Daily Press Briefing - November 4
Index for Today's Briefing:
- Notice of meeting of European Union Ministerial and Energy Council
- Statement on expulsion of diplomats in Fiji and U.S. condemnation / U. S. wants to see restoration of Fiji's independent judiciary and rights to free speech and assembly
- Disappointed by verdicts against Americans and Italians charged for alleged involvement in the case involving Egyptian cleric Abu Omar
- Expect case will continue in litigation / Have not had opportunity to review judge's written opinion
- U.S. has no plans to establish a U.S. base in Colombia
- Cooperate with Colombia on issues related to counternarcotics and interoperability in that regard
- NORTH KOREA
- Willing to have bilateral talks if talks are conducted in context of and lead to resumption of Six-Party Talks
- Believe North Korea has to abide by the commitments that it made in 2005 to give up its nuclear weapons
- U.S. regards President Karzai as the legitimate elected president of Afghanistan
- Independent Election Commission declared Hamid Karzai the winner / Results are certified by the Independent Election Commission
- A/S Campbell and DAS Scot Marciel concluded two-day visit, had extensive meetings with the government, democratic opposition, ethnic groups, and others
- Visit was meant to underscore U.S. call for the government to have a dialogue with the opposition
- Position from beginning has been that we consider what happened in June to be a coup
- Focus now is on implementing process and creating an environment wherein Hondurans can address issue of restitution
- U.S. member on verification commission is Labor Secretary Solis / Embassy very involved / Commission has met with leaders from various sectors to discuss implementation of the accord
- The Honduran Congressional leadership, Supreme Court, Human Rights Ombudsman, and the Attorney General must all move forward and make a decision on the restitution of President Zelaya
- Congratulate Prime Ministers on this important agreement / Hope this ratification moves through quickly / This outcome is in best interests of both countries and the region
- The U.S. continues to be committed to a two-state solution
- No deadline regarding Okinawa Base Agreement / Believe agreement we have is best way forward
- MIDDLE EAST
- Discussions regarding the Goldstone Report continuing in the UN General Assembly
- U.S. committed to coming up with a way to address the root causes of the tragedy in Gaza last January
1:32 p.m. EST
MR. KELLY: Deputy Secretary Steinberg hosted an EU ministerial meeting this morning. He was joined by Swedish Foreign Minister Bildt, EU High Rep Solana, and the EU Commissioner Ferrero-Waldner, and Ambassador Jonas Hafstrom to discuss a wide range of strategic issues, including developments in the Balkans, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, and the Middle East.
The Deputy Secretary was then joined by Energy Secretary Chu to launch the inaugural meeting of the U.S.-EU Energy Council. The Deputy Secretary and Energy Secretary Chu were also joined by Swedish Deputy Prime Minister Olofsson, Swedish Foreign Minister Bildt, EU High Representative Solana, EU Commissioner Ferrero-Waldner, EU Commissioner Piebalgs, EU Commissioner Potocnik – two more – State Secretary for Energy Pedro Marin Joao Vale de Almeida and State Secretary Altera to discuss energy security, markets, and policy and research cooperation.
Also, I'd like to read a short statement. The United States deplores the decision by Fiji's de facto government to expel New Zealand's acting head of mission, as well as Australia's high commissioner. This latter act is unprecedented in that Australia now holds the chairmanship of the Pacific Islands Forum. These actions have undermined any opportunity for progress toward reengagement and constructive dialogue with its neighbors. The United States calls for the restoration of Fiji's independent judiciary and the rights to free speech and assembly that are essential to the country's return to democracy.
QUESTION: Exactly what's the U.S. connection there? The Government of Fiji expels diplomats from Australia and New Zealand, and you care because --
MR. KELLY: We care because we care about the restoration of democracy in Fiji. Last April, they – the President abolished the constitution --
MR. KELLY: -- and dismissed all judges and constitutional appointees and imposed emergency rule.
QUESTION: Yeah, that happened. But the operative word being there last when? Operative words? Last --
MR. KELLY: April.
QUESTION: April, okay. And so --
MR. KELLY: I mean, we have an interest in democracy returning to Fiji.
QUESTION: Well, I understand. But what does the expulsion of the diplomats from Australia and New Zealand have to do with the restoration of democracy?
MR. KELLY: It was – we consider it be an unjust act to expel them out of the country.
