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U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action


Mark C. Toner
Deputy Spokesperson
Daily Press Briefing
Washington, DC
November 10, 2011


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Index for Today's Briefing
  • DEPARTMENT
    • Visiting Delegation of Spokespeople from China
    • Secretary Clinton Will Deliver Remarks on "America's Pacific Century" in Honolulu Today / Meetings with the Foreign Ministers of China, Japan, and Australia / President of Vietnam
    • Keystone XL Pipeline
  • PALESTINIANS
    • UN Membership / Submission of Admissions Committee Report
    • Both Parties Need to Return to the Negotiating Table
  • IRAN
    • IAEA Report / Concerns about Iran's Nuclear Program / Consult with Allies and Partners on Next Steps / P-5+1 / Ramp Up Pressure on Iran
  • AUSTRALIA
    • U.S. Military Posture / Referred to Department of Defense / AUSMIN / Bilateral Working Group to Develop Options to Align Respective Force Postures
  • NICARAGUA
    • Elections
  • LIBERIA
    • Elections / Disappointed the Opposition Boycotted the Runoff / Urge All Liberians to Peacefully Accept Election Results
  • VENEZUELA
    • Kidnapping of Wilson Ramos
  • SYRIA
    • Government's Brutal Campaign Against Opposition / Unwise for Opposition to Turn Themselves in / Arab League Meeting / Ramp Up Pressure
  • GREECE
    • Appointment of New Prime Minister Lucas Papademos / Welcome Reform Commitments to the IMF and the European Union
  • RUSSIA
    • Welcome Developments that Lead to WTO Accession for Russia
  • KOSOVO/SERBIA
    • U.S. Wants to See an End to the Violence
  • INDIA/PAKISTAN
    • U.S. Supports Constructive Dialogue Between India and Pakistan
  • VIETNAM
    • U.S.-Vietnam Human Rights Dialogue


TRANSCRIPT:

1:19 p.m. EST

MR. TONER: Good afternoon, everyone. Welcome to the State Department.

I do want to, before we start, welcome a visiting delegation of Chinese spokespeople who are joining us from George Washington University’s Institute for Public Diplomacy and Global Communication. You won’t see them in the room. I know, Brad, you’re looking. There’s actually – there’s so many of them that they’re watching in the nearby conference room.

I do want to mention, today at 11:00 a.m. Hawaii time, which is 4:00 p.m. in Washington, Secretary Clinton will deliver remarks on “America’s Pacific Century” at the East-West Center in Honolulu. She’ll underscore the United States’ strategic approach that will pivot to an increased focus on the Asia Pacific, a region that is increasingly shaping global politics and economics.

She’ll also talk about President Obama’s upcoming travel to the region to create American jobs, secure our interests, and stand up for democratic values. And that speech, just for your information, will be live-streamed on www.eastwestcenter.org or on www.state.gov.

Also to mention she does have a series of bilats – bilateral meetings, rather – later today with the Chinese foreign minister, the Japanese foreign minister, the Australian foreign minister, and the Vietnamese president. And we’ll see what we can provide in terms of background or readouts from those meetings.

And that’s all I have at the top. I’ll take your question.

QUESTION: Can I ask you first about Keystone? Has there been any developments since – I know you spoke about it yesterday. Environment groups and some others are saying that the State Department has now firmly decided to examine this alternative route and pushing back its decision.

MR. TONER: Again, we’ve seen – I’ve seen some of those press reports. We don’t have anything to announce at this time. When we do have something to announce beyond what I said yesterday, we’ll certainly let you know.

QUESTION: So this decision – the decision on whether to examine it is still being examined? Would that be correct?

MR. TONER: Well, again, I don’t have anything to add from what I said yesterday. Like I said, if we – when we have something new to announce on this – I’m aware, completely aware, of the press reports that have been out there circulating, the ones you cited, but we don’t have anything new to announce on that. But certainly, when we do, we’ll let you know. You guys will be the first to know, in fact.

QUESTION: Yes, Mark.

MR. TONER: Yeah.

QUESTION: Can we change topic?

MR. TONER: Sure.

QUESTION: Okay. On Palestine, what do you expect to happen tomorrow at the United Nations?

