Daily Press Briefing - December 7
Index for Today's Briefing:
- Secretary Clinton attend the President's meeting with Prime Minister Erdogan at the White House
- Secretary Clinton hold meetings with Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal of Saudi Arabia and Foreign Minister Medelci of Algeria this afternoon
- Secretary Clinton will attend a reception for families of employees at unaccompanied posts at the State Department / U.S. Global Leadership Coalition / State Department in the 21st Century
- Amanda Knox case / Secretary Clinton is aware of Senator Cantwell's concerns / Will discuss with the Senator / The State Department has followed the case closely / Ms. Knox has the right to an appeal in the next 45 days
- Italy has its own judicial procedures
- SAUDI ARABIA
- Robust bilateral security relationship with Saudi Arabia
- Will discuss intensive cooperation in Afghanistan and Pakistan, Yemen, and Middle East peace
- Civilian contingent will be in full force by early 2010
- Headley case / Indictment in Chicago / Government of India briefed on Headley role in Mumbai attacks / Government of Pakistan briefed on Headley's activities in Pakistan
- CLIMATE CHANGE
- U.S. is committed to achieving strongest possible outcome / Special Envoy Stern is leading the delegation / Cabinet members will attend
- Seen reports about hacked e-mails / Concerned about anything that would undermine the outcome
- Protests in Iran / Reflects disregard for rights / Failure to uphold obligations under international human rights law
- International community has put forth a good proposal for Iran / Remains on the table / Do not want to see Iran develop nuclear weapons / Non-proliferation is an important priority for the Administration
- Important partner in regional security and stability issues / Understands the need for unity in supporting the international community's efforts to ensure Iran's compliance with Security Council and IAEA obligations
- Arrests in visa fraud case
- Welcome the acceptance of the new election law / Independent High Election Commission
- NORTH KOREA
- Ambassador Bosworth's travels to North Korea December 8 / Ensure resumption of Six-Party talks / Denuclearized Korean Peninsula / Will meet with appropriate North Korean officials /
- Met with officials in South Korea today
1:28 p.m. EST
MR. KELLY: Well, good afternoon. I hope you all had a good weekend. Just a few moments on the Secretary’s schedule, which is packed. She attended the bilateral meeting with Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan and is currently participating in the President’s lunch for the prime minister. After that, she returns here, has a couple of bilateral meetings, the first with the minister of foreign affairs of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and then with the minister of foreign affairs of the People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria.
She is hosting a reception tonight for families of employees who are serving in our hundreds of positions that are unaccompanied tour positions, and then she’s attending a tribute dinner hosted by the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition as the guest of honor. That’s at the Grand Hyatt Washington. And I think you probably know that the USGLC is a broad-based, nationwide coalition of 400 businesses and NGOs, national security and foreign policy experts, and faith-based academic and community leaders.
We expect that she will talk about the State Department in the 21st century. The – what we talk about is the three Ds – defense, diplomacy and development, and elevating our two parts of that triad, diplomacy and development.
And with that, I will take your questions.
MR. KELLY: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: I know the Secretary was asked yesterday about that and she said she hadn’t had a chance to look into it. I’m wondering (a) whether Senator Cantwell or anyone else has contacted the Secretary to get involved and (b) whether she’s now looked at the matter and has any interest in getting involved or any diplomatic, you know, action she has in mind.
MR. KELLY: Well, first of all, let me talk a little bit about what –the Department’s role in this case and other cases like it. As you know, the highest priority of this Department is the safety, welfare, and well-being of American citizens who are living abroad. In cases like these, we stay in close touch both with the American citizen who has been charged and also with the family of that individual. The role of our consular officers, in any (inaudible), is to ensure that – (a) that the person who is charged has access to legal counsel, and we keep lists of appropriate legal counsel at every embassy. And then as the process goes on, it is the responsibility of our consular officials to make sure that American citizens are treated fairly under local law.
In the case of Amanda Knox, the Secretary is aware of Senator Cantwell’s concerns. She looks forward to discussing these concerns with the senator. I just described to you what a busy schedule she has. It’s my understanding they haven’t had a chance to talk. She, like all of us, is following this case very closely and --
QUESTION: She meaning the Secretary?
