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U.S. Department of State - Great Seal

U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action


Victoria Nuland
Spokesperson
Daily Press Briefing
Washington, DC
October 2, 2012


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Index for Today's Briefing
  • LIBYA
    • Letter from Congressmen Issa and Chaffetz to Secretary Clinton
    • Acting Assistant Secretary of State Jones in Tripoli
    • Cooperation at Investigative Level
  • SYRIA
    • Iranian Cargo Plane
    • Summit of South American and Arab Countries
    • Nonlethal Assistance to Syrian Opposition
  • LEBANON
    • Under Secretary Sherman's Meeting with Lebanese Minister for Energy and Water Bassil
  • GEORGIA
    • Historic Elections
  • ISRAEL/PALESTINIANS
    • Meeting with Officials
  • IRAN
    • Iranian Support of Syrian Regime Continues
  • NORTH KOREA
    • Continued call for DPRK to work on denuclearization agenda


TRANSCRIPT:

This video is available on YouTube with closed captions.

1:22 p.m. EDT

MS. NULAND: Afternoon, everybody. I apologize that we are so late. I know all of you were busy this morning anyway with our Global Travel and Tourism Conference. So let’s go directly to what’s on your minds.

QUESTION: I guess let’s start with something that I have no hope of getting any answer out of you on. (Laughter.) But I might as well give it a try. Has the Secretary gotten the letter sent to her by Representatives Issa and Chaffetz about the Benghazi attack?

MS. NULAND: She has.

QUESTION: And she has responded or not yet?

MS. NULAND: We received the letter yesterday or today. The Secretary intends to respond to the Congressman today. And her letter will make absolutely clear the desire of this Department, her personal desire, to cooperate closely with the committee and with all members of Congress both in their document requests, in their request for witnesses for their hearing, because we share the same goal. We want to get to the bottom of precisely what happened and learn any lessons that we need to learn from it. We’re taking this very, very seriously.

QUESTION: Okay. So she is going to – even though there is an FBI investigation, there will be people from State going up to this hearing, I guess, on the 10th – or if they’re planning to have it on the 10th, there will be – and they will be able to testify and tell the committee something other than, “We can’t talk about it because it’s still under investigation by the FBI”?

MS. NULAND: As I said, her response back today will make clear that we are determined to work with the Congress, that we will send folks to their hearing. We are now working though all of the documents, all of the information that is available to us in this Department. We will see where we are on the 10th, but it is our intention to cooperate fully.

QUESTION: Because that would suggest to me, then, that you’re willing to see a difference between what they might be asking for and what might be covered by the investigation that the FBI is doing.

MS. NULAND: I think we believe that we’re going to have to work these processes in parallel. We have responsibilities to the Congress, there’s the FBI investigation, and there’s the ARB, and we’re going to have to work these in parallel.

QUESTION: Okay. All right. And then just getting to the substance, one of the main things of theirs is that there had been multiple repeated requests from diplomats in Libya to increase the security and that those had been denied. Can you respond to those? And if you can’t – if, as I suspect, you’re going to say that that’s part of the investigation – can you explain exactly why that – something that happened or allegedly happened prior to the attack would be covered and privileged as part of the FBI investigation?

MS. NULAND: What I’m going to say to you, Matt, is that I’m not in a position from this podium today to answer the specific requests and the specific assertions in the letter. That’s going to be part of the process that we have to go through in this building, both the ARB process and the process of being responsive to Congress. We are currently amassing all of the documents, all of the information that we had before, during, after so that we can be responsive. But I don’t have all the answers today.

QUESTION: Leaving aside the specifics of the letter, did members of the U.S. diplomatic mission or missions in Libya seek additional security that they did not receive?

MS. NULAND: We’ve spoken to this a little bit. I am not in a position to give you any more information today in response to those specific questions until we have a chance to go through everything we’ve got in this Department, and that process is ongoing. It’s ongoing in the context of the ARB, and it’s ongoing in the context of our requirements to Congress.

