12:41 p.m. EDT
MS. NULAND: All right. Happy Tuesday, everybody. I have nothing at the top. Let’s go to what’s on your minds.
QUESTION: I just want to ask, I’m curious about the Treasury announcement earlier that the former Prime Minister has now been removed from sanctions. From a policy point of view, who, if they defect – where’s the cutoff, or is there no cutoff line? I mean, if Assad all of the sudden defects or gives up or leaves power, does that mean sanctions against him are off, too?
MS. NULAND: Well, you can imagine, Matt, that I’m not going to get into hypotheticals, but just to make the point that you just made, we – the Treasury Department announced today that former Prime Minister of Syria Hijab, who defected and who has now renounced the regime, who’s now calling for a democratic future for Syria, has been removed from the U.S. sanctions list because he is no longer a member of the regime that is perpetrating this violence. He is no longer part of the crew that the sanctions were targeted against.
QUESTION: So – but I don’t understand how that fits in with the accountability portion of this whole thing that you guys have been making such a big deal about. So he’s not going to be held – I mean, he was a member of the regime for a while when some of the bloodiest violence was going on. Is he not – no longer – he’s free? He doesn’t have to worry about accountability?
MS. NULAND: This issue doesn’t affect the question of what the Syrian people may or may not decide with regard to accountability for former regime officials. This designation, in the first place, was part of our larger sanctions policy vis-a-vis Syria, which is designed to squeeze the regime individually, collectively, and dry up the money that it uses to perpetrate its crimes. So when you have individuals who have broken with the regime, they should no longer be subject to those sanctions. That’s a totally separate issue from what the Syrian people may decide on the accountability side.
QUESTION: Well, except for the fact that now if he had a – if there was any money, any assets that he had frozen under your sanctions, he’s now free to get that money and distribute it however he wants.
MS. NULAND: And it is based on our expectation that he has now affirmatively broken with the regime, he has broken his ties, and he is working for a better and different and more democratic Syria.
QUESTION: All right. So in other words, if you’re a very bad guy up until this point, as long as you get out, you’re okay as far as the U.S. is concerned?
MS. NULAND: This is not a judgment about his accountability, which is something for the Syrian people to decide. This is a judgment about whether he should continue to be subject to sanctions, which are designed to squeeze the regime until it stops its bloody offensive. So this guy is no longer part of that offensive, and so he should not be subject to sanctions any further.
QUESTION: Do you have any update on the formation of the working group between the U.S. and Turkey?
MS. NULAND: Well, beyond what we said yesterday, which is that that what we are looking at is to have a group that includes, on our side, State Department, DOD, intelligence personnel, and the same composition on the Turkish side, I don’t have anything specific to announce in terms of leadership or next meetings, but we’ll let you know as soon as we do.
What I would like to say, though, on Syria is, as you know, yesterday we talked in the context of the trip that we had to Istanbul about also reaching out to other close allies and partners with regard to our three-pillar approach on Syria. The Secretary had a conference call for more than an hour yesterday with U.K. Foreign Minister – Foreign Secretary Hague, French Foreign Minister Fabius, German Foreign Minister Westerwelle, and also Turkish Foreign Minister Davutoglu to talk through many of those same elements that she and Foreign Minister Davutoglu had discussed in Turkey, specifically support for the opposition and hastening the day when the Assad regime falls, the serious and growing refugee problem, and working together to increase the support for the frontline states and for the UN agencies that are supporting the Syrians inside and outside Syria, and the third pillar of preparing for the day after and looking at it as an international community at the many needs that we expect that the Syrians will have, dividing up the labor, if you will. And the conversation very much focused on ensuring that we’re all pulling in the same direction, that we’re all sharing information, that we are thinking about the division of labor so we’re all – we’re covering all the bases without tripping over each other.
QUESTION: Will there be a working group with those countries, too?
MS. NULAND: Well, again, I think we have a specific working group with Turkey, given the intensity of their involvement. The Secretary has her own diplomacy with these key countries, and so this is an effort to get all of these countries working together along the same lines.
QUESTION: Was any military action discussed in that call, perhaps preparations for a no-fly zone?