MR. KELLY: The Secretary is following it closely.
QUESTION: She said yesterday she wasn’t following it at all, I think.
MR. KELLY: Well, she’s follow – I mean, given the interest of the senator and the outcome of the trial, it’s fair to say that she is following it closely now.
QUESTION: So is she going to meet with the senator or what’s the plan?
MR. KELLY: I’m not sure if she’s going to meet with her or have a telephone conversation, but she will talk to the senator, I’m sure.
QUESTION: But not today?
MR. KELLY: I’m not sure it’ll happen today, frankly.
QUESTION: Ian, you said that part of the job of consular officers is to ensure American citizens are treated fairly under local law?
MR. KELLY: Right.
QUESTION: Is it your belief that Amanda – excuse me, Amanda Knox was treated fairly under local law?
MR. KELLY: Well, I don’t have any indications to the contrary. I do know that our Embassy in Rome was very closely involved in this. They visited Amanda Knox. They have monitored the trial. They were present, I know, on Friday. Consular officers were present. I think at this point right now, it – the trial ended on Friday. We’re also looking ahead to the next step in this, which is an appeal. I guess she has 45 days to appeal her conviction to the court of appeals. And during this period, of course, consular officials will stay in close touch with her and with the family, and continue to monitor and provide assistance to both her and her family.
QUESTION: And just to define that, the next step with the appeal, what specifically does the U.S. or the Consular service do in terms of that appeal? Do they study it? They – you know, what concretely are they doing to analyze this?
MR. KELLY: Well, I think it’s our role as – our diplomatic role to ensure that American citizens are treated fairly and that they have access to appropriate legal counsel. And that will continue to be our role as this process plays out.
QUESTION: Well, Ian, just – you know, in some cases – granted, they’re not all the same – but in previous cases dealing with Americans, the State Department often is quite vocal and quite out there publicly in terms of commenting. It’s been quite noticeable that there’s been very little comment, and especially that statement yesterday by the Secretary that she was busy with Afghanistan and actually wasn’t able to be up on it.
I would like to ask why she wasn’t able to make at least some further statement. It almost seemed, if you had this mindset, that you could say that the Secretary just didn’t care as much about it and was following Afghanistan, but not really following this case as closely as perhaps she should have.
MR. KELLY: Yeah. Well, the Department has followed this case very closely. The Secretary was asked about the verdict in – the verdict in the trial that had ended something like 12 hours before. It doesn’t mean that we’re not going to have some kind of statement, as the process goes forward. As – but as I said before, our role is to ensure that any American citizen is treated fairly, according to local law. The Italian court system is not the same as the American court system. It’s still early days, but as I said, we haven’t received any indications necessarily that Italian law was not followed.
And just – also, I’d just like to point out that we – that this is a – it’s an ongoing process too. There is an – she has the right to an appeal the next 45 days. And something else that we always say is that we are not going to comment too much on an ongoing legal process, and it is an ongoing legal process.
QUESTION: Well, can I – a couple of things. First of all, are the State Department lawyers going to undertake a review of the details of the trial to make sure that she was treated fairly? Today, Senator Maria Cantwell spoke to a few of us. And she said that there was tainted evidence, that the jury was not sequestered, and that the prosecutor himself was questionable.
In addition, we also saw that the jury was kind of wearing, like, these tri-colored bands. And there was just a lot of furor in the Italian press, which indicated that she didn’t receive a fair trial. And you’re saying now that there were no indications that she was treated fairly. So none of these things up until now, have raised a red flag with you? Because if they had, as Jill said, in the past, you have kind of raised the red flag when you feel that some things in the trial are questionable. And we haven’t really heard anything from you on that.
MR. KELLY: Well, let me just say that Italy does have its own judicial procedures. It is a different legal system than our common law system. If there have been irregularities in this trial or in any trial, there is a process in place for those – those irregularities, as the defense counsel sees fit to raise them, raises them. And so it is – we need to let this process play out. I mean, this – Italy is a democratic country that has an established and transparent legal system. And as I said, we will monitor this, this procedure as it goes forward, to make sure that Amanda Knox enjoys all the rights that she’s entitled to under Italian local law.