MR. TONER: Right. As you know, the – I believe it’s the Admissions Committee has submitted its report, and that will be considered tomorrow. And it’s still in process, it’s still in play. We’ll look to the UN Security Council to make a decision based on that report, but I think right now, it’s still, as Toria mentioned the other day, it’s still in a consultative phase and that they’re going to look at the report, this draft report that was circulated by Portugal. And that report, I would remind you, is under silence, so I can’t really discuss its contents.

QUESTION: Okay.

MR. TONER: But it does just summarize the – this report does summarize discussions by the Admissions Committee over the last several weeks. And we just anticipate that the committee’s going to look at the report, study it, and it will be then submitted to the Security Council, and then they’ll decide on next steps.

QUESTION: So you don’t – you’re not likely to see any kind of a voting procedure --

MR. TONER: I think they’re going to be – not tomorrow. As my understanding, just from a procedural viewpoint, is that the Admissions Committee will adopt the report on Friday and that it will then be submitted to the Security Council. At that point, they’ll consider next steps, but that’s not going to happen tomorrow is my understanding.

QUESTION: A follow-up --

MR. TONER: Yeah.

QUESTION: The Palestinians are saying that as long as the application – their application for statehood remains under consideration, they will not apply for other organizations such as they did with UNESCO or WHO or Intellectual Property. Is that a good thing? Is that an incentive to sort of stretch it out, to string it out for a very long time, this process?

MR. TONER: Well, there is a process in play here that’s beyond our control. It’s part of the UN’s process. It’s how they look at these things, these issues, and consider them before they make decisions. It’s part of a UN decision process, decision-making process. You know where we stand on the broader issue. We haven’t budged. We feel that it’s unconstructive both to seek admission into the UN Security Council as well as in the various UN organizations because it – again, it’s a sideshow to what really matters, which is getting them back into direct negotiations. That’s where our focus remains.

Yeah, Said.

QUESTION: And lastly, on what really matters, what is expected, point-by-point kind of a thing? What are the point that Mr. Hale will raise when he meets with Palestinian Authority President Abbas on Monday?

MR. TONER: I’m sorry. You’re talking about --

QUESTION: On Sunday.

MR. TONER: This is the November 14th, I believe, meeting? Is that --

QUESTION: Well, he’s going to meet with Abbas on November 13th, before --

MR. TONER: November 13th with Abbas, and then he’s going to meet --

QUESTION: Right.

MR. TONER: Right. Exactly.

QUESTION: And Molcho. But then on Monday, there is the Quartet meeting. What is he likely to discuss with the Palestinian Authority president?

MR. TONER: Well, again, it’s hard for me to get out in front of these meetings. I don’t like to do it. We don’t negotiate, obviously, in public. It’s our longstanding policy not to do so. We’re going to, again, make the very clear case that the parties need to get back to the negotiating table and move in accordance with the Quartet statement. That the Quartet statement, in fact, lays out a timeline to move this process along incrementally, but according to a timeline that will hopefully lead to direct negotiations and then systematically tackle the issues that are at play here.

QUESTION: Yeah, but this is a timeline that --

QUESTION: But can you just – I’m sorry, Brad, just one last thing.

MR. TONER: Sure.

QUESTION: Can you confirm or deny that there is – that Mr. Hale will submit a point-by-point proposal on freezing settlements – on restarting negotiations and so on?

MR. TONER: I’m certainly – I’m not going to deny it. I’m not going to confirm it. I’m not going to discuss it.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MR. TONER: Yeah?

QUESTION: On Iran?

MR. TONER: Sure.

QUESTION: The Israelis have been doing a little bit of what I would call saber-rattling on the Iran issue, talking about the possibility of a military solution. A former CENTCOM commander made the comment that the situation is scary that if the Israelis moved against Iran, we also would be in the soup. And given the fact that China and Russia, who have a strategic relationship, would be very concerned if there were such a conflict in the Middle East, wouldn’t that create a conflict on a more global scale between us and Russia and China if this would occur?

MR. TONER: Well, you’re taking me six or seven steps down the road, that – let’s pull back and look at the broader issue here. We had the IAEA report issued earlier this week that corroborated many of the international community’s very real concerns about Iran and its nuclear program – raised new concerns, if you will, that some of the activities – that while the program appears to have been stopped in 2003, some of the aspects of that program appear to have continued.