MR. KELLY: We are disappointed by the verdicts against the Americans and Italians charged in Milan for their alleged involvement in the case involving Egyptian cleric Abu Omar. The judge has not yet issued a written opinion, so we're not in a position to comment further on the decision. And because the case is ongoing and will probably be appealed, I can't comment on the specifics of the case.
QUESTION: How is it – just in terms of kind of their status now, if indeed they're considered international fugitives, how does that work in terms of you dealing with other countries to ensure that – if they're overseas somewhere that they're not extradited to Italy?
MR. KELLY: Well, first of all, I mean, the verdict was just handed down today. We do anticipate that it will be appealed. We consider that this is ongoing litigation, so I don't think you can characterize them in one way or another in terms of their status, their international status as fugitives or otherwise. As I said, we – the U.S. is disappointed by this, and we expect that the case will be – it will continue to be in litigation.
QUESTION: Can you talk – can you tell us about what the State Department's role is or was? I presume you had someone there, maybe even someone that we know, sitting in the courtroom.
MR. KELLY: I don't know the answer to that, Matt. Whether or not we had somebody in the courtroom, you mean?
MR. KELLY: I don't know. I don't know if we did or not.
QUESTION: And what about the question of diplomatic immunity? Several – three of the American defendants were acquitted based on the fact that someone had claimed diplomatic immunity for them. Was that the U.S.?
MR. KELLY: I don't know these details, Matt. I'm sorry. In terms of diplomatic immunity, I think that we'd have to see the details of the decision to see what our options are. But again, it is – we consider it to be ongoing litigation. And I don't think we've had a chance to see the judge's written opinion either.
QUESTION: Well, could you take the question, though, that the U.S. invoked diplomatic immunity for these three individuals?
MR. KELLY: Did we invoke diplomatic immunity for – which individuals do we mean?
QUESTION: The ones that now --
QUESTION: The three --
MR. KELLY: The three who were acquitted, you mean?
QUESTION: The three who were acquitted. And as you probably know, one of the defendants, who was convicted, who you didn't claim diplomatic immunity for, sued the State Department to try to get them – you – to invoke diplomatic immunity. What's the status of that?
MR. KELLY: I'm not sure. The – so this would be a good taken question then. We'll see whether or not we did invoke diplomatic immunity for the three who were acquitted, and we'll check into the status of this – of the woman that you mentioned who's raised a court case.
QUESTION: Can you just spell out why the U.S. is disappointed?
MR. KELLY: Well, I don't want to get too much into the specifics of the case. There's a number of legal issues involved here. There are issues regarding bilateral treaties that we have with Italy. And I – Lach, I'm sorry, I'm just – I can't get into the details of the specifics of the case.
QUESTION: A Pentagon document presented to Congress in May of 2009 reveals that one of the reasons for the military agreement between U.S. and Colombia was to provide a full spectrum operation center – and I'm quoting – where the U.S. security and stability is under threat by anti-U.S. governments. It also talks about the possibility of a full-scale military operation if needed.
This basically contradicts everything U.S. officials and Colombian officials have been saying about this agreement. So how do you respond to this? Who are these anti-U.S. governments in Latin America?
MR. KELLY: Well, I don't know what document you're referring to.
QUESTION: It is the military construction program fiscal year 2010 budget estimates --
MR. KELLY: That sounds like --
QUESTION: -- by the Air Force.
MR. KELLY: That sounds like something you'd have to refer to the Defense Department about. I know that we have an agreement with Colombia. It doesn't provide us with any kind of bases in Colombia. It provides us with an opportunity to cooperate with Colombia in some issues related to counternarcotics and interoperability in that regard. But you're asking me about a Defense Department document that not only haven't I seen, but the State Department doesn't have any jurisdiction over.
QUESTION: But it's basically contradicting what the U.S. State Department has stated.
MR. KELLY: It may or it may not. But I – you really have to address that question to the Defense Department.
MR. KELLY: Yes.
QUESTION: North Korea is insisting they are coming to Six-Party Talks, but they do not give up nuclear program and also do not return to NPT. Under these circumstances, will the United States continue bilateral talks with North Korea?
MR. KELLY: Well, I don't know what statements that you're referring to. But I mean, you know what our policy is in this regard, that we are committed to the Six-Party process. We are willing to have bilateral talks with the North Koreans if these talks are conducted in the context of the Six-Party Talks and if they lead to the resumption of the Six-Party Talks. Regarding the – regarding nuclear weapons in North Korea, our policy is also clear there, that we believe that North Korea has to abide by the commitments that it made in 2005 to give up its nuclear weapons. And our policy just couldn’t be clearer in that regard.