MS. NULAND: Again, the conversation tracked very much with the conversation that she had with Foreign Minister Davutoglu, followed along the same lines, which she spoke about in Istanbul and which I spoke about yesterday, which is to evaluate the effectiveness of what we are all already doing to support the Syrian opposition and then looking at what more we might do without increasing the suffering and that being the litmus test.
QUESTION: Could I just clarify? Then, in other words, was this kind of still at the evaluation stage; let’s find out what we’ve done so far? Or have they gone down – even further down the road to decide what each party should do?
MS. NULAND: This was a conversation to get everybody looking at all three of those pillars in the same way. We’ll have our staffs. We’ll be following up over time. There are – on the humanitarian side in particular, all of the countries on that call have been key donors to the UN effort. The issue there is now getting even more – broadening the circle – I think we have 22 donor countries now to the UN effort – I getting more countries involved, and ensuring that as we support the UN both with money and in kind that we’re not all giving the same thing, et cetera. So it’s very much an effort to coordinate the planning that we’re doing and the work that we’re doing.
QUESTION: And just one on Mr. Hijab.
MS. NULAND: Yeah.
QUESTION: He has spoken out. In fact, I’ll read you one of these. “The regime’s moral, economy, and military has completely collapsed, and the regime is only in control of no more than 30 percent of Syrian lands.” Does the State Department agree with that assessment?
MS. NULAND: Well, we certainly agree with his analysis, and he spoke very eloquently that the Assad regime is disintegrating morally, economically, financially, and militarily. That’s obvious from everything that we’re seeing. As we’ve been saying for a number of weeks now, we do believe that the opposition is gaining control of more and more territory. I can’t speak to the precise number that the former Prime Minister cited, but --
QUESTION: But he does use the past tense. I mean, he does say, “has collapsed.” You’re saying, “is collapsing.” So there’s kind of difference between those two, right?
MS. NULAND: Well, unfortunately, Assad has not let left the country and given up power, so we’re – we do see the regime collapsing, but unless and until the bloodshed ends, I don’t know that we could use the past tense. But we all, as you know, are seeking to hasten that day.
QUESTION: Victoria, increasingly the rhetoric coming out from the opposition or people associated with the opposition is belligerently sectarian. And in fact, there are some communities right outside Damascus (inaudible) where it was basically ethnically cleansed of Alawites. What measures are you taking – aside from warning, which you have been doing admirably since the very beginning – but what measures are taken to dissuade, ensure, or warn against such action?
MS. NULAND: Well, first, let take a little bit of issue with the premise of the way you posed your comment and your question there, Said. From where we’re sitting, it’s quite a mixed picture. We have seen some of the major combatant entities, including the FSA, go out to their own fighters, calling for a code of conduct, be up on YouTube, up on their own websites, calling for justice, calling for accountability, calling for a Syria for all Syrians, urging their fighters against reprisals or any kind of vigilante justice.
As you know, we’ve been sending that message in absolutely strongest terms, publicly and privately, at every level. The Secretary repeated it again in Istanbul that those fighting in the name of the Syrian people and in the name of a better day in Syria must do so in a manner that reflects the highest standards of human rights, the highest standards of accountability, and those who are beginning to set up interim governing structures in some of these liberated parts of Syria need to reflect the best democratic values of the Syria of the future. And they will be judged as well by how they administer, whether they are inclusive of all Syrians or whether they are cleansers, whether they protect the rights of individuals or whether they allow people acting in their name to commit violence or reprisal, et cetera. So the Syrian people are going to judge them and the international community are going to judge them.
QUESTION: Are you in contact or are you making any special effort to contact, let’s say, members of community leaders from the Alawite community or the Christian community, be it in Syria or outside of Syria, to actually sort of calm their fears, show them that the international community will take a very strong position against any kind of sectarian vengeful behavior by those who may ascend to power?
MS. NULAND: Well, we are, and we have been from the beginning of this fight. As you know, we have broad and deep contacts both outside of Syria but also inside of Syria that have been getting even stronger as the country becomes more accessible, as more territory is liberated. And in all of our contacts, we are seeking to underscore the essential values that have to guide this fight going forward and by which the Syrian people, the international community, will judge the behavior of individuals and organizations collectively.
