printable banner

U.S. Department of State - Great Seal

U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action


Victoria Nuland
Spokesperson
Daily Press Briefing
Washington, DC
September 11, 2012


Share
Index for Today's Briefing
  • DEPARTMENT
    • Anniversary of September 11th
    • Somali Presidential Elections
    • Prisoner Release in Ethiopia
  • IRAN
    • Continuous Consultations with Israel
    • IAEA Meeting in Vienna
    • Effect of Sanctions
    • Failure to Demonstrate Nuclear Program is Peaceful
    • Role of P5+1
    • Door is Open for Diplomacy
  • IRAQ
    • Presidential Nomination of Ambassador
    • U.S. Troop Presence in Iraq
  • SYRIA
    • UN Envoy Lakhdar Brahimi to Travel to Damascus and Region / Report to Security Council
  • PAKISTAN
    • Counterterrorism Cooperation with Pakistan
  • INDIA/PAKISTAN
    • Progress of Pakistan and India Relations / Indian Foreign Minister Travel to Pakistan
  • PAKISTAN
    • Pakistan's Human Rights Obligations / Case of Dr. Afridi
  • EGYPT
    • Protest Outside of U.S. Embassy in Cairo
    • Positive Developments in U.S. Relationship with Egypt / Support for Democratic Transition
  • CHINA/JAPAN
    • Need for Dialogue
  • MOROCCO
    • Meetings with Moroccan Delegation Thursday
  • ISRAEL/PALESTINIANS
    • Protests in the West Bank / Palestinian Authority's Financial Crisis
  • SOMALIA
    • Somali Presidential Elections


TRANSCRIPT:

1:05 p.m. EDT

MS. NULAND: Good afternoon, everybody. I apologize that we are so late again today. Having a little trouble getting back in the rhythm after the long trip. I have a number of things at the top, starting with September 11th.

This anniversary of September 11th is a day to remember those we lost and to stand with their families and loved ones. On this day, we also honor all victims of terrorism, including those who have been targeted by al-Qaida and other groups around the globe, and we redouble our efforts with partners around the world to combat terrorism in all of its forms.

The next is on the successful Somali presidential elections. The United States congratulates Hassan Sheikh Mohamoud, who was elected President of the Federal Republic of Somalia yesterday, and we look forward to working with him. This presidential election was the final step in the roadmap to end the transition which marks the end of the Transitional Federal Government in Somalia. It’s also a hopeful sign of a new era of Somali governance. This, combined with the continued security gains by the African Union Mission in Somalia, AMISOM, and the Somali National Forces, presents new opportunities to assist with Somalia’s stabilization.

And then lastly a little comment about the prisoner release in Ethiopia. We welcome press reports that the Government of Ethiopia has pardoned and released a number of prisoners on the occasion of the Ethiopian new year, including Swedish journalist Martin Schibbye and Johan Persson. We’re very pleased that these prisoners were able to rejoin their families. However, we remain concerned about the Ethiopian journalists convicted under the Ethiopian anti-terrorism proclamation who remain in prison for exercising their freedom of expression. We reiterate our call for the Government of Ethiopia to stop using its anti-terrorism proclamation to stifle the exercise of freedom of expression and association and urge the release of those who have been imprisoned under it.

Let’s go to what is on your minds.

QUESTION: Can we start with something that we touched on yesterday, which is the issue of redlines in Iran?

MS. NULAND: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: This issue has prompted another criticism or more remarks from the Israeli Prime Minister today, and he’s specifically asking you and others in the international community: What should we be waiting for? You want us to hold off on doing anything, and we need to know what we should be – how long we should wait?

How do you alleviate those Israeli concerns without some sort of markers in the sand that you won’t allow Iran to cross?

MS. NULAND: Well, first, I’m not going to comment today on Prime Minister Netanyahu’s statements. But as we said yesterday, we are in continuous consultation with the Government of Israel, with our allies there, on what we are seeing in Iran, on the path forward, and we will continue to do so. But we don’t think it’s particularly useful to have those conversations in public. It doesn’t help the process and it doesn’t help the integrity of the diplomacy.