QUESTION: But they like only talks, but don’t want to give up nuclear weapons. That’s a problem.
MR. KELLY: That is a problem.
QUESTION: Ian, follow-up on that. Then is it possible that U.S. have bilateral meeting with North Korea before they agree to abide by its commitment previously made in 2005 and 2007, which includes the total complete abandonment of their weapons and program also? Is it possible?
MR. KELLY: Well, that’s our goal. And we have said that we’re willing to reengage, as well as our partners in the Six-Party process have said they’re willing to reengage, to get North Korea to abide by its commitments.
QUESTION: Yeah, but can --
MR. KELLY: So we are willing to engage and with the stated purpose of getting to that state of the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
QUESTION: Yeah, but can you enter the bilateral meeting before you get the assurance from North Korea that they’ll abide by that commitment?
MR. KELLY: Yeah. You’re asking me to speculate. I can’t answer that question.
QUESTION: So just to kind of clarify what these reports are that the U.S. and North Korea agreed to talk, the U.S. and North Korea have agreed on the framework or the kind of logistics of how meetings would work, if and when the UN – U.S. decided that it’s ready to talk to North Korea, which it hasn’t officially decided.
MR. KELLY: I am not going to discuss the contents or substance of talks that we’ve had. We have had some talks with North Korea. Ambassador Kim has. And I’ll just reiterate that we are willing to sit down with North Korea, if it leads to the resumption of the Six-Party Talks. But –
QUESTION: So why don’t you?
MR. KELLY: Well, we haven’t made the decision to do it.
QUESTION: We – but you just said that you’ve decided that you would talk to North Korea if it would lead to the resumption of talks.
MR. KELLY: If –
QUESTION: So have you not got – is that what you haven’t gotten? You haven’t gotten the assurances –
MR. KELLY: We have not – well we –
QUESTION: You’re totally contradicting yourself.
MR. KELLY: (Laughter.) I don’t think I am.
QUESTION: I think you are.
MR. KELLY: I just said that we will have a bilateral discussion with them, if this discussion will lead to the resumption of the Six-Party Talks.
QUESTION: Well, how are you going to know until you sit down? Do you mean it has –
MR. KELLY: How will we know until we sit down? But we have sat down with them.
QUESTION: Well – but how are you going to know that when you say if it would lead to talks, that’s – I mean, if – how do you address the if so that you could sit down?
MR. KELLY: Well, we are – we’re having --
QUESTION: Do you need assurances before the meeting takes place?
MR. KELLY: – we’re having those deliberations right now. And when the time is right, we will make our decision.
QUESTION: So it sounds like you’re saying that basically you need certain assurances from North Korea before you would sit down – assurances that it would lead to Six-Party Talks?
MR. KELLY: Well, we certainly don’t want to have talks that don’t lead to any sort of significant discussions. So --
QUESTION: Well, you’re doing a good job on that in the Middle East. So -- (Laughter.)
QUESTION: Can I ask you a question?
MR. KELLY: Other questions?
QUESTION: One more –
MR. KELLY: Lalit. Lalit’s had his hand up for awhile.
QUESTION: On Sri Lanka. There are reports in the Sri Lankan media about cautioning a Sri Lankan senior official here in the U.S. about war crimes allegations. Has any senior official been – Sri Lankan official been questioned here in this country about the war crime allegations there?
MR. KELLY: Not by the State Department.
QUESTION: By the Homeland? Any other department?
MR. KELLY: I think any questions related to the Department of Homeland Security has to be addressed to the Department of Homeland Security.
MR. KELLY: Yes.
QUESTION: Dr. Abdullah Abdullah has raised a question mark about the legality of Karzai winning the elections. What’s your view on it? Is it going to further deepen the situation – crisis over there?
MR. KELLY: Well, I mean, our position on this is clear. We believe that there was an election that was carried out according to Afghan law. We recognize Hamid Karzai as the legitimately elected president of Afghanistan. We respect Dr. Abdullah very much. We hope that he stays engaged in the political process and plays a part in the dialogue and the political life of his country. But our position is is that Hamid Karzai is the legitimately elected president of Afghanistan.
QUESTION: Can we stay in Asia?