QUESTION: Ian, Senator Cantwell also said today she hoped the State Department would look aggressively at the details of the case, just following up on Elise. And she said she is hopeful that Secretary Clinton will express concern about the case to the Italian Government. Is that in the cards for Secretary Clinton and the State Department?
MR. KELLY: Well, I – as I said before, the Secretary looks forward to talking to the senator and having a discussion with her, and then we’ll see where we go from there.
QUESTION: Well, what about the Italian Government, though?
MR. KELLY: I'm sorry? What about the Italian Government?
QUESTION: What about the Italian Government?
MR. KELLY: I’m not sure I understand.
QUESTION: Senator Cantwell hopes that Secretary Clinton will raise the case with the Italian Government.
MR. KELLY: Let’s let Senator Cantwell talk to the Secretary, and then we’ll see where we go from there. I think in general, though, I mean, we – as we always do, we will closely monitor the appeal process as it goes forward. That’s our proper role. The Italian Government has allowed our consular officers to sit in on these trials. They’ve given us regular consular access to Amanda Knox. And we’ll continue to play that kind of monitoring and supportive role.
QUESTION: A couple more things. First of all, you didn’t the answer question. Are the State Department lawyers going to take a review of the trial and make its own judgment whether or not due process was afforded according to Italian law in this case? And secondly, is your reluctance to say whether due process was afforded have anything to do with your presumption of Amanda Knox’s guilt?
MR. KELLY: Well, on that latter question, I --
QUESTION: Well, usually when there --
MR. KELLY: We have no presumption of her guilt.
QUESTION: You don’t think she was guilty?
MR. KELLY: Oh, man.
QUESTION: Well, usually when the --
MR. KELLY: Elise.
QUESTION: I’m sorry. Usually when there’s a case – there have been numerous cases of American citizens where you think that the trial was not fair and it was clearly a case in which the American citizen was not guilty. And I’ve heard you and other people --
MR. KELLY: Those are normally places where there isn’t a transparent judicial system. There is a fair, open, and transparent legal system in Italy. We’re not talking about a country where we have problems with their legal system. There – if there were irregularities with any case, in any court, anywhere, including in this country, there is an appeal process that’s set up to allow defense counsel to, in a court of law, before a jury of peers, to present what they feel were irregularities in that case. There will be that opportunity
QUESTION: And is there going to be a State Department review by State Department lawyers as to whether due process was afforded in the case?
MR. KELLY: No one has asked us to do that. And I’m not entirely sure it’s appropriate.
QUESTION: Senator Cantwell just asked for a State Department review of the facts of the case.
MR. KELLY: I have not seen that. And as I say, the Secretary --
QUESTION: She put out a – I think she put out a statement --
MR. KELLY: I’m sorry. I haven’t seen it.
QUESTION: Well, she put out a statement that asked for a review of the case.
MR. KELLY: Okay. Well, give her an opportunity to discuss this with Secretary Clinton.
QUESTION: Ian, you’re looking now towards the appeals process. I mean, in light of the verdict and the questions raised, are you throwing more staff, manpower, lawyers at the case to make sure that this --
MR. KELLY: Yeah.
QUESTION: -- appeal process goes --
MR. KELLY: Yeah. I think we’ve already --
QUESTION: -- better for her?
MR. KELLY: -- we’ve already given a lot of manpower and attention to the case. And yes, I think we will be looking to the next steps in this.
QUESTION: No, but you --
MR. KELLY: Yeah.
QUESTION: I mean, you’re going to increase the number of people? You’re going to engage --
MR. KELLY: Well, if it’s appropriate.
QUESTION: -- different lawyers or --
MR. KELLY: If it’s appropriate, we will.
QUESTION: Ian, there’s one other issue, which is the number you were talking about – manpower. The number of troops that Italy is giving to the fight in Afghanistan, can you definitely say that there is no connection between that decision, which would make it politically difficult for the United States to criticize Italy on anything?