QUESTION: So if she is going to respond today to the letter she received yesterday, is she not going to address that specific question?

MS. NULAND: Her response is going to be relatively succinct today, as I said, expressing her complete commitment and this building’s commitment to work with the Congress to get fully to the bottom of this, but I don’t anticipate she’ll be able to answer the specific questions today. But obviously, that is our expectation and hope over time, that we’ll be able to answer all of the questions, because we have questions too.

QUESTION: And is it fair to say that now almost exactly three – well, three weeks, unfortunately, to the day, that you don’t actually know the answer to the question of whether they had sought additional security?

MS. NULAND: I think it’s fair to say that we are still working through what we have in this building in terms of documentation, in terms of information about what we knew, who knew it, when they knew it, and that’s part of the process that we have to go through.

Please, Jill.

QUESTION: Toria, a question about the Ambassador. He was obviously a person who knew the place very well, spoke the language, knew people, et cetera. And I know you won’t talk about specifics, but there is one about his jogging, actually, in Tripoli, not in Benghazi. But is there a possibility that the State Department back here let him take the lead in determining what would be secure? Because after all, he knew it; he knew the country.

MS. NULAND: Without getting into the specifics of this case, which, as I said, we have to work all the way through – that’s what the ARB is about; that’s what our work with the Congress will be about – having done this myself, that’s not the way it works. Ambassadors don’t call the local security posture. It’s worked out with Washington, with the post. It’s not something you can do yourself.

Please.

QUESTION: When does the Accountability Review Board begin its process? And who will be on it besides Thomas Pickering?

MS. NULAND: I don’t know that we’ve announced the full list yet. Let me see if we are in a position to do that sometime this week. My understanding is that they are starting to receive information now. I don’t know when their first meeting is. I think they were looking at trying to schedule a first meeting in coming days or within the week.

QUESTION: How are they receiving information if the members haven’t been – have the members been decided, and you just haven’t announced it? Or are they –

MS. NULAND: Correct, correct.

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. NULAND: Yes.

QUESTION: And why can’t you announce it, like, today if they’ve been decided?

MS. NULAND: Again, I don’t have it. I don’t know whether there is something holding up the formal announcement of the rest of the members, but I don’t have it here.

QUESTION: Victoria.

MS. NULAND: Said.

QUESTION: The issue of weapons in Libya was raised all along. Are you discussing with the Libyan Government, as a result of this attack, of course, the proliferation of weapons or the policy of dumping so much weapons by – in particular by Qatar and Saudi Arabia into Libya?

MS. NULAND: Well, Said, I think you know that we’ve had a concern in Libya, even before the – Qadhafi fell about the proliferation of weapons, about Qadhafi-era weapons getting into hands all over the country. We have consistently, since the liberation of Libya, been offering our support to the Government of Libya in its efforts to consolidate the militias, to deal with the remnants of the Qadhafi-era weaponry, whether it’s the chemical weapons or whether it’s the fact that we’ve got MANPADS all over the country. I think you know we’ve had an extremely robust MANPAD collection effort – we’ve briefed you on that before – working with the Libyans, working with international partners.

But with regard to your question today, I think we mentioned yesterday that Assistant Secretary of State Beth Jones is actually in Tripoli today. I just spoke to her before coming down. She had a chance on her visit there today to meet with the Acting Prime Minister, with the Deputy Foreign Minister, with the president of the Supreme Court, with the deputy prosecutor, with members of civil society. There was a small ceremony for some of our local staff to honor the members of our community, including Chris Stevens, who were lost. And among the central topics that she’s been talking about today, in addition to security for diplomatic facilities and our facilities in particular, is this desire that the Libyans themselves have expressed.

The Secretary heard from Magarief when she met with him to accelerate international support for security in Libya, for the reform effort, for the effort to consolidate militias, to soak up and dispose of excess weaponry. It’s a problem that obviously they recognize and we recognize as well.