QUESTION: Why is this issue something that needs to be handled privately? With other issues, I mean U.S.-Israeli issues such as settlements you’ll make a comment from the podium that’s sometimes critical of the Israeli Government’s behavior. Why with this one must it be handled privately and not subject to public discussion?

MS. NULAND: Again, to be standing here at the podium parsing the details of the Iranian nuclear program is not helpful to getting where we want to go. But as we have said, we have had incredibly intense, high-level consultations with the Israelis all through this. Certainly, the diplomacy that you saw over the summer with Secretary Clinton there, with Secretary Panetta there, with National Security Advisor Donilon there, speaks to our commitment to this alliance, our commitment to Israel’s security, our commitment to working together to ensure, as the President has said, that Iran does not obtain a nuclear weapon. And that commitment remains absolutely firm.

QUESTION: Could you just clarify why you think – I mean, you mentioned yesterday that it’s not necessarily helpful. Why are redlines problematic? What’s the problem with issuing them?

MS. NULAND: I think I’m going to hold it today, Brad, at saying that it is not useful to do our diplomacy with Israel or with anybody else in public.

QUESTION: Victoria?

MS. NULAND: Please.

QUESTION: A follow-up on that. Actually, the former Israeli Chief of Staff basically rejected the notion of issuing redlines, conflicting with his own Prime Minister. So why can’t you come out and say that a redline policy is not a good policy because it actually gives the enemy in this case, Iran, certain things that you all would not do and we take out the element of surprise? Why can’t you make that like a policy statement?

MS. NULAND: Well, I’m going to leave it to you, Said, to analyze. But I think we spoke to this yesterday. I will say again here today the President’s commitment on this is absolutely firm. Our consultations are intense and continuous, and they’ll continue to be so.

QUESTION: So, and let me see if you agree with what he said – Dan Halutz. He said that redlines or issues of that nature should be kept in dark rooms and closed rooms – I’m sorry, in closed rooms and not be discussed in public. Do you agree with that?

MS. NULAND: Again, this is a matter of intense consultation with the Israelis. I’m not going to comment specifically on that analysis or any other.

Please, Jo. Jo and then Rosalind.

QUESTION: Staying with Iran, I believe that there is work going on in Vienna at the moment to issue some kind of censure of – at the IAEA tomorrow. I wondered if you could talk to that. Will it come in the form of a statement? Will it be a resolution? And also, further to that, is it – are we not beyond issuing more censures or issuing more sanctions against Iran?

MS. NULAND: Well, you are correct, Jo, that the Board of Governors of the IAEA is meeting this week and having discussions regarding the latest IAEA report. Out of that meeting, which is ongoing, we are looking for a very strong signal of support from the board for the work that the IAEA is doing and an expression of deep concern about Iran’s nuclear activities. So those meetings continue. And as you said, we’re expecting some sort of a conclusion from that meeting tomorrow.

Meanwhile, countries in the international community are continuing to look at ways that they can continue to up the pressure on Iran, including through sanctions. I think you’ve seen recent reports out of Europe about efforts that they are looking at to increase the pressure, and we obviously encourage that.

Ros.

QUESTION: Was the tone of Netanyahu’s comments, not to mention the fact that he made his comments in English – did that catch people in this building by surprise? Did it anger people in this building, that he has said such a thing, especially given the timing of the elections here in this country?

MS. NULAND: I think I said at the beginning that I wasn’t going to comment on Prime Minister Netanyahu’s statements, and I’m not.

Please.

QUESTION: On the same topic, if we may.

MS. NULAND: You can try again a different way, Said.

QUESTION: Well, no, it’s partly the same topic. He also suggested, the former Israeli chief of staff, that some of the sanctions that may be really biting to Iran and can impact the situation – first, to deny airline landing and take-offs for Iranian airways, and second, for shipping under whatever country they normally use their – to ship foods through. Would that be a good idea?

MS. NULAND: Well, as you know, we’ve seen European countries, we’ve seen other countries, take some of these kinds of measures, denying insurance, making it difficult for Iran to ship, and we do have indications that these sanctions are biting and that there is more to be done along those lines.