MR. KELLY: Oh, I would really discourage you from making that connection at all. I mean, what I have just said is just based on the merits of – let me start over. What I just said is – I described to you our role, our appropriate diplomatic role, in any case where the legal system is deemed to be fair and transparent. And our role going forward will remain that no matter what the circumstances are in other areas of our relationship.
QUESTION: Can I just ask --
MR. KELLY: Yeah. Kirit.
QUESTION: -- one clarification? There’s a number of Italian press headlines today saying the Secretary has said that she will talk about anybody who has doubts about the outcome of the trial. Can you say whether that is an accurate representation of the Secretary’s views or what her views are?
MR. KELLY: Yeah. I saw the Italian media reports, and I think it was an issue of a not entirely accurate translation. I think you saw what the Secretary said. What they were referring to was her comments on ABC, as a matter of fact, when she said that I’ll meet with Senator Cantwell or anyone who has a concern. And I think that was translated – concern was translated into doubts. But that’s been what the Secretary has said so far on this.
QUESTION: Actually, I have two questions about another issue, is senior of the FBI, Mr. (inaudible), has said in an official meeting in New America Foundation that there is – or that FBI help Saudi Arabia against its peaceful political. So can you confirm or deny that?
And my question is about the conflict between Saudi Arabia and al-Houthi in Yemen borders. So is United States provide any help or any personnel, military personnel in this conflict?
MR. KELLY: The first instance, I’m not aware of that instance, so I think we’ll just have to see if we can get you more information on that. On the issue of the U.S. providing any military assistance to Saudi Arabia, I mean, clearly, that’s a question in terms of the details for the Department of Defense. Of course, we have a very robust bilateral security relationship with Saudi Arabia. But I’m not sure how that necessarily figures in their present conflict regarding Yemen.
You know, of course, the foreign minister is here today. This is part of our regular ongoing consultations with Saudi Arabia. We expect that they will talk about ways to intensify our cooperation in Afghanistan and also Pakistan, talk about Yemen and ways to promote peace and stability in Yemen, and also ways to promote and further a comprehensive peace settlement in the Middle East. And I know in that regard, he also plans to meet with Special Envoy Mitchell.
But on those other issues, we’ll – let’s see if we can get you more information.
Yeah. Lalit in the back.
QUESTION: Yeah, one question. The President last week announced sending 30,000 troops to Afghanistan. And is the State Department planning to send more civilians after that announcement, in addition to the 1,200 which was announced earlier?
MR. KELLY: I don’t think we’re planning to send more necessarily than we’ve already been planning for. I think the way that the announcement will affect our plans is where these troops will go. I mean, our mission remains the same in terms of helping Afghanistan build up its own capacity to deliver security and good government. But our plans continue. We hope to have a tripling of the number of civilians that we had with the baseline being earlier this year. We hope to have that by early next year. We originally wanted to have them there by March, but the response has been such that we’ve been able to move up our timetable by a couple of months.
And as we go forward, we’ll continue to evaluate the need. And I’m sure that with this newest surge in – this new surge in additional 30,000 troops, that that – we’ll have to do some reevaluating of where our civilian officers go in Afghanistan, because, of course, they will have to coordinate and cooperate closely with military personnel.
QUESTION: But with nearly a hundred thousand troops there, wouldn’t they be mismatched between the U.S. troops and the civilians that you are sending from here to --
MR. KELLY: Well, I think you can’t – I mean, you can’t really equate the two. I mean, Foreign Service officers don’t go in brigades or divisions. I think what you’ve got to look at is you’ve got to look at them as managers – managers both of experts who will come in, non-Foreign Service experts who will have various specialties in areas like economic development, agriculture, and engineering, other needs. And you also have to look at them as manager of programs as well. So it’s – you can’t look at them the same way. It’s very, very different kinds of activities, obviously.
QUESTION: One more question?
