Daily Press Briefing - November 18, 2011

Index for Today's Briefing:

    • Welcome to Ambassador Cavanaugh, Director of Patterson School of Diplomacy and International Commerce, University of Kentucky, and Students
    • More Secretary Trip Details in Coming Days / Flickers of Progress / U.S. Expects to See More /Aung San Suu Kyi
    • U.S. Wants to See Release of All Political Prisoners, Opening of Political Space
    • U.S. Believes Any Chair of ASEAN Needs to Promote the Goals of the Organization
    • Ambassador Ford / Arab League / Asad Needs to Step Down and Allow for Democratic Transition to Take Place
    • Egyptian Election Process / U.S. Offers Support But Ultimately Egyptian Process / U.S. Wants to See Move Forward in Keeping with Desires of Egyptian People and Respect for Individual Rights
    • Reissuance of Travel Alert
    • U.S. Remains Very Concerned about Rising Tension / U.S. Ambassador and Engagement / Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry
    • U.S. Supports Democratically Elected Government of Pakistan, Constitutional Processes
    • Ambassador Haqqani
    • Ongoing Stabilization Efforts in Somalia / African Union to Take Lead in Developing Consensus
  • IRAN
    • IAEA Board of Governors' Resolution Strong Sign of Unity of International Community in Wake of Amano Report
    • UN Security Council Resolution 1929 / Sanctions
    • Diplomatic Solution is Ultimately Way to Resolve Situation
    • Human Rights Council
    • President Saleh Needs to Sign GCC agreement and Step Aside so Democratic Transition Can Take Place
  • IRAQ
    • Camp Ashraf, U.S. Working with International Organizations, including UNHCR / Find Suitable Outcome and Destination for Individuals / U.S. Recognizes Urgency
Mark C. Toner
Deputy Department Spokesman
Daily Press Briefing
Washington, DC
November 18, 2011


1:16 p.m. EST

MR. TONER: Sorry guys – a lot going on. I do want to – before we get into the nitty gritty here, I do want to just welcome Ambassador Carey Cavanaugh, who’s the director of the Patterson School of Diplomacy and International Commerce of the University of Kentucky, and he’s here with some of his students. Hi, guys. Welcome to the State Department.

And with that, I will welcome your questions.

QUESTION: Could we start with Burma?

MR. TONER: You can start with Burma.

QUESTION: Or Myanmar, if you will.

MR. TONER: You can start with Burma.

QUESTION: Could you just talk about the trip and what the Secretary’s goals will be and what she hopes to see happen, what you hope to see happen over the next few weeks and months?

MR. TONER: I can’t – just in the first – your first part of your question is, we’re going to have more details about Secretary Clinton’s agenda in the coming days. So I’m going to have to take a rain check on providing a lot of details. You obviously heard what the President said earlier and that, based on what he termed as flickers of progress that we’ve seen over the past month or so in Burma, that we feel that it’s an appropriate time to send the Secretary of State there and visit Burma. And she’ll be the first Secretary of State to visit that country in over half a century, so that alone is very significant. But our goal remains a Burma that is both responsive to the will and needs of its people.

QUESTION: But the President also said that a lot more needs to be done, so why was this time specifically chosen as the right time to make this historic kind of revival of diplomacy?

MR. TONER: It’s a fair question. I think, as the President said, that we had seen some movement, and that we felt that it was an important moment of opportunity here to take advantage of to try to engage the government. We’ve been clear all along that we expect to see more out of Burma. But again, this is an opportunity that we believe has presented itself to go there, obviously talk with the opposition, talk with Aung San Suu Kyi, and also discuss with the government ways that we can move this process forward.

QUESTION: And then just last one --

MR. TONER: Yeah.

QUESTION: Can you talk concretely about the things you’d like to see? You said you expect to see more. What types of things are we talking about? I know you’ve spoken about them in the past, but --

MR. TONER: Well, also, I just want to go back. You talked about why now and what we’ve seen, and I referred to flickers of progress. Just let me be very clear on some of those. We’ve seen a dialogue between the government and Aung San Suu Kyi that’s begun. We also have seen the release of some political prisoners, and we’ve seen the relaxation of some of the media restrictions. And also, there’s legislation that’s been approved that we believe could open the political environment even more.

