Daily Press Briefing - December 4
Index for Today's Briefing:
- Secretary Clinton's Schedule in Brussels / Allies Strongly Endorsed the President's Strategy and Approach toward Afghanistan / NATO, ISAF Partners Pledged 7,000 More Troops / ISAF Countries Began a Discussion on Improving Civilian Coordination / NATO Countries and Russia Formally Restarted the NATO-Russia Council / Agreed on Restructuring of the NRC and a Work Program for 2010/ Bilateral Meetings / First Meeting of Foreign Ministers for New EU High Representative Lady Ashton / Secretary Clinton Spoke with Lady Ashton About EU Council Meeting and the Importance of Discussions on Next Steps for Iran
- Announcement of Under Secretary Bill Burns' Travel / Invitation by Chinese Counterpart to Travel to Beijing December 8-9 / Will Travel to Indonesia December 10 - 11 to Initiate Strategic Consultations with Senior Indonesian Officials / U/S Burns Will Lead the U.S. Observer Delegation to the Bali Democracy Forum / Will Discuss a Broad Range of Issues Following Up on the President's Trip to China
- Pledges of Contributions to Various Trust Funds that NATO Administers in Afghanistan / Pleased of the Way Allies and Partners have Stepped Up to Support the President's New Approach
- Important to Enhance Afghan Confidence in U.S. Effort / Military Part is Important in Order for Services to be Provided and for Afghan People to Feel Secure / U.S. Has a Real Responsibility to American People as Well as Afghans that Money Invested in Afghanistan's Future Ends Up in the Right Hands /U.S. Wants Assistance to be Delivered in a Transparent and Accountable Way
- Many Different Roles that ISAF-Contributing Nations Can Play / U.S. Wants to Make Sure Assistance Ends Up in the Right Place and Delivered in a Transparent Way
- Iran has not Given a Positive Answer to IAEA Proposal / Focus is Shifting More Towards Pressure Track
- Negotiations Ongoing on START Treaty / Have a Basic Framework / Both Parties Want to Agree to a New Treaty / Robust Discussion on Differences / Both Sides Pledged not to Take Any Measures that Would Undermine the Strategic Ability Provided by START / U.S. Confident Measures are in Place to be Able to Monitor Compliance and Monitor Russian Strategic Arms
- U.S. Extends Sympathy to the Victims of Today's Attack in Rawalpindi / Highlights the Need for U.S. to Support the Government of Pakistan
- Special Envoy Gration's Testimony / A Body of Documents Referenced as a Classified Annex / A Matter of Definition
- Issue of 22 Uighurs in Cambodia / As a Matter of Policy the State Department Does not Comment on Asylum Cases
- Futenma Deal / Working Group is Meeting, Headed By Ambassador John Roos / U.S. is Happy to Help Japanese Government in This Review of Their Policy
- Next Week's Force Generation Conference Will be Represented by Military Representatives to the NATO Military Committee
1:20 p.m. EST
MR. KELLY: Okay, good afternoon. Well, the Secretary had, obviously, a very busy day today in Brussels. She had meetings with the NATO Secretary General and she participated in several meetings of the North Atlantic Council, with NATO foreign ministers, and with non-NATO ISAF-contributing nations. There was a meeting of the NATO-Russia Council as well. It was a very productive day.
The allies strongly endorsed the President’s strategy and approach toward Afghanistan. Twenty-five countries pledged to do more in terms of troops, trainers, and trust fund contributions. NATO and ISAF – and their ISAF partners pledged to contribute about 7,000 more troops, and we expect that there will be several thousand more likely in the near future.
ISAF countries also began a discussion on improving civilian coordination with an eye to agreeing on new mechanisms by the time of the London conference in January. In addition, NATO countries and Russia formally restarted the NATO-Russia Council by convening the first formal ministerial meetings since December of 2007. They also agreed to some restructuring of the NRC and a work program for 2010.
The Secretary had a number of bilateral meetings. She met with UK Foreign Secretary Miliband, Polish Foreign Minister Sikorski, Norwegian Foreign Minister Store, Spanish Foreign Minister Moratinos, Georgian Foreign Minister Vashadze, Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov, and she had her first meeting with the EU – the new EU High Rep Ashton. In that latter meeting, of course, they talked about Afghanistan, which she did in all of her meetings. They also had a chance to talk about the very important meetings next week related to the EU. It’ll be the first meeting of foreign ministers for the new EU High Rep Lady Ashton, in addition to a European Council meeting, which, of course, is a summit meeting. And they – as I said, they discussed Afghanistan, but they also discussed Iran, because we expect that the Iranian issue will be addressed in the EU Council meeting and there will be a broad discussion on next steps in that meeting.