MR. KELLY: Yeah. Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: In the last couple of months, FBI has arrested several U.S. citizens or people living here who have been trained in Pakistan and planning to do lot of terrorist attacks other – in other parts of the world. FBI again today released fresh evidences of one former Pakistani retired general who was helping U.S. nationals in planning terrorist attacks in India and in Denmark. Is the State Department concerned about this? Has it raised this issue with Pakistan about links that the networks have here, trying to stop the U.S. nationals from doing this attack there?
MR. KELLY: Yeah. Well, obviously, our role is we – our role is to be the liaison with the governments who are concerned in these judicial issues. Let me just give you kind of an update of where we are with this. As you mentioned, there was an indictment and further charges in the case in Chicago. The U.S. Department of Justice and the FBI sent a briefing team that today shared with Indian law enforcement counterparts information disclosed by Headley relating to his alleged roles in the November 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks and his alleged role in plotting an attack in Denmark.
This visit reflects the President’s commitment to Indian Prime Minister Singh during his recent visit to cooperate closely on the case. We have also been cooperating or consulting closely with Pakistani authorities on this case as well, following the practices developed in previous high-profile counterterrorism investigations. After the meetings in New Delhi, this team of the Department of Justice and the FBI will travel directly to Islamabad to brief appropriate Pakistani security officials. We’re also working with Pakistani officials to follow up on leads regarding Headley’s activities in Pakistan.
Let me just conclude this by saying that Pakistan is a critical partner in the fight against terrorism. We are committed to building a long-term partnership with Pakistan – as the President has said, a long-term strategic relationship. And regarding further details of the case itself and the various legal aspects of it, of course, I have to refer you to Justice.
QUESTION: The Indian investigating agencies wants to question, interrogate Rana and Headley. Would the U.S. allow them to do that?
MR. KELLY: Well, again, I think that’s the kind of detail that I really have to refer you to the Department of Justice on.
QUESTION: And are you satisfied with the cooperation that you’re getting from Pakistani authorities in this case?
MR. KELLY: We – as I say, we have a very broad and deep relationship with Pakistan on a number of issues, including law enforcement and security issues.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MR. KELLY: Yeah. Jill.
MR. KELLY: Well – (laughter) – I’ve seen the news reports of the hacked emails. Let me just say that we’re committed to achieving the strongest possible outcome from the two-week climate change negotiation in Copenhagen. Our – the head of our delegation is Special Envoy for Climate Change Todd Stern, and our – his Deputy Special Envoy Jonathan Pershing is also there.
There will be several members of the Cabinet and senior White House officials who will attend the conference and speak there to highlight actions by the Administration and the leadership role the U.S. is taking in clean energy and combating climate change. The Cabinet officials include Secretaries of Agriculture, Commerce, Energy, Interior and the Administrator of the EPA, and also our Under Secretary for Global Affairs Maria Otero will attend.
But I know this – the emails are a big story, but beyond the press reports I’ve seen, I don’t really have any comment on how it affects our plans for --
QUESTION: Well, are you looking at them, studying them? They must go into your brief. People will be talking about it.
MR. KELLY: Yeah. I’ll see if we can get you more information.
QUESTION: Yeah. Well, could you also – I mean, is the U.S. – are you concerned about this? Are you helping with the investigation? I mean, what – you’re just kind of watching the press reports? But, I mean, this is a –
MR. KELLY: No, I’m just saying I’m watching the press reports. I’m not saying that nobody else in this Department is watching it.
QUESTION: No. I mean – I meant that the State Department is watching it.
MR. KELLY: I mean, obviously, we would be concerned about anything that would undermine a good outcome. The President is committed to it. He’s – he has committed to going to Copenhagen on December 18, and this is all part of our attempt to drive progress toward a comprehensive accord in Copenhagen.
QUESTION: Well, do you think that this is an effort to torpedo a good outcome in Copenhagen?
MR. KELLY: Well, I’m not sure. I know this is a very controversial and divisive subject, but I don’t have any information that somebody actually used it in an attempt to undermine the negotiations themselves.
MR. KELLY: Yeah. Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: Protests there today appear to be the largest since the summer. Are you – is the United States supporting these protestors? And how worried are you about an escalation of violence?
