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U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action

Background Briefing At NATO Headquarters


Special Briefing
Senior Department Official
Senior Official, Office of the Spokesman
NATO Headquarters
Brussels, Belgium
December 4, 2009

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SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: Go ahead.

QUESTION: Okay. We want to get to the math here, and how much of the 7,000 are really new troops?

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: I didn’t do any math. That’s not what I (inaudible).

QUESTION: If you could help? I mean --

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: (Inaudible.)

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: I asked about your question. I mean, there are, as I understand it, roughly – and there are different tranches here. There were a number of countries that put up additional – what they call ESF forces, election special forces, and they’ve made decisions to keep them in place. What they might do is they might keep the numbers up, that they might swap out different capabilities depending on what General McChrystal needs, but --

QUESTION: So they count that if they keep --

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: Yes.

QUESTION: -- forces that are already there?

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: Yes. So you --

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Well, let me be precise on this. The British sent 700 troops for the election. They announced when they sent them they would leave.

QUESTION: Right.

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Those troops are staying.

QUESTION: Exactly.

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: They’re adding 500.

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: Correct.

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: We are therefore counting it as 1,200. It’s as simple as that. And I talked this through weeks ago with the British and (inaudible), and that is – that’s not fuzzy math. That’s the real deal.

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: It’s --

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: And I – and the reason it’s the real deal is they were going to leave, and so we counted it as an additional force, because previously we had counted it as minus-700, so now it’s plus-12.

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: The – roughly the baseline –

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: That’s an example. Now, other countries are a little trickier.

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: If you go back to the election, there – before the election, there were roughly 38,000 non-U.S. forces, and so that – as a baseline there, that’s the baseline for which there’ll be the increase, of which an element of the increase are these ESF forces that the countries have chosen to keep (inaudible).

QUESTION: And roughly how many?

QUESTION: How many?

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: Say, in the order of 1,500.

QUESTION: I’m sorry, 1,500 of these election troops that are going to –

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: 1,500 (inaudible) --

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: Roughly 1,500 are troops that came in for the election and countries have chosen to keep –

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Well, you’ve got an overall –

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: Yeah.

QUESTION: Of the 7,000?

QUESTION: For the seven --

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: (Inaudible) 700 Brits and 800 others that’ll stay? Is that what you mean?

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: Right.

QUESTION: Of the 7,000 --

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: There’s one other point. May I make one other point on the troops, which nobody ever notices? The Georgians are sending a light (inaudible) to add to the French (inaudible) a reinforced heavy battalion which will arrive in March to fight with the Americans (inaudible), and talking about an additional company to join the British (inaudible) if they add the British company – the extra company, which the foreign minister told us this morning (inaudible).

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: He just reiterated to the Secretary in a bilateral.

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: That would bring it to just under a thousand the number of troops Georgia would send, which would be, on a per capita basis, either the highest or second-highest in the world. The U.S. – if you count the U.S. 30,000 (inaudible) 100,000 –

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: Second highest.

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: After the U.S., and again, 4,000 of them --

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: But this also would be the second largest non-NATO contributor.

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: That’s a thousand Georgians, just under a thousand Georgians – population of Georgia 4.5 million – and that’s a very substantial commitment for them to (inaudible). I’m going to go there and visit them before they deploy. They’ll deploy at the end of February, except for the fourth company. That extra company, I think, will take a little longer.

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: And they at least were training (inaudible).

QUESTION: So how many – I’m sorry, how many new battalions total (inaudible)? How many new battalions total are they sending now?

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: The total of Georgians will be just under a thousand.

QUESTION: Got it.

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: I believe the first company with the French may have already arrived. But if you’re interested in that, we need to check it for you.

QUESTION: Okay.

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: And the battalion is training now, and they’re now talking about an additional company which hasn’t started training yet. So that’s a very significant commitment.

QUESTION: Is there any way of estimating of the 7,000 how many will be able to participate in combat operations and how many won’t?

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: You’re asking the wrong person. I’m sorry.

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: As the Secretary said, we – on the airplane yesterday, we --

QUESTION: (Inaudible) draw the distinction as much.