I also have an announcement regarding travel of Under Secretary Bill Burns. At the invitation of his Chinese counterpart, Under Secretary Burns will travel to Beijing December 8 and 9 to address key issues discussed during President Obama’s recent visit. He will then travel to Indonesia on December 10th and 11th to initiate strategic consultations with senior Indonesian officials on expanding cooperation on the areas of mutual interest, as discussed during President Obama’s recent meeting with the Indonesian president. He will also lead the U.S. observer delegation to the Bali Democracy Forum, which is an important Indonesian-led initiative to promote democratic reform throughout the region.
And that’s all I have at the top, so I’ll take your questions on this Friday afternoon.
MR. KELLY: No, I think they were – given the constraint of time, I think they all were fairly brief. I think they all were somewhere around 10-15 minutes.
QUESTION: What were the 25 countries who pledged troops?
MR. KELLY: I don’t have that list in front of me right now.
QUESTION: Can you give us an idea, other than the Italians –
MR. KELLY: Yeah. No, I don’t have that list. We’ll have to get that from NATO. Sorry.
QUESTION: Do you know if that list actually exists?
MR. KELLY: No, I don’t know if that list actually exists. I think you’d probably have to get it from NATO.
MR. KELLY: Yeah. Go ahead, Charley.
QUESTION: Just on the same subject.
MR. KELLY: Yeah.
QUESTION: Can you tell us what these pledges and commitments are? Are these commitments the United States can take to the bank in terms of troops that will be provided?
MR. KELLY: I think that these pledges were made in general terms, I think, in various categories. And I think the three main categories, of course, are troops and then trainers and then pledges of contributions to various trust funds that NATO administers in Afghanistan. I think what the plan is, is to put more details on these contributions both in the force generation conference which is on Monday, but I think more particularly, at the conference in London in January. So I don’t think that there were a lot of specifics per se, but certainly it was a – there were some – it was a very significant meeting in terms of the pledges, and I think we’re all pleased with the way that our allies and partners have stepped up to support the President’s new approach.
QUESTION: But what’s the risk that some of these countries, whether for internal political reasons or otherwise, may back down from these pledges and commitments – 5,000, 7,000 --
MR. KELLY: Well, I don’t think – I don’t think we’re focusing on that, on that – on the backing down. I think in some cases, of course, that you need to get parliamentary approval for – especially for deployments. I don’t think that I would characterize it as backing down, but I think we do expect to have a lot more specificity by the January meeting.
QUESTION: Can you tell us who’s going to represent the U.S. at the force generation conference next week?
MR. KELLY: Well, I think it’s being chaired by the military side of NATO, what we used to call SHAPE, Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe. It’s now called something else, not SHAPE. But at any rate, it’ll be at the level of military representatives to the NATO military committee.
QUESTION: What about the London conference?
MR. KELLY: Who will represent us at the London – I don’t have that information.
QUESTION: Is it a ministerial meeting?
MR. KELLY: I believe it is at the level of ministers.
QUESTION: Back on Afghanistan. Afghanistan’s ambassador to the U.S. was speaking this morning at Johns Hopkins University SAIS Center. What he’s describing that more troops to Afghanistan may not bring peace and stability, but what the U.S. should do and NATO allies that confidence-building measures with the Afghan people, which now they think that al-Qaida and Talibans are maybe better than the – some of the local governments there, but because the U.S. on the ground may not be doing as far as the confidence-building measures with the Afghan people, are doing more for the Afghanis, not for building troops. So what U.S., you think, is going to do to deal with the people of Afghanistan, rather than more?
MR. KELLY: Yeah. I don’t think we would necessarily disagree with that particular characterization. I think we would agree that it is important that we try and enhance the confidence that the Afghan people have in our effort, and particularly in the effort of the Afghan Government to have a more accountable and – to be more accountable and responsive, to be able to provide for the security of their people and be able to deliver the kind of services that people in any democratic system should expect.
And so that is an important part of our whole effort. It’s – the military part is very important because all of these services can’t be provided unless people feel secure, and people will not believe in a democratic and more prosperous future unless they feel that they and their families are safe. So this is a very important part of our overall effort.
QUESTION: Many – just – I’m sorry, one more quick one. Many Afghans in Afghanistan feel that when they see billions of dollars going across the border elsewhere, but none of the money is coming to them or for them or whatever comes there may be going in the hands and pockets of the corruption. So how are you going to deal with this, that you do more for people as not only just security but also, I’m sure, financial and other they expect, like schools, and also you mentioned security and all that?