QUESTION: Just to follow up on that?

MS. NULAND: Yeah.

QUESTION: We – did she also raise or discuss the issue of cooperation between U.S. and Libyan investigators into the incident in Benghazi?

MS. NULAND: She did. She talked to the Libyans about ensuring, as their investigative process goes forward, as our investigative process goes forward, that we are collaborating, that we are being transparent, that we are sharing information.

QUESTION: We quote the Deputy Foreign Minister Mohammed Abdel Aziz as saying today Libya and the United States have still not yet agreed on how U.S. – the U.S. investigative team will cooperate with Libyan authorities in the investigation. Is that correct?

MS. NULAND: My understanding is that we want maximum transparency, maximum collaboration and cooperation, and that was one of the specific subjects that Assistant Secretary Jones spoke about today.

QUESTION: But have you agreed on how they’re going to work together? I mean, I understand you want maximum transparency and cooperation. My question is: Are you – have you actually reached an agreement?

MS. NULAND: Again, with regard to any technical agreements, I’m going to send you to the FBI. But my understanding is that it was a good conversation today, that the goals are the same, and the commitment to try to work together as well as we can were common.

QUESTION: But --

QUESTION: Toria --

QUESTION: Did you say that you had mentioned her trip yesterday?

MS. NULAND: I thought after – on background, we talked about it. No? Maybe I didn’t. Anyway --

QUESTION: Well, if you did, I don’t remember.

MS. NULAND: Yeah.

QUESTION: Can you tell us what the – you have a readout on what she did in Tunisia yesterday?

MS. NULAND: I don’t have too much on her Tunisia stop. I don’t have the meetings that she had. I’ll get back to you on that, Samir, but obviously, the focus there was also on safety and security of the mission. It was on continuing to work together on supporting Tunisia’s democratic transition, and all of the various forms of support that the U.S. is giving for that.

QUESTION: Toria, can I go back to my question?

MS. NULAND: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: The Deputy Foreign Minister is quoted as saying, “Hopefully, in the coming days, we will reach an agreement as to how the U.S. team will work with the Libyan team. We are now in the context of awaiting written permission.” And he says that the prosecutor general has so far only given verbal approval for a joint investigation.

It’s three weeks since the incident. It is fair to say that you are – the teams are not working together yet on this?

MS. NULAND: We have a commitment from the Libyan Government to work together. There has been cooperation at the political level. There has to now be cooperation at the investigative level. I think the Secretary spoke last week to the fact that we now have an FBI team on the ground. I can’t speak to the specifics except to say that one of the key topics with Ambassador Jones today was to make sure that we’re set up to work as well together as possible.

QUESTION: But my fundamental question is – I mean, you said there has to be now cooperation at the technical level. Has there been any such cooperation at the technical, on-the-ground level, or not yet?

MS. NULAND: We spoke with our FBI colleagues today. They expressed confidence that they’ll be able to work well with the Libyans. I’m going to refer you to them now on the grounds.

QUESTION: Where are they, please, physically right now?

MS. NULAND: They are in Libya. I would say, though, that they feel pretty strongly that in order to protect the security and the integrity of their investigation, that they’re not going to be giving a lot of details of the kind you guys are seeking on how they’re going to proceed, not in terms of numbers or where or who or what.

QUESTION: But – so you can’t tell us whether they’re in Tripoli or in Benghazi?

MS. NULAND: I think they are not interested in sharing that kind of information because they have to protect both the security and the integrity of the mission.

QUESTION: The Deputy Foreign Minister is quoted as saying that they are still in Tripoli. That’s how we’ve quoted him, as saying that. Is that not correct?

MS. NULAND: Again, I’m not going to get into the details of what the FBI is up to. If you have more questions, you can go to them, but I’m just telling you, based on our conversations with them, I would not expect them to be very forthcoming on the details for the reasons that I cited.