It’s a very serious, very credible report. We’re taking it very seriously. Indeed, we’ve been consulting with our partners and allies on next steps. We’ve talked about our approach to this. We do remain committed to a two-track process but, certainly we’re going to look at ways that we can ramp up pressure – economic pressure – on Iran to convince them that it’s in their interests to come back to the P-5+1 – to that negotiating track, and to come clean to the international community about the intent of its nuclear program.

In terms of Israeli comments about possible reactions to Iran, I would refer you to the Israeli Government.

Yeah. Go ahead, Samir.

QUESTION: There’s a press report today that Deputy Nides will be visiting Israel on Monday to talk about sanctions on Iran. Can you --

MR. TONER: I cannot confirm that. I’ll try to – we’ll – I’ll take the question if he’s indeed traveling to Israel – you said Israel?

QUESTION: Yeah.

MR. TONER: Yeah.

Yeah. Go ahead, Katherine.

QUESTION: Do you have a comment on Dennis Ross leaving the Administration? And how is this going to affect the policy with Iran?

MR. TONER: Katherine, I honestly don’t. I mean, I just was – I just saw the press reports before coming down here. I would refer you to the White House for any personnel matters there.

Yeah, go ahead. Yes, sir.

QUESTION: Back to Keystone for – just for a second.

MR. TONER: Yeah.

QUESTION: There were reports that there were meetings going on today with State Department officials with folks to discuss the permitting process. Are you able to give any readout of what might have been discussed --

MR. TONER: I really can’t. I’m not aware of specific meetings related to Keystone today. Again, when we have something new to say about it, we’ll certainly let you guys know.

QUESTION: Are there ongoing meetings, though --

MR. TONER: I mean, we – there’s ongoing meetings all the time, I guess. I mean, this is obviously an issue that we take very seriously under – as I said, in this review process. But as I said, I don’t have anything to announce here.

QUESTION: Okay, and then if I could just follow up. There are reports out about the United States increasing its posture in Australia. Are you able to give any comment on – with bases, I think they’re called forward stations, that sort of thing.

MR. TONER: Right, right. Well, obviously, anything to do with the military posture, I’d refer you to the Pentagon. I just would say that there was the Australian-United States Ministerial Consultation – the so called AUSMIN that took place in San Francisco. And there, Secretary Clinton and Secretary Panetta and their counterparts did talk about establishing a bilateral working group to develop options that would align our respective force postures. They’re considering a number of options, but again, I’d refer you to the Pentagon for more information on that.

Yeah. Go ahead.

QUESTION: Any comments in regards to Nicaragua’s elections – presidential elections and the second term of Daniel Ortega?

MR. TONER: Any comments – I’m sorry, about the --

QUESTION: Comments in Nicaragua’s presidential elections held this past Sunday?

MR. TONER: Well, I think we spoke about this the other day at the briefing. Toria – Toria Nuland – spoke to it extensively, expressed some of our concerns about the lack of monitors and other concerns about the results. But I’d refer you to her comments.

Yeah.

QUESTION: Can I ask you about Liberia’s election?

MR. TONER: Sure.

QUESTION: Are you worried – or more worried now as a result of continued comments from Mr. Tubman about possible incitement to violence? And what does this say about the democracy if one major part of the country is going to – one major party in the country is going to refuse to recognize the --

MR. TONER: Well, sure, Brad. I think as you know, we were disappointed that they chose to boycott the runoff. Fortunately, the runoff did take place on November 8th and voting was peaceful; there were no reports of violence. We’re obviously concerned and expressed those concerns about pre-election violence, and we continue to monitor very closely the situation on the ground. And we would urge all Liberians of all political stripes to peacefully accept the election results.

QUESTION: Are you in touch with the different parties in Liberia? Are you reaching out to this party and trying to bring them back into the democratic framework somehow?

MR. TONER: I think it’s safe to say that we are, in fact, in contact with all the parties there, and our goal is to have a peaceful transition, and we’re conveying that.

QUESTION: Or a peaceful continuum in this case.

MR. TONER: Peaceful continuum. Thank you. Exactly right.

QUESTION: Syria?

MR. TONER: Yeah. Go ahead.

QUESTION: On the reported kidnapping of Washington Nationals baseball player Wilson Ramos, have you guys been in touch with Venezuelan Embassy here or Venezuelan (inaudible)?