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: There’s combat, there’s trainers. That will be up to those countries to do what their capabilities are and up to what the commander needs.

QUESTION: But the 7,000 doesn’t include trainers?

QUESTION: Yeah, it does.

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: It does, yeah.

QUESTION: Well, I told you --

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: A lot of these troops – I talked to McChrystal and Petraeus about this in regard to the American 30,000 new forces that are sent. And I said exactly this (inaudible). They won’t give you a direct, simple answer for two reasons: one, some of these are dual use and have shifted as it required; and a lot of the training personnel are in combat situations, the ones that are (inaudible), and in fact, statistically, that’s the most dangerous thing you can do when countries go (inaudible) an Afghan unit (inaudible).

QUESTION: Can I ask, if the Canadians and the Dutch carry through with their plans to withdraw the numbers that they’re talking about, will that put a dent in the non-U.S. element that the surge – I mean, is that – if that happens, does this surge then become less of a surge from non-U.S. sources?

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: Well, you can look at it in two ways, that – those countries have announced plans to leave, so again, those plans are in train. I mean, in an absolute sense, yes. But this is – this surge took into account decisions that those countries have already –

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: In the discussions – in these long discussions we had over the last three months, we assumed – we took the Dutch and the Canadians at their word, and we assumed their departure, even while regretting enormously what happens because these are really valuable forces. Uruzgan is arguably as important as any other province in the country, and the Dutch have done a terrific job and they also have a PRT. We’ve been in very extensive discussions with both governments about this. But [Senior State Department Official Two]’s point was very important. We assume they (inaudible) and we had the discussions about what they’re doing.

QUESTION: [Senior State Department Official], can you talk about the reception that the new strategy has gotten? And are there any – in terms of the reaction, the pledges, the contributions from these countries – any surprises? Anything that’s greater than what you expected or less?

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: We all took off before the President spoke, and when we landed he had just finished his speech. And the first thing I discovered was pretty obvious. Europe had been sleeping and they didn’t exactly know what was in his speech. And then we went – within less than 12 hours after the speech, we went into our first meetings with the press and European officials. And they didn’t fully understand it at first, and it had been misrepresented by some of the journalists here. I know that’s a shocking concept to you.

QUESTION: No one in this room.

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: No, no one in this room. That actually is true. But some people thought we were withdrawing in 2011. And that was – so the first thing we found was we had to explain the speech. And as we explained it, and we spoke to a lot of journalists and we fed a lot of stuff back to [Senior State Department Official Two]. And as the hearings took place on Wednesday and the word began to get out, people began to understand exactly what we were doing.

Once they understood the policy, we found – and this is official Europeans and journalists – but once they saw what the policy really was, and that’s what (inaudible) been hearing from the Secretary all along, they were quite comfortable with it and reassured. And several of them really were very, very strong in their praise for it because they liked the way it struck the right balance.

QUESTION: Who, in particular?

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Hmm?

QUESTION: Who in particular?

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: The – it was very strong. Well, first of all, the EU issued a very strong statement supporting it, and that was out early. That was out Wednesday. And you can get that. NATO – of course, Rasmussen was present at the creation. There was very strong support from the British. The – I think the Norwegians were very supportive, the French, the Germans. I think – I don’t remember – the Turks were very supportive, and we don’t talk enough about the Turks, but they are a critically important ally.

QUESTION: We were just talking about that earlier.

QUESTION: I wanted to ask about the Turks and everybody’s, “Don’t ask about the Turks, wait – don’t waste time with the Turks.”

QUESTION: You still don’t get to do that until the end.

QUESTION: No, wait.

QUESTION: And then --

QUESTION: Stick with me on (inaudible). The Turks –

QUESTION: And then any surprises that – now –

QUESTION: Janine, stick with me. I’ll have --

QUESTION: I mean, now that these countries –

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Can I just say one thing? The Turks are more influential in Afghanistan than almost any other country. Don’t you guys know that?

QUESTION: They made fun about me asking about Bosnia, too, before the war.

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Yeah.

QUESTION: Don’t get him on Bosnia. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: [Senior State Department Official], could you just --

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: I don’t even know where it is. Sorry.