QUESTION: Is your impression that they think that they’re going to be able to do this in secret?

MS. NULAND: The point is simply that they need to protect both the security of their people and the integrity of the investigation, and they’d like a little space from you all to do that.

QUESTION: Toria, the Secretary also, at the end of last week, had received from letters from the Senate side of Congress – from Senator Kerry, also a separate letter from Senator Corker – requesting further information.

MS. NULAND: Right.

QUESTION: Can you give us a readout on what any response has been or will be and if she has had any kind – if the Secretary has had any private conversations to answer some of these questions if a letter has not been sent in response?

MS. NULAND: Let me take that one, Margaret. I believe we did get back in some form to the Senate side, but I need to take that one.

QUESTION: A technical question, Victoria.

MS. NULAND: Yeah.

QUESTION: In the aftermath of the Afghanistan and Iraq war, there was an energetic kind of public diplomacy effort to reach hearts and minds. Is anything akin to that happening now with Libya or underway?

MS. NULAND: In Libya?

QUESTION: Yes.

MS. NULAND: Well, obviously, in all of our public statements from here, in the statements Deputy Secretary Burns made when he presided for the United States at the joint ceremony that we had. We’ve made clear that we are not planning to turn our back on a democratic Libya; on the contrary, we think that their transition is absolutely essential, not only for their security and in their interests but for the interest of the region, for our American interests. So we are doing a lot to make it clear that we stand with the Libyan people who fought for change, and we’re going to continue to do that.

QUESTION: I guess my question is, Libyan society being tribal and these tribes may have been far-flung and so on, are you making any special efforts or is there any campaign to actually engage them?

MS. NULAND: Well, we’ve engaged groups across Libya and tribes across Libya from the very beginning, and even in the Qadhafi era we had quite extensive contacts which enabled us to work with them later. So that will continue, obviously.

Please. You are?

QUESTION: Jason Donner, Fox News Channel. And I was just wondering, why did the State Department in July of 2012 refuse to mediate a disagreement between Blue Mountain Libya and Blue Mountain UK because the relationship to provide security at the Benghazi consulate was not working?

MS. NULAND: You’re taking me way down into capillaries of the security situation that I don’t have the information to answer here. Presumably, those kinds of questions will have to be looked at in the context of the work that we’re doing.

QUESTION: Would that include the letters that were maybe being sent? Would any of that information be respondent to Issa or Chaffetz letter?

MS. NULAND: Their letter doesn’t get into that kind of detail.

Please.

QUESTION: On Syria?

MS. NULAND: Yeah.

QUESTION: Iraqi authorities today ordered an Iranian cargo plane heading to Syria to land in Baghdad for a search. How do you view this step, especially after they – it came days after your request to the Iraqi authorities to do so?

MS. NULAND: Well, we regard it very positively that the Iraqi Government is taking steps to investigate cargo overflying its territory headed for Syria. That is very welcome in light of the public commitments that the Iraqi Government made, and we hope it will continue.

QUESTION: And do you think that – was it a coincidence that the cargo does not include weapons?

MS. NULAND: I can’t speak to what they actually found and whether they happen to be able to declare a negative here. But our hope is that these kinds of cargoes will be regularly inspected and that will be a deterrent on folks abusing Iraqi airspace to get weapons into Syria.

QUESTION: Is it correct that you’re only interested in cargo and not potentially passengers? I mean, if this plane was full of senior members of the IRGC flying to the Damascus but they didn’t have any weapons, presumably you wouldn’t be too thrilled with that, would you?

MS. NULAND: Well, we’ve made clear from here and elsewhere that we have serious concerns about the Iranians providing not just material support but also personnel, training, et cetera. But our request --

QUESTION: But you haven’t told the Iraqis --

MS. NULAND: Our request to the Iraqis has been specifically in the context of cargo aircraft that could be resupplying the military.