MR. TONER: Right. Well, we’ve not – we are certainly aware of the case, monitoring it closely. We’ve not had any contact with the family or with Major League Baseball as of yet. I checked before coming down here. He’s not a U.S. citizen. He is a, I believe, a green card holder. It’s obviously of great concern to us. We did cite in our country-specific information the very real dangers of kidnapping and violent crime in Venezuela, and we condemn these kinds of violent acts. And we stand by to help, in whatever way possible, the family, if they contact us.

QUESTION: But no contact with (inaudible) --

MR. TONER: Not that I’m aware of, no.

Yeah. Go ahead, Said.

QUESTION: Yes. Syria. Can we move on – Syria?

MR. TONER: Syria’s fine. Yeah.

QUESTION: Okay. Mark, Victoria last Friday, when she said that I don’t advise anyone to turn themselves in, then you came in yesterday and actually substantiated that. A couple days ago, she did as well. But why should not that be interpreted as incitement to carry on, so to speak?

MR. TONER: Why would that be --

QUESTION: Yeah. Why shouldn’t that be interpreted by the Syrians as an American incitement for an armed (inaudible) --

MR. TONER: First off, she was asked – sure. She was asked a pointblank question: Would you, as an individual – would you recommend that these individuals accept offers of amnesty?

QUESTION: Right.

MR. TONER: And her answer holds, which is that this is a government that has carried out a brutal campaign against members of the opposition, against the Syrian people writ large who are protesting peacefully against the government and for democratic change and a democratic transition. We stand by those words. We believe that it would be unwise for regime opponents to turn themselves in to a government with the track record of Asad’s government.

QUESTION: But that is not – also to – it’s not to suggest that these opponents of the regime, that they carry (inaudible) not to turn in themselves or their arms?

MR. TONER: We – absolutely.

QUESTION: I’m trying to understand because --

MR. TONER: Our – look --

QUESTION: -- yesterday on Capitol Hill, Mr. Feltman spoke time and again about the necessity to keep this thing peaceful so they can win. They don’t want to give the regime (inaudible) to strike back.

MR. TONER: And that is exactly right. We stand by and stand for – or stand for, rather, a peaceful transition in Syria. And it only gives the Syrian Government a moral upper hand when they resort – when the opposition does resort – when the protestors do resort to violence. Thus far, they’ve shown tremendous, remarkable courage in the face of the government’s violent campaign against them. We continue to believe that the vast majority of these protestors are committed to peaceful protests and carrying out peaceful protests. Let’s be clear about that as well.

And finally, I would just say this is a regime that has basically agreed many times, to the Arab League most recently, as well as to Turkey a few months ago, that they would end the violence, pull back their military, and institute reforms, and has done nothing. If anything, they’ve only increased the violence against their own citizens. So this attempt by the Syrian Government to make this a U.S. versus Syria thing is pathetic.

QUESTION: Okay. And lastly, on the issue of the Arab League meeting, would you like to see the Arab League suspend Syria’s membership in the Arab League?

MR. TONER: I think I’ll just reiterate what Assistant Secretary Feltman said yesterday, which is we want to see them take clear measures to express their condemnation of the Syrian regime and show their solidarity with the Syrian people. I think that’s exactly what we’re looking for.

Go ahead, sir. (Inaudible.)

QUESTION: According to some reports, that meeting may not take place on Saturday because there is no --

MR. TONER: You’re talking about the Arab League meeting?

QUESTION: On Saturday. In this case --

MR. TONER: My understanding is that they will meet tomorrow in Cairo, but you may have updated information. We would certainly hope that they would meet as soon as possible.

QUESTION: So in this case, do you have an alternative? Are you going to the Security Council?

MR. TONER: Well, again, let’s wait and see if that meeting takes place, and then we’ll assess.

Go ahead, Brad.

QUESTION: Yesterday, Mr. Feltman said that some Arab leaders were already offering safe haven for Asad to leave, to help smooth the way for a peaceful transition. Do you know which leaders he was referring to?

MR. TONER: I do not.

QUESTION: Have you asked? Do you know of any that have mentioned this?

MR. TONER: I do not. Go ahead. I’m sorry. Go ahead.

