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Diplomacy in Action

Remarks To the Press


Remarks
Ian Kelly
Department Spokesman
Washington, DC
September 18, 2009

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MR. KELLY: Okay. Well --

QUESTION: Give us your best shot, Ian. You got a headline that’ll trump the Secretary?

MR. KELLY: Well, that’s the thing. You see – (laughter) – that’s why we’re doing a gaggle. We never like to trump the Secretary. Well, listen. I got nothing for you at the top except to say I hope you all have a good weekend and I look forward to your questions.

QUESTION: Senator Mitchell.

MR. KELLY: Senator Mitchell, yeah. I was able to talk to my colleague who was in the delegation, and he said that Senator Mitchell had good meetings today. He started off with – no smirking, please – he had good meetings today with Prime Minister Netanyahu.

He was joined at a certain point by Defense Minister Barak for part of the discussion. He also met with President Abbas. He again stressed the need for all sides to take responsibility for peace by taking concrete steps. All parties emphasized their commitment to comprehensive peace. Senator Mitchell conveyed again that the President and Secretary are deeply and personally committed to comprehensive peace.

QUESTION: Trilateral schedule?

MR. KELLY: There is no – there’s been no agreement to have a trilateral meeting. I know there’s been a lot of speculation about such a meeting. I will say, however, that this is a – it’s an ongoing process. The discussions are going to continue. Senator Mitchell has returned to the U.S., but there will be more opportunities for discussions in New York next week.

QUESTION: So he’s not going back here between now and then, obviously?

MR. KELLY: No, he’s not going back, and of course, this is the beginning of the high holy days for Israel. So there really wouldn’t be much of an opportunity.

QUESTION: Does this effectively rule out a three-way at the UN?

MR. KELLY: No. Again, I know that there was a lot of – people were looking to a – some sort of agreement on this trip for this trilateral meeting. But again, this is a – we knew going in it was going to be a difficult process. You probably heard the Secretary this morning, who said that we knew that this was going to be difficult, but we’re going to stay patient. We’re going to stay engaged. We’re making real, painstaking efforts. We remain committed to the process. From the very beginning, the President has said that we are going to stay engaged in this process. And --

QUESTION: Ian, can there be a reason for a meeting – will the U.S. want a meeting if there’s no prospect of resuming negotiations immediately?

MR. KELLY: Well, I think the – of course, the end goal here is to have an agreement where we can have – where the two sides can sit down and have negotiations that are well based, where both sides have reached the point where they can make meaningful progress. And there’s a number of ways, of course, to get to that point. And so we’re just looking for ways to get to --

QUESTION: So you’re saying if the meeting had any – raised any possibility of any progress, it might be worthwhile, even if it were not to kick off a new round of negotiations?

MR. KELLY: Well, no, I’m not going to speculate what’s going to happen next week. There’s going to be a lot of opportunities, of course, in New York. We’re going to have all the players in one place. But I’m not going to speculate on what may or may not happen.

QUESTION: Ian, a couple of things on this. When you said that people were looking for an – looking for this trip to produce an agreement, which people were those?

MR. KELLY: No, I’m just saying there’s a lot – there was a lot of speculation in the media.

QUESTION: Were you – are you saying the Administration didn’t hope to have an agreement on this?

MR. KELLY: Of course we hoped to have an agreement. Of course we were hoping for some kind of breakthrough. But this is going to be – again, it’s going to be – it’s going to demand a lot of patience. And the U.S. is ready to stay patient and stay engaged and make all the efforts necessary to reach this goal that we’re all committed to – a comprehensive peace.

QUESTION: So Mitchell’s trip was basically a disappointment?

MR. KELLY: No. That’s your characterization, Matt. I’m not going to characterize that way.

QUESTION: Well, you said “Of course we were hoping,” so your hopes were dashed.

MR. KELLY: Well, no. Again, that’s your characterization of it.

QUESTION: No, it’s not.

MR. KELLY: This has been going on for a long time, and Senator Mitchell has made a lot of strong efforts, and we’re very appreciative for those efforts, and the efforts will continue.

QUESTION: So you --

QUESTION: And then – just wait, hold on, I want to ask one more thing. At the very top of this, when you started out, you said you had good meetings today. You talked – you spoke to your colleague and you said there were good meetings today, and then you said, “No smirking, please.” Was that because you know that you’re giving us incorrect – or you’re giving us a readout that is not really descriptive of –

MR. KELLY: It was Charlie, Charlie. I was reading out a --

QUESTION: Well, I don’t know. You said it on the record. I mean, it’s like --

MR. KELLY: -- giving a very serious readout of these meetings, and I caught Charlie’s smile. That’s all.

QUESTION: So what did he come away with? I mean, he came without – he came back here without an agreement on settlements. What did he come away with?