Just a few statistics for you: In just a year, Iran’s oil production has dropped some 40 percent, from 2.5 million barrels per day in 2011 to 1.5 million barrels as of this June. So that is the equivalent of about $9 billion in lost revenue per quarter. So this work that the international community is doing to pressure Iran is having an effect, and we need to keep it up.

Please, Samir.

QUESTION: How do you know that?

MS. NULAND: How do we know these – how do we have these statistics?

QUESTION: Yeah.

MS. NULAND: This is based on our ability to pull these things together from open sources and other sources.

Samir.

QUESTION: What is the status of talks between the P-5+1 with Iran? Is there any talks going on?

MS. NULAND: Well, as you know, there was a phone call between Lady Ashton and Mr. Jalili a couple of weeks ago. I think Patrick spoke to that when I was away. And there was a general discussion about whether Iran had more to say to us, and we’re going to continue to evaluate where we are. But there are not any further sessions planned at the moment.

QUESTION: Will there be a meeting of the P-5+1on the sidelines of the UNGA meetings in New York?

MS. NULAND: There has not been any decision on that at this point, Jo.

QUESTION: Can I ask about – related to the IAEA, we have a story about Iran doing more weaponization tests for nuclear weapons, that the IAEA is looking into more recent evidence. Do you have any comment on that? Can you confirm any details of that?

MS. NULAND: Well, I’m not going to comment on the specifics of that report, either. We’ve known and made clear for many years that we are concerned that Iran has a nuclear program and that it has failed to demonstrate that its nuclear program is only for peaceful purposes. And as we’ve said, the onus is on Iran to come clean with the international community and demonstrate to us that there is no military program.

Please.

QUESTION: Do you see any kind of fear, any strike or war in the region, and that will impact the world oil supply? And also it all depends on Russia and China, how they deal with the Iran, as far as their nuclear program is concerned.

MS. NULAND: Well, as you know, Russia and China are participating with us in the P-5+1 process. One of the reasons that the sanction regime has been effective, that we believe Iran’s come back to the table, is because the international community has been so unified in its demands, and we’re looking for that same kind of unity out of the BOG meeting that’s ongoing now. But I’m obviously not going to speculate on any hypothetical situations like the one you started with, Goyal.

QUESTION: I have a question (inaudible).

MS. NULAND: Yes.

QUESTION: Hold on. More broadly, in that statement that you made just after I walked in here, and said it’s not – you don’t think it’s helpful to do diplomacy with Israel or anyone else in public. What are you doing up here every day, then?

MS. NULAND: I’m explaining our national –

QUESTION: Does that mean that you –

MS. NULAND: I’m not doing diplomacy with you, Matt.

QUESTION: That’s not –

MS. NULAND: I’m explaining our diplomacy.

QUESTION: Well, that’s doing diplomacy.

MS. NULAND: Is it? Okay.

QUESTION: Yeah, it is.

MS. NULAND: So are you a diplomat now, Matt?

QUESTION: The idea of – no, God no. (Laughter). I’m incapable of –

MS. NULAND: I think there was contempt dripping from his voice there.

QUESTION: -- of being that duplicitous.

MS. NULAND: Wow. Wow. Wow.

QUESTION: What is public diplomacy, then, if it is not – I mean, I don’t understand. If you are explaining every day what the position –

MS. NULAND: There is public diplomacy and there is private diplomacy.

QUESTION: Yes, exactly.

MS. NULAND: We’re not going to do our private diplomacy here at the podium.

QUESTION: But you talk – you give diplomatic statements every day to stuff – the comments that world leaders make, and to actions that other governments take.

MS. NULAND: No, of course. We do public diplomacy in public; we do private diplomacy in private.

QUESTION: And all – everything that has to do with Israel, or anyone else, is all private –

MS. NULAND: We make plenty of statements with regard to Israel every day. I speak about Israel pretty much every day here, as I did, again, today.

Said.

QUESTION: Yeah, but the question–

MS. NULAND: Said? Said? Go ahead.

QUESTION: I wanted to change topics.

QUESTION: But the question was why was this subject of redline something that had to be of a private nature?