We are also urging, as the Secretary has from the very beginning, a message of unity, of pluralism, of openness, of human rights protections for Syrians of all stripes, that that’s absolutely essential if the next generation of leaders in Syria want to be truly democratic, want the support of the international community and their own people, and want to truly have a better Syria than the Syria that Assad led.
QUESTION: You had mentioned just then that you said your contacts are getting deeper, growing – they’re growing with the opposition as more and more of the country becomes accessibly, yeah?
MS. NULAND: Yes.
QUESTION: Okay. That means that it’s not just by phone; you’ve got people going into Syria, into areas that are held by the opposition, talking with these people. Is that what you’re saying?
MS. NULAND: What I’m saying is that we have a lot of Syrians coming in and out who we have contact with; our own ability to be in contact with people throughout the country is growing, whether it is in person or whether it is through other means. And we are using all of the contacts that we have to send these messages about the kind of Syria, the best Syria, that they need to reflect, even in their behavior now.
QUESTION: Well, are you aware of State Department officials going into Syrian territory that is accessible, as you say?
MS. NULAND: I don’t have any information to share on that, no.
QUESTION: Well, no, I’m not saying if you have any to share --
MS. NULAND: No. We don’t have State Department personnel, no.
QUESTION: And then just the other thing. The conference call from yesterday --
MS. NULAND: Yes.
QUESTION: She has plans to expand this little small circle, correct?
MS. NULAND: Yes. She’ll be in touch --
QUESTION: Who else will be --
MS. NULAND: She is, as you know, spending the week in contact with others. So when I have more things to report I will, but I think the expectation is that she’ll be in touch with other foreign ministers over the course of the week.
QUESTION: Would you expect that she might – that she would be in touch with Foreign Minister Lavrov?
MS. NULAND: I don’t think there’s anything scheduled. My understanding is he’s on holiday.
QUESTION: Well --
MS. NULAND: I don’t think there’s anything scheduled.
MS. NULAND: Yes.
QUESTION: On the surface, it looks like the former president’s people are back in business, attacking President Hadi’s military. Is that the understanding that you have? Is it really just that, or who are these people?
MS. NULAND: Well, what we have seen are these clashes between Yemen’s Republican Guards and the Yemeni military. We have been urging restraint on all sides, an immediate end to the violence, and respect for President Hadi and the reforms that he is putting in place and the democratic transition.
QUESTION: That’s it?
MS. NULAND: That’s – I mean, I’m not going to speak to the motivations of some of these guys who have been violent. But obviously, it appears to be some of the dead-enders of the ancien regime trying to have their due and resist some of this democratic change that President Hadi is putting in place.
QUESTION: Is – what is the level of concern here in the building about that?
MS. NULAND: Well, as I said, we are concerned. We are in touch with them and we have, again, called for the swift implementation of all of these decrees so that the – so that Yemen can move on.
QUESTION: Sorry, just a quick follow-up --
MS. NULAND: Yeah.
QUESTION: -- on that, on Yemen. The former President heads a major party that is more and more gaining more power. Are you in contact with him, with Ali Abdullah Saleh as the head of a political party?
MS. NULAND: Well, we have been in touch with him in the past, as you know. I can’t speak to any recent contacts. But what we are doing is trying to strengthen the regime of President Hadi, trying to work with him on these transition plans that he’s putting in place. We have, as you know, many contacts on the military side also in Yemen to make clear that they need to be supportive of a new day in Yemen and that those that resist that are on the wrong side of history, as my boss likes to say.
MS. NULAND: Yeah.
QUESTION: I was wondering if you might expound a bit on the remarks from yesterday regarding the appointment of Abdel Fattah al-Sisi as Defense Minister of Egypt. Was he someone that the United States advocated on behalf of? And specifically would you characterize this as a positive signal from the Muslim Brotherhood government in Cairo that they have appointed somebody with ties to the United States and a history of participating in military programs here and (inaudible)?
MS. NULAND: Well, we spoke to this extensively yesterday. I don’t have --
QUESTION: Just maybe one sentence, actually, at the very beginning of yesterday’s briefing. I didn’t see more than that.
