our relationship with Mexico, we obviously have been very supportive and have tried to be, through Merida, very responsive to their requests for training and support on the law enforcement side. But we also support efforts to stop the transshipment, et cetera.
QUESTION: Can we stay on Iraq?
MS. NULAND: Yeah.
QUESTION: Secretary Clinton urged this weekend, in several interviews that she gave, Iranian Government about not to miscalculate (inaudible) in the region after the withdrawal process. First of all, can you give some details about these concerns that you have about Iranian interference in Iraq?
MS. NULAND: Well, again, I think the Secretary spoke very clearly to this, that first of all, we’re going to continue to have a robust security relationship with Iraq; but on top of that, we have security relationships and, in fact, some bases throughout the region. So the U.S. posture in general throughout this region is very, very strong. We will protect our interests. We will protect our – work with our partners and friends to protect our common security.
And the point the Secretary was making was: As our combat forces go home, as Iraqis fully take up the mantle for their own security, Iran should be in no doubt with regard to our resolve and with regard to our continued commitment to the security of the region. And they should not miscalculate in any way.
QUESTION: They also – she pointed with the alliance to – with Turkey. Can you give us the figures of U.S. presence in Turkey, for example? You have 23,000 troops in Kuwait, and what about the presence – U.S. presence in Turkey?
MS. NULAND: I think I’m going to refer you to the Pentagon to speak to how many folks they have in Turkey.
QUESTION: Well --
MS. NULAND: Different version of same –
QUESTION: Different topic, actually.
QUESTION: Back on Iraq --
MS. NULAND: Different topic? Anything else on Iraq before we can leave Iraq?
QUESTION: Yes, yes, on Iraq.
MS. NULAND: Said.
QUESTION: A quick follow-up, Victoria.
MS. NULAND: Yes.
QUESTION: I mean, we spent $800 billion, 4,400 Americans killed, thousands wounded, hundreds of thousands of Iraqis killed, 4 million made homeless and so on. And don’t you feel that the Iraqi Government is ungrateful by agreeing to issue immunity to four or five or ten thousand American troops there? I mean, isn’t that really a victory for Iran?
MS. NULAND: Said, I think the Secretary also spoke very eloquently to this yesterday, that the sacrifices that we have made, the sacrifices that Iraqis have made, that coalition partners have made, were all designed to give the Iraqi people – all the Iraqi people – a chance at sovereignty, a chance at protecting and defending their own security, their own democracy.
So as we worked through and talked through these issues, one of our paramount goals was to respect the sovereign decisions of the Government of Iraq and to give them the support, give them the training that they needed. And that will form the basis of our relationship going forward, that we are now entering a new chapter in our relationship with Iraq, two sovereign states working together in common purpose.
QUESTION: Please, can I ask you about whether you have a readout from the talks in Geneva with the North Koreans?
MS. NULAND: Well, first of all, Kirit, let me say that the talks are ongoing. You saw we put out a little statement earlier today that we had a morning session, we had a little break, there’ll be lunch, an afternoon session, and then we expect another morning session tomorrow. So I won’t be in a position, obviously, to give whatever readout we’re going to provide until those talks are over.
But I would say that they have been ongoing in a businesslike atmosphere, that we are using this opportunity of our second round of exploratory talks to follow up on the things we talked about in July. As you know, in July we gave the North Koreans a specific set of initiatives that we’d like to see to demonstrate that they are prepared to take concrete steps to meet their denuclearization obligations under UN Security Council Resolutions 1718, 1874, and the 2005 Joint Statement on Six-Party Talks. We also asked at that time that North-South dialogue be resumed.
So I think we will in this session that we’re having in Geneva, which as I said is ongoing now, will continue tomorrow, be following up on all of those things. Where are they now on their readiness to make concrete progress on the nuclear responsibilities? How do they evaluate the first round of talks that they had with the South Koreans? As you know, we have had a chance to coordinate very closely with our South Korean allies. And are they prepared to commit to continue this process?
And then we also expect that we will be hearing their views, as we have in the past, about the humanitarian situation in North Korea.
QUESTION: And I’d imagine I know the answer to this question, but are you prepared to describe their receptiveness to your list of requests?
MS. NULAND: Well, again, let’s let these talks continue and then we’ll see where we are tomorrow after they’re finished on what kind of readout we’re prepared to give. But again, they are ongoing in a very businesslike fashion today.