MS. NULAND: And again, I’ve said that we –

QUESTION: Who decides that’s private versus – I mean, it’s something that affects populaces around the world, what you say.

MS. NULAND: We are looking for the most constructive way to work with our ally on one of the most important and dangerous issues in the world, and we’d like to do that through our private diplomacy. And we do speak about where we are in general from this podium, but I’ve gone as far as I want to go today.

QUESTION: But the other side has decided it’s a public matter for them.

MS. NULAND: And that is their right and decision to do.

QUESTION: Can I just ask, would you say that the diplomacy that’s being done with Iran is also unhelpful, to be – it’s also unhelpful to do it in public, and it hasn’t been being done in public?

MS. NULAND: Well, as you know, we don’t have our own embassy in Tehran. That changes the nature of the way we can do things, but obviously we have public messages to Iran, we have private messages to Iran in the P-5+1.

QUESTION: Exactly. So you aren’t trying to say that you don’t have any diplomatic contact with Iran, because you do.

MS. NULAND: I was not trying to say that. I was not trying to say that. Let’s move on, Matt.

QUESTION: So is that – but does that have to do – but is that public or private? Is that public or private?

MS. NULAND: We have public messaging to Iran, and we have private --

QUESTION: I know. But you say --

MS. NULAND: Can I finish my sentence?

QUESTION: Yes.

MS. NULAND: We have private contacts in the P-5+1.

QUESTION: But you say that it’s not helpful to do this stuff in public, and yet – and that you’ve made the decision that you get more results by doing the private diplomacy. If the P-5+1 is in fact private diplomacy, what results have you gotten out of it? What exactly have the Iranians done to show you that you’ve been successful in getting them to come clean on their nuclear intentions?

MS. NULAND: Well, as we’ve made clear, including when the Secretary was in the Middle East about a month ago, we haven’t seen the kind of response from the Iranians that we are looking for, and we’re continuing to press for that. We’ve been absolutely clear about that.

QUESTION: In other words, your private diplomacy hasn’t worked, so – correct? So I’m just wondering, I guess the deal is – I mean, unless you’re telling me or unless you’re willing to tell us that you’ve told the Iranians in private that there are redlines, I mean, what – how do they know what to do?

MS. NULAND: We’ve been absolutely clear with the Iranians in the P-5+1 context what we are looking for in the context of proposals from them for a step-by-step process to bring the international community the reassurance that it needs about the Iranian nuclear program. We don’t have any doubt that they know what we’re looking for. They have to make a fundamental decision whether they’re going to take advantage of this P-5+1 diplomatic opportunity.

QUESTION: Okay. So, then just the last thing on this: So how would rank your – the effectiveness of what the P-5+1 has been doing for the past several years, considering that Iran hasn’t done anything that you guys have wanted it to?

MS. NULAND: Again, as we’ve said, the door is open for diplomacy. We hope Iran will take advantage of it. If they fail to take advantage of it, what – the pressure is going to continue to increase as it has over these many months – unprecedented amounts of international economic pressure. It is on Iran now. That’s what brought them to the table in the first place, and that pressure’s going to increase.

QUESTION: Okay – no, no, no, but if the idea is that you had to do this private diplomacy because you want results, how would you give the grade – how would give your – what kind of grade would you give getting no results?

MS. NULAND: I’m not going to --

QUESTION: What is that? Is that an “A”? Or is that an “F”?

MS. NULAND: I am obviously not going to be giving anybody’s diplomacy, including ours, a grade.

Go ahead, Said.

QUESTION: I want to go to Iraq.

MS. NULAND: Yeah.

QUESTION: How would you describe the relations with Iraq today as the President nominated – or nominated, I think, Stephen Beecroft to become ambassador at a time when Iraq has expressed almost vocal animosity towards the United States? It has allowed flights – overflights from Tehran to Syria, taking weapons and so on. How would you characterize the current relations between you and Iraq?