MS. NULAND: Yeah. Well, it was quite an extensive back and forth on Egypt. I think it was the whole 15 minutes of the briefing yesterday. As – in response to your first question, did we advocate, it’s not our job to pick the leaders of a foreign government. That is their job, obviously. The point we made on this particular individual is he’s somebody who we do know well, who we’ve worked with in the past, and who has had training in the United States.
QUESTION: So you would characterize it as a signal towards positive relations with this government, with the Morsi government?
MS. NULAND: I’m not planning to characterize it one way or another. We look forward and hope and expect that we will have good working relations. That is what we would like to have. We would also, as I said yesterday, like to see strong continued relations between the civilian government and the military as they work through all of these transition issues that are still ahead of Egypt.
QUESTION: Toria, a quick follow-up on --
QUESTION: Just on – you mentioned training. How specific did you get yesterday? Was this IMET training, I’m presuming, or was it a combination of --
MS. NULAND: I believe so. I believe so. I’m going to send you to the Pentagon. They had a better rundown of exactly what schools and things he had been in.
QUESTION: I wonder if you know, as some Israeli, in fact, intelligence Israeli analysts claim, that cooperation or security cooperation between Israel and Egypt has really been quite close since the attack on the Egyptian soldiers. There are other conflicting signals. Do you have any information on that or can you share some with us? Has there been more cooperation between Egypt and Israel as the result of the attack in the Sinai?
MS. NULAND: Well, Said, I’m going to send you to those two countries to characterize the relationship that they’ve had with each other over this last most recent incident. You did hear us say yesterday that we consider that as Egypt tackles the problems in the Sinai, it needs to maintain strong and continuing relationships with its neighbors, because the way it manages those issues have an impact on the neighbors and on their obligations under the treaties.
QUESTION: How about Under Secretary Wendy Sherman? We got a press release this morning, but can I get a little bit more information what she discussed with China about – we got a press release that was about Syria and Iran, but can I get more detail?
MS. NULAND: Under Secretary Sherman completed today a full day of meetings in Beijing as part of the inaugural meeting of the U.S.-China Middle East Dialogue. This is a new dialogue under our Strategic and Economic Dialogue with China that the Secretary and Secretary Geithner lead. It’s something that we agreed to do to deepen our collaboration on Middle East issues. The Chinese side was led by Vice Foreign Minister Zhai Jun, and Secretary Sherman had with her representatives from our Near East Bureau, from our East Asia Bureau, and also from our Energy Bureau, and they consulted on a broad range of issues with regard to the Middle East. I’m going to guess that Iran and Syria were among those topics.
While she was in Beijing, she also met with Foreign Minister Yang. She also met with Vice Foreign Minister Cui Tiankai. In those meetings, they also talked about the Middle East, they talked about the P-5+1 talks, they talked about Syria. And then she also had the full range of discussions on non Middle East issues. She is planning to meet, I guess in the morning tomorrow, with her counterpart in the P-5+1 talks, Assistant Foreign Minister Ma. And then she’s going on to Moscow and on to London.
QUESTION: Can I just follow up a little bit?
MS. NULAND: Yeah.
QUESTION: This comes right before an envoy from Assad is in Beijing. Is there a specific message that Wendy Sherman is hoping that the Chinese would give to the Syrians, anything that they want China to do on Syria specifically?
MS. NULAND: Well, without getting into the details of her diplomatic exchange, you can imagine that our hope is that the Chinese will do what they can and use their influence to encourage the Assad regime to end the violence and to come back into – come into compliance with Kofi’s six points, which the Chinese also signed up to, and to do what they can to get us into a place where we are implementing the Geneva transition declaration that the Chinese also supported.
QUESTION: And also they have a good relationship with Iran, so does she get good response from China that China are going to do something, push pressure against Iran?
MS. NULAND: Well, as you know, they are participants in the P-5+1 conversation, so she has a very close relationship with her Chinese counterpart as the P-5+1 stays unified in its message to Iran. And the message to Iran has been that what they’ve put on the table so far is a nonstarter and that we need to see more effort on their part to demonstrate that they’re willing to come back into compliance with their international obligations. So I’m sure they’re comparing notes on how they can get that message across.
QUESTION: On Iran.
MS. NULAND: Yeah.
QUESTION: Just a last one on this one?
MS. NULAND: Yes.
