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MS. NULAND: All right. Happy holidays, everybody.
QUESTION: (Off mike.)
MS. NULAND: Exactly. I’ve missed you all.
MS. NULAND: Let me do a couple of things at the top, and then we’ll go to your questions.
The first is with regard to Bosnia and Herzegovina. The United States welcomes the agreement reached yesterday among Bosnian political leaders to form the Council of Ministers and further agreements on the 2011 budget and the laws necessary for EU integration. We urge the parties and institutions to work rapidly to implement these agreements and to complete formation of the state-level government, which can effectively advance the shared interests of all citizens.
The second issue is on Egypt. The United States is deeply concerned that Egyptian judicial and police officials raided the offices of a number of nongovernmental organizations today, including the National Democratic Institute and the International Republican Institute. This action is inconsistent with the bilateral cooperation we have had over many years. Ambassador Anne Patterson has been in touch today with the Egyptian prime minister on this matter, and Assistant Secretary of State Feltman has also been touch with the Egyptian ambassador here. We call on the Egyptian Government to immediately end the harassment of NGOs, NGO staff, return all property, and resolve this issue immediately.
Let’s go to what’s on your minds.
QUESTION: Can we stay on that same topic?
MS. NULAND: Yeah.
QUESTION: Did the prime minister or the ambassador explain the rationale for this action?
MS. NULAND: Well, I’m not going to get into the details of our private diplomatic exchanges, except to say that we were very clear that this issue needs immediate attention, and we look forward to hearing back from the Egyptian Government as soon as possible.
QUESTION: It sounds like, based on your comments, that you were not satisfied with whatever explanation they did provide. Is that a fair characterization?
MS. NULAND: Well, suffice it to say we don’t think that this action is justified, and we want to see the harassment end and we want to see the property returned and the staff allowed to proceed as normal.
QUESTION: Well, I mean, speaking generally, they were able to provide some explanation for it, or were they not able to do that all?
MS. NULAND: Again, I’m not going to get into the details of the conversations that we had either with the prime minister or with the ambassador here, except to say that we made strong representations and asked for immediate action.
QUESTION: Could you give us some details, Toria? We have been hearing on the ground that they went in; they took basically everything – papers, computers, et cetera. Also confirm that nobody was injured and that they might have taken some money as well?
MS. NULAND: I don't know about the last issue, Jill. We’ve obviously been in contact with NDI and with IRI during the course of the day. They’ve reported concerns not only about their staff but about their property, about their ability to continue to operate. And we have relayed, as you see here, both publicly and privately, our concerns about this incident.
QUESTION: Do you believe that anybody was injured?
MS. NULAND: I don't have any information one way or the other on that, Jill. I would refer you to the affected institutions.
QUESTION: What do you think this says more broadly about Egypt’s commitment to democracy?
MS. NULAND: Well, again, as you know, we believe that these NGOs are there to support the democratic process. Some of these are institutions that are supported by the United States Government, that work around the world in the interests of helping citizens realize their goals of democratic processes taking root in their country. And we have been very open and transparent with Egyptian authorities at all levels, particularly about the operating procedures and policies of NDI, IRI, and other international – other NGOs that we support. So we are very concerned, because this is not appropriate in the current environment.
QUESTION: But what does it say about Egypt’s military council when these types of actions are occurring?
MS. NULAND: Again, we’ve also been in touch – Ambassador Patterson has – with senior Egyptian military officials, asking them to take appropriate action. I’m not in a position right now to speak to who ordered this, what was behind it, et cetera.
QUESTION: But this – is there an environment right now that’s conducive to democratic advancement, when actions such as these occur?
MS. NULAND: Well, again, we’ve just had a number of successful rounds of elections, elections that were generally judged to be free, fair, with open, broad participation, so that is a good thing. This is not a good thing, so we are obviously expressing our concern.
QUESTION: Has Ambassador Patterson been in touch with any of the organizations and offered them any assistance in the meantime?
MS. NULAND: No. Of course, she and her staff have been in close contact, and we in Washington have also been in close contact and have wanted to ascertain the facts so that we can work with them to resolve the situation.