QUESTION: Ma’am, change of topic. We can --
MS. NULAND: Just – well, let me just check. Does anybody have anything else on North Korea? Please.
QUESTION: In a background briefing last week, I think it was in Kabul, a senior U.S. official said that the United States is pursuing a management policy on North Korea.
MS. NULAND: Pursuing a – I’m sorry?
QUESTION: Management policy.
MS. NULAND: Many what?
MS. NULAND: Management policy.
QUESTION: Management policy. I’m sorry.
MS. NULAND: Yeah.
QUESTION: So what does that mean, actually? Does that mean the United States is placing more emphasis on preventing North Korea from taking another provocative actions rather than denuclearizing it? So what does that management policy mean in the context?
MS. NULAND: Well, I’m not prepared to comment on something that was said on background, except to say that as you know, we had this first round of exploratory talks in July. Our sense was that the North Koreans needed to absorb our message, so we look forward in this round to hearing what they have taken from what we said in July and whether we are able to make progress now, particularly on the nuclear side.
MS. NULAND: Yes. Well, I think we’re going to have a statement a little bit later in the day. So let me not get ahead of that except to say that we will be obviously congratulating the citizens of Tunisia on the election that they’ve held for constituent assembly. As you know, the goal here is to elect a body that can now sit down together and write a constitution for a new democratic Tunisia, and then the elections will flow on the basis of that constitution. So this is obviously a significant milestone for Tunisia and for the people of Tunisia as they chart their path away from the autocratic dictatorship of the past to a government founded on respect for the will of their citizens.
QUESTION: So you’re not disappointed that the Islamists seem to be winning and they might enshrine Sharia law into the constitution?
MS. NULAND: Again, I’m not going to comment on the results of this until they are all in, but we are very pleased to see that the actual free elections for a constituent assembly have gone forward and that the people of Tunisia have had a chance to express their views. We also – I would also note that when the Secretary and the President saw the Tunisian leader, he was talking about how many people wanted to run for these seats. So there was a huge amount of interest after so long not being able to participate fully in their government.
QUESTION: Hasn’t not the parties already taken the lead with 30 or 40 percent? How do you see – do you see them at least – do you view them as friendly towards the United States?
MS. NULAND: Again, I think we’ll have further comment after the results are fully in.
QUESTION: On – nearby in Libya.
MS. NULAND: Please.
QUESTION: The interim leader, Jalil, he mentioned also about Sharia law, that now with the transition away from Qadhafi, that Sharia law is something that could be imposed, including, for example, changing of laws in marriage to law of polygamy. Is that something that you might have concerns about? Is that consistent with the vision with – that the U.S. had going into Libya?
MS. NULAND: Well, first of all, I would say – I would call your attention to some follow-up statements that President Jalil made today, speaking again of the importance of moderation, of the importance of inclusion, of the importance of universal human rights.
I think you know where we have been, where the international community has been, and where the TNC has been in general – that we seek a democracy that meets international human rights standards, that provides a place for all Libyans, and that serves to unify the country. So we were encouraged to see President Jalil make a clarification today.
QUESTION: Does the U.S. Government have a position on Sharia law as the basis for legal systems in other countries?
MS. NULAND: Well, I think we’ve seen various Islamic-based democracies wrestle with the issue of establishing rule of law within an appropriate cultural context. But the number one thing is that universal human rights, rights for women, rights for minorities, right to due process, right to transparency be fully respected.
QUESTION: So as such, there’s no objection? It’s just a matter of whether it still adheres or not to universal human rights and humanitarian standards?
MS. NULAND: I would simply say that the term is – has a broad application and is understood differently in different places and by different commentators. Our concern is that constitutions of new and emerging democracies, constitutions of democracies around the world meet international standards of human rights along the lines that I discussed here.
QUESTION: This is kind of along those lines in a way. I understand that they’ve ended the viewing of Qadhafi’s body and sort of shut the refrigerator doors. Do you have any reaction to that?
MS. NULAND: Well, the Secretary said yesterday, we’ve been saying, Mark said on Friday, we obviously support the TNC’s own decision and the international community’s call that there be a full investigation into the circumstances.
It’s now time for Libya to move on, obviously. The TNC and President Jalil have said that in coming days, they will move beyond their current small formation of TNC into a broader, more representative interim government structure, and that that interim government will then pick up the next steps in their democratic roadmap, including ensuring that we have an electoral law within 90 days, and that eight months after liberation, we move to elections. So that’s what we’re looking to see in Libya.