MR. KELLY: Well, I mean, we have a real responsibility not only to the Afghan people but to the American people to ensure that the money that we are investing in Afghanistan’s future ends up in the hands of the people for whom it’s intended. So I think that the effort in Afghanistan is probably one of the most comprehensive efforts we’ve undertaken in terms of ensuring that our assistance does end up in the right hands, and that there is a transparent and accountable process for the expenditure of money. So this is – you’ve pointed out another issue that we share these same kinds of concerns.
QUESTION: Aren’t they hoping to get commitments for, like, 10,000 troops out of NATO, though? Is there any concern about falling short of that?
MR. KELLY: Well, I don’t think there was any hard and fast target. And I think as I suggested earlier, I think that we – this is not an end figure. The 7,000, give or take, is not an end figure. We expect there to be more contributions as we get closer to the January donors conference.
QUESTION: Can I just follow up on that?
MR. KELLY: Yeah. Uh-huh.
QUESTION: Just more on these – on the troops, troops already there and troops committed and pledged. Some of those operate under various restrictions about how they can function.
MR. KELLY: Yeah.
QUESTION: How is that helpful in terms of contributing to the United States goals, if some of these existing and new troops are limited in where and how they can operate?
MR. KELLY: Well, our policy on this has been pretty clear that we think that any commander should be able to command these troops in the way that he or she feels appropriate, that they should be available for the kinds of missions that the commander sets. Having said that, there are many different roles that ISAF-contributing nations can play that – I mean, there’s a lot of need out there, I mean, not just for combat troops, but also more – in more of a stability-providing function. The need for trainers is really growing with the focus that we have on trying to transition to the Afghan National Army and the Afghan National Police providing for security.
So while we do feel that there’s these troops that come in should be, as we say, caveat free, caveat being the shorthand for restrictions that governments place on their troops, the number of missions for ISAF in many ways has grown, especially in areas that I just described, with training and sort of basic security and stabilization, providing security around provincial reconstruction teams, and that sort of function.
QUESTION: On the same topic. A number of the countries that are waiting until January to make their decisions on the contribution are waiting to see what sort of needs are going to be there and how far along – I’m sorry – how many Afghan troops they think will need to be trained, and that kind of thing. Can you tell us how and when those assessments will be made of the Afghan security forces and any other benchmarks that some of these countries are looking to see established before the January 28th conference?
MR. KELLY: I think it’d be difficult for me to give that kind of level of detail for you, Kirit. I think that’s something that General McChrystal and his team will have to provide. And I think that will be done within the NATO/ISAF context. I’m not trying to diminish the importance of that kind of review, but I just – I don’t have that kind of level of detail.
QUESTION: Well, what about other benchmarks on corruption, for example, or any other – more governance issues?
MR. KELLY: Yeah.
QUESTION: When and how will those assessments be made?
MR. KELLY: Well, we –
QUESTION: Before January 28th or not or --
MR. KELLY: Yeah. I don’t know if January 28th necessarily is the deadline for that. But as I suggested earlier, we want to make sure that the assistance that we provide and that other international donors provide is – that it ends up in the right place and it’s delivered in a very transparent and accountable way. I think one of the ways that we’re going to achieve this is by reviewing individual ministries in Kabul and ensuring that these ministries have real rock-solid accountability procedures in place that would minimize the risk of any money being diverted or not ending up in the place that –
QUESTION: Is there a timetable on assessment at all?
MR. KELLY: That’s a good question. I’m not sure that, again, that we have a firm timetable on that. I think I would just say that this is a real big priority for this Administration to try and work with the Afghans to develop these kinds of accountability procedures that any democratic government should have. And we are going ministry by ministry. We’ve certified already a number of them. I don’t have that list in front me, but we started doing that process.
QUESTION: Can we switch to Iran?
QUESTION: Just one more --
MR. KELLY: One more on Afghanistan?
QUESTION: So is it possible, with these numbers of Poland and Italy and these much heralded announcements, to say that these are caveat-free or sought to be caveat-free or --
MR. KELLY: I don’t know, Charley. I think that we’ll have to see how – exactly what kind of troops are provided, what roles they have. I’m not sure of the answer to that question.
QUESTION: You said the Europeans.
QUESTION: Well --
QUESTION: Did you not say that was in the EU Council meeting?
MR. KELLY: Yeah. I said the Secretary spoke with Lady Ashton about this EU Council meeting and the importance of having a discussion of next steps with Iran.