QUESTION: But Toria, just for the record --
QUESTION: For the record, could you just tell us – often it is – it’s alleged that they are an arm of the U.S. Government. They do receive some type of funding from the State Department, et cetera. Can you just explain precisely what is their relationship, if any, with the U.S. Government? And could there be any attempt to overthrow or do anything like that in another country?
MS. NULAND: These are both nongovernmental organizations. They are strongly supported around the world with U.S. Government funds. Their primary purpose around the world is to support the development of democratic institutions. They work most actively – both NDI and IRI – in countries that are in democratic transition. They do things like train poll monitors, train poll workers, train political parties in how to mount their campaigns. But they don’t support any individual candidate, any individual party. And all of their work is open to public scrutiny and to government scrutiny, and we’ve been, particularly in the Egyptian case, extremely transparent. They have been extremely transparent about the programs that they have in Egypt, about who’s participating, et cetera.
QUESTION: Was anyone in the U.S. Government given any warning to this? How did Ambassador Patterson find out about it?
MS. NULAND: I can’t speak to how she – how the Embassy was alerted. I would assume that they were alerted by the organizations themselves. But to my knowledge, we did not have any advance warning of this action by the government.
QUESTION: Okay. And just to go back, so she has been in touch with these organizations. Has the Embassy offered them any assistance in the meantime, since they – or are there – yeah. I guess that’s it.
MS. NULAND: Well, obviously, what they are seeking primarily, both in Egypt and here in Washington, is to have the situation resolved so that they can resume their normal activities, particularly given that we are still in the middle of this intense electoral season in Egypt.
QUESTION: Another subject?
MS. NULAND: Goyal. Are we finished with this one?
QUESTION: Just one more.
MS. NULAND: Yeah.
QUESTION: This not first time I believe – I think this first time you coming out this strongly and giving kind of a warning to Egyptian SCAF. But my question is: Is a fair description that you only come out when the NGOs like these supported by a U.S. Government being touched? On the other hand, for months, since the revolution, there have been constant complaints come from activists. And would be fair that you have been quiet all those months, complaints similar to this?
MS. NULAND: I don’t think that’s fair. We’ve spoken out about freedom of NGO activity for many months in the Egyptian context and asked for a level playing field for all international NGOs.
QUESTION: Is this going to trigger any kind of process, or it already triggered any kind of process about the relationship between the U.S. Government and the SCAF from now on? Or will it be in the future if you did not receive the answer you had been seeking?
MS. NULAND: Again, we are looking for this issue to be resolved immediately.
QUESTION: Yeah. I have another question about that. The conditions – there are conditions now on U.S. aid to Egypt. Is this the kind of thing that the Secretary will take into consideration in deciding whether or not the Egyptian Government should get $1.3 billion?
MS. NULAND: Well, Michele, as you’ve said, we do have a number of new reporting and transparency requirements on funding to Egypt that we have to make to the Congress. The Egyptian Government is well aware of that, and it certainly needs to be aware of that in the context of how quickly this issue gets resolved.
MS. NULAND: Yeah. India. Go ahead.
QUESTION: National Investigation Agency of India had charged number of individuals including several ISI agents and also LET connections, including Mr. Headley, who is here in the U.S. with the U.S. – I mean, Indian official had Headley, interviewed him in Chicago. My question is that – this is in connection with the several bombings throughout India including in Mumbai attacks. Have anybody contact the U.S. with this charge sheet, which is – which was handled over in parliament this week, and if they have requested any further interviews or getting Headley to India for further questioning or to face charges?
MS. NULAND: I don’t have anything in particular on that, Goyal. I will take the question; if we have anything to share, we’ll get back to you.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MS. NULAND: Please.
QUESTION: On India?
MS. NULAND: Yes.
QUESTION: You are sending a comedy group to India. What is the comedy behind it? (Laughter.)
MS. NULAND: Well, thank you for that, Tejinder. We are, indeed, sending an Indian American comedy group. We are supporting a seven-country – a seven-city tour that they are making around India. They’re called “Make Chai, Not War,” and this is part of our regular global cultural exchange program that we do around the world. There are three Indian American comedians. And the reason we decided to support this tour is because among the things that they are known for is their talk about religious tolerance, about the importance of breaking down prejudices, and about the positive experiences they had growing up as Indian Americans in the United States.