And we are also, as the Secretary said yesterday, looking to see that – particularly that all Libyans, those with no blood on their hands, can feel that they have a place in the new Libya and that they are safe and they are included.
QUESTION: Can we just go to that point? I mean, there is a report that 53 Qadhafi supporters were found with their hands tied behind their back shot dead. Do you have any comment on that?
MS. NULAND: This is a report by Human Rights Watch yesterday, extremely disturbing report. Ambassador Cretz raised it with the Transitional National Council today and asked them to conduct a full investigation.
QUESTION: Do you have anything further to say? I mean, you talk about your desire to see rule of law respected or enshrined in the constitution, but it – one doesn’t know what happened in this particular circumstance, but anybody looking at the footage of Qadhafi alive and then hearing that he was dead with a bullet in his head surely would wonder what happened to him, just as they would wonder what would happen to his supporters.
Do you not have any stronger advice to the Libyan interim authorities that people, regardless of whether they have blood on their hands or not, deserve due process?
MS. NULAND: Of course, and we have called for a full investigation. We’ve also called for no reprisal, no vigilante justice, as the TNC itself has called for, and that it is now a time for unity, that all Libyans with no blood on their hands deserve a chance for a safe and included future, and those who need to be dealt with under the rule of law need – that process needs to move forward according to broadly accepted international standards of justice and transparency and fairness.
QUESTION: Do you think the interim authorities have control?
MS. NULAND: They have made very strong statements to their own people. I think they are working to try to gain control, which is further to why it’s important to move now to the interim government phase, which will bring in a broader cross-section of Libyans – Libyans from across the country, Libyans from different political viewpoints, so that all Libyans can see that they will be represented, even in this interim stage, and the expectation then is that will help more Libyans help feel included and staunch the efforts of some to take matters into their own hands.
QUESTION: So they don’t have control. If they’re working to establish control, that implies they don’t have control.
MS. NULAND: They are working very hard to put the message out there, working very hard to bring militias under central control, to encourage those who come off the battlefield, who’ve been fighting in free Libya’s name, to put down their weapons, to support the central government, and to work with them as they move to these next phases.
But again, the sooner they can move to these more inclusive phases, the more constituencies throughout Libya will feel themselves part of what is going on. And I think that’s the direction that they are trying to move.
QUESTION: Different topic?
MS. NULAND: Yeah.
QUESTION: Can we stay on --
MS. NULAND: Libya. Okay. More Libya please.
QUESTION: The families requested that Qadhafi’s body be sent to them.
MS. NULAND: Yes.
QUESTION: Should it be sent to them?
MS. NULAND: It’s a decision for the TNC to make. My understanding, from what I’ve seen, is that they plan to honor that request.
QUESTION: Toria, a retroactive question. And in this room we’ve raised it time and again about the fate of Qadhafi at the time when he was still alive. Why was it so difficult to say – to state – that if he’s captured he should be accorded the benefit of the Geneva Convention, instead of this lynch mob justice, that is really besmirching the new beginning that everybody’s talking about?
MS. NULAND: Said, we certainly said that. And the TNC certainly said that to its fighters. Again, there are many accounts of how this happened, including that as he was seeking to escape he was caught in a crossfire. I certainly can’t speak to what happened. But the fact that the TNC has committed to a full investigation, as the international community and we have called for, is the right way to go now, because all Libyans deserve to know that there will be a transparent and open process, and that that process will set an example for the future and for confidence in their own justice system.
QUESTION: And a follow-up to Arshad’s question.
MS. NULAND: Please.
QUESTION: There are 7,000 prisoners. And we asked about this like 15 days ago, or maybe three weeks ago and so on. What is their status? What are you telling the TNC as to what their status ought to be? Because apparently there’s just a lot of chaos.
MS. NULAND: Again, this was another subject, as the Secretary said when we were in Tripoli, that she raised with the government, that we need to ensure that anybody in custody is treated appropriately and that justice is fair and transparent and that those who have been detained without cause, or those who have been detained as a result of the color of their skin with no charges, are to be released as soon as possible. And the TNC, again, expressed its commitment to that and is trying to work through it around the country.
QUESTION: You said the international community has called for an investigation as well. Is anyone from the UN going to Libya? And what’s the time frame of the investigation?
MS. NULAND: The TNC has said it will investigate. Whether it asks the UN or anybody else in the international community to help, I don’t think we know the answer to that, but that’s a question for them.