QUESTION: Did the Chinese show any effort – they want to extend any effort to get the Syrians back to the six-point? Or was it just an exchange of points of view?
MS. NULAND: I think you won’t be surprised if I let the Chinese characterize their own position.
QUESTION: Chinese newspaper suggests that South Korea, Russia, and China collaborate in open discussion with Japan regarding the disputed island Senkaku, Takeshima, and northern islands. Recent events show the rising tension in the Asia Pacific region over these disputed islands, that the U.S. still honor the San Francisco peace treaty in 1951. Does the U.S. stance on this treaty remain the same today?
MS. NULAND: You lost me towards the end there. We talked about where we are on the islands yesterday. With regard to the Japan-Korea disputes, we do not take a position between our two allies. We encourage our allies to work this out together.
MS. NULAND: Yeah.
QUESTION: Last Friday, President signed into law the Haqqani Network Terrorist Designation Act, under which Secretary has 30 days time to say yes or no to the Haqqani Network as an FTO. Do you think it is coming up? Are you going to announce it, that Haqqani Network is a foreign terrorist organization?
MS. NULAND: Well, first, let me say that we share the grave concern of the Congress with regard to the activities of the Haqqani Network. We have, as you know, both State and Treasury, designated a number of individuals within the network. As you said, the President has signed the piece of legislation, the Haqqani Network Terrorist Designation Act of 2012. He signed it last Friday. The act gives the Secretary 30 days to report on the Haqqani Network, so that clock has just started ticking, and we’ll let you know when we have something to say. She’s considering right now and reviewing the issue.
QUESTION: Just on the – it gives her 30 days to report?
MS. NULAND: Under the act, she has 30 days to report on whether or not the Haqqani Network meets the criteria to be designated as a foreign terrorist organization. That’s what the legislation says.
QUESTION: Okay. And Congress can’t compel an FTO designation, can it?
MS. NULAND: That is not what this legislation does.
QUESTION: Well, what happens if the 30 days goes by and she misses the deadline?
MS. NULAND: Well, she has a reporting requirement to Congress, and I’m confident she won’t miss a reporting requirement to Congress. She --
QUESTION: You guys miss reporting requirements all the time.
MS. NULAND: Well, I --
QUESTION: On this one, no?
MS. NULAND: Let’s see. Anyway, her review is ongoing. She – it is our --
QUESTION: So it’s 30 days from last Friday?
MS. NULAND: Thirty days from last Friday.
MS. NULAND: Can we finish over here and then come back?
QUESTION: (Inaudible.) Can you tell us, give us a sense what kind of threat Haqqani Network poses to the U.S. forces inside Afghanistan?
MS. NULAND: We’ve talked about this many times. I don’t have anything new to add. You know that we have grave concerns about the threat that they pose inside Pakistan and the threat that they pose across the border.
QUESTION: Can we just stay on the legislation for a second? I mean, this 30 days now – I mean, there was a review already underway --
MS. NULAND: Yes.
QUESTION: -- or pretty much continually underway.
MS. NULAND: Right, right.
QUESTION: Was it going to be done within 30 days? Presuming – the President signed it, so the Department doesn’t look like it was opposed to this. Does this mean that you’re going to have to speed up what was already in progress or not? I mean --
MS. NULAND: Well, you are right that the question of whether to designate the entire Haqqani organization is something that we’ve been looking at for some time, and no decision has been made. This is separate and distinct. She owes Congress now, within 30 days of last Friday, a report as to whether they meet the criteria. Now you can obviously see a relationship between these two things, but the expectation is that she’ll meet the deadline in making the report.
QUESTION: Well, can she say that yes, they meet their criteria, but we’re not going to designate them?
MS. NULAND: Let’s wait and see what she says.
QUESTION: I mean, is that an option?
MS. NULAND: Let’s wait and see what she says. She has to report on whether they --
QUESTION: Well, I know, but when she reports, if she says no, they don’t meet the criteria, obviously they don’t get listed. But if she says yes, does that automatically mean that they get listed?
MS. NULAND: She has to make a separate decision about the listing.
QUESTION: So she can go back to Congress and say yes, they do meet the criteria; however, we’re not going to designate them because of other reasons? Is that what you’re saying?