They will be in India January 4th to 17th, as I said, in seven cities. In addition to doing shows, they’ll also be holding audience discussions on these issues of religious tolerance and doing workshops and having some interviews with the press.
QUESTION: Which cities and what is the budget?
MS. NULAND: I believe the full tour costs about $100,000. The U.S. Embassy in New Delhi is supporting them with a grant of $88,000. I don’t have the seven cities, but we’ll get them for you.
MS. NULAND: I can’t speak to that. As you know, our main focus has been in trying to encourage the Iraqi political groups to talk to each other and to create a broad national dialogue about the way forward. With regard to the arms sales, these, as you know, are long planned and they’re part of the transition process for the Iraqis to manage their own security within their own resources.
QUESTION: Just – wait. How are those efforts going to promote dialogue? It’s been a few days that that’s been the same message, yet there hasn’t seemed to be a palpable effect yet in Iraq. Can you shed some light on how you’re going about this and what tangible results that’s producing?
MS. NULAND: Well, as you know, the Vice President has been active in his personal diplomacy with individual Iraqi leaders. Our Ambassador Jim Jeffrey has seen and talked to all of the major figures in Iraq. We’re encouraging a process that a number of them have begun talking about, which is to have a sit down, to have a dialogue among themselves soon after the new year. And we have seen some encouraging public statements by a few of them over the last couple of days indicating they also believe that a national dialogue needs to take place soon after the new year.
QUESTION: Do you think – okay. Do you think certain actions need to be taken before this – to really kick-start this dialogue, such as withdrawing charges against rival politicians, things of this nature?
MS. NULAND: I think we’re not going to get into the middle of this and dictate one way or the other. It – clearly the Iraqi political groups need to sit down together and work this through in a manner that is consistent with Iraq’s constitution and their commitments to each other.
QUESTION: I understand, but can certain – for example, just logistically, can politicians – certain leaders sit down when they’re essentially wanted individuals? How does that work?
MS. NULAND: Well, I assume you’re talking about one individual who’s now the subject of charges. Again, we’ve said all along that we want to see any judicial process take place within the contest of the Iraqi constitution and meet international judicial standards. We need to get the main groups in Iraq talking to each other again about how they can move forward.
QUESTION: But in this case, you agree with the need for a judicial process to take place? You don’t think that is not necessary?
MS. NULAND: Again, we’re not the judge and jury here. This is an issue that needs to be settled by Iraqis within Iraqi constitutional processes.
QUESTION: You said you’ve seen encouraging signs. What are those signs?
MS. NULAND: We’ve had – we’ve seen some Iraqis speak publicly about their desire for national dialogue, and a number of them are also expressing the same hope to us privately that soon after the New Year, they’ll be able to sit down and settle this properly.
MS. NULAND: Yes.
QUESTION: We have this ongoing, now for a couple of days, standoff with Iran in the Strait of Hormuz. There’s been a lot of strident rhetoric coming from their direction. What – how does the U.S. really interpret what they are trying to do? How serious is this threat? We know what the U.S. says it would do, but why are the Iranians doing this?
MS. NULAND: Well, I can’t get inside Iranian heads. I wouldn’t want to even if it were appropriate from this podium. But we’ve seen quite a bit of irrational behavior from Iran recently. One could only guess that the international sanctions are beginning to feel the pinch and that the ratcheting up of pressure, particularly on their oil sector, is pinching in a way that is causing them to lash out. But beyond that speculation, I wouldn’t be able to get inside their heads.
QUESTION: But you seem --
QUESTION: I have two questions, please.
MS. NULAND: Sorry, let’s – Jill, do you --
QUESTION: I just want to make sure, is there anything that the U.S. is doing right now other than those statements by the Pentagon saying what would happen should they actually try to do that? Are you talking to other countries about it? I’m sure you are, but is there any concrete action that the U.S. is taking right now in the event that something like that should happen?
MS. NULAND: Again, I think I’ll let, as Mark has over the last couple of days, the Navy spokeswoman’s comments speak for us on this issue, and simply say that we’d like peace and calm in the straits over the --
QUESTION: I have two questions, please.
MS. NULAND: Please.