QUESTION: Do you think they have sufficient credibility to mount an independent and credible investigation?
MS. NULAND: That is our expectation. That is what they have said that they intend to do. And we have said from the international community that if they need help in that, that there are folks in the international community with experience to help them.
QUESTION: But you don’t think this is a circumstance where an international investigation might prove to be more unbiased and more credible?
MS. NULAND: Well, again, this is an opportunity for Libyan leaders to prove to their own people that this is a new era. So they have committed to take it forward. We have said that if they need help, we stand by to help. And I think we need to let this unfold now.
QUESTION: Qadhafi’s capture alive was an opportunity for the Libyan authorities to put him on trial.
MS. NULAND: I think there are many Libyans who agreed with that, and had he been captured alive, I think --
QUESTION: He was captured alive. I mean, isn’t that what the video suggests, or are you suggesting he was dead when he was captured?
MS. NULAND: Again, I’m not – fog of war, there will be an investigation. I can’t speak to, and I’m not sure anybody can speak to, exactly what happened. What’s important here is that it be fully investigated, and that the integrity of that investigation will send a strong signal to all Libyan people about the fact that this is a new era and it needs to have integrity.
QUESTION: Toria, Saif al-Islam’s still at large, and he may be caught today or tomorrow. Would you encourage people to keep him alive so he can be tried?
MS. NULAND: Again, we have said no vigilante justice, not reprisals. The TNC has said no vigilante justice and no reprisals, and that those captured on the battlefield should face justice in accordance with international standards.
QUESTION: New subject?
MS. NULAND: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: Staying in the region --
MS. NULAND: Let’s let Goyal have his. Go ahead.
MS. NULAND: Okay.
QUESTION: How was your trip – of course, Secretary’s trip to Pakistan and Afghanistan?
MS. NULAND: Goyal, I think we – the Secretary was very public both in Afghanistan and in Pakistan. I certainly can’t improve on the many, many things that my boss had to say on the road.
Yeah. Please. Please.
QUESTION: What I’m just quickly asking you is – I’m sorry.
QUESTION: Could I just stick --
QUESTION: Just one specific element of that. President Karzai, he gave an interview to Pakistan’s Geo Television in which he was quoted as saying that if – very theoretical – if the U.S. were to have a war with Pakistan, that Afghanistan will be on Pakistan’s side. How does the United States regard those remarks?
MS. NULAND: My boss spoke to that yesterday, and she said it’s not an issue because it’s not going to happen.
QUESTION: Can I just follow up? Is – I had read all what the Secretary has said, and she was in Pakistan, Afghanistan and all that. My question is that – what was the reaction from Pakistan as far as dealing with the terrorists in Haqqani Network? Because you’re talking about now two different issues here, Secretary something else while Pakistan is saying something else. What I am asking you is: According to news reports in Pakistan, General Kayani met his generals and he informed them and told them that if Pakistan is attacked by the U.S. or any action by the U.S., then Pakistan is not Afghanistan or Iraq.
MS. NULAND: Was there a question there, Goyal?
QUESTION: My question, I mean – do you have any comments on this? What he – it was kind of a warning to the U.S. from the – Kayani, General Kayani.
MS. NULAND: I think if you have a question about something that General Kayani has said, you should obviously speak to him. I think if you followed the Secretary’s trip, if you followed her remarks, I think she was extremely clear about the very frank and full and good conversation that the – she and her senior Administration counterparts had with their Pakistani counterparts about the need to both fight and talk.
On the fight side, the U.S. has intensified our support for an Afghan-led effort to clean out the safe havens on the Afghanistan side of the border, that we’re looking to work with our Pakistani partners and counterparts to do more against the safe havens on the Pakistani side. And you know where we are on the talk front, that we are prepared to support and we want to see Pakistan also support an Afghan-led reconciliation effort for those who are willing to come off the battlefield along the red lines that the Afghans have laid out, which I can repeat here if you’d like to hear them again.
QUESTION: Just a quick clarification. Do you see a new beginning between U.S. and Pakistan relations?
MS. NULAND: I think we’ve really covered this one, Goyal, and my boss certainly covered it last week.
MS. NULAND: Yeah.
QUESTION: Over the weekend, your Embassy there put out an emergency message to Americans warning of an imminent terror attack. Is there any way you could kind of fill out a little bit what the nature of that threat is? And the reason I ask, to be fair, is that since we’ve been in here, there have been reports of two explosions in Nairobi, one at a bus station and one at a supermarket.