MR. KELLY: Well, I think in terms of your latter point, I think that what we’ve said all along is that the Iranians have to know that these kinds of brutal attempts to suppress people who are trying to exercise their democratic rights – that we will continue to bear witness to it publicly. And they should know that their voices are being heard. We believe that the continued harassment, arbitrary detention, and conviction of individuals for their participation in peaceful demonstrations and expression of their views reflects a kind of disregard for the kind of rights that are enshrined in the Iranian constitution.
And it’s not just us; it’s not just the U.S. I think the – most of the international community has expressed concerns over the deteriorating human rights situation in Iran and the government’s failure to uphold its obligations under international human rights law.
QUESTION: Have – these latest protests have disturbed you? Any red flags coming up here? Can you point to --
MR. KELLY: Well, I think we’re disturbed any time we see people who are trying to exercise their peaceful democratic rights being prevented from doing so by means of cutting off their access to information, cutting off their ability to communicate their views, and by arbitrary arrest and detention.
QUESTION: So there’s nothing specific to condemn in how the Iranian Government is handling these demonstrations?
MR. KELLY: Well, it’s a pretty fluid situation. I don’t – but I think in general, we’re concerned with the crackdown that we’re seeing today.
QUESTION: Is there any worry that a resurgence of demonstrations could complicate Iran’s efforts to get a response together for the P-5+1 proposal?
MR. KELLY: Well, I think what we’re seeing is a – there are a lot of – there’s a lot of voices in Iran right now. It’s a challenging political situation, obviously. But as I’ve said many times from here, the international community has put a very good proposal on the table for the Iranian Government, one that addresses our concerns and addresses their legitimate humanitarian concerns. And we just hope that they’ll find a way to say yes to it.
QUESTION: But I mean, in addition to that, I mean, doesn’t the Iranian Government’s continued disregard for the human rights of its people and this continued crackdown on the protestors give you pause about your own engagement with Iran, considering, I mean, this is a country that isn’t upholding – not only isn’t upholding the kind of values and principles that you hold dear, but in other countries where – like China or Saudi Arabia, for instance, where they don’t necessarily respect the rights of their people, you have a dialogue with them about it. In this case, you have absolutely no dialogue and no way to improve it, yet they continue to disregard the human rights. So this gives you no pause about your own engagement?
MR. KELLY: Well, I think – I mean, clearly, the issue of proliferation is one of the top priorities of this Administration. That’s why we have made a very conscious effort to try and engage the Iranian leadership. That’s why we agreed to sit down with them on October 1st and make an offer that would address some of these concerns. I mean, clearly we’re disappointed they haven’t been able to give us a positive answer to that very fair proposal. It wasn’t just our proposals – the proposal of the IAEA and France and Russia as well.
QUESTION: Yet --
MR. KELLY: But all along, I mean, we have had a dual-track policy. And the President has said we will give Iran, without setting a real strict deadline, more or less, to the end of the year.
QUESTION: No, I know --
MR. KELLY: And then we’ll have to look at our options.
QUESTION: I understand. But that’s on the nuclear issue. There was also the issue of the U.S. engaging in some kind of full-scale relationship with Iran, not just on the nuclear issue but on other things, more of a bilateral engagement which transcended the nuclear issue, but on kind of issues about the region and other things like that. Are you saying that it’s only about proliferation now and --
MR. KELLY: I think it really is about proliferation in terms of our engagement. I mean, clearly we have other --
QUESTION: And then that would have no --
MR. KELLY: We have concerns about other aspects --
QUESTION: I understand.
MR. KELLY: -- of their foreign policy, their support for terrorism --
QUESTION: I understand. So if I get you right, what you’re saying is your primary concern about Iran is proliferation, and the human rights and kind of disregard for the protestors doesn’t have any bearing on your decision to engage with Iran on the nuclear?
MR. KELLY: I don’t think I said that.
QUESTION: Well, I mean, I’m reading what you’re saying. I mean, it sounds like regardless of how it treats its people, you have no intention of dropping your kind of two-track diplomacy on the nuclear issue?