QUESTION: Victoria, on the plane itself – Matt raised the question yesterday – it looks fairly a recent model. Do you – how do you follow third countries selling airplanes or parts, spare planes, or if there is some sort of a, I guess, a protocol for that? Could you share with us?

MS. NULAND: Well, we’ve made clear that we expect all countries to uphold UN sanctions with regard to Iran. I can’t speak from this podium as to where that particular plane may have come from.

Scott.

QUESTION: On Syria, GCC countries are --

MS. NULAND: Whoa, feedback. Is that you, Scott? Your fancy equipment back there?

QUESTION: No, my volume is down.

MS. NULAND: All right.

QUESTION: GCC countries are going to be talking about Syria and Peru today as part of the Arab League-South American leaders thing. Do you have any hopes, expectations from it?

MS. NULAND: Well, I think we’ve seen that the Arab League has been expanding its diplomacy around the world beyond the region. We’ve had good cooperation between Arab League and the European Union. They are also endeavoring to get attention in a broader global circle to concerns in their region, whether it’s Iran, whether it’s Syria, in Latin America and elsewhere, and that’s a good thing. And frankly, we’ve been also trying to encourage our hemispheric partners to tighten up in the way they look at Iran and Syria to make sure that they’re fully implementing UN sanctions and that they are, to the extent possible, joining us in unilateral sanctions with regard to Syria.

So this is, I think, a good thing for these guys to talk and for folks in the hemisphere to hear directly the concerns in the Arab League about those two countries.

QUESTION: Anyone from State in Peru, even in an observer status, at this meeting?

MS. NULAND: I’m not sure that we’ve been invited to do that. Perhaps from the Embassy, but I’m sure we’ll hear from both sides how it went. We’ve been encouraging the contacts, obviously.

Jill.

QUESTION: Georgia?

QUESTION: One more on Syria, please?

MS. NULAND: One more on Syria. Yeah.

QUESTION: Russia has warned the West from intervening in Syria or creating a buffer zone or no-fly zone. Any reaction to that?

MS. NULAND: I think we’ve made clear what we’re looking at in terms of U.S. support for the opposition. We’re talking about nonlethal support. We’re talking about training. We’re talking about trying to help those in Syria who are trying to manage and provide for people in parts of Syria that have now been liberated from regime dominance. So I’m not exactly sure who they’re talking to, but it wouldn’t be us.

Please.

QUESTION: I have another question on that aid. How is that aid – we’ve talked a lot about that aid being distributed, but how is that aid being distributed? Is it through USAID or is it through other departments? How exactly is it --

MS. NULAND: You mean what accounts does the U.S. support come from?

QUESTION: Yes.

MS. NULAND: There are a variety of accounts. Some of it comes through our human rights funding. Some of it comes through our regional democracy funding. Some of it comes through our new Office of Emergency Contingencies. But we can get you a detailed brief if you’re interested in that kind of thing.

QUESTION: Yes.

MS. NULAND: Okay. Jill, still Syria?

QUESTION: One more – sorry – about this, too.

MS. NULAND: Yeah.

QUESTION: Syrian opposition is saying that they are not able to get the money from the U.S. because of the law restrictions. Do you have anything on this?

MS. NULAND: U.S. restrictions?

QUESTION: Yeah. Law – yeah, U.S. laws restrictions.

MS. NULAND: I’m not sure what they would be referring to specifically –

QUESTION: Because there are sanctions on Syria and you are not able to provide them with the money of these sanctions and these laws restrictions.

MS. NULAND: Well first of all, we have a new OFAC license which was granted to allow private Americans to give money to the Syrian opposition. So that aspect of sanctions doesn’t apply in this case. With regard to U.S. Government support for the opposition, we are not encountering those kinds of problems.

I think the Secretary spoke when we were in New York for the Ad Hoc meeting of some 1,100 kits of communications equipment that have gone, more than 1,000 people trained. So we have all of the flexibility that we need under U.S. law to do what we need to do.