MR. KELLY: Go ahead, Matt.
QUESTION: Well, I –
MR. KELLY: Is there anything else on Afghanistan?
QUESTION: Yeah. His coming out against these elections, reflect a large section of this Afghan society’s not accepting Karzai as the legal president of the country.
MR. KELLY: Well, again, we greatly respect Dr. Abdullah, and we think that he conducted a very spirited campaign. We respect him for his ideas. But we believe that Hamid Karzai is the legitimately elected leader of Afghanistan.
QUESTION: Well, how can you say that he was the legitimately elected leader, because the election commission or the complaints commission found enough fraud to say that he wasn’t legitimately elected?
MR. KELLY: They didn’t say that.
QUESTION: Yes, they – well, they said that there was enough fraud that he didn’t win the amount of votes that would make him the legitimately elected leader. And so there was going to be a runoff to decide whether he was, in fact, legitimately elected, and then there was no runoff. So is – if you – do you determine that, like an election that was riddled with fraud and corruption, produced a legitimately elected leader?
MR. KELLY: Well, look, every step along the way, the Afghan institutions who were running these elections followed the procedures as established by Afghan law. And Hamid Karzai won a plurality of the votes. He didn’t make the 50 percent mark because all of these votes that were considered to be suspect or outright fraudulent were thrown out. It was determined that they should have a runoff. And one of the candidates in the runoff withdrew. And the Independent Election Commission at that point saw no reason to continue with a one-man election, and declared Hamid Karzai the winner. I don’t think anybody is contesting the right of the Independent Elections Commission to so rule. There is a process.
QUESTION: But some would have said that they would have preferred that the Supreme Court or the Independent Election Complaints Commission were to also kind of endorse that ruling, which I don’t believe they did.
MR. KELLY: Well, I don’t think that’s required under Afghan law.
QUESTION: So basically, he won by default --
MR. KELLY: There is a process for –
QUESTION: -- because Abdullah withdrew. But I mean, he wasn’t legitimately elected in the first round, so how can you say it’s – I mean, if you want to call him the president of Afghanistan, that’s fine, but do you really believe he was legitimately elected?
MR. KELLY: Yes, I do believe he was legitimately elected.
QUESTION: But he wasn’t legitimately elected in the first --
MR. KELLY: According to Afghan law --
QUESTION: Well, according to Afghan –
MR. KELLY: -- the results are certified by the International Election Commission. And within – there is a right for individuals to contest those decisions, and within, I think, three days, but after those three days the results are considered legitimate. I mean, this was an election that, first of all, was led by Afghan institutions --
QUESTION: I’m not disputing that.
MR. KELLY: -- at Afghan law – at no point was Afghan law ever contravened.
QUESTION: Except when there was fraud.
QUESTION: It’s presumably against the law to stuff ballot boxes and commit other such --
QUESTION: It should be.
MR. KELLY: Well, that is against the law. You’re right. At no point were any of these elections – did they violate – that means election results violate the – the election – the Afghan election law was scrupulously followed. I mean, we can argue this for hours, if you want.
QUESTION: Can we move on?
MR. KELLY: Matt.
MR. KELLY: Yes. Assistant Secretary Campbell and his deputy, Scot Marciel, just concluded a two-day visit to Burma. They had extensive meetings with the government, democratic opposition, and with ethnic groups and others. This was an exploratory mission designed to explain to key stakeholders inside the country the result of the U.S. policy review toward Burma and the strategic goals that the review underscored: strong support for human rights; the release of all political prisoners, including Aung San Suu Kyi; and the pursuit of democratic reform.
QUESTION: So – is there more?
MR. KELLY: There’s more. They had meetings with representatives of a number of ethnic groups, as I said, and also a two-hour meeting with Aung San Suu Kyi at a hotel. They reaffirmed our support for dialogue between the government and the opposition. The goal of such dialogue would be a national reconciliation and a fully inclusive political process in Burma.
They had meetings with the government as well, including the prime minister, the minister of information, the minister of science and technology, and others. In those meetings, the assistant secretary again stated that the U.S. is prepared to take steps to improve the bilateral relationship, but it will be a step-by-step process and must be based on reciprocal and concrete efforts by the Burmese Government.
QUESTION: Did they ask for or demand Aung San Suu Kyi’s release?
MR. KELLY: We have consistently called for her release.