MR. KELLY: Well, I think as I said before, that I mean, we have to keep in mind that we do have a commitment by all the sides – by the U.S., by our partners in the international community, by the Israelis and the Palestinians, we have agreement that the way forward on this is a comprehensive peace, based on a two-state solution. And this was – the two sides in these meetings recommitted to that. So in that sense, they were good meetings.

QUESTION: Are you – have you given up hope about a settlement deal, a freeze on settlements? And are you going to try a new track to get the peace process going?

MR. KELLY: I mean, in the end, it’s going to be up to the – to both sides to take the kind of steps that they’ve already committed to. And of course, for the Israelis, that means committing to an end to settlement activity; and on the Palestinian side, it means they have to take certain steps to raise the level of trust and their ability to maintain security in the Palestinian territories.

QUESTION: What initiative are you going to take – the U.S. Administration? Aren’t you resorting the passivity of the past that has been criticized?

MR. KELLY: The passivity of the past?

QUESTION: Yeah. Standing by while the – no, on the contrary --

QUESTION: Arabs and Israelis --

MR. KELLY: On the contrary. I think that this Administration from day one decided that to make progress on this issue, the U.S. had to be involved and had to be involved at the highest levels, and that’s what we’re doing.

QUESTION: Any comment on the Iranian demonstrations?

MR. KELLY: I don’t have any comment per se on the Iranian demonstrations. I think that we are all very concerned, of course, and even outraged by some of the comments by President Ahmadinejad about calling the Holocaust a lie and a pretext for Israel, that that was an insult to the memory of the millions who died in the Holocaust and, of course, very offensive to their families.

Yeah.

QUESTION: Do you think that the domestic situation in Iran hinders the possibility of dialogue with the P-5+1?

MR. KELLY: Well, I think, obviously, we’re monitoring the situation in Iran very closely. And – but what we’re very much focused on right now is preparing the ground for the P-5+1 talks on October 1st. We’ve made it very clear to Iran that they have a choice between isolation and reintegration with the international community, and we look forward to learning what their choice is.

QUESTION: And – well, how are you preparing the ground specifically?

MR. KELLY: Well, I mean, we are, of course, first consulting with our P-5+1 colleagues. Secretary Clinton next week looks forward to sitting down with her counterparts from the five countries in the P-5+1 talks.

QUESTION: The Secretary remarked today that she’s working with her allies, looking at the consequences side of the ledger. Are there specific consequences that you guys are contemplating? There are – definitely something that will move into place once – when and if they decide that these talks aren’t going well?

MR. KELLY: Well, I think first of all, we want to hear what Iran has to say. And of course, we’re looking at the kind of measures we can take to try and pressure Iran into doing the right thing, which is living up to its responsibilities and making its nuclear program more transparent and raising the level of confidence that it is what they say it is, that it’s for peaceful purposes. The international community doesn’t have that confidence right now.

QUESTION: Any venue for the October 1st decided?

MR. KELLY: I don’t think that’s been announced. I think you’ve all heard the speculation on where it might be, but it hasn’t --

QUESTION: So no confirmation on Turkey or --

MR. KELLY: No, no confirmation on Turkey. No.

QUESTION: Is everyone done with Iran? Can I ask a different area?

MR. KELLY: Sure.

QUESTION: Okay. North Korea. Anything – anything new on Bosworth going, on accepting the invitation, or any other venue for when and where you’re going to talk?

MR. KELLY: Well, as I said, no decision has been made as to whether or not to accept the informal invitation that was issued by the North Koreans to Ambassador Bosworth.

QUESTION: I’ve got to keep asking. That can change. (Laughter.)

MR. KELLY: You’re always welcome to keep asking.

QUESTION: Xinhua is saying that Kim Jong-il told Dai Bingguo that he thought he was ready to talk about another bilateral or multilateral situation. Are you guys getting any read on that, that this is sort of – we’re moving back toward the Six Parties?

MR. KELLY: Yeah. I think we’ve seen reports of this meeting. And of course, we’d have to refer you to the Chinese Government for more details. We, of course, remain committed to engage North Korea bilaterally, but only in the Six-Party context, only if it helps lead to a resumption of that Six-Party context.

QUESTION: Did you get any information from Chinese Government about the meeting – the meeting with Kim Jong-il?

MR. KELLY: Yeah. I don’t know the answer to that question. I mean, we have, of course, close consultations with the Chinese Government, but I’m not aware necessarily that we’ve gotten a readout.

QUESTION: Can you take that question and give us a readout? Because I would imagine that Dai Bingguo’s people would have had to brief the Secretary’s office. If you can get back to us on that.

MR. KELLY: Well, yeah, I’m not sure that I can. But if I can, we will.