MR. KELLY: Well, she did meet with Foreign Minister Lavrov already. I mean, that was a brief meeting as I said. I think that meeting mostly focused on Afghanistan. I’m not sure, 100 percent, if they discussed Iran. I would not be surprised if they did. She also spoke by telephone with him earlier this week, so we have had discussions on Iran.
Bill Burns has regular – I won’t say daily, but regular frequent conversations with his political director counterparts. And I would expect that in China, he’ll have – he’s going to discuss a broad range of issues following up on the President’s trip to China, issues primarily, I think, focusing on economic issues, economic and trade, with Copenhagen next week. He’ll talk about some climate change issues. But of course, he’ll talk about Iran, too. I mean, this is a major focus right now of our Administration and it’s a pivotal time, of course, in our relationship with Iran. So I do expect him to talk about those issues.
QUESTION: Are there specific sanctions that are in the cards that are being discussed?
MR. KELLY: Well, Lach, we don’t – I’m not going to talk about what specific sanctions are in the cards.
QUESTION: No, but --
MR. KELLY: I mean, obviously, we are --
QUESTION: -- but there are --
MR. KELLY: We’re also – I mean, we’re looking at the – at both tracks and our attention, of course, is shifting as Iran has not given us a positive answer on the IAEA proposal. Our focus is shifting more towards the pressure track.
QUESTION: Without getting into the sanctions, though, are the five powers coalescing around sanctions?
MR. KELLY: You know --
QUESTION: Or any specific kind of sanctions?
MR. KELLY: I really – frankly, I don’t have that information. And even if I did, I don’t think I would tell you, to be perfectly honest.
QUESTION: I’m confused. Maybe my notes are wrong, so please if you could clear this up. She – meaning the Secretary – when she talked to Lady Ashton, she talked about a broad discussion of next steps with her? Or, what I thought you said was that at the EU meetings next week, there would be a broad discussion of --
MR. KELLY: I think what they talked about in the short readout I had was --
QUESTION: Well, maybe can you just repeat --
QUESTION: Can you repeat what you said at the top about – on that line?
MR. KELLY: Oh, I don’t have a prepared text that I used. But what --
QUESTION: Because what I thought you said --
MR. KELLY: What I understand --
MR. KELLY: Yes. We expect them to take up the issue of next steps --
MR. KELLY: -- on Iran.
QUESTION: Right. But the Secretary didn’t have that discussion with Lady Ashton or --
QUESTION: Right. But they didn’t --
MR. KELLY: Of the two meetings.
QUESTION: But they did not – they didn’t discuss the next steps that you know of?
MR. KELLY: They talked -- well, they talked about these two meetings which will – the EU --
QUESTION: Which will discuss the next steps?
MR. KELLY: -- is expected to --
QUESTION: All right. Okay. I just wanted to make sure I understand.
MR. KELLY: -- to have a written statement on Iran, so they talked about that.
QUESTION: Can I ask about the START treaty renewal? And can you give us kind of some insight as to what some of the sticking points still are, what has been agreed on, and just how much longer you think you’ll need to get a new deal?
MR. KELLY: Yeah. I can talk in general terms about it, Kirit. We don’t want to talk too specifically, because the negotiations are ongoing. But basically, we have made some good progress. I think it’s fair to say that we have a – kind of a basic framework, and the major provisions of the new treaty have been agreed. Both parties want to agree to a new treaty that fully corresponds to their national security interests as soon as they can. I think that you’ve seen that the two presidents have committed to coming up with a text by the end of this month. As with all negotiations, there have been some very robust discussions about some of the differences that we have. I’m not going to go into the details of those differences. But I think both sides agree that we need to resolve these in the next few weeks. They’re committed to working through this. The negotiations are going to continue at least through next week, maybe even beyond.
And I think you probably have also seen the joint statement that the two presidents, the two sides, put out, where both sides pledged not to take any measures that would undermine the strategic stability that START has provided during this period between the expiration of the START treaty, which will be at 7 p.m. tonight, midnight Greenwich Mean Time, between that period and the entry into force of the new treaty, which will take some months because it has to go through a ratification process both in the Russian Duma and here in the Senate.
QUESTION: And then just two things on that. So you don’t think that there will be anything ready to sign when the President’s in Europe next Friday – or next week, towards the end of the week? You don’t think he --
MR. KELLY: Well, I’m not going to preclude the possibility that we could have an agreed draft text by next week.
QUESTION: Okay. And then --
MR. KELLY: And I’m certainly not going to raise any kind of expectations that we will have it then.
QUESTION: And then I just want to ask because I know that, from my understanding, a number of your – the monitors, U.S. monitors at some of the sites have already left in anticipation of the expiration today.