MR. KELLY: No, I didn’t say that at all. What I’m saying is, is that we have concerns about Iran and its treatment of its own people. Iran says that there needs to be more justice in international affairs. Well, they have to show justice at home before we can take that particular statement seriously. It’s all part of a continuum.
But again, the – one of the most important priorities of this Administration is nonproliferation --
QUESTION: I understand.
MR. KELLY: -- and in particular, preventing Iran from developing a nuclear weapons program.
QUESTION: So – I understand that. So regardless of what is going on on the human rights front, you have no intention of dropping your kind of two-track diplomacy in Iran? I mean, you’re not relating the two at all? I mean --
MR. KELLY: Well, we are. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: How are you?
MR. KELLY: Well, I --
QUESTION: How are they related? If you’re saying that Iran – proliferation is the number one concern of this Administration and you need to – I mean, I’m not making a judgment of whether it’s right or wrong. I’m just trying to get you to be clear about the fact that the nuclear issue is your sole priority and --
MR. KELLY: It’s not our sole priority. It’s --
QUESTION: Well, not your sole priority --
MR. KELLY: It’s one of our top priorities.
QUESTION: -- but your top priority. And you know, your decision on whether or not to engage Iran on the nuclear issue is not affected by what’s going on with this human rights situation.
MR. KELLY: Well, okay, let me just be really clear. We have real problems with Iran’s support for terrorism. As I’ve just said, we have problems with the continued harassment of individuals who try and exercise their democratic right, and we’re going to speak out against that no matter where it is. So that’s one thing.
Another thing is that we do not want to see Iran develop a nuclear weapons capability. That is our – in our direct national interest not to allow that. And that is why we are working very closely with the other members of the UN permanent council and also with Germany and the IAEA to try and prevent them from doing it. They’re related, but they’re separate efforts.
QUESTION: I have a question about the Turkish prime minister here in Washington today, and Turkey has a different approach to Iran than the United States. It doesn’t seem to share your concerns about their nuclear capability or indeed their human rights record. Is Turkey’s position on Iran a problem for the United States? What is the message to the Turkish prime minister now? And there’s also been a suggestion that Turkey would like to set itself up as some sort of middleman in the relationship. Is there any role for Turkey to play in the current sort of stalemate between the U.S. and Tehran?
MR. KELLY: Well, I think first of all, Turkey is a vital ally in NATO. It’s also an important partner of the U.S. in regional security and regional stability issues. They’ve played a very productive role in the Middle East and they’ve played a productive role in some of the talks with Israel and Syria. They’ve had a strategic relationship with Israel, and that’s gone on for many years.
They – I think Turkey understands that – the need for unity in supporting the international community’s efforts to ensure Iran’s compliance with its Security Council and IAEA obligations. And we take every opportunity to urge that Turkey continue to play that role in conveying that message to Iran. I mean, Iran is a neighbor of Turkey and Iran has full diplomatic relations with Turkey. And we consult very, very closely with Turkey as they have these diplomatic exchanges and consultations with Iran.
QUESTION: Would you characterize their stance as productive vis-à-vis Iran? Is it a productive role that they’re playing here?
MR. KELLY: I think that Turkey understands that it’s not in their interests as well as the interests of the international community that Iran develop a nuclear weapons capability. I think they’re interested in playing a role in helping us come to a diplomatic resolution of this problem.
QUESTION: Would the U.S. like Turkey to be more vocal in its stating of this common urge not to have Iran develop nuclear weapons? You want them to get out in front on this one?
MR. KELLY: Well, I think we would urge all of our allies to convey a consistent message and convey a vocal message, yes.
QUESTION: Ian, on a different issue, there was a – there were a number of arrests this morning in Brazil and other places on a visa fraud case. Can you discuss either that case to the extent you know about it? Also, how big a problem worldwide is visa fraud for the Department --
MR. KELLY: Yeah.
QUESTION: -- and whether you consider this a criminal issue, or is this an issue of national security?