QUESTION: And then I just also wanted to ask you, yesterday the UN Human Rights Chief Navi Pillay, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, she talked to the Security Council and she said that there were some parallels between the situation now in Syria and what happened in Libya, and that it could descend into an all out civil war. Do you see that threat happening? Why or why not?

MR. TONER: Well, we’ve talked – we’ve done this comparison many, many times. We believe, as the Secretary said most recently Monday night, that you can’t provide – or can’t apply a single template to every one of these circumstances. By and large, the Syrian protest movement has been peaceful in the face of unremitting violence by the government. But they have so far asked that we not intervene militarily and --

QUESTION: But forgetting that --

MR. TONER: Yeah. Sure. I’m sorry, you’re talking about the human rights --

QUESTION: -- just focusing on the level of violence in Syria. Do you see it becoming increasingly violent – both sides? And do you see a risk of this sinking into civil war?

MR. TONER: I think – Brad, I think what I would say to that is we still see the overwhelming amount of violence being carried out by the government, by the regime against innocent protesters.

QUESTION: But do you see as well an increase --

MR. TONER: But certainly we’re concerned that we would call on, as I just said to Said, that we would call on the protesters to remain peaceful and we don’t want to see this descend into anymore violence than there already is.

QUESTION: On the other hand, you’ve spoken, and your colleagues have spoken about an increasing rate of defections among military personnel in Syria. Does that raise the threat level of a more extreme, violent confrontation between the two sides?

MR. TONER: I think it’s difficult to say. What – one of the things we lack, and because we could not get a UN Security Council resolution passed, that we lack credible monitors on the ground who can report back and – to the world what is going on there and chronicle what we believe is the government’s violence against its own people. But in terms of the defections, I can’t speak to that.

Yeah. Go ahead.

QUESTION: This report that I’m reading that Prince William from England will go to the Falkland Malvinas next year. That also is the 30th anniversary of the war of 1982. And also there are some reports that the British Navy ships are moving also into the region. I want to know if the U.S. is maintained the position that both parties need to talk in the future, if there is any advance, do you have any talks with the Argentinean --

MR. TONER: I’m not aware of any talks, but our position hasn’t changed.

Yeah. Go ahead.

QUESTION: Going back to Keystone for a second. yesterday you were saying that the Administration is considering all comments made during public meetings. But is there any concern that votes in the state of Nebraska could force a reroute of the pipeline? Is that --

MR. TONER: That votes?

QUESTION: Votes in the state of Nebraska could effectively force a reroute of the pipeline. Is that a possibility? Is that a concern?

MR. TONER: Again I’m going to – I spoke at length on Keystone today. I’m just going to refrain from commenting further on it. I’m aware there’s press reports out there, and when we have something more to announce about it, we’ll talk to you.

QUESTION: Can we go back to Syria for a minute?

MR. TONER: Yep. Sure.

QUESTION: Okay, because Ambassador Susan Rice yesterday said that the challenge of protecting Syrian civilians is an urgent challenge and --

MR. TONER: Is a what challenge?

QUESTION: Urgent.

MR. TONER: Urgent challenge.

QUESTION: She added a sense of urgency that the world community should assume its responsibility – something akin to that. So what does that mean? Are you about to move on the Security Council to call for a meeting for stronger sanctions, perhaps convincing the Russians and the Chinese?

MR. TONER: Said, unfortunately we were unable to get any traction last time in the Security Council. We are looking to the Arab League and its meeting – upcoming meeting, although you said it might’ve been delayed, but I have no information to the contrary. But we want to see stronger action by the Arab League. We want to see stronger action by Syria’s neighbors. We want to see stronger action on the part of the international community. Our goal, our strategy here is to tighten the economic noose around Asad and his regime and to ramp up the pressure on them.

QUESTION: So, to understand you correctly, any effort at the United Nations, at least in the very near future, is shelved for now and for the near future.

MR. TONER: Well, I just think that we tried that route; we were disappointed by the results. If in the future it does appear to be an effective route to take again, we’ll look at it with our overriding goal being how we can clarify the choice facing Asad – that he needs to step aside and allow for democratic transition to take place and end the violence.

Yep.

QUESTION: Do you have a reaction to the appointment of a new prime minister in Greece?