QUESTION: Yeah, I know. From here. I just want to know if you – if they --
MR. KELLY: I – well, I --
QUESTION: -- reiterated that in person.
MR. KELLY: I feel confident in saying that they did reiterate that in person.
QUESTION: And what was the response?
MR. KELLY: I don’t have a readout of their response.
QUESTION: On Burma.
MR. KELLY: Uh-huh.
QUESTION: Does the U.S. intend to mediate between the government and the democratic leaders to come --
MR. KELLY: We have no plans to mediate. As I say, this is a step-by-step process. We – this visit was primarily meant to underscore our call for the government to have a dialogue with the opposition. But we want to see the Burmese Government start taking some concrete steps towards such a dialogue.
QUESTION: The Burmese Government has been insisting on lifting of sanctions before they can take some steps towards dialogue and some other (inaudible).
MR. KELLY: Yeah, I think you know our policy about sanctions is that we need to see some specific steps before we’ll consider that.
MR. KELLY: On Honduras. Yeah.
QUESTION: Mr. Zelaya sent Secretary Clinton a letter asking whether there’s been any change in the U.S. position regarding his restoration prior to elections at the end of November. Has there been a response and has there been a change in the policy? Mr. Lagos, the co-chairman of the verification commission said when he arrived in Tegucigalpa that he has to be restored. So the question is: Must that be a condition for the elections to go ahead and be recognized as legitimate?
MR. KELLY: Well, I think about the letter to Secretary Clinton, I understand that he did send a letter asking for the Secretary to clarify the U.S. position regarding the coup. And our position has been very clear from the very beginning that we did consider what happened in June in Honduras to be a coup. We’ve made our position on President Zelaya and his restitution clear. This is a – we believe he should be restored to power. This is now a Honduran process that was started by the agreement over the weekend.
Our focus now is on implementing this process and creating an environment wherein the Hondurans themselves can address the issue of restitution and resolve for themselves this Honduran problem. We are committed to the agreement. We’re committed to its implementation. We’ll continue to assist and support the implementation process, but it’s up to the Hondurans to actually carry through.
I think you’ve heard that U.S. officials have arrived in Tegucigalpa. It’s – we have a member on the verification commission. They arrived yesterday. Our representative is Labor Secretary Solis. They held a formal installation ceremony yesterday, and the commission has been meeting with leaders from various sectors of Honduras to discuss the implementation of the accord.
QUESTION: But my question is whether the U.S. interpretation of the agreement is that Mr. Zelaya must be restored to office prior to holding the elections.
MR. KELLY: I’m sorry. I’d just like to really emphasize this is – we’ve now – I mean, we were happy that we played a role in mediating this, mediating this dialogue between the two sides. This is now a Honduran process. We will continue to play a supportive and facilitative role, but it’s not for us to interpret the agreement. We want to help the process along, but this is going to be a Honduran process. The next step in it is for the congress to approve it, in consultation with the judiciary. And so we’re going to stay very interested in this and we’re going to support it, particularly Labor Secretary Solis. But this is a Honduran problem that will have a Honduran solution.
QUESTION: Once the agreement was announced, the U.S. dropped its freeze on visas for Honduran personalities. Didn’t that constitute some measure of pressure on --
MR. KELLY: I’m not sure I know what you’re referring to. We opened our – we reopened our visa section. Is that what you mean?
QUESTION: Right. Yeah.
MR. KELLY: I don’t think we’ve removed any of the restrictions, though.
QUESTION: Well, was that prompted by an – any understanding of how that – this agreement was to go forward?
MR. KELLY: Well, I think it was just a – it was a gesture to show that we support this Honduran process. We haven’t made any decisions about assistance and about some of the visa restrictions that we have. We want to see how this goes forward.
QUESTION: But the agreement seems to be a non-agreement because now the Honduran congress delayed the vote and the people are back in the streets. So how do you respond to that?
MR. KELLY: Well, I think what happened was the congressional leadership met yesterday and wanted to get opinions regarding the restoration from the supreme court, the attorney general, and the human rights ombudsman before they considered the issue. This is entirely consistent with the details of the accord. There’s a – I think it’s article five of the accord states that the congress shall consult with other relevant authorities, including the supreme court, in making its decision on restitution. So I mean, I don’t see that this is – in any way runs contrary to the agreement.
QUESTION: On the same topic. What Mr. Zelaya is arguing is that these are just tactics for delaying the implementation of the accord up until, you know, the day of the elections. And the question here is: Will the U.S. still support an election, recognize an election, without implementation of the accord?