MS. NULAND: Well, let me start by reminding you that we have a Strategic Framework Agreement with Iraq that guides our relationship going forward, that we are working together on the full range of security, economic, civil society challenges that Iraq faces. The President’s nominee to be ambassador, Bob Beecroft, as you know, is our current charge. He has very broad and deep relationships with Iraqis from all parts of the country, and the President believes that he will do a superb job as ambassador, and we look forward to the Senate’s advice and consent on that.

QUESTION: Do you believe in retrospect that it was unwise to negotiate, or not to negotiate, U.S. force presence in Iraq? Perhaps they could have controlled the borders better?

MS. NULAND: Well, we talked about this at the time. We worked hard with the Iraqis on the posture that they wanted going forward. They are a sovereign country. They made the decision that they did not want a continuing U.S. troop presence, but we are continuing in a training capacity, in a support and equip capacity, and working with the Iraqi police. And again, this was a decision that the sovereign government of Iraq made, and we respect it.

Please.

QUESTION: Can I ask on Syria?

MS. NULAND: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: UN Envoy Lakhdar Brahimi is to travel to – this week to Syria. Did he coordinate his trip with the U.S., and what message do you expect him to deliver to President Bashar Assad?

MS. NULAND: Well, we were obviously aware that as a new envoy he would make a trip around the region, including going to Damascus – that’s what one would expect – so that he can take his own soundings, do his own diplomacy. Our expectation, our understanding is that he will complete this tour of the neighborhood, including being in Damascus, and then he’ll report to the Security Council and give a sense what he thinks the way forward is. So we look forward to that.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: But no direct message to Assad from the U.S.?

MS. NULAND: Well, again, he represents the entire Security Council. He is working obviously on the basis of things that have already been agreed to – the Annan six points, the Geneva transitional proposal, so all of those things are at his disposal. And we haven’t made a secret, publicly or privately, about what we’re expecting in Syria. So it’s not like he doesn’t know where we stand on these issues. Obviously, we’ve had a chance – the Secretary talked to him when he was first appointed – we’ve had a chance to talk to him at a lower level as well.

Anything else on Syria?

QUESTION: Yes. Toria, are you – expectations for (inaudible) mission? I mean, because your position is for Assad to step down. Basically, that’s the position of the whole Western world. So – and obviously, Assad is not stepping down, not anytime soon. So what is the likelihood of success, or why have these kind of diplomatic acrobats?

MS. NULAND: Well, obviously, as the Secretary said, nobody has a crystal ball. We don’t know where things are going to go in Syria. That said, it’s not an option for the international community to give up. It’s not an option for the UN Security Council to give up. So this is a very tough mission. I think that Mr. Brahimi knew that coming in. He was very sober about it in some of his opening statements. But I’m not going to prejudge what he comes back to the Security Council with before he’s had a chance to make his opening rounds.

Please.

QUESTION: 9/11?

MS. NULAND: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Madam, as millions of people around the globe that mark the 11th anniversary of 9/11, and thousands of people died from dozens of countries, although we didn’t see any major attack in any country, including in the U.S., from al-Qaida, Taliban, but still now after the death of Usama bin Ladin and Haqqani Network leader, still very dire problem of terrorism inside Pakistan as far as FATA or Federally – what they call also lawlessness region. And really nobody can go there, including the Pakistani Government has no – but these terrorists are operating from there.

Have you ever thought of bringing this issue to the UN or to the – directly to the Pakistani authorities, that if they have no control in this area and terrorism is there, terrorists are there operating from there, so what is the future? Is it continue and it’s land – no man’s land?

MS. NULAND: Well, Goyal, I think you know how hard we work in our bilateral relationship with Pakistan to maintain a strong focus and a strong effort on terrorism there and to offer our support to Pakistani efforts. You know that Pakistanis have been victims of terrorism – some 30,000 in the last few years.

So in the context of having reopened the ground lines of communication, we are back in the business of trying to intensify our counterterrorism cooperation with Pakistan. For example, some of the working groups that the Secretary set up a year ago in October/November when she was in Pakistan, that work that got suspended is coming back online. We’re going to have a couple of those groups meeting, in fact, even this week.

So we will continue to make the case, we will continue to offer our support, because we agree with you there is more work to do to counter terrorism inside Pakistan.

QUESTION: May I have one more on the region, please?