What we want to see is the release of all political prisoners, and we want to see amended electoral laws. We want to see an opening of the political system here – there that allows for free and fair elections, and we want – that’s what we’re looking for. We’re looking for an opening up of the political space.

QUESTION: So she will present a detailed list to her counterparts over there?

MR. TONER: I’m sorry.

QUESTION: She will present those in a detailed list to her counterpart?

MR. TONER: Again, none of these are particularly new items on our agenda with Burma. So they’re well aware of what we’re looking to see. And again, our goals are always, as I said, we want to see a Burma that’s responsive to the needs of its people.

QUESTION: And what incentives will she --

MR. TONER: So this is not a U.S. agenda. This is, we believe, an agenda that’s in the interests of the Burmese people.

QUESTION: And what incentives will she offer them?

MR. TONER: Well, again, we’re – this conversation has just begun in one sense. We’ve begun to see some improvement. I mentioned what we’ve seen that we term progress, but we want to see a lot more. So this is a conversation that’s just beginning.

QUESTION: Some of your – I mean, you’ve already – you’re sending the Secretary of State; the President’s sending the Secretary of State, Burma’s just made the chair of ASEAN. They’re getting a lot already for what seems to be actually, on the ground, very minimal – a lot of promises and the release of a few dozen political prisoners when hundreds are still in jail. What possible incentive could they have now? They’re already getting everything, based on this sort of promise of reform. Why are they going to follow through now?

MR. TONER: Well, I don’t necessarily think that’s a fair characterization. I think we’ve been quite clear all along that we’re not going to take additional steps until we see further signs of reform. The decision to send the Secretary of State there is to – as I said to Brad – is to seize what we believe is a moment of opportunity and try to build on, again, these flickers of progress that we’ve seen.

In terms of ASEAN and the chairmanship, that’s a decision for the ASEAN members to make. We’ve said all along that we think it’s important that any chair of ASEAN be able to promote the values of the organization, including democracy and regional stability. So, and it’s --

QUESTION: Another sort of technical question.

MR. TONER: Yeah.

QUESTION: When the Secretary arrives there, is she going to be saying she’s happy to arrive in Burma or happy to arrive in Myanmar? I mean, their official name for the country is Myanmar. That was what is in the 2008 constitution.

MR. TONER: I think to that I’ll say that Secretary Clinton will be respectful of all parties and mindful of all sensitivities regarding this particular issue, but with regard to the name, it’s longstanding U.S. policy to refer to the country as Burma.

QUESTION: And why is that, Mark?

MR. TONER: Why is --

QUESTION: What’s the reason? What is the reason for that?

MR. TONER: Well, because we believe that any change of the name of a country should be a decision for the Burmese people to make.

QUESTION: But they made that decision, and the NLD signed onto it when they agreed to the 2008 constitution that – which says that the name of the country is Myanmar.

MR. TONER: We don’t believe – we still believe it’s a decision for the Burmese people. We don’t believe it was valid.

QUESTION: It sounds like the green light for the visit was from Aung San Suu Kyi. The President called her, and it sounds like that Aung San Suu Kyi has the power to say yes or no when it comes to --

MR. TONER: Well, I think she’s clearly an important – an interlocutor, and so her opinion was important.

QUESTION: But you said she was the decisive --

MR. TONER: Again, I would just say that she was an important person to talk to before we made any kind of decision like that.

QUESTION: I guess this question is had she said no, this is the wrong time, would the President have bypassed --

MR. TONER: I’m not going to get into speculation.

QUESTION: I’ll just follow it a different way, if I can put it.

MR. TONER: Yeah.

QUESTION: She has been waiting for 20 years. Her government was elected democratically by the people of Burma and she was thrown out by the military dictatorship. One, what is her future? And also, what is the future of the men who overthrew her? And how can you say when Secretary goes there, when she meets her, that where she stands? Aung San Suu Kyi, I mean; that’s what I meant. I mean, are you going to, or somebody there going to install her back, her government back, when she has been waiting for 20 years?