MR. KELLY: Look, we’re focused on only one thing, and that’s the implementation of the accord. We’re talking – this is day two and it’s entirely within the rights of the congress to ask for the opinion of the judiciary. I mean, it’s in the accord. So I don’t see any reason for concern on the part of the United States right now.
QUESTION: So then there’s no guarantee --
QUESTION: So then there’s no guarantee in the U.S. view that Mr. Zelaya needs to be restored as part of this agreement as long as the congress acts one way or the other?
MR. KELLY: Again, you’re asking me to speculate.
QUESTION: If the congress --
MR. KELLY: We support the accord. The accord is going forward.
QUESTION: If the congress votes not to restore him --
QUESTION: It’s not the same as --
QUESTION: -- does the United States still regard this as compliance with the accord?
MR. KELLY: You have to repeat that question. I’m sorry.
QUESTION: If the congress votes not to restore him or if the congress does nothing before November 27th, does the United States regard that as a violation of the accord?
MR. KELLY: We’ll cross that bridge when we get there. Right now, nothing in – nobody’s voted against anything right now. Everything that’s happening now is laid out in the accord. So we’re going to let the process play out. We’re going to support the process. We’re going to encourage the people to stay focused on this and make sure that it’s implemented.
QUESTION: Another topic? Another topic, Southeast Europe?
QUESTION: Wait, wait. Hold on a second. You say that you’ve been very clear about your position. You say that you’ve been very clear about your position that it was a coup. But in fact, that legal determination was never made even though there were some steps taken. So that’s (a) not clear.
(b) You say you’ve been clear about Zelaya’s restitution. But it sounds like, and from what Tom Shannon and others have said, that as long as the Honduran – all – the Hondurans can agree, it doesn't really matter to you whether Zelaya gets back into office or not.
MR. KELLY: All right. Well, first of all, on the first point. We have said all along that it was a coup, but the determination was, was whether or not under U.S. law it could be determined as a military coup. And you’re right; we never made that determination, but we have said on multiple occasions from the President on down that we considered what happened in June to have been a coup d'état, the way that Zelaya was bundled up, put on a plane, and flown out of the country.
I'm sorry, what was the second part?
QUESTION: It appears as though, as long as the congress agrees on something, you're willing to accept it even it falls short of Zelaya being restored before the election.
MR. KELLY: I think what we're saying is that we want the two parties to agree.
QUESTION: Yeah, and if they agree on something that falls short --
MR. KELLY: We want a Honduran solution. If President Zelaya agrees, if the de facto regime agrees, if it's in accordance with Honduran law and democratic principles, then we support it.
QUESTION: Even if it falls short of his --
MR. KELLY: Well, again, you've got the "if" there. We haven't gotten to that point.
QUESTION: Even when it falls short?
MR. KELLY: Oh, you think it's going to fall short?
QUESTION: Well, it's already fallen short. Come on.
MR. KELLY: Like I said, patience, patience. Stay tuned.
QUESTION: The other thing I want to ask is you say it's now day two, but in fact, we're talking about something that's --
MR. KELLY: No, but the accord was only signed a couple days ago.
QUESTION: Yeah, but --
QUESTION: But you've been calling for his --
QUESTION: You've been calling for his return, or saying that you want him to return, since the day he was packed off to Costa Rica or wherever it was.
MR. KELLY: Well, I --
QUESTION: El Salvador.
MR. KELLY: Okay. Let's just see how it works out.
QUESTION: The verification commission is the arbiter of the agreement, how it's carried out. Does Secretary Solis have instructions from this government on how to interpret that agreement in terms of whether Zelaya needs to be in office before the elections?
MR. KELLY: I don't know if "instructions" is the right word.
QUESTION: Well, as the representative of the United States Government.
MR. KELLY: She, of course, is in very close consultation with the State Department. Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Craig Kelly is down there with her. The Embassy is very much involved. But again, we are supporting a Honduran process here. This is – the U.S. is not a party necessarily to these discussions between Zelaya and the de facto regime. By saying that she has instructions, it implies that we are somehow involved in a bilateral negotiation with another party, and we're not.
QUESTION: Well, then --
MR. KELLY: We are simply supporting a Honduran process.
QUESTION: But the commission has to interpret whether the accord has been complied with.
