Crisis in Syria

Jeffrey D. Feltman
Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs
Cairo, Egypt
January 5, 2012

Reuters and AP soundbites:

Assistant Secretary Feltman (Jan. 5): The Security Council is of course very concerned, as is the world about the ongoing violence inside Syria. And Security Council members have had regular briefings from the Secretariat of the United Nations about developments in Syria. But right now I think that we are all waiting to see what it is that the Arab League will be saying after their meeting on Sunday and what the interim report is from the monitors here. Because the Arab League, as I said before, has taken on an incredibly important responsibility and we want to defer right now to that meeting on Sunday and let the Arabs have their own discussions first.”

“In the political tensions for the last couple of weeks, we have been using our contacts. The Vice President, for example, Vice President Biden, has talked to a number of Iraqi politicians. Our ambassador on the ground has been doing rotations among the Iraqi politicians to talk to them about our hope that the partnership among Iraqi politicians, a partnership on behalf of Iraq's unity, Iraq's stability, will be able to transcend these tensions, and we know that there is a lot of contact between the Iraqi politicians themselves right now, and frankly what the Iraqis are saying to each other, how the Iraqis are working with each other, is far more important than what we can do right now.”

"I had the opportunity to discuss the issue of the NGOs (non-governmental organization) with Egyptian officials, as this is a bilateral issue between the United States and Egypt. We didn't discuss it here but I did have the opportunity to discuss to talk with His Excellency the Foreign Minister of Egypt for example, about the question of NGOs because.....the issue of the NGOs I think has been distorted by the media a bit in both of our countries. There is a very exciting transition underway in Egypt that's been going on throughout 2011 when the Egyptian people went out onto the streets, demanded some basic rights and dignity, to have a say in how they are governed, to be able to play a role in how Egypt is governed in the future."