MR. TONER: Yes, we do. We welcome his appointment, as you may expect. We look forward to working with the new Prime Minister, Lucas Papademos. And I just would say that Greece is an important partner and long-standing friend of the United States and we enjoy a very close bilateral relationship, as well as in various multilateral organizations, and speaking more broadly, we also welcome the consensus that’s been reached in Greece over the need to implement the country’s reform commitments to the IMF as well as the European Union.

Yeah. Go ahead.

QUESTION: Russia, apparently, today said they would – they vowed to veto any further action at the United Nations concerning Iran. They said they were not convinced by what they saw in the IAEA report that was released this week. Do you have any reaction on that? And is there any discussions ongoing with the Russians to --

MR. TONER: Well, we are, in fact. We are talking to the Russians, we’re talking to the Chinese, we’re talking to all our P-5+1 partners and our broader – on a broader level with some of our allies and key partners in the region about the IAEA report. We’re trying to move in a very deliberate but also cohesive way as we look at the report’s findings and consider next steps. And Russia’s very much a part of that conversation.

QUESTION: Can I follow up on that? If the Russians would not accept increased sanctions on there, and the Chinese, I don’t know if they’ve expressed themselves directly on this, but they have a lot of economic relations with Iran in terms of also their oil and their oil supply. They obviously would be concerned if any other measures were taken. If you didn’t have a UN resolution, I assume that attempts would be made to do something outside of the UN Security Council, creating thereby the kind of scenario that I was talking about where we in the West are pitted against Russia, China, and Iran. Has there been any consideration taken to that?

MR. TONER: Well again, Russia, China, all the P-5+1 members are united in their recognition that Iran’s nuclear program raises serious concerns, serious questions that need to be addressed. And that’s been clear throughout. We’re talking with both Russia and China, as I just said, as well as others, as we move forward and consider next steps.

It’s important to stress that the existing UN Security Council Resolution 1929 already put in place very stringent sanctions that we’re looking to better enforce but also that are having an effect on the economy in Iran. That’s been – President Ahmadinejad admitted as much about a week or so ago. And so they are having an effect. We’re going to look at ways to tighten and increase the pressure that those sanctions provide. We’re going to look at unilateral actions as well. So we’re looking at the broad gamut of possibilities, how we can increase pressure on Iran.

QUESTION: Stay on Russia?

QUESTION: A follow-up?

QUESTION: Go ahead.

MR. TONER: Yeah, sure. I’m sorry. Who --

QUESTION: A follow-up?

MR. TONER: Oh yeah, yeah, sure. I thought you were gesturing to someone else over there.

QUESTION: No.

MR. TONER: That’s okay.

QUESTION: Last week, there was a lot of – the news was all about the Israeli intent to possibly attack Iran, if it comes to that. And this week, now it’s the report, the IAEA report. Iran is getting back with very strong words, harsh words. Last month in October, Defense Secretary Panetta was in Israel and he reportedly warned the Israelis against attacking Iran. Has anyone here at the State Department been in touch with the Israelis on the subject of possible attack, warning them or --

MR. TONER: Well, more broadly, we talk to – talk with our close ally, Israel, all the time about our concerns regarding Iran, concerns that they share, concerns that other countries in that immediate neighborhood certainly share as well. It’s not just about Israel’s concerns; it’s about the international community’s concerns about Iran’s nuclear program. I’m not going to get into the substance of Secretary of Defense Panetta’s conversations with the Israelis.


Go ahead, Brad.

QUESTION: Just staying on Russia, two things. Do you have any comment on Russia apparently wrapping up its WTO negotiations?

MR. TONER: I believe I do. It’s certainly – well, what we welcome is the agreement that they reached with --

QUESTION: Not with Georgia, but apparently today they’ve – all negotiations with the working group that was dealing with their accession negotiations has been completed.

MR. TONER: Let me take that and get back to you. I mean, certainly it’s been this Administration’s longstanding goal to see Russia become a member of the WTO. And we certainly welcome the agreement, yesterday I believe – it was signed by Georgia and Russia about their – for – their agreement on WTO accession. So --

QUESTION: And the second thing is some U.S. senators have sent a letter, I believe, asking that you refuse entry to a couple Russian interior ministry officials related to the Magnitsky case. How do you respond to that? Will you not allow them into the United States?