And the second question is: Yesterday, the President of Venezuela Hugo Chavez said that U.S. may have created a new technology to induce cancer in Latin American presidents who are enemies of United States. What would you say to Chavez?
MS. NULAND: Well, first, with regard to the Iranian tour of Latin American countries, let me refer you to Iran and to the countries that the leader is visiting. Our hope and expectation is that these will increase the pressure on Iran.
With regard to the Chavez statements, let me simply say that they are horrific and reprehensible.
MS. NULAND: Yeah.
MS. NULAND: Yes, Pakistan.
QUESTION: Can I just get one more for Iran?
MS. NULAND: Yeah.
QUESTION: Given these threats from Iran, how concerned is the U.S. with possible terrorist attacks toward shipping containers in the straits?
MS. NULAND: Again, I’m not going to go any further on Hormuz. I think that our Navy spokeswoman spoke for all of us in expressing our expectation that the straits will stay free and open for international navigation.
QUESTION: The --
MS. NULAND: Pakistan?
QUESTION: -- President Zardari, speaking on 27th on the fourth death anniversary of Bhutto – Benazir Bhutto, made some allegations. Like, he said that he’s not going to join the theater of war. Then he said Pakistan trade pacts will go ahead with the gas pipeline with Iran, then he said that one – which he really did hit U.S. – he said tailor-made democracies are being planted in Arab world to show that democracies eventually will fail. What is the U.S. reaction to the president of an allied country on this?
MS. NULAND: Well, Tejinder, I haven’t seen what was said today, so I can’t --
QUESTION: Well, not – it was on 27th.
MS. NULAND: I just haven’t seen it, so I’m not in a position to comment directly on it.
MS. NULAND: More broadly, on the question of democracy movements in North Africa and the broader Middle East, I don’t think anybody should question that these are grassroots, indigenous movements by people, who have long wanted more freedom than their government allows, have wanted, what Pakistanis have, which is the right to elect their government.
QUESTION: Have you got one – have you got any update on the NATO supply routes from Pakistan?
MS. NULAND: No. I don’t have anything further on that.
QUESTION: Just quick follow. Can you just update as far as a rift between Pakistan military and the civilian government, because Prime Minister Gilani told the parliament, Pakistani parliament that he cannot accept – or it’s not acceptable state within a state, and he was referring to the military minister, there are two governments in Pakistan.
MS. NULAND: I think you’re trying to draw me into internal Pakistani things that are --
QUESTION: No, I’m just asking you any update on Pakistan. That’s all. Whatever was going on in the last --
MS. NULAND: I don’t have anything new on that.
QUESTION: Thank you, ma’am.
QUESTION: It seems that today the foreign ministry in Pakistan acknowledged that there have been tensions in U.S.-Pakistan relations this year. So going forward in view of continuing tensions on the November 26th strike on Pakistani check posts, which killed Pakistani soldiers, what are you looking at in the year ahead, next year?
MS. NULAND: Well, I don’t think anybody on any side would question that 2011 was a difficult and complex year in the U.S.-Pakistani relationship. Obviously, what we want to do is turn the page, redouble our efforts to cooperate against the threats that we share, and to support a strong, prosperous, democratic Pakistan in an increasingly stable, peaceful, prosperous, democratic region.
QUESTION: One aspect of the U.S.-Pakistan relationship has been public perceptions, and I know you have been carrying out public diplomacy, but there is a feeling in Pakistan that U.S. has been criticizing Pakistan too much on too many issues, which prevented the civilian leadership and all the military leadership to overcome and address issues like the November 26 strike. So what do you intend to do to avoid such tensions, which from criticism – too much criticism on many issues which were unrelated to Afghan war.
MS. NULAND: Well, as you may know, we put a huge amount of effort both from our Embassy in Islamabad and our consulates in Pakistan, as well as from this podium and Secretary’s travels to try to speak directly to the Pakistani people, to talk to them about the interests that we share, to make clear how much the U.S. Government is trying to support the development of a strong, stable, peaceful Pakistan, free from terrorism, internally free from being a platform for terror. We put a huge amount of U.S. taxpayer money every year into education programs in Pakistan, micro-lending programs, flood relief, all kinds of economic opportunity programs because we believe a strong Pakistan is in our interest.