QUESTION: If I could just ask you the second half of that question --

QUESTION: We’ll come back to the Turks.

QUESTION: With – I mean, now that these countries have had a few days to sort of digest it, now they had a chance today to hear from Secretary Clinton and from General McChrystal, you know, have you found any surprises in terms of what they’re bringing to the table or anything like that?

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Kai Eide said that he felt there was an entirely different tone in the room today than he had remembered over the last six or eight months. And I said, what do you mean? Because he’d been at this a little longer than I have. And he said there’s just a new spirit of focus and energy.

And so we discussed it, and I would ascribe it to two things: The nightmare – not the nightmare – the messy election process has been resolved. From January 20th to November 19th – 10 months – we had this cloud hanging over our head called the Afghan elections, and that cloud grew and grew and grew. It diverted an enormous amount of attention and an enormous amount of resources and – but we got through. Messy it was, as President Obama said. But at the end of it, we have a government renewed and one that we can and intend to work with.

And the second factor, of course, was the American policy position. Some people felt we took too long to get there. But I’d rather take a little bit longer and get it right than rush into a war without thinking about it. And I’ve lived through that.

And secondly, we – the Administration felt strongly that we couldn’t make the policy decision until the elections were behind us. And it was the conjunction of the elections and the policy decisions, the conjunction that occurred because the election wasn’t held when it should have been on April 21st, that led us into this tremendously difficult period in which uncertainty about the outcome of the elections and an intense policy review, which – too much of which leaked, led us into a period where people got concerned.

And what Kai Eide was saying today was it just felt different, and it should have. We had a policy in place. We had a new – or reelected administration in place in Kabul, and we have some focus and we have a clear direction laid out by the President. I didn’t – I haven’t had as much experience in these meetings as Kai. I’ve only been to – it’s only my second one of the – third – second or third one of these. But he’s been to these things – now, maybe 20 of them – and he thought it was a whole different deal. Ask him directly.

QUESTION: [Senior State Department Official], the whole idea of kind of transitioning to the Afghan, it seems that there’s been a lot of focus on the idea, especially from Fogh Rasmussen and the Secretary about that this isn’t an exit strategy; this is a transition. And it seems that this is what is kind of rallying everybody, like keeping everybody in the same boat, that in addition to being like a clear – you have, not a date for withdrawal, but you have a kind of goal in sight that these countries can contribute, they know it’s not open-ended, and that the focus is on transitioning and getting the Afghans ready for that.

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Right, right. I agree with everything you just said. I would just put it in perspective and – just to focus on the core issue. President Obama had 32,000 troops on the ground when he took office. When this buildup is finished, he’ll be around 100,000, probably just over a hundred – that’s a tripling. He’s more than tripled the civilian personnel. The aid budget to Pakistan has gone up even more than that. The civilian budgets in Afghanistan have risen enormously. These are substantial commitments. You didn’t see those words “exit strategy” in his speech. That’s not an accident. The words “exit strategy” – people always hear the first of the two words and they never get the second word because strategy is an elusive thing. An exit’s a door you go in to leave a room.

And we are – and here I want to make a very key point, which the Secretary and I have both been making – she made it in Kabul. There are three types of American and international presence in Afghanistan. There are military combat forces – combat infantry battalions, if you will. Second, there are the personnel training the police and army. And third, there’s the civilian effort. And each of those will – each of those has a different timeline in Afghanistan. And it’s the – when everybody talks about how long will we be in Afghanistan, they’re only talking about the first of those streams. And none – and you all know that, but none of you ever kind of get the room and space to explain it adequately.

The civilian effort is going to go on for a very long time. If we don’t – if the American public and the international community don’t face up to our responsibilities to help them economically on everything from agriculture to infrastructure for a decade or more, we will be repeating the sorry history of Afghanistan, and we don’t want to do that.