MR. TONER: Look, let’s really not get ahead of where we’re at. The President said we’ve seen flickers of progress. He detailed some of the movement that we feel has been made on the part of the government, these steps towards reform, and we’re sending Secretary of State Clinton there. He’s sending Secretary of State Clinton there to follow up on these first steps and to see if we can build on them.

QUESTION: And finally, whatever happened in Burma as far as the military dictatorship was concerned? It was getting help and support from the Chinese Government, from China. So now, where does you think China stands as far as a democracy in Burma is --

MR. TONER: I’d refer you to the Chinese Government.

Go ahead, Said.




MR. TONER: Burma? Go ahead.

QUESTION: Do you believe that your policy of engagement is yielding results? And secondly, at what stage do you think you would be able to lift sanctions on – against – economic sanctions -

MR. TONER: To your second question, we’re just not at a point where we can evaluate that. We’ve – we’re at an initial stage here. We’re going to continue the conversation that Derek Mitchell and others have been having. Obviously, by sending the Secretary there, it’s an important step forward. But we’re just not at a stage to evaluate that.

On your first step about - our policy of principled engagement is what you’re talking about? For many months, I heard a lot from this room about how that policy was a failure. Let’s take this one step at a time. That remains our policy towards Burma, and so we’re just heartened by these steps that we’ve seen and hope to – hope that the Burmese Government takes additional steps.


QUESTION: (Inaudible.) You said you’re not yet at a state where you can begin to assess whether or not to lift sanctions, is that right? That you haven’t even considered the possibility of lifting sanctions?

MR. TONER: Look, I just think we’re at a stage where we’re still assessing the level and scope of reform that’s underway in Burma. So it’s premature.

QUESTION: Okay. And I understand that there are – some changes have already been made, that there was a ban on high-level visits, for one, which this presumably means is no longer in place. What changes have already happened in our level of restrictions with the contact with Burma since this engagement began?

MR. TONER: That’s a fair question, I’ll have to take it and get an answer for you, because I’m not sure if any – as you said, if some of the steps that we’ve taken would have somehow negated but I --

QUESTION: Or violated.

MR. TONER: Or violated. Easy, Andy.

QUESTION: Logistically, how long would it take to remove the sanctions that are in place? How long does that process usually take?

MR. TONER: It’s a process that’s legal in nature, so I don’t think it’s an overnight – I don’t think it’s done something that can be done from one day to the next.

QUESTION: But doesn’t the vote have to come from Congress? Isn’t that a congressional --

MR. TONER: Well, that’s very true as well. So I don’t have details on what the process is for lifting those sanctions.

QUESTION: But you haven’t had any discussions at this point about – either with Congress or with --

MR. TONER: To my knowledge, no.

QUESTION: Is Secretary going to invite the new prime minister from Burma?

MR. TONER: I’m sorry, I didn’t hear what you asked.

QUESTION: Is Secretary going to invite him to the U.S?

MR. TONER: Let’s wait for the visit to happen.

QUESTION: China is a key partner of Burma. Did the U.S. consult China on Burma – the latest development in Burma?

MR. TONER: Did we consult with them on this visit or did we consult with them on Burma?

QUESTION: On the visit.

MR. TONER: The President just met with his Chinese counterpart. I’m not aware that - of what was on their list of topics. I can imagine they might have touched on Burma. I’d refer you to the White House for a read-out.

Yeah, go ahead Samir.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) Syria?

MR. TONER: I think we’re ready to go to Syria.

QUESTION: First, Mark – were you informed officially anything about the status of that Syrian ambassador in town, Imad Moustapha? He was recalled back to Damascus, but I heard today that he’s been ordered not to return to Washington at all.

MR. TONER: I’ve not heard that he’s been ordered. We have no confirmation of that.

QUESTION: Okay, and related, is there anything new with the plan to return Ambassador Ford?