MR. KELLY: That's true.
QUESTION: So Mr. Lagos seems to believe that Mr. Zelaya has to be restored before the congress – before the elections can be held, and therefore that's his interpretation.
MR. KELLY: Yeah, I'm sorry. I haven't seen what Mr. Lagos has said, so it's difficult for me to comment on --
QUESTION: Can we move on?
QUESTION: Can you talk about other topic we are trying to ask something for --
QUESTION: Just a quick one. Will there be --
QUESTION: -- thirty minutes?
QUESTION: -- a reply to Zelaya's letter or not, a formal response to it?
MR. KELLY: A formal response? Well, Secretary Clinton is back in the office tomorrow. We'll see. I don't have an answer to that right now.
QUESTION: On Southeast Europe.
MR. KELLY: Southeast Europe.
QUESTION: Yes. There is agreement today signed in Stockholm between Croatia and Slovenia, arbitration agreement that should bring to a solution of their border dispute that is 18 years old now. The United States were involved in diplomatic effort to facilitate this --
MR. KELLY: Yes, we were.
QUESTION: -- this agreement. Any comment on that?
MR. KELLY: Well, we welcome this agreement. We congratulate the prime ministers of Slovenia and Croatia on this agreement, which we consider to be an important agreement. And we congratulate them for their courageous leadership to resolve this longstanding dispute through arbitration, and we hope that ratification moves through quickly. And we believe that this outcome is in the best interests of both these two countries and the region.
QUESTION: Thank you. A follow-up.
MR. KELLY: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: There is a great deal of concern among Croatian public that Croatia was forced to accept this agreement and that will in the end result that Croatia will have to donate part of its territorial seat to Slovenia to fulfill the appetite of Slovenia for the territory. So would you consider this acceptable, or is there any guarantee from the United States in this kind of solution? Because one party in Croatia, part of the ruling coalition, said – has said that only reason to support this agreement was the guarantee from the United States. So are you familiar with any kind of guarantee?
MR. KELLY: Well, I know that we have a great deal of interest in this issue. We have an interest in the long-term stability of Southeast Europe, and I know that we have been very interested in these bilateral talks between Slovenia and Croatia. And the main thing is that they were able to come to an equitable, agreeable solution that was carried out through peaceful negotiation and arbitration.
QUESTION: So would you support the solution in which Croatia will have to give up part of its territorial seat to Slovenia?
MR. KELLY: This is something for Slovenia and Croatia to work up between themselves in a way that is agreeable to both sides. If that happens, and it seems to have happened, then of course we support it.
QUESTION: Just one more question, a follow-up. Excuse me. Some Croatian media reported that the text of that agreement actually was written here by State Department. Is that true?
MR. KELLY: I have no way of knowing that, I'm afraid.
QUESTION: New one. This is on H1N1. We've heard some things about the military receiving the vaccine – members that are overseas. And I was wondering what, if any, provisions you're making for State Department officers serving overseas (inaudible) vaccine?
MR. KELLY: That's a very good question. Well, we'll find out.
QUESTION: Can you take that? Thank you.
MR. KELLY: Yeah.
QUESTION: Question on the Middle East. The chief negotiator --
MR. KELLY: We'll get to you next.
QUESTION: On the --
MR. KELLY: Wait, wait a second. I'll get to you after. Go ahead.
QUESTION: Chief PLO negotiator, Dr. Erekat, today challenged Secretary Clinton's interpretation of the U.S.-Israeli understanding on the settlement freeze when she said it shows a positive movement toward final status issues. And he said that if this stalemate continues that it raises questions as to whether the Palestinian Authority really wants to pursue the two-state solution because there's nothing in this anymore if the settlements proceed even under this understanding, given the fact that there's continued construction, it doesn't apply to East Jerusalem, public buildings and infrastructure continue to be build in – on Jewish settlements in the West Bank. So my question is: Are you worried that the PLO is threatening to abandon the two-state solution?
MR. KELLY: We are committed to the two-state solution. We couldn't be more clear on that. We have never wavered from that. We think that's the best way forward, that's the best way to a lasting peace, and it's in the best interests of both these peoples, of both the Israelis and the Palestinians, and we remain committed to it.
QUESTION: Do you sense a change in tone on the part of the PLO as – in response to the Secretary's most recent pronouncement that this is a positive movement?