But on the military combat units, the President said we will start to withdraw the responsible transfer of power to the security forces of Afghanistan starting in the summer of 2011. And so that’s the first stream and that’s the third stream – civilian and military. The one in the middle, the training of police and military, is the critical variable. We all know that, and we’ve all focused on it from the get-go in our internal deliberations and in our public dialogue. But we also know, and this has been stated very flatly in public by the Secretary of State and by other senior officials, that the training of the security forces, and particularly the police, has not gone very well in the last six to eight years. And therefore, we’re now embarking on a critical new variable—the 4th of the 82nd Airborne has arrived, and that’s a key thing.

QUESTION: Can I just quickly – one more thing. We had heard that –

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Where are you going?

QUESTION: I'm sorry. I have to go to –

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Are you going back to Washington?

QUESTION: And I am going – no, I’m going to London.

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Well, good luck.

QUESTION: Thanks.

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: I’ll see you.

QUESTION: Bye, Margaret.

QUESTION: See ya. See ya.

QUESTION: We had heard that ISAF forces, one of the things that they’re going to be doing now is trying to collect actionable intelligence to give to the Afghans about corruption in the Afghan Government, so that they can take action. And this sounds like kind of a new role in – I mean, in combat. And I was just wondering your thoughts.

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: That ISAF will give actionable intelligence on corruption? You have to ask ISAF about that.

QUESTION: Do you think that’s a good idea?

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: You have to – I’d like to know more about it from ISAF. I’m going to reserve judgment. But President Karzai --

QUESTION: Well, actually, it’s coming from ISAF that –

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Well, President Karzai has often said publicly that if he has actionable evidence – not intelligence, but actionable information or evidence on a corruption issue – he’ll take action. So I don’t see anything dramatically new about that.

QUESTION: [Senior State Department Official], has the issue of a civilian coordinator been on the table?

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Yes.

QUESTION: Any progress on that? Is there new thinking on it or emerging consensus on that?

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: That, in fact, is the reason I was late, because Kai Eide was giving us his view of how to fix that problem.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) by making him the civilian coordinator?

QUESTION: Don’t they have one already? Didn’t they name one the last time we were here?

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: I don’t know how closely you all have been following this, because it’s one of these bureaucratic organization chart things and – which people love to talk about. I’m not wild about organizational issues. There is a consensus that the civilian coordination (inaudible) of the international civilian efforts. Let me start again: there’s a consensus that coordination of the civilian efforts in Afghanistan is inadequate and that this ought to be fixed. In our meeting the day before yesterday with my European Union and NATO colleagues, there was unanimity on this point that the coordination must be fixed.

QUESTION: International civilian – you’re talking about non-Afghan?

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Non-Afghan, correct.

QUESTION: Yeah.

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: So then the question arises of what to do about it. If I’m not mistaken, Hillary actually addressed this in the hearing yesterday, didn’t she? I think she said very clearly that we wanted to deal with this problem.

Anyway, so what happened? We have been searching for a formula to improve it. It took years for ISAF to emerge to its present integrated structure. And we can’t – five or six years – and we can’t solve the civilian integration coordination in five or six days. It’s more complicated because they have an existing military alliance that’s 60 years old, headquartered in this building, which they finally were able to move to Kabul with some adjustments. And the civilians have no precedent for what we have to try to do. So we’re looking at different models and different approaches.

QUESTION: Is it too early to sort of say that a consensus is coalescing around a model?

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: There is a consensus on one issue, and I just --

QUESTION: -- that you need it --

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: -- that we need something. But you have to identify a problem before you can try to fix it. We – this problem has been identified clearly earlier in this Administration and we’re working on fixing it. And it’s tricky because there is a United Nations organization, UNAMA, headed by Kai Eide. There is a NATO senior civilian representative, a man named Gentilini – I think his first name is Franco, but I’m not sure – and there is the (inaudible) overwhelming majority of the resources in the region are American controlled. So you have to figure out how you approach this. Two years ago, in the previous administration, a disastrous effort was made to fix this, which left a deep and enduring legacy on the region, and that was what was sometimes called the Paddy Ashdown affair. And --

QUESTION: I remember when they named that.

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: What?

QUESTION: I just remember naming it and going through it. I mean, it was – we went through those –

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Well, Paddy Ashdown had been high representative in Bosnia. And he – and in Bosnia, this is an area I know a little bit about – we had created a high representative with power, real authoritative power. He could reject laws, he could fire people, he could even arrest people, which actually happened.