MS. NULAND: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: India’s foreign minister arrived in Pakistan, and they at least agreed on one issue, people-to-people contact, which I would put that because they agreed on visa problems resolving between the two countries. But at the same time, Indian Foreign Minister Mr. Krishna said that other issues of more than this people-to-people will be depending on Pakistan, how they act, and yet on the – one on the Mumbai attackers inside Pakistan and also on terrorism problems.

So is U.S. – has played any issue, any hand or any – in these discussions during his trip to Pakistan?

MS. NULAND: We’ve talked about this before. You know that we strongly support increasing contact at the high level between Pakistan and India. We think the trip was a good thing, and we were pleased to see the visa progress that they made, which supports progress that they had made in the past on economic issues. And this is very much in line with the Secretary’s New Silk Road vision that the connections in that whole neighborhood will grow stronger so that prosperity will grow for everyone. Obviously, there’s more work to do, but we – whenever we see the Indian side, whenever we see the Pakistani side, we offer support for their efforts to talk to each other, because it’s in the interest not only of those two countries but the whole region.

QUESTION: And finally, Secretary has spoken with anybody or the leaders in India or Pakistan if she was following this issue this trip?

MS. NULAND: Well, we certainly knew that they were planning to go. They both had talked to her about this trip, so we were obviously supportive.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MS. NULAND: Jo.

QUESTION: Staying on Pakistan, I wondered if State Department’s had a chance to review a supposed interview that Dr. Afridi has given to Fox News and whether you think it’s credible.

MS. NULAND: Well, frankly, we can’t at this point verify the authenticity of the interview. If we do find that it’s authentic, though, then the allegations would be extremely concerning. Pakistan obviously has international human rights obligations, including under the Convention Against Torture, and we would expect that the people and the Government of Pakistan would be interested in investigating such claims by Dr. Afridi if, in fact, it turns out that this tape is authentic. But at this point, I can’t verify.

QUESTION: Have you made representations – irrespective of this tape, have you made representations to Islamabad about the need – about how they’re treating Dr. Afridi?

MS. NULAND: Well, I think you know we have all the way along. The Secretary has been extremely outspoken on this case for many, many months; has called the sentence unjust, unwarranted; has called for his release. And we continue to do that at all levels.

QUESTION: And just --

QUESTION: Staying in Pakistan, on the consulate bombing in Peshawar, first, is there an update on the condition of the Americans who were injured in the attack?

MS. NULAND: I don’t have anything for you, Ros. Let me check and see if they are interested in putting out any further information about their condition.

QUESTION: And has there been – yeah, and then one other. Has there been any discussion about perhaps temporarily closing the consulate and moving all of the staffers there to Islamabad for their safety?

MS. NULAND: Let me make two points on that. First of all, we don’t comment, as you know, about our security posture or about our thinking about it. The second point is that I don’t have anything new to announce, if that’s what you’re asking.

QUESTION: Okay.

QUESTION: Stay --

MS. NULAND: Elise.

QUESTION: On the – is it on the same subject?

QUESTION: Afghanistan.

QUESTION: Oh. Go ahead.

QUESTION: Well, I just want – and 9/11, actually. President Karzai has used the anniversary today to actually call for a rethink on the war on terror and making the allegation or the allusion to villages he says were turned into battlefields of a ruthless war, inflicting irrecoverable losses. I wonder what the State Department’s reaction is to that particular statement.

MS. NULAND: I have to tell you, Jo, I did not see what he had to say before coming down here, so I think I won’t comment until I have a chance to look at it.

QUESTION: I’d like to talk about Cairo. Apparently, there’s a developing issue at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo. There are about a thousand protestors outside the walls trying to attack the Embassy, U.S. guards at the Embassy firing into the air, and there are some photos on Twitter with the al-Qaida flag being possibly waved at the U.S. Embassy. I don’t know what that’s about, but can you tell us about the situation there right now?

MS. NULAND: We did have reports just before I came down here that we had a protest outside our Embassy in Cairo. We had some people breach the wall, take the flag down, replace it – what I heard was that it was replaced with a --

QUESTION: With an al-Qaida flag, I believe.