MS. NULAND: We could speculate round and flat.
QUESTION: I’m just trying to – look, we go through this with the MEK all the time.
MS. NULAND: Yeah, yeah. I mean --
QUESTION: So this is not a – you decide – you either put them on the list in 30 days or we’re going to put them on the list for you?
MS. NULAND: Congress is expecting her to give them a report as to whether they meet the criteria. The expectation is that she will give that report. That is a separate and distinct matter from whether, either in coordination with this or separately, she makes a decision about designation and when she might do that.
QUESTION: Toria, I wonder if you have any comment on – the Pakistanis announced that they would go in hot pursuit after the Taliban and the Haqqani Network in Afghanistan. Would you be worried of something like this, or would you encourage something like that?
MS. NULAND: Again, you’re getting me into all kinds of hypotheticals here, Said, and also military matters. We have said for many, many, many, many months, including when the Secretary was in Afghanistan and Pakistan in the fall, that we want to see a coordinated effort on both sides of the border to squeeze the Haqqani Network, that we want to see Afghanistan and Pakistan work together with us, work together with ISAF to maximize our ability to deal with the threat that they pose. And we are continuing to work on both sides of the border on that issue.
MS. NULAND: Yeah.
QUESTION: The other global issues that you said Wendy Sherman discussed in Beijing, was South China Sea among them?
MS. NULAND: I have to tell you, Scott, I don’t have that affirmatively, but I cannot imagine that she would have had a conversation and it wouldn’t have come up in some capacity, because we’ve been having a continual conversation about that issue with China.
QUESTION: There was a statement earlier this month under Patrick’s name where you guys talked about the new garrison in Sansha City as running counter to collaborative diplomatic efforts to resolve the differences. On Foreign Minister Yang’s just completed trip to Indonesia, Brunei, and Malaysia, he seems to have made some progress in moving more toward a bilateral discussion of South China Sea. So do you think this collaborative, diplomatic efforts are still the way to go?
MS. NULAND: Well, obviously, we need individual bilateral conversations in order to strengthen a multilateral conversation. We don’t think that this issue, as we’ve said for quite some time, can be resolved through a series of bilateral intersections. We think at the end of the day all of the claimants, all of the involved parties, are going to have to sit down in a room and come up with a code of conduct. If bilateral diplomacy can be supportive of an ultimate, multilateral framework, then that will be fine; but we don’t think that cutting deals with these countries individually is going to work, let alone be the expedient way or the best way under international law to get this done.
QUESTION: And finally for me on this, there’s an editorial in Xinhua that says that the failure at ASEAN to reach a joint statement is the result of meddling of some Western countries who are looking to divide Asia. Is that your view of what happened at ASEAN?
MS. NULAND: Absolutely not. Our view of what happened is that the ASEAN countries themselves appreciate what a crucial issue it is for them individually and for them collectively to handle this dispute in the South China Sea in a manner that protects their larger security interests, that they came at it from different perspectives, and rather than whitewashing that problem and having a weak communiqué that didn’t say much, they chose to continue to talk about it and not – and bypass a communiqué this time until such time as they can have a unified position.
We, throughout that set of meetings, as you know, and the Secretary was quite vocal about this, continued to encourage all of the stakeholders, including China and the ASEANs, to work together on a code of conduct and for all of them to commit, as soon as they can, to do that work and ideally to do it this year.
QUESTION: Why is it – why is cutting individual deals not the way to go through this? I mean, if the Chinese can work something out with each one of these claimant countries, doesn’t that ease tensions? Isn’t that in the furtherance of international maritime freedom?
MS. NULAND: Well, as I said, bilateral diplomacy that leads to and is supportive of an overall multilateral deal where all of the claimants are satisfied and the arrangement that emerges is supportable under international law is fine. But an effort to divide and conquer and end up with a competitive situation among the different claimants is not going to get where we need to go.
So, again, if this bilateral diplomacy is supportive of an overall regional arrangement that results in a code of conduct everybody can live with, then that’ll be a good thing. But if, in fact, it’s an effort to end up in a place where people are – where there’s more tension between the stakeholders, then that’s not going to work.
QUESTION: Right. But so your suspicion is that they’re trying to divide and conquer?