QUESTION: It was like Bremer.

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: What?

QUESTION: Just like Bremer. No?

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Different legal status. But because there was – that was a screwy thing.

QUESTION: Occupational.

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: There was a government in Bosnia, but the government under the Dayton agreements had agreed to give extra powers to a high rep who was not UN. The most powerful of all these structures was in Kosovo and East Timor when, in each case, part of a country split off, it did not become an independent country for a transitional period. And during that transitional period, it was in the hands of the UN as sovereign. And Bernard Kouchner was the – was in charge of Kosovo, and Sergio Vieira de Mello was in charge of East Timor. And those were the most powerful of all.

That model – Bosnia high rep, Kosovo and East Timor – was somehow put forward by the previous administration, the British, and they picked Paddy Ashdown. And at first – and he was going to have huge power. And at first, Karzai seemed to agree. And he met with Paddy Ashdown in Dubai and everything went well. And then the backlash began, and it reached such a level of xenophobia, then the Afghan press discovered that Paddy Ashdown’s great, great, great, great, great uncle had died in the famous massacre in Afghanistan. And he was, according to the Afghan press, coming back to avenge. (Laughter.) I kid you not. And the whole thing blew up. And that was when President Karzai realized that he could stand up to the international community. It was a major event in the drama that led to the elections. So three days ago, The Guardian wrote a front page story.

QUESTION: Right.

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: It was a complete fabrication by a reporter who hadn’t called anyone in the Department, and it was designed to create a problem between President Karzai, me, and Kai Eide, and it was completely invented. So that’s why we put out the day before yesterday very strong statements we weren’t trying to create a, quote, “international high rep.”

Okay. That’s what we’re not doing. What are we trying to do? We’re trying to improve coordination. This will be a discussion this afternoon when we go to Truman Hall, where Secretary Clinton and I will discuss a variety of issues. This one is very likely to come up. I believe – but we’re not going to fix it this afternoon. There are too many equities involved. There’s the UN, NATO, the U.S., all sorts of people. In our interview yesterday --

QUESTION: No, it was off camera.

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: What?

QUESTION: It was off camera.

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: No, it was your last question. No, off camera --

QUESTION: Off camera.

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: -- we talked high rep. On camera we talked --

QUESTION: Oh, sorry, yes, yes.

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: -- civilian coordinator, yeah. I’ll bet that riveted the morning viewers in New York. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: Highest ratings we have seen in decades. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: It was like a morning cup of coffee. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: You can make Salahi the civilian high rep.

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: But – so we --

QUESTION: That would get you the front page.

QUESTION: Or Tiger Woods.

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: So we – but I do want to stress this in answer to what Mark raised a minute ago. What has been decided? We have agreed unanimously that the current civilian coordination is inadequate and must be significantly improved. What haven’t we done yet? Come to consensus on what the solution is. It’s complicated. But in my view, when you identify a problem correctly, you’re halfway there. And I believe we have clearly identified it. And this was a major topic of conversation at the meeting of my counterparts two days ago. And we talked – the Secretary and I talked about it this morning, and that’s where we are.

QUESTION: You’re calling this person some sort of civilian coordinator?

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: No, I’m not even calling this a person yet, because --

QUESTION: The idea – but the --

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: -- because some of the proposals involve more than one person. Some of them involve coordinating boards, some involve one person. It’s – this is really not interesting. I can barely stay awake listening to this stuff. (Laughter.) But if you really want to talk about this --

QUESTION: So it wouldn’t be like a czar-type thing?

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: That is exactly what it isn’t, because that’s the Paddy Ashdown --

QUESTION: Paddy Ashdown.

QUESTION: Right, got it, okay.

QUESTION: Paddy Ashdown.

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: -- Paddy Ashdown event. And this isn’t about Paddy. This Paddy Ashdown thing was a costly event with consequences. But it’s not about Paddy Ashdown. It’s about the idea.

QUESTION: [Senior State Department Official], could I ask about the Russian overflights? I mean, that still seems to be something I think --

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: I’ve got to be honest with you. I’ve never spent one minute on that issue.