MR. KELLY: The important thing is that the U.S. is committed to this, and we will stay committed to it. We are going to doggedly pursue this and try and create the kind of conditions where the two sides can sit down. That's the only important thing here.
MR. KELLY: No.
QUESTION: -- relocation?
MR. KELLY: No, I don't think so. I mean, we have a --
QUESTION: Secretary Gates --
MR. KELLY: I'm sorry?
QUESTION: No, Secretary Gates had kind of indicated that they should try to be done with it by the time the President visited, so --
MR. KELLY: Well, I don't know what Secretary Gates has said, and I certainly don't want to contradict him, but I don't think that we've set any kind of deadline. We believe that the agreement that we have is the best way forward, but we look forward to continued dialogue with Japan.
QUESTION: So if the prime minister had taken till the end of the year to make a decision, it would be okay?
MR. KELLY: I'm not going to set any kind of deadline on it.
QUESTION: Who is Campbell going to be meeting with when he's in Japan?
MR. KELLY: I'm not sure. I imagine with the appropriate officials, the ministry of foreign affairs. But I think tomorrow I'll have more information for you.
MR. KELLY: I don't have a readout for you yet. Again, maybe tomorrow we would have more information on what exactly was discussed. We also hope to have some kind of readout of the U.S.-EU Energy Council at some point this afternoon, and we'll let you know about that.
QUESTION: I know that Bosnia was one of the topics, but --
MR. KELLY: Yes, I'm sure it was, particularly since Deputy Secretary Steinberg has been so involved in those talks.
MR. KELLY: Uh-huh.
QUESTION: Have you figured out how you're going – or what you're going to do about the Goldstone report and the – at the UN?
MR. KELLY: That – those discussions are ongoing. I guess there was – the General Assembly took it up at 10 o'clock this morning. They are still debating the issue. As I understand it, there are some 50 countries that have signed up to speak, so this could last all day. It may even last into tomorrow. Since it's – the debate is continuing and negotiations on a text are ongoing, we can't really comment on something that hasn't been finalized.
QUESTION: Is the U.S. one of the countries that signed up to speak?
MR. KELLY: No. Well, as of a couple hours ago, we hadn't signed up to speak.
QUESTION: Okay. So there is still – are you still holding out hope that they might be able to come – that you might be able to negotiate a resolution that would be acceptable?
MR. KELLY: Well, I think, our --
QUESTION: I mean, I thought your bottom line was that you don't want it outside the Human Rights Council, so already this is a --
MR. KELLY: Right.
QUESTION: -- this is – you're opposed to what's going on --
MR. KELLY: Right. Well --
QUESTION: -- regardless of whether it gets sent to the Security Council.
MR. KELLY: Yeah. And you know why we're opposed to it. We think that the mandate was one-sided.
QUESTION: Yeah, I know, I know that. But I mean, you already lost your bid to keep it out of other fora than the Security Council, and this resolution that's being debated refers it directly to the Security Council. So I'm asking if you've figured out a strategy about how you're going to – I mean, have you decided that you're going to veto this?
MR. KELLY: I don't think we have.
QUESTION: In the Security – if it goes to the Security --
MR. KELLY: If it goes to the Security Council.
QUESTION: -- to prevent it from getting out of the Security Council and --
MR. KELLY: Well, our – yeah, I mean, our priority is that we – again, we remain committed to coming up with a way to address the root causes of the tragedy in Gaza last January, and that's what we think everybody should be focused on.
QUESTION: The root – just the root causes? Not the --
MR. KELLY: Well, the root cause is a lack of a comprehensive peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians.
QUESTION: Well, it sounds as though you're not quite sure what you're going to do and that there isn't a strategy yet, or maybe you're just not aware of it. But can someone take that question and find out if there is a – if you guys have a plan on how to deal with this?
MR. KELLY: Let's see what happens in the General Assembly. Let's see what the resolution comes out to --
QUESTION: Surely, you're --
MR. KELLY: -- and then we will give you an answer --
QUESTION: Surely, you are preparing for --
MR. KELLY: -- to our policy.
QUESTION: -- any eventuality?
MR. KELLY: Of course, we are.
QUESTION: Right. That's all I want to know.
MR. KELLY: Well, I'm sure a lot of people want to know, but it's not always in our best interests to reveal our strategy.
QUESTION: Right. So much for transparency.
MR. KELLY: Thank you.
(The briefing was concluded at 2:15 p.m.)
DPB # 190
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