QUESTION: Is that meeting considered within the framework of the Six-Party Talks?

MR. KELLY: This meeting between the Chinese --

QUESTION: The Chinese and the North Koreans.

MR. KELLY: I don’t think I’d characterize it that way.

QUESTION: So it was just --

MR. KELLY: I think it was bilateral. It was a bilateral meeting.

QUESTION: -- outside of the context of the Six Parties?

MR. KELLY: Well, I don’t – I’m not sure how I would characterize it, except as a bilateral meeting.

QUESTION: Can you explain why on the same day the Secretary delivers a major speech about previewing the Administration’s priorities and agenda for the UN that the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations gives a almost identical briefing at the White House?

MR. KELLY: Well, I think there are many voices in this Administration, and I see no reason why we shouldn’t have both the Secretary and the Ambassador --

QUESTION: Well, don’t – you don’t think the Administration should speak with one voice?

MR. KELLY: Of course. I think we do speak with one voice, and I think that’s what you saw in those two speeches.

QUESTION: You don’t think that’s at all confusing?

MR. KELLY: Not at all. I mean, I didn’t see any real difference in message between the two.

QUESTION: It doesn't matter if there’s a difference in --

MR. KELLY: It’s natural for the Secretary to preview her own priorities.

QUESTION: Yeah. And is it natural for the U.S. Ambassador to the UN to give her own briefing –

MR. KELLY: Absolutely.

QUESTION: Several briefings at the White House?

MR. KELLY: I would say that we had a difficulty in scheduling for the same time, but these were at different times on the last workday before the beginning of the UN General Assembly. It’s natural to give previews of upcoming meetings.

QUESTION: Do you have any readout of Campbell’s visit to Japan, especially about North Korea?

MR. KELLY: Yeah. Well, he – I think you probably saw his – he had a press conference, quite a long press conference, where he gave a pretty thorough readout of his meetings. He had meetings with – he basically had one full day of meetings, and that was today. Or was it yesterday? It was today, yeah. He met with Ambassador Roos and his Embassy team, and also met with Foreign Minister Okada. And he had basically a full day at the ministry of foreign affairs with a number of senior officials there. But I’d just refer you to his transcript for the details of it.

QUESTION: Ian, can I ask you about something? Senator --

MR. KELLY: Welcome back.

QUESTION: Thank you. Senator Brownback is going to try and introduce legislation to try and put North Korea back on the terror list. Do you have any reaction to that?

MR. KELLY: I hadn’t heard that.

QUESTION: It was reported in Foreign Policy magazine last night.

MR. KELLY: Yeah. I hadn’t heard that.

QUESTION: Can you try and take that? Can you try and --

MR. KELLY: Yeah. I mean, we’ll look forward to learning Senator Brownback’s views and --

QUESTION: He hasn’t contacted you or --

MR. KELLY: Let me see. Yeah. I don’t know.

QUESTION: Okay.

QUESTION: (inaudible) that report, Senator Brownback says he discussed with Campbell about that issue.

MR. KELLY: Okay. Let me see if I can get you more information. Yeah.

That’s it? Okay.

QUESTION: Thank you.

(Break.)

MR. KELLY: Okay. So I have a reaction to the report of the fact-finding mission of Justice Goldstone. As President Obama made clear at the time of the events covered by the report, we are deeply concerned about the loss of life and humanitarian suffering in both Israel and Gaza. As we’ve said previously, prior to U.S. membership, the UN’s Human Rights Council set forth a one-sided and unacceptable mandate for this fact-finding investigation.

Although the report addresses all sides of the conflict, its overwhelming focus is on the actions of Israel. While the report makes overly sweeping conclusions of fact and law with respect to Israel, its conclusions regarding Hamas’s deplorable conduct and its failure to comply with international humanitarian law during the conflict are more general and tentative.

We also have very serious concerns about the report’s recommendations, including calls that this issue be taken up in international fora outside the Human Rights Council and in national courts of countries not party to the conflict. We note in particular that Israel has the democratic institutions to investigate and prosecute abuses, and we encourage it to use those institutions.

We believe this report should be discussed within the Human Rights Council, and we look forward to participating in that discussion. We will approach discussions on the report keeping in mind the underlying causes of the tragic events in Gaza earlier this year – the lack of a peace agreement between the Israelis and the Palestinians, and the attacks by Hamas against innocent civilians.

Our focus right now, as I’ve said before, is to get all sides to take steps to re-launch Israeli-Palestinian negotiations so we can end this conflict and the humanitarian suffering it has caused. We will move forward in discussions of the report while keeping that overriding goal at the forefront. We hope efforts related to the Middle East at the Human Rights Council and other international bodies will look to the future and how we can support the goal of a two-state solution.



PRN: 2009/939



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