MR. KELLY: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: With the signing of the extension or that joint statement extending it, are they going back now? Have they already gone back, do you know?
MR. KELLY: No. No, the ones that the – with the expiration of the START treaty, there has been a monitor team in place in Votkinsk --
MR. KELLY: -- which is where some missiles are --
QUESTION: And they’ve left already?
MR. KELLY: They have left. I think the last one left today.
QUESTION: And are they going back now with this extension?
MR. KELLY: There are no plans for them to go back.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) so they will go back when --
MR. KELLY: Well, that’s a very specific monitor.
QUESTION: Okay. But there will be monitors there?
MR. KELLY: But there – I mean, we have – we have means to be able to monitor the – what’s the right word – compliance with the treaty.
QUESTION: Satellites and so on?
MR. KELLY: We have national technical means.
QUESTION: Does everything – will everything under the current treaty will remain in force with the state – joint statement?
MR. KELLY: Not everything, no. I mean, there are certain things that legally must be rolled up, including this monitoring mission in Votkinsk. But we’re confident that we have the kind of measures in place to be able to monitor the compliance and monitor Russian strategic arms.
QUESTION: How do you spell that?
MR. KELLY: Spell what?
QUESTION: The place name where the --
MR. KELLY: V-o-t-k-i-n-s-k.
QUESTION: On Pakistan quick, another major attack on a mosque and scores of people died. Also, many Pakistans, what they’re asking even here and there that when there’s a rift between the prime minister and president, how can you have stability? What U.S. is doing as far as all these conflicts going on between the two leaders and among – and also the security problems?
MR. KELLY: Well, first of all, let me just make some comments on these awful attacks in Rawalpindi. We extend our sympathy to the victims of today’s attack in Rawalpindi and to the families and friends of those who lost their lives in these attacks. These attacks highlight the vicious and inhuman nature of this enemy, whose true target is the democratically elected Government of Pakistan and the security of all Pakistanis.
We don’t have any information of any Americans who were injured in this. And it just highlights the need for us to support the Government of Pakistan as they fight this common enemy and this common challenge that we have. And we will continue to support them as they fight this terrible scourge.
QUESTION: A question about General Gration’s testimony yesterday. I believe when Secretary Clinton announced the Sudan policy, she indicated that there was a classified annex that dealt with incentives and sanctions, but he said yesterday on the Hill that, in fact, there is no classified annex. Can you clarify that?
MR. KELLY: Yeah. Let me just clarify exactly what we’re talking about here. The Secretary – her reference to a classified annex was a reference to a body of certain classified documents that were used in the creation of the Sudan strategy that was approved by the interagency process. The Secretary and the Administration have authorized Special Envoy Gration to discuss all such documents with members of Congress and cleared staff, as we deem appropriate. So I think it’s just a matter of definition, annex or a body of documents, but she – there is a body of documents that are under classification.
QUESTION: But he’s not calling it an annex?
MR. KELLY: Well, he said what he said.
MR. KELLY: No, I didn’t get an answer to that. Basically, I think what we told you yesterday is our --
QUESTION: No, you told me nothing yesterday.
MR. KELLY: And we’re not going to tell you anything today either, because it’s a matter of policy we don’t discuss applications for asylum.
MR. KELLY: I don’t think it’s appropriate for me to discuss this case.
QUESTION: Oh? Can I ask why it wouldn't be appropriate?
MR. KELLY: I just --
QUESTION: Considering that you guys have taken a great interest in Uighurs and their protection.
MR. KELLY: Oh, we do. I mean, we – I’m not saying that we are not trying to diminish any particular case for asylum, without reference to this particular case.
QUESTION: Are you suggesting that the United States might be interested in offering asylum to these --
MR. KELLY: I’m not suggesting anything. I’m just saying it’s not productive for me to comment on this.
QUESTION: Well, I don’t understand why not. Surely you speak out when people are going to be – as a matter of policy, the Administration opposes sending prisoners and won’t send people to countries where they might be persecuted. So I don’t understand why it’s inappropriate for you to talk about this case, these 22 people.
MR. KELLY: I’m not going to talk about it, Matt.
QUESTION: Sorry, on Japan. Ambassador John Roos today, he expressed strong concerns to the Japanese Government regarding the latest development on the Futenma deal and about the pace of the review. Do you have anything further to say on this today?
MR. KELLY: Just that I know that the working group is meeting. It began meeting yesterday. And of course, it is headed by Ambassador John Roos. We have – there are some State Department personnel from Washington who are also participating in it. And we are happy to help the Japanese Government assist in this review of their policy.
(The briefing was concluded at 1:50 p.m.)
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