So we will continue to try to give that message directly to the Pakistani people, as the Secretary did herself in her town hall meeting and in her TV interviews when she was in Pakistan in October. And we believe that that message needs to be conveyed strongly in Pakistan by Americans and by Pakistanis that we need each other and that we have a lot of work still to do, to build the kind of neighborhood there that is in our mutual interests.
QUESTION: And then one more quick one.
MS. NULAND: Still on Pakistan?
QUESTION: On Pakistan. Just quick one.
MS. NULAND: Yeah.
QUESTION: Now, India and Pakistan are talking on many, many various issues including nuclear issues. Is the U.S. playing any role or are you in touch with the India and Pakistan on this issue?
MS. NULAND: Well, I think you know that we’ve long encouraged direct dialogue between India and Pakistan, that we are encouraged that, on this front, 2011 was a good year, that they made considerable progress together, and we want to see that progress deepened and strengthened in the – in 2012.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MS. NULAND: Everybody’s in lavender today.
QUESTION: Sorry. (Laughter.)
MS. NULAND: I should have put on lavender, it must be (inaudible).
QUESTION: A Keystone question.
MS. NULAND: Yes.
QUESTION: Does the State Department see any way – any possibility of approving this project in the new time frame that Congress has given you? Doesn’t -- or is there a problem meeting the environmental laws, such as the National Environmental Policy Act?
MS. NULAND: Well, as you say, Michele, the Congress has given us 60 days to make a decision here. We are in the process of evaluating that legislation, but I don’t have anything new to report today.
MS. NULAND: Yep.
QUESTION: From this podium in the past you’ve said that the U.S. believes that if monitors were in place, the Assad regime would not be able to do its worst. It does appear that the attacks do continue and that these monitors are playing a game of whack-a-mole. How concerned are you that this is not stopping the violence? And do you have any concerns about the mission itself – the monitoring mission itself, which has come under some criticism for having a somewhat muted response?
MS. NULAND: Well, first of all we are concerned as you point out that even though we have monitors on the ground, and they are playing a role in some places, we also have a continuation of the violence. For example, we’ve had reports of at least 10 people killed in Homs, Hama, and Idlib yesterday, even as the Arab League monitors were trying to deploy there. So – and we’ve had violence in other parts of Syria. That said, if you go up on YouTube today, you can see great pictures of a democracy rally in Idlib, that went forward with quite a crowd at the same time that the monitors were there. So clearly, their presence appears to have provided some space for public expression.
But what we want to see, as we’ve said from the beginning, is that monitors able to move throughout Syria, to talk to anybody that they want to talk to including political prisoners who are still locked up. We also want to see all the terms of the Arab League agreement implemented. So it’s not only a matter of a deploying the monitors; it’s a matter of the Syrian Government living up to its commitment to withdraw heavy weapons from the cities; to stop the violence everywhere, which clearly has not happened; to release all political prisoners. We’ve seen a modest prisoner release, but it appears that the most important, high-profile political activists have not been released.
And we also want to see Syria opened to the press. You may have seen that in recent days the Syrian opposition has been calling on international journalists to, again, try to apply for visas and to see what happens, to see if the Syrian Government will live up to its commitment to open its streets more. So unfortunately, the violence continuing, Syrian regime still propagating violence against its own people. But in some people where the monitors have deployed, we see some positive signs, but not enough.
QUESTION: Okay. So two follow-ups on that. Do you believe that the monitoring mission will be enough to stop civilian – violence against civilians? That’s the first one.
MS. NULAND: Well, first of all –
QUESTION: That was your position prior. You said that this would be what was needed to stop the worst of the violence.
MS. NULAND: I think what we said was that if all four tenets of the Arab League proposal – that the monitors be allowed to deploy along with international journalists, that heavy weaponry be removed from cities and towns, that all the violence stop, and that political prisoners be released – I think we said that that would make a manifest difference in the situation in Syria for civilians and for the process of encouraging democratic transition, but that it was never sufficient. We believe Assad needs to go, as you know. But the monitors alone are not enough if the violence doesn’t end, if the tanks don’t come out of the cities, if the political prisoners aren’t released from prison.