MS. NULAND: I don’t have a suspicion one way or the other. I’m simply saying that –
QUESTION: You --
MS. NULAND: What I said from the beginning was bilateral diplomacy that is supportive of a multilateral arrangement can be a good thing. We do that all the time when we’re working a large multilateral deal. We try to work with individual countries in support of that. But a divide-and-conquer strategy would not be a good thing.
QUESTION: Right. But you are concerned. I mean, that is the entire reason why you’ve been pushing for a collaborative rather than a one-on-one thing, because you think the Chinese will take advantage of the smaller – of these small countries. So more division in a divide-and-conquer way, thus increase their influence. Isn’t that correct?
MS. NULAND: Well, what we’re most concerned about at the moment is that tensions are going up among the stakeholders. So we want to see a commitment to a deal that meets the needs of all. That’s what we want to see.
QUESTION: Toria, can you comment on the North Korea leader Kim Jong-un’s cousin, Vice President Jang Song Thaek, and their delegation’s visit to China today?
MS. NULAND: I had that question yesterday. I really don’t have anything to say there. Thanks.
MS. NULAND: Well, with regard to the visit, we would hope, as we always do when our partners and allies are involved in any kind of intersection with Iran, that the larger points are made about the importance of Iran coming back into compliance with its international obligations, using the opportunity that the P-5+1 has offered for diplomacy to actually make real progress, and also express concerns about the other alarming trends that we’ve seen with regard to Iran, including its support for terror.
QUESTION: So this is the message you’re telling to Indians to convey to the Iranians?
MS. NULAND: We talk to India bilaterally about all of our concerns with regard to Iran. As I said, in general, whenever anybody has a chance to see Iranians, we hope they make these larger points with regard to peace and security that we all are signed up to.
QUESTION: But you’re not --
QUESTION: You’re not troubled about the fact that he’s going?
MS. NULAND: This is --
QUESTION: The Non-Aligned Movement meeting in Iran, this NAM meeting also being held in Iran, it’s off late. Iran is trying – it’s holding several international meets on various issues. How do you see Iran trying to --
MS. NULAND: Well, the last international meeting that Iran tried to hold on Syria sort of fizzled a bit, didn’t it? So we’ll see what happens with this.
QUESTION: Toria, what is your view of resumption of a dialogue between North Korea and Japan?
MS. NULAND: Well, you know that we work on the North Korea issues in general in the context of the Six-Party Talks, so all of those countries have their own bilateral relationship with North Korea that they endeavor to use to support the general principles that we share. So we don’t have any issue with dialogue, and we assume that it will – Japan will – that its position that we see in the Six-Party Talks will be the same.
QUESTION: But is it actually a positive sign to have Japan and North Korea resuming dialogue?
MS. NULAND: Again, I think we have to see what’ll come of it.
Anything else? Please.
QUESTION: I have one.
MS. NULAND: Yeah. And then here.
QUESTION: The Special U.S. Representative to OIC is present in Makkah today for the OIC meeting, a special meeting of the OIC countries. Do you know what he’s – what are the issues he’s raising there? Syria, Burma? What are the other issues?
MS. NULAND: My understanding is he’s going as an observer for this set of summit meetings, but if I have more for you on that, we’ll let you know. Okay?
QUESTION: Thank you.
MS. NULAND: Last one here.
MS. NULAND: I think I did have something here, but I’m not sure. I’m going to take that one and get back to you. Okay?
QUESTION: Okay. Thank you.
MS. NULAND: Thank you.
MS. NULAND: Yeah, I have a little bit of an update on Venezuela. So the Venezuelans did confirm to us here in Washington yesterday after the briefing that they do have an American citizen under custody. They did not follow usual channels and notify our Embassy in capital, nor have they responded to our requests for consular access to him. So we are continuing to ask them first to communicate directly with our Embassy in Caracas, which is the standard diplomatic practice, and second, to grant us consular access.
QUESTION: Do you know much about the allegations against the individual or about the – or has State been in touch with the person’s family?
MS. NULAND: Well, again, we don’t have a Privacy Act waiver because we haven’t had access to him, so there’s not much I can add from the podium here.
(The briefing was concluded at 1:17 p.m.)