MS. NULAND: With a black flag, a plain black flag, but I may not be correct in that. We are obviously working with Egyptian security to try to restore order at the Embassy and to work with them to try to get the situation under control.

QUESTION: I mean – but just in general, I mean, is the situation of what’s happening with the public there – obviously, you’ve been trying to work with the Muslim Brotherhood regardless of what religion or anything like that, but – and it does seem as if there is a growing anti-American sentiment in Cairo, and as evident as our – on our trip with Secretary Clinton. And I’m just wondering how concerning these continued protests are.

MS. NULAND: Well, there have been, as you say, these – there were some protests when the Secretary was there. They’ve had these protests. But I would hasten – I would urge you not to draw too many conclusions because we’ve also had some very positive developments in our relationship with Egypt.

As you know, Deputy Secretary Nides was there earlier this week, over the weekend, with some hundred businesspeople from the United States, working with Egyptian counterparts in big business, medium, small to try to support the renewal of the Egyptian economy, to cut new deals. And that was a very, very successful conference that was very much appreciated by the Egyptian business community. We’re also working with Egyptian civil society and with the government on a broader package of support going forward.

So obviously, one of the things about the new Egypt is that protest is possible. Obviously we all want to see peaceful protest, which is not what happened outside the U.S. mission, so we’re trying to restore calm now. But I think the bigger picture is one of the United States supporting Egypt’s democratic transition and the Egyptian Government very much welcoming and working with us on the support that we have to offer.

QUESTION: Well, why do you think, though, that that message isn’t getting out? I mean, do you think that you – that the Embassy and this Department need to do more efforts at public diplomacy? I mean, certainly it’s true that you have kind of outreached the Muslim Brotherhood; you are doing a lot with the business community, with the debt, helping them with other financial institutions. So why do you think that that message isn’t getting through?

MS. NULAND: Well, I think we can always do more. The Egyptians can always do more. But I think the message is getting through, as more and more partners across Egypt want to work with us. It’s rarely the case that you please all of the people all the time in any country, and we certainly respect the right of peaceful protest, as long as it’s peaceful.

Please.

QUESTION: Do you think that Egypt’s becoming increasingly hostile towards the United States?

MS. NULAND: I haven’t seen the polling data in the recent period, Said, but I don’t have any reason to think that this is a dangerous trend, if that’s what you’re asking.

QUESTION: This breaching of the wall is a serious thing.

MS. NULAND: No, of course.

QUESTION: I mean, remember when, let’s say, they did that to the Israeli Embassy. It was an initiative from this building, I believe, that called the Egyptians and urged them to defuse the situation, and they did. So what do you do in this case?

MS. NULAND: Well, obviously, in this case, we’re working with the Egyptian security forces to restore order. It sounds like – and I don’t have full details – that this came up pretty quickly, relatively modest group of people, but caught probably us and the Egyptian security outside the Embassy by some surprise.

QUESTION: This was a thousand people. I don’t really think that’s necessarily modest, do you?

MS. NULAND: Well, as compared to some of the things that we’ve seen.

QUESTION: Were there any injuries, do you know?

MS. NULAND: Not that I know of, but we’ll have to see how it develops.

Please in the back.

QUESTION: Change of subject?

QUESTION: No. Hold on. You said you haven’t seen the polling data. Have you commissioned a poll?

MS. NULAND: Well, I don’t have it here at my disposal.

QUESTION: You have?

MS. NULAND: There are plenty of – there’s plenty of public polling on this issue.

QUESTION: No, no, no. I’m not talking about public polling. I’m talking about when you said you haven’t seen “the polling data,” so I’m just wondering if “the polling data” refers to a poll that you guys have --

MS. NULAND: No. I didn’t mean to imply that we had a new poll of our own.

QUESTION: Change of subject?

MS. NULAND: Yeah.

QUESTION: China and Japan?

MS. NULAND: Yeah.

QUESTION: Regarding the Japanese Government’s so-called purchase of the Diaoyu Islands from a private owner, do you think the move constitute a change of status quo of the islands?