QUESTION: No?

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: No, it’s --

QUESTION: It’s a question of the mechanics of the surge.

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: It’s not – it’s just not my issue.

QUESTION: Okay.

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: There’s a huge bureaucracy that deals with stuff like that. It’s – I’m working – I was in Moscow. I was there two days; we never discussed it once. I left it to the experts.

QUESTION: Can I have a Pakistan question? Does the – what is the situation with Zardari? Is that worrying you?

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: With Zardari?

QUESTION: With his power being stripped. He committed to (inaudible).

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: I would draw – Jay, I draw a very sharp distinction between internal politics as it’s conducted in Pakistan, which is now a democracy, and external threats. We’re following it with interest. We know all the major participants well. But we are not – again, we are not intervening in it, nor has anyone asked us to. We just – our position is simple and very, very focused. We support civilian – a democratic civilian government in Pakistan.

QUESTION: You know, the German foreign minister said a little while ago Obama took months to develop this strategy and we’ve had three days to digest his speech, so it would be unreasonable to expect us to offer a response, we need to undergo somewhat of the same process, and then by January 28th in London, we’ll continue that discussion, and then at that point, we’ll be ready to talk about more specific issues, to which one of the German reporters said, “Well, what have you been doing all this time? I mean, you know, haven’t you been thinking about the strategy yourselves?” And he sort of danced around that.

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Who, Westerwelle?

QUESTION: Westerwelle. I mean, is it a reasonable thing for the Germans – and if this is the argument Kouchner makes, is it a reasonable thing to say, give us now two, three months to digest what the U.S. has done before we say anything about our contribution?

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: That’s not the way it works, that – we have been consulting every one of these countries all through the process.

QUESTION: Right. It’s not as though what they heard on Tuesday night was out of whole cloth. They knew about this stuff.

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Every one of them had a sense, if not a precise sense, of where we were headed. We were phoning, we were visiting them. We’ve been over here, they’ve been over there. Secondly, it’s an evolving process. Some countries stepped right up to the plate with troops here in Brussels today. There will be a force generation conference next week. Other countries have said they’ll have troop announcements or not on January 28th in London. It’s a continuing process.

Listen, I am told that the Secretary of State is about to see you guys, so I have to draw it to a close, which is (inaudible).

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: We have a team in Turkey that (inaudible). My deputy is in Turkey on the second of a Washington-Ankara exchange of visits to – this is a very good example of your question. We have now – we have a Turkish inter- ministerial team in Washington (inaudible) a month ago, and then [name withheld], my deputy, was in Ankara today with a team talking about these things.

And what are we doing? We’re working to have a joint civilian (inaudible) strategy on how (inaudible). We have a team in Moscow, a team in Beijing just before the President. Our next meeting of our group will be in Abu Dhabi on January 11th and 12th, which is very important, obviously, another important part of the story.

So we’re doing this continually, and there’s been almost no attention given to the international (inaudible) policy, and when it is given, it’s given individually so no one pieces it together. But there’s a broad-ranging international strategy here that’s been well underway. Now that the elections (inaudible) policy announcement (inaudible), there’s going to be a big celebration.

QUESTION: And Abu Dhabi is important because?

QUESTION: Why?

QUESTION: Yeah, why is it --

QUESTION: Abu Dhabi is so important because (inaudible)?

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Because Westerners tend to think that the quad or the big four, the Europeans, but which countries actually (inaudible) the greatest involvement interest in Afghanistan and Pakistan? It’s the Gulf countries and Turkey, it’s China and India, countries which neighbor the region, which don’t get enough attention. Sheikh Abdullah, the foreign minister of the UAE, was here today, a very important guy. He came out of (inaudible), and look at the UAE troops. We have four Arab countries fighting there now, and that’s very important.

QUESTION: UAE, Jordan?

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: UAE, Jordan. I think Bahrain’s sending some. I may be wrong. There may be three. There may be a fourth in the works.

QUESTION: Does Obama want more (inaudible)?

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: I’m not counting Turkey as a –


# # #



PRN: 2009/T16-8



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