QUESTION: Okay. And then do you still have confidence in this monitoring mission, as there’s been some criticism of its leadership?
MS. NULAND: Well, again, I think the proof will be in how they execute their mission. Are they active throughout Syria? Are they deploying throughout Syria? Are they strong in insisting that they have the access that they need to individual Syrians, to private citizens, to political prisoners? And how do they report their findings? So we want to see them active, and we want to see strong reporting.
QUESTION: Do you have any assessment of their job so far?
MS. NULAND: Again, I think they’re on day two of their deployment.
MS. NULAND: Day three. So I think we’re going to let this process continue.
QUESTION: Are you – separate topic.
MS. NULAND: Still Syria?
QUESTION: Are you aware of a civil lawsuit –
QUESTION: Oh, I have one more on Syria, actually.
QUESTION: Go ahead, Mike.
MS. NULAND: Go ahead, Kirit.
QUESTION: There’s been some reporting about the Obama Administration considering more direct assistance to the opposition. Is there anything you can tell us about that?
MS. NULAND: Well, I think we’ve always said that if the Syrian Government did not fulfill all of the promises that it made to the Arab League that more action and more pressure was going to be required. We’ve talked from this podium about action at the Security Council. We’ve talked about other things. So – we’ve talked about increasing sanctions, adding to the number of countries participating actively in sanctions. So obviously we have an active policy process to look at all the options as this goes forward.
QUESTION: Two question on the Arab League mission. According to press reports, there are only 66 Arab monitors today currently in Syria. Do you think this number is enough to satisfy the expectations?
MS. NULAND: Well, our understanding is that the Arab League intended, over a period of days and weeks, to deploy somewhere between 150 and 300 monitors. So they’re in the middle of that deployment now. So I think we need to let them continue to try and get their people on the ground and see whether it’s sufficient.
QUESTION: Yesterday, Syrian National Council called for – called on head of the Arab mission, Mr. al-Dabi, to leave the post. Do you think head of the mission is credible enough to continue his work?
MS. NULAND: I’m not going to comment from this podium – we’re not going to comment on the individuals that the Arab League is deploying. As I said, we’re going to judge this mission by fulfillment of the mandate that it has promised its own people and that it’s promised the Syrian people, that it will deploy fully, that it will have full access, and that it will report honestly and credibly on what it finds.
QUESTION: Do you have – are you aware of a civil lawsuit against a Swiss Embassy employee who was involved in a fatal car accident a couple months ago?
MS. NULAND: I am not, Brad.
QUESTION: You’re not?
MS. NULAND: No.
QUESTION: Okay. I will send you the story then.
MS. NULAND: Excellent.
QUESTION: On the Palestinian aid, so $40 million has been released to the Palestinians. Do you – can you – how did that come about, and can you give us an update on what’s happening with the rest of the $147 million in aid that’s been frozen by Congress?
MS. NULAND: Well, first to say, as you know, we have been working with Congress for some time, because we don’t think it’s in U.S. national interest to keep this money frozen. So from that perspective, we’re gratified that 40 million has now been released. We continued that conversation with Congress right up through recent days and weeks, and we’re pleased that we’ve now been able to move about 40 million in economic and humanitarian support to the Palestinian people provided through the economic support fund account.
We will continue to work with Congress when they come back in session to secure additional funding for these programs, because we think they’re important, we think they aid in stability and security and development for the Palestinian people. That’s in our interest, it’s in their interest, and we believe it’s also in Israel’s interest. I would also note that, separately from that ESF fund, we have continued to provide some 200 million in direct budget support to the Palestinian Authority in 2011.
QUESTION: So – but what was – what concerns were met on the part of Congress to allow them to release this?
MS. NULAND: I think you’re asking me a question that’s better addressed to Congress. I would simply say that we had a very active and strong dialogue with members of Congress on this issue.
QUESTION: Mark had told us that U.S. briefing to General Kayani about the 26/11 CENTCOM report has been postponed, not rejected. Do you have a new date for the briefing?
MS. NULAND: I can’t speak to that. I’ll let you know if we do.