QUESTION: And this training, is it going on just in Turkey or other areas, or are there also training – is there training that’s taking place inside liberated parts of Syria?

MS. NULAND: There are not Americans inside Syria, if that’s what you’re asking.

QUESTION: Yeah.

MS. NULAND: We are doing training programs outside of Syria. We are also training trainers who are going back into Syria.

QUESTION: Those would be Syrian trainers?

MS. NULAND: Those would be Syrians, yeah.

QUESTION: Sorry. Just on – you think that there’s at least one American – I mean, not an official American – in Syria, though, right now. Is there any more update – I presume you meant official American –

MS. NULAND: On Mr. Tice?

QUESTION: On Tice. Right.

MS. NULAND: No, unfortunately, there is not.

QUESTION: No, nothing?

MS. NULAND: Jill.

QUESTION: A question concerning exactly that. There’s some media reports that say that that video that appeared on YouTube looks staged. Has the State Department analyzed that video at all? Or have –

MS. NULAND: I don’t have anything further to what I said yesterday, where I certainly raised the possibility that it could have been staged for purposes of the regime exculpating itself. Frankly, we just don’t know. We don’t know if it was him, we don’t know what – but we continue to believe, based on the limited information that we have, that he is in regime custody.

QUESTION: Can we just stay in the region for one more before Georgia?

MS. NULAND: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: The Lebanon – and did Wendy Sherman meet yesterday with the Lebanese Energy Minister? It was on the schedule. I just wondered if it was happening late.

MS. NULAND: She did.

QUESTION: Okay, she did. Can you – do you have anything to say about that meeting?

MS. NULAND: She – political – Under Secretary of Political Affairs Wendy Sherman met yesterday with Lebanese Minister for Energy and Water Bassil. This followed up on the meeting that the Secretary had at the UN General Assembly with Lebanese Prime Minister Mikati. Their conversation touched on a full range of topics but two in particular I would flag for you.

One was on maritime issues, and our efforts to promote stability in the region and Lebanon’s development of fair, transparent regulations to guide its offshore oil and gas exploration processes. They also talked, obviously, about developments in the region, by which we mean Syria, and the democratic transitions underway.

In our meetings with government representatives, whether they are in Lebanon or whether they are in the U.S., we always express our deep concern about Hezbollah’s destabilizing actions both in Lebanon and in the region. And Under Secretary Sherman, again, raised our ongoing concern about Hezbollah’s actions, including its support for the Syrian regime, its role as a terrorist organization and a proxy for Iran, and its criminal activities in the international drug trade and money laundering.

QUESTION: Okay. So you probably know why I asked the question, which is that Representative Ros-Lehtinin has not taken a kind view of this meeting. She called it beyond indefensible. So defend it, please.

MS. NULAND: Well, Minister Bassil is a member of the Free Patriotic Movement party in Lebanon, which is a member of the ruling coalition. He’s the Energy Minister. We’ve talk to members of the coalition and we have to work with a sitting minister if we want to work on these kinds of problems.

QUESTION: Right. Well, I mean, she says that he’s an overt supporter of Hezbollah and of Assad. Is that not the case?

MS. NULAND: Well, obviously he’s got a portfolio in the government that as I mentioned we had to address. The degree to which he has contacts with Hezbollahi can express the concerns and be a good transmitter for the kinds of concerns that I just outlined.

Please.

QUESTION: I’d like to talk of Georgia.

MS. NULAND: Yeah. Jill, I think, had her hand up for Georgia from the very beginning, so why don’t we start there.

QUESTION: Any reaction to the concession by President Saakashvili that the opposition has won this parliamentary election?

MS. NULAND: Yes, indeed. Well first of all, I think the White House has put out a statement, and we’re expecting that the Secretary will shortly have her own statement. The United States congratulates the citizens of Georgia on their historic parliamentary election yesterday. While the final count and the appeals are still ongoing, we support and join the assessment of the OSCE and OHDIR election observers that the Georgian people have freely expressed their will at the ballot box. We are now calling on the parties to work together to take democracy forward.