MR. TONER: Sorry, I’m just looking back to the – you’re right; the WTO ministers – ministerial conference will next take place on December 15th and 17th. But certainly we welcome any developments that lead to Russian membership into the WTO, and we also welcome, as I said, the agreement yesterday on arrangement for monitoring trade between the two countries. This is something that’s clearly in the benefit of both countries and will help reduce tensions in the region, so we would applaud it.

Sorry, in response to your second question, we don’t discuss individual visa cases. However, I can say that as we talked about, I believe – except when we do, is your comeback. But we don’t – I can’t talk about these two individuals.

QUESTION: Okay.

MR. TONER: But I think we talked about several months ago that there is a process in place that does look at individuals who may or may not – or who may be implicated in the death of Sergei Magnitsky. And whenever these individuals, whoever they are, when they do apply for a visa, would be entered into that database and evaluated and adjudicated based on their possible implication with his murder.

QUESTION: The names that were on the list that I believe --

MR. TONER: It’s more of a database. There’s no real list, is my understanding. So it’s a database that individuals, whoever they may be, as they applied for a visa, would be – when their visa is adjudicated, it would be entered in this database. And those – that criteria would be one of the elements by which we adjudicated their visas.

QUESTION: So if they were in that database, these two individuals, in theory, you wouldn’t allow them into the country?

MR. TONER: Yeah. I don’t want to talk about these two individuals, but in broader theory, that would be the case. Yes.

Sorry, David and then --

QUESTION: No, I was actually --

MR. TONER: Oh, cool. All right, great. Yes, sir.

QUESTION: A question on Kosovo. We saw last night on the news that a Serbian guy was shot dead in Kosovska Mitrovica and two other were wounded. And regarding that, we often hear that Belgrade has to stop creating those structures on northern Kosovo. Do you think that now with latest development, it’s time to push toward this in Pristina to stop violence against Serbs in northern Kosovo?

MR. TONER: Well, we want to see an end to the violence in general. There’s an EU monitoring mission there that – EULEX -- that is trying to reestablish calm, and we would look to them to carry out their mission and for both sides to step back and reduce tensions.

In the way back there.

QUESTION: In South Asia today, Pakistani and Indian prime ministers met in Maldives on the sidelines of SAARC summit.

MR. TONER: Right.

QUESTION: And the message coming out of their statements was of peace, and that has been after a long time. How do you see that for peace and security in that part of the world?

MR. TONER: Well – I’m sorry – you said a meeting between --

QUESTION: Pakistani and Indian prime ministers.

MR. TONER: We’ve said many, many, many times from this podium that we support constructive dialogue between the two countries. It is in the – it is to the benefit of the region that these two countries cooperate more closely, both in the economic front but as well as on other issues. And we see this as a win-win for the region.

Yeah, go ahead.

QUESTION: I just want to follow up on your human rights dialogue with Vietnam. And it’s reported that the two Falun Gong practitioners who broadcasted the free information to China were sentenced to prison, one for three year, one for two year, and that the police arrested another 30 people in front of the court. So – and next week --

MR. TONER: Right. Well, my – the --

QUESTION: Yeah. What’s your sense?

MR. TONER: Sure. The human rights dialogue is still taking place today. Our Assistant Secretary Michael Posner is leading the U.S. delegation, and I believe Director General Hoang Chi Trung is leading the Vietnamese delegation. Our Deputy Secretary of State Bill Burns opened yesterday’s session at the State Department. At this point, I can’t – I still can’t comment on specific cases raised. I haven’t gotten a full readout. But I can say that the two sides discussed a wide range of human rights issues that certainly touched on religious freedom.

QUESTION: Will you have some readout after that?

MR. TONER: I can certainly try. I don’t know if I can ever – I mean, these are very frank, candid exchanges. Oftentimes specific cases are raised, but that’s not necessarily something we would address in public.

QUESTION: Thanks.

MR. TONER: Yeah. And way back there. Sorry.

QUESTION: Sorry, just going back to Keystone for one second. Just wondering what you make of reports that TransCanada has been stockpiling and moving pipeline and keeping them near locations on the current proposed route.

MR. TONER: You know what? I’m not aware of those reports, so I’ll have to look into it. Thank you.

(The briefing was concluded at 1:52 p.m.)

DPB # 172



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