QUESTION: And do you know that – if – who has delivered – Pentagon today confirmed that the report has been delivered to the Pakistanis. Can you give us any more details about –
MS. NULAND: I think that’s a question for the Pentagon. I think they had the lead on that.
Okay. One over here, yeah.
MS. NULAND: I think I have a little bit. Not a lot of bit, but a little bit.
MS. NULAND: Let’s see what we’ve got here somewhere, somewhere, somewhere in my falling-apart book. Here it is. So Special Representative for North Korea Policy Glyn Davies did meet with Special Representative for Korean Peninsula Peace and Security Issues Lim Sung Nam yesterday. They discussed a wide variety of issues, including next steps in the Korean Peninsula, constructive, substantive, reflecting the close cooperation between our two countries and the personal bond that they are beginning to form.
QUESTION: Mark Toner yesterday – it seemed like he was suggesting that Robert King was also in this meeting. Is that correct? Was it a – or did Lim meet separately with King? Or were all three of them – were Davies, King, and Lim all in the same meeting?
MS. NULAND: Looks like King was in the meeting as well. Yeah.
QUESTION: Okay. Why was King in this meeting?
MS. NULAND: Well, obviously, we are continuing to talk about the humanitarian situation in the DPRK and what we’ve said to the North Koreans and what the South Koreans have also said to the North Koreans regarding whether or not we would go forward with nutritional assistance.
QUESTION: So I think that Lim Sung Nam is in charge of – I think he’s a representative for South Korea to the Six-Party Talks. So why was King talking about humanitarian aid issues to South Korea’s representative on Six-Party Talks?
MS. NULAND: Well, I can’t speak to the Korean side’s choice of interlocutor, but as you know, we do coordinate closely in how we evaluate the situation in the DPRK not only with regard to the nuclear dossier and the Six-Party Talks, but also with regard to the humanitarian situation. So I assume that we were coordinating on both issues.
QUESTION: Okay. Is the U.S.’s ultimate decision on nutritional assistance to North Korea – is that something that the U.S. discusses with South Korea first? Like, does South Korea play a role in this decision?
MS. NULAND: I think I said we just – I think I just finished saying that we coordinate how we see the situation. We’ve always said that our decision on nutritional assistance would be based on our evaluation of need and would be based on whether we thought we could monitor what we would send so that it would get to the right people. So on both the need front and appropriate monitoring procedures, we talk about these issues with South Korea all the time, as – so that we can compare notes and evaluate what will be most effective and when.
QUESTION: With today being the last day of Kim Jong-il’s funeral, do you have anything on the timing of when, like, these talks on nutritional assistance or talks about having that next set of bilateral talks will happen?
MS. NULAND: I think we said before the Christmas holiday that we had made clear to the DPRK what our remaining questions were and that the ball was in their court.
QUESTION: So the U.S. is not going to make the next contact with North Korea? The U.S. is going to –
MS. NULAND: Again, I think we’ve said that the ball is in the DPRK’s court.
MS. NULAND: I can’t imagine – they’re really related to Turkey?
MS. NULAND: I’m so surprised.
QUESTION: Turkish Government today acknowledged that mistake was made and over 30 civilians were killed in the southeastern city of Sirnak in Turkey. Given the extensive cooperation between the U.S. and Turkey, especially on intelligence matters, first of all, have you been able to get in touch with the Turkish counterparts how this happened? Because the general’s staff today also stated that there’s an investigation underway. Are you taking any role? And some blame, of course, that since the U.S. giving intelligence, you might have a role within this accident.
MS. NULAND: This is an incident that has just happened. In terms of the government’s reaction, I think probably it’s more appropriate to ask the Turkish side what they are doing with regard to the investigation. But clearly, they’ve said that they will investigate.
QUESTION: So you have not been contacted by Turkish Government asking any kind of –
MS. NULAND: Not to my knowledge.
QUESTION: And last week, I asked about the arrested journalists. I was told that Mark was going to get me back. Do you have any update? Have you been able to talk to Turkish Government on these trials that have been going on and added new ones now?
MS. NULAND: Let me apologize if we didn’t get back to you. I’ll take it again, and we’ll endeavor to get back to you before the end of the day.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MS. NULAND: Okay. Good. Thanks, everybody.
(The briefing was concluded at 1:39 p.m.)
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