We’d like also to commend President Saakashvili and the UNM for graciously conceding when they lost at the ballot box. This is a really important milestone for democracy in Georgia, but it’s also a really important democratic signal for the region and for other countries that are struggling to be democratic.

Please.

QUESTION: Do you plan any meetings with new majority leaders on official level here in Washington or in Tbilisi?

MS. NULAND: I think we’ll let the Georgians come forward with a full vote count and a winner and let the new government be formed, but obviously we will engage with the new government, yes.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: Do you – the White House statement said that the U.S. Government urges President Saakashvili, his opponent, and all others to cooperate in a spirit of national unity. Are you concerned that they will not do so? Is that why the Administration felt it necessary to urge this on them?

MS. NULAND: Well, as you know, there had been a lot of – it had been a hotly contested election, there had been a lot of charges back and forth, a lot of hot rhetoric. But I think, as I said, the signal that President Saakashvili sent by (a) conceding and (b) saying he would ask them to form a government, and that they would work together – president and new government – sends a very good signal. And that’s the kind of thing we were hoping to commend, underscore, and continue to encourage going forward.

QUESTION: The Palestinian issue?

MS. NULAND: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Victoria, has there been any contact with the Palestinian Authority in the aftermath of last week’s efforts at the United Nations?

MS. NULAND: Well, as you know, the Secretary had a chance to see President Abbas. I think that – I’m pretty confident that David Hale saw the Palestinian delegation or at least spoke to them after we completed our meetings with the Israeli side as we usually do. The Secretary, as you know, saw Prime Minister Netanyahu as well. So it’s traditional that we talk to both sides.

QUESTION: On the two issues, their efforts at the United Nations and the unfreezing of funds – on sending the funds, is there – are there are any developments?

MS. NULAND: I don’t have anything further to report besides what I think I said yesterday, which is that we are continuing to work with the Congress to get the 200 million in support for the Palestinian Authority released. We think it’s very important, and we certainly see the need there.

QUESTION: And finally, the Foreign Minister of Israel, Mr. Lieberman, has promised to sort of arrest Mr. Abbas because of his effort at the United Nations. Are you aware of that, or do you have a comment?

MS. NULAND: I had not seen that, Said. And I don’t have a comment.

Please.

QUESTION: On Iran. The Iranian Foreign Minister was in New York yesterday giving a speech and spoke about what he said was his government’s more than yearlong contact and work with the Syrian opposition – not the government, the opposition. I’m wondering what evidence the U.S. has seen of that and how that has influenced or impacted our relationship with the opposition.

MS. NULAND: We’re seeing plenty of Iranian involvement in Syria, and all of it is in support of propping up the bloody regime of Bashar al-Assad. So I’m not sure what he’s talking about, but clearly they are continuing to send weapons, personnel, training, et cetera, and doing everything they can to prop up Assad.

Please. In the back.

QUESTION: On North Korea?

MS. NULAND: Yeah.

QUESTION: Yesterday, one of North Korean official made mention about U.S. hostile policy toward North Korea and some kind – possibility of some kind of nuclear war at the UN. What’s your response to that?

MS. NULAND: This was – these were comments made in New York?

QUESTION: Yes, Mr. Pak, of North Korean official.

MS. NULAND: I didn’t see those comments. You know where we’ve been on the DPRK, and the Secretary spoke to it when we were in New York: that we are urging restraint; we are calling for the DPRK to take steps to reassure the international community that it is serious about working with us on the denuclearization agenda; and we are waiting to see what this new leader is going to choose to do. But we are also warning against any further provocations.

Anything else? No? All right.

QUESTION: Thank you.

(The briefing was concluded at 1:53 p.m.)

DPB # 169



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