MR. TONER: There’s not. I think I said the last couple of days that Ambassador Ford has a return ticket for next week. We’ve said all along that we’re going to continue to assess the security situation to make sure that it’s safe for him to return. But my understanding is that he still intends to return next week.

QUESTION: So, I mean, Thanksgiving is Thursday, and he needs to be there by Wednesday. So he would have to leave here by Tuesday, right?

MR. TONER: I think it’s early next week, I believe, his ticket. But I don’t think I’ve made a secret of that. I think I said Monday or Tuesday.


MR. TONER: But again, with the caveat that we’re constantly assessing the security situation there and the security of our personnel is paramount.

QUESTION: Okay. What do you expect to happen tomorrow, once the deadline has passed?

MR. TONER: Well, I’d refer you to the Arab League, but they’ve been pretty clear that they’re going to pursue economic sanctions.

QUESTION: Okay, is anyone from the Arab League coordinating with you on the kind of amendments that the Syrians requested from the Arab League?

MR. TONER: Coordinated with us on?

QUESTION: On the amendments. They requested some amendments to the proposal or some adjustments to the proposal. Has anyone discussed with you the nature of these proposals or whether they should be accepted or not?

MR. TONER: You’re talking about – that Syria has come back with amendments to the Arab League proposal?

QUESTION: Right, right.

MR. TONER: I’m not aware that we’ve actually had that level of conversation. We’ve been consulting with the Arab – with our Arab League partners throughout this process. I’m not aware that we’ve been discussing back and forth what changes or edits or whatever that the Syrian Government would like to see. I don’t necessarily think the Syrian Government’s in a position to bargain. The Arab League was quite clear on what they’re looking to see. They have given them an additional three days to comply, and they have stated clearly what the ramifications are going to be if they don’t comply.

Yeah, Kim. Go ahead.

QUESTION: Sort of following up on that, there’s a report that some activists are saying the increasing international isolation of Asad has actually led to more violence there. This is a Syrian coordination committee based in Germany. They said it’s unbelievable how violent it’s been since the Arab League got involved. What is your reaction to those charges?

MR. TONER: My reaction is that it’s - you have to put blame where blame belongs, and that is on Asad. It’s impossible to say whether the uptick in violence by his regime, by his forces, is due to any outside pressure. We believe that this international pressure is actually having an effect in making the decision for him easier, that he needs to step down and those around him are crystallizing that decision. But to say that the isolation is causing him to increase the violence against his people, we think that’s – I think that’s a false charge.

QUESTION: So you say that you believe that the international pressure is having an effect. What evidence can you point to that it – that the regime is – people are crystallizing against the regime within it?

MR. TONER: Well, I would refer you to Assistant Secretary Feltman’s testimony from a couple weeks ago, where he talked about the decrease in oil imports and some of the effect that some of the economic sanctions have been having. Certainly, as we’ve said all along, the EU ones are probably the most biting, because they were a major market for Syria. We’re looking to increase that pressure, certainly. We want to, as we said, choke off the regime’s source of funding – sources of funding. It’s – I guess, in my answer to Cami, there’s a – the responsibility for the violence against the Syrian opposition rests solely with Asad. And so whether he’s increasingly isolated or not, he needs to simply step down and allow for a democratic transition to take place.

QUESTION: Yeah. But you --

MR. TONER: He’s lost all credibility with the Syrian people.

QUESTION: But you do admit that there are armed elements? I mean, these guys have said that. And they could be taking the initiative and --

MR. TONER: And again, I would say that --

QUESTION: -- making attacks on the Syrian army --

MR. TONER: As I said the other day, this started out as a completely peaceful movement, and so that was brutally repressed by the Syrian Government. And again, he’s taken them down a very dangerous path. We are concerned by the violence on the part of some groups in the opposition. It is concerning. And we believe, as I said, it leads down a very dangerous path.

QUESTION: Can I also follow up?

QUESTION: On that dangerous path you fear what in the long run?

MR. TONER: Well, I think we fear increased violence, further militarization of the conflict.

QUESTION: So civil war? I mean, a term you didn’t want to use yesterday.