MS. NULAND: Just since --
QUESTION: Since we’ve been in here.
MS. NULAND: -- 15 minutes since we’ve been in here?
QUESTION: So – and I know you can’t speak to that --
MS. NULAND: Yeah.
QUESTION: -- but I’m curious if you could fill this out a little bit more about what the nature of the – excuse me – the nature of the warning was that prompted this.
MS. NULAND: Well, I think the warning was public. So I can’t –
QUESTION: Right. But the nature of why you felt it was necessary to put it out, that the --
MS. NULAND: Well, I’m certainly not going to speak to the intelligence information that undergirded the public statement that we made. But just to repeat it here, we did warn citizens to stay away from crowded areas and particularly to stay away from nightclubs. And as you know, the first explosion that we had after that was in the morning hours today in downtown Nairobi. So obviously, our sympathies are – and our condolences are with the victims.
But we have been concerned about this. I think the Secretary had also spoke to our concerns, and particularly about activities of al-Shabaab.
QUESTION: Without getting into sources and methods, which I know you don’t want to get into, will you say whether the threat came from al-Shabaab, and was it at all tied to Kenya’s decision to go into Somalia in the past week?
MS. NULAND: Again, I’m not prepared to go any further into what underlay the decision to send a warning.
QUESTION: There was a report today that the French are offering to help supply Kenyan troops fighting al-Shabaab. Has the U.S. been asked to assist in any way or --
MS. NULAND: You mean since the bomb attacks of today and --
MS. NULAND: Cami, let me take that question. I don’t have an answer for you.
QUESTION: Or has there been a recent request for some assistance?
MS. NULAND: Yeah. Let me take that one, Cami.
MS. NULAND: Please.
QUESTION: On the Secretary’s visit to Pakistan, there are reports in Pakistan that in the meetings they have agreed on a mechanism against Haqqani Network that includes both the use of force and talks. And the Secretary has also hinted about that in the follow-up interviews. If you could just give us a sense of what that mechanism is?
MS. NULAND: Well, I think the Secretary spoke very clearly to this in the many interviews that she did in Pakistan, so I would refer you to what she had to say at the press conference with Foreign Minister Khar, what she had to say at the town meeting with Pakistani NGO leaders, and particularly to the interview that she gave to the Pakistani TV stations where she talked about many of the specific ways of squeezing the Haqqani Network that we want to pursue together, and we want to see the Pakistanis lead on.
QUESTION: When the Secretary says that there could be serious consequences for Pakistan if they don’t go after the Haqqani Network, what does that mean?
MS. NULAND: She spoke to this very clearly. She used an analogy saying that you can’t keep a snake in your backyard without expecting to be bitten. So the concern is that if Pakistan doesn’t deal with this threat itself – and this was a similar message that we gave when we were starting the work together on al-Qaida, which has been quite successful, as you know – that that snake will come back to bite Pakistanis. That’s the concern.
QUESTION: So what’s the overall impression from the visit? Have the serious differences on action against Haqqani Network been resolved, there has been positive headway? Or those differences still remain?
MS. NULAND: Again, I think the Secretary spoke very clearly to this. We had a very good, important, timely, serious, concrete set of consultations, and now we need to move forward with a work plan and with concrete action.
QUESTION: Just one more.
MS. NULAND: Guys, I think I have to get back upstairs. I’m not sure what --
QUESTION: Very quickly, could you update us on the Quartet meeting on the 26th? Anything new?
MS. NULAND: Well, we haven’t had the Quartet meeting yet on the 26th.
QUESTION: But any new development in that regard?
MS. NULAND: No. We’re looking forward to the meeting.
QUESTION: Okay. Very quickly, do you have a reaction --
QUESTION: Do you have a reaction to --
MS. NULAND: Meetings. Meetings.
QUESTION: -- Minister Lieberman’s comments today that Abbas is not fit for negotiations, it’s time for him to step aside?
MS. NULAND: I’m not going to comment on individual statements. We want an environment that is conducive to talks.
QUESTION: He’s the foreign minister of Israel.
MS. NULAND: Please.
QUESTION: What can you tell us about the death of Anwar al-Awlaki’s son in Yemen and whether or not it was a result of a U.S. strike?
MS. NULAND: I’m going to take that one. I’m not sure where we are on that one.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MS. NULAND: Good. Thanks, everybody.
QUESTION: Thank you.
(The briefing was concluded at 2:00 p.m.)
DPB # 160