MS. NULAND: We spoke to this yesterday. I would refer you to yesterday’s comments. I don’t have anything new for you today on this subject.

QUESTION: The situation has changed somewhat, because China has dispatched a couple of patrol ships to the area overnight. So I wondered if that changes your thinking on what the U.S. needs to do.

MS. NULAND: Our view remains the same, that we want to see China and Japan work this through. That was the Secretary’s message less than a week ago.

QUESTION: But after the Japanese Government initiate the move, do you think it is still feasible that both sides can settle the disputes through dialogue calmly?

MS. NULAND: That’s what we want to see.

QUESTION: Sorry. Just to make it clear, this is not what the Secretary had in mind when she was wanting cooler heads to prevail; is that correct?

MS. NULAND: Well, obviously, she’s looking for dialogue. Beyond that, I’m not going to speak to it.

Yeah.

QUESTION: Toria, this Thursday the Morocco and U.S. will be conducting a strategic dialogue here in this building.

MS. NULAND: Right.

QUESTION: What are you aiming to achieve through this dialogue, and what can you tell us about the U.S.-Moroccan relations?

MS. NULAND: Well, obviously, the Secretary will speak to this when the Moroccan delegation comes and she has a chance to welcome her counterpart. I think we’ll probably have some press that day. But this is a dialogue that was initiated when the Secretary visited Morocco earlier in the spring. It’s an effort to look comprehensively at our relationship. There will be the meeting at the level of foreign ministers, but there will also be working groups on the economy, security, civil society. So it’s an effort to broaden and deepen our relationship and the support that we’re giving to Morocco as it continues its reform efforts.

QUESTION: Palestine?

MS. NULAND: Yeah.

QUESTION: Victoria, there are all kinds of cost of living demonstrations and the burning of tires and blockading of neighborhoods and so on, and people are basically calling for Fayyad to step down. Have you been discussing this with the Palestinians and the Israelis? Because the Israelis are worried that this may spread over towards them.

MS. NULAND: Well, we are, obviously, closely monitoring these protests that are going on in the West Bank. The international community, along with the Palestinian people, has invested a huge amount in the Palestinian Authority’s institution building, so we believe that sustaining these efforts is extremely important, because the Palestinian Authority is now facing one of the worst financial crises that it has seen. So the Palestinian leadership, the donor community, Israel are all taking steps – and we are working together – to try to address this. And we believe that donor support remains crucial, and we’re calling on a number of countries that have pledged support in the past but haven’t necessarily delivered all they’ve pledged to do what they can.

QUESTION: Do you have confidence in the Palestinian security forces to maintain control of the situation?

MS. NULAND: Well, obviously, that’s something that they are working on, and they’re working on it as appropriate with the Israelis as well.

Please.

QUESTION: Can I go back to Somalia?

MS. NULAND: Yeah.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) meeting. You mentioned that the United States is hopeful that this is the beginning of a new era in Somalia of governance. I understand this gentleman, though, the new President, is somebody who’s not terribly well known. Have you managed to be in touch with him? Do you know him already? On what are you basing the fact that you’re hopeful this is a new era of governance?

MS. NULAND: Well, this is somewhat interesting, Jo, in the sense that there were predictions that one of the existing leaders would emerge as the President this time, and our understanding is that this is a figure who comes out of civil society and was very much somewhat of a surprise. But he’s somebody that we know, that our Special Representative Jim Swan knows, and we look forward to getting to know him better. I would expect that the Secretary will probably reach out to him in coming days. And there is a lot of work still to do in Somalia, so we will continue to invest in Somalia’s success.

QUESTION: Why do you think he managed to defy the predictions and win this election?

MS. NULAND: Oh, I can’t speculate on that. I would send you to the members of parliament who supported him.

Okay. Thanks, everybody.

(The briefing was concluded at 1:43 p.m.)

DPB # 160



Back to Top
Sign-in

Do you already have an account on one of these sites? Click the logo to sign in and create your own customized State Department page. Want to learn more? Check out our FAQ!

OpenID is a service that allows you to sign in to many different websites using a single identity. Find out more about OpenID and how to get an OpenID-enabled account.