MR. TONER: Well, again, and I didn’t – what I think I was careful about saying yesterday is we are not – we don’t believe we’re seeing civil war now. But we’re seeing – we don’t want to see a further militarization.

Go ahead, Brad. And then – I’m sorry.

QUESTION: No, I was asking --

MR. TONER: Yeah, he did have his hand up first.

QUESTION: I was --

MR. TONER: Sorry.

QUESTION: I was going to the same question. The other day foreign minister, Russian foreign minister, described the situation. He said it looks like civil war. And Lavrov is a very close ally to Syria. And so do you share his belief?

MR. TONER: I think I addressed --

QUESTION: And secondly --

MR. TONER: Sure.

QUESTION: Secondly, if so, why Ambassador Ford’s still intent to go back to Syria if the situation is such?

MR. TONER: Well, as I said, we are very concerned about the increase in violence. We don’t condone violence on the part of anyone in Syria. Certainly, it plays into Asad’s hands – this idea that there’s a civil war. He’s called this all along – he says he’s fighting an armed insurrection, when, in fact, he’s slaughtering innocent protestors. And so we don’t believe we’re there yet, but we are concerned that – and not surprised frankly, but concerned by this violence on the part of some groups in the opposition.

Yeah, Brad.

QUESTION: Can I just --

MR. TONER: You had another question about Ford and then – Ford – we’ve said all along that we think that he’s playing a very important role in the country as an observer and bearing witness to what’s going on there.

Yeah. Sure. Finally.

QUESTION: Can I have you address this notion that the Syrians are accepting the Arab League proposal in principle with the amendments? I know he referred to it. Have you guys seen these or heard the same thing from the Arab League?

MR. TONER: Nah, we’ve seen reports that they’ve agreed in principle to allow observers in the country, but we’ve seen no signs that they’ll – that they’re honoring that agreement in any way.

QUESTION: Okay. And the number of observers, I think originally it was proposed to be about 500 and now it’s done to 40?

MR. TONER: Forty. Right.

QUESTION: And I think before it was supposed to be about 500. Do you know how this change has come about and --

MR. TONER: I don’t.

QUESTION: Okay. And --

MR. TONER: I would refer you to the Arab League. I mean, we would like a robust presence of international observers on the ground as a way to bear witness to what the Syrian Government’s doing.

QUESTION: And just lastly, as this deadline comes, even if the Syrians agree to it, would you be skeptical of their intentions to honor it --


QUESTION: -- considering how many times --


QUESTION: I would hope so. But you were still referring to the deadline, so I was wondering if there’s any belief anywhere in this government here that this regime has any intentions of honoring the Arab League proposal?

MR. TONER: Which is exactly why we believe they’ve lost all credibility, and that’s why we believe Asad needs to step down and allow for democratic transition to take place. We’ve seen this all along over the past weeks and months where it was Turkey, now it’s the Arab League, where outside parties or countries or organizations have tried to step in and mediate this and have only been spurned by the Syrian Government.

QUESTION: Just a follow-up on Brad’s --

MR. TONER: Yeah.

QUESTION: So – yeah, I think he’s probably going to ask the same thing. If all of these mediation processes have essentially been stalling tactics for the Syrians, would you suggest for anybody else to engage in this process now that --

MR. TONER: Well, the flip side of that is when you witness the kind of abhorrent violence on a daily basis being carried out by the regime, it’s – if there’s any way to stop the violence, get the government to stop its attacks against civilians, we would support that.

Yeah, Said.

QUESTION: And just to follow up on Brad’s question, considering that tomorrow is the deadline, it’s Saturday, should we accept – expect as a result, if the Syrians don’t comply and it expires, that the President of the United States would come out sometime next week to say that the Syrian president has lost his legitimacy to – like he did with President Mubarak and Qadhafi, clearly?

MR. TONER: We’ve done that.

QUESTION: No, the President – would he address the public and say it’s time for him to leave now?

MR. TONER: Well, we’ve issued a presidential statement. But no – that horse has left the barn, if you will.

QUESTION: Okay. The horse has left the barn.