MR. KELLY: I know we were working on something on that, Charlie. But I don’t think – well, I know I didn’t get it in time for this briefing. But I know there’s something – know that there’s an official Diplomatic Security/Consular Affairs stance on this. And so we’ll get it to you after the briefing.
QUESTION: Any comments or salutation to the Bolivian election where Evo Morales was reelected 63 percent?
MR. KELLY: Again, I think we’re going to have something after this briefing, so stay tuned.
Yes, in the back.
QUESTION: Ian, thank you. May I squeeze off two quick questions? First of all, does the State Department have any reaction to the Iraqi agreement on elections? We’re just hearing now that the election will be either the 27th of February or the 6th of March and the decision will be made tomorrow.
MR. KELLY: Yes, I do have something. We welcome the approval of the revised election law by the Iraq Council of Representatives yesterday. This action paves the way for Iraq to hold national elections in 2010, in accordance with Iraq’s constitutional framework. We see it as an important and positive step for the development of democracy. And we can commend the Iraqi political leaders for negotiating seriously to reach an agreement on the law. We look to the Independent High Election Commission to ensure transparency in election procedures, and to take the necessary steps to create and maintain informed citizenry.
QUESTION: And just one other question that hasn’t come up so far. Stephen Bosworth, the Special Representative for North Korea, is going over tomorrow. We’re doing a piece on that tomorrow. What does the State Department hope that he might achieve on his visit? What can he possibly achieve with this?
MR. KELLY: Well, I mean, we have a – it’s a very simple agenda that we’re going to – that – Stephen Bosworth is going to Pyongyang with. And that’s that we are having these talks to ensure a resumption of the Six-Party Talks and to reaffirm the September 2005 joint statement and its goal of complete and verifiable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. So it’s a very, very simple agenda.
He met today with some South Korean officials – Foreign Minister Yu, Special Representative for Korean Peninsula Peace and Security Affairs Ambassador Wi Sung-lac and National Security Advisor Kim Sung-hwan. And as you say, they are – they’re going to Pyongyang tomorrow. We hope to have a background briefing for you in about 20 minutes.
QUESTION: But what would you judge to be success for him, if – on this trip?
MR. KELLY: I meant to get to that a little earlier. I’m sorry. Well, let’s – clearly, our goal is the resumption of the Six-Party Talks. This is an important meeting, but I’m not going to say that this is a be-all and end-all meeting. But it’s – it is an important meeting.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) said today that Bosworth is taking with him a new proposal. They’re calling it a roadmap to disarmament. Do you have any comment on that?
MR. KELLY: I have no information about any kind of roadmap.
MR. KELLY: Yeah. Go ahead.
QUESTION: There’s certainly some reporting –
MR. KELLY: Well, wait a second, Dave. Same subject? Go ahead.
QUESTION: Same subject.
QUESTION: Is Ambassador Bosworth seeking a meeting with Kim Jong-il?
MR. KELLY: He is seeking a meeting with appropriate officials. I don’t think he’s meeting – seeking a meeting with Kim Jong-il.
QUESTION: No? Okay.
MR. KELLY: Dave.
QUESTION: Will he entertain a conversation with the North Koreans about their longstanding desire for a peace framework with the United States? There’s some reporting that, yes, he’ll – you know, he’ll try to get them to resume the Six-Party Talks, but he’s willing to talk about this broader –
MR. KELLY: No, that’s not. On our agenda. I think he knows it was in the context of the Six-Party Talks. There are arrangements for bilateral working groups, so that would be the appropriate venue for that.
QUESTION: Yeah. What’s on the agenda for the Secretary’s meeting with the Algerian foreign minister?
MR. KELLY: Yeah. Thanks for asking. Yes, she’s meeting with Mourad Medelci, as you know, this afternoon. They will consult on a wide range of issues, including bilateral and regional issues. They’ll also discuss expanding U.S.-Algeria cooperation in various multilateral fora. The foreign minister also plans to meet with Under Secretary Hormats and Coordinator for Counterterrorism, Ambassador Daniel Benjamin.
So thank you.
(The briefing was concluded at 2:12 p.m.)
DPB # 206
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