QUESTION: One of the question asked yesterday about Gazette notification by India on the nuclear liability law –

MR. TONER: Are we done with Syria?

QUESTION: I have one more.

MR. TONER: Yeah. Sure.

QUESTION: There was a report out that shows that a lot of the websites in Syria are being hosted by U.S., Canadian companies, including some ministry websites. Is the U.S. – is this Administration looking into that, whether U.S. companies are violating some sanctions here?

MR. TONER: We are. To be honest, Cami, the reason I have a quizzical look on my face is because I’m aware of reports about U.S. technology being used as a way to monitor or target human rights activists. That doesn’t appear to be what you’re addressing.

QUESTION: No, this apparently is websites belonging to the government being hosted by servers in the U.S., Canada, and Germany. And they’re American companies. One of them is a U.S.-based company called SoftLayer.

MR. TONER: It’s a good question. I’ll take the question. I’m not sure that it’s in violation. I know on the other question that I just raised, which we’re talking about technology being used to surveil dissidents and human rights activists, that is something we take very seriously and are looking into. I believe the Commerce Department has the lead on that. And so – I mean, you might also check with the Commerce Department, but I’ll try to find out what we can say about that.

QUESTION: Can we switch to Egypt?

MR. TONER: Well, he did have India. Is this about what we talked about yesterday?


MR. TONER: I still need to get you an answer for it. We’re still studying it.


MR. TONER: Thanks.

QUESTION: And this issue was also brought up yesterday with the meeting between the Prime Minister Singh and President in Bali yesterday. Do you know --

MR. TONER: I believe so, but I’m waiting for a better readout from that.


MR. TONER: But I believe it was discussed.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: On Egypt --

MR. TONER: But would really refer you to the White House for --

QUESTION: Tens of thousands of people have been protesting in Egypt against the military, wanting them to cede power. How much of – how much do you share the Egyptians’ concerns that the military is really not serious about ceding power?

MR. TONER: Well, look, we’re – what – just over a week away from parliamentary elections, and the transitional government led by the SCAF, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, has committed itself to carrying out a transition to free and fair election of a civilian-led government. And we believe that should take place and should take place in a timely manner. We’re encouraging them to move in a way that addresses the demands of the Egyptian people. We’re well aware of these concerns that you’ve cited and these protests, and we want to see the transition move forward in a way that respects individual human rights, such as freedom of expression and freedom of association.

QUESTION: Secretary Clinton, in a speech last week, alluded to the Egyptian military when she said if over time the most political force in Egypt remains a roomful of unelected officials, they will have planted the seeds for future unrest and Egyptians will have missed a historic opportunity. And she also said in Egypt we look to them to lay out a clear roadmap and urge them to abide by it. I mean, are you seeking a clear roadmap for transition to democracy from the Egyptians?

MR. TONER: First of all, I completely agree with what the Secretary said, obviously. (Laughter.) She was saying very clearly that they would miss a historic opportunity if they let this moment pass to have real democratic change and one that’s in keeping with the spirit that was expressed in Tahrir Square months ago, last winter. And we are working with the Egyptian Government. We’re offering our support, but ultimately this is an Egyptian process. But we – and I thinks she made very clear in that speech, we are ready to help them in supportive ways, not any one party but – or element but to help the process be as free and transparent as possible.

QUESTION: But you haven’t got that roadmap yet that she referred to, and you would expect one from the military outlining exactly and when, I mean, roughly --

MR. TONER: I just think we want to see – they’re navigating a very difficult path right now fraught with challenges, but we want to see them move forward in a way that’s in keeping with the desires of the Egyptian people.

QUESTION: I have --

MR. TONER: Yeah, Camille.

QUESTION: Any concerns about the Muslim Brotherhood participating in this election?

MR. TONER: I think we’ve talked about that before, that it’s not so much the – that the political party wants to engage in a democratic and peaceful way, then we don’t have a problem.

QUESTION: And has this – sorry, one more.

MR. TONER: That’s okay.

QUESTION: There were reports that an Assistant Secretary of State, Jacob Wallace, met with members of the Muslim Brotherhood this week about their participation in the election. Do you have any readout on that?

MR. TONER: I don’t. Can I take that question?

QUESTION: Yeah, okay.

MR. TONER: Thanks.

QUESTION: On Bahrain?

MR. TONER: Sure.

QUESTION: On the Travel Alert, why are Americans increasingly becoming under more severe scrutiny at the airport?

MR. TONER: My understanding with that – with the Travel Alert is that it’s just a reissuance. There’s nothing particularly new to the situation there that – it’s basically the same warning that was already out there, that we are concerned about – that – I can’t remember – I read it this morning before coming down here – but that we are concerned that it’s a very volatile situation, remains a volatile situation on the ground, and we want to call American citizens’ attention to that.

QUESTION: So there is no particular case or cases – there are no particular cases that prompted you to do that?

MR. TONER: It doesn’t reflect a new development or a new assessment, no.

QUESTION: Is – the Government of Bahrain is unhappy with your statements from this podium over the past couple weeks on Bahrain? Could that be it?

MR. TONER: Again, this doesn’t reflect anything new. So --

QUESTION: Okay. And finally, are you still raising the issues of what’s going on in Bahrain on a daily basis? Because now, the government is spinning it as just a sectarian, pro-Iran event, rather than a legitimate --

MR. TONER: Absolutely. We remain very concerned about the rising tension in Bahrain. We now have an Ambassador on the ground, and that’s certainly helpful, and we continue to meet with NGOs and human rights advocates. We’re also directly engaged with the Bahraini Government on our concerns and on these issues, and we look for the work of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry that I believe is supposed to come out in a few weeks.

QUESTION: A few weeks? I thought it was November 23rd.

MR. TONER: I thought it was delayed, but I’ll check.

QUESTION: The end of the month.

MR. TONER: You may be right. I may have overstated it.


MR. TONER: I don’t have the date in front of me, so –

QUESTION: Another subject?

MR. TONER: I just know it was delayed.


QUESTION: Another subject?

MR. TONER: Yeah. Sure.

QUESTION: A controversy going on about the resignation of the Pakistani Ambassador to the U.S. over a memo from Admiral Mullen, and also in Pakistan now it has become a big issue. My question is that if this Department is aware of his resignation or about that memo that --

MR. TONER: I’m sorry. She – somebody call – I didn’t – aware of?

QUESTION: President Zardari was – has written a memo and given to the ambassador here to be delivered to the White House. What I’m asking you is, do you believe and feel that President Zardari’s government was under attack from the military coup? And also, now if there’s a major coup in Pakistan, military has to ask two people – not just prime minister, but also president.

MR. TONER: Let me just stop you there. I’m not going to engage in speculation, just to say that we very clearly support the democratically elected Government of Pakistan, as well as its constitutional processes. You asked about Ambassador Haqqani’s status. Our understanding is that he’s still the ambassador of Pakistan to the United States, and we continue to have regular interactions with him, as we do with a number of people with – both within the Pakistani Government.

Again, this is – I understand this is a big story in Pakistan. It’s partly a domestic story. We – and we’ll all treat it as such. I mean, our – we remain in contact with Ambassador Haqqani.

QUESTION: When was the last time that there was a meeting with Ambassador Haqqani? Do you know?

MR. TONER: Very recently.

QUESTION: Like within the last couple of days?

MR. TONER: I believe there’s one today, so --

QUESTION: One today? And also, do you have a readout on --

MR. TONER: But it hasn’t happened, so I don’t know what the previous one was.

QUESTION: Okay. Do you have a readout on Beth Jones’s visit today?

MR. TONER: I don’t. I’ll take the question.

QUESTION: Okay. And can you check and see if this issue came up during her meetings?

MR. TONER: Sure.


QUESTION: And who is he meeting today, Ambassador Haqqani?

MR. TONER: I don’t know.

QUESTION: Change topic to Kenya. Has the State Department received a request from Kenya for assistance with its operations in Somalia?

MR. TONER: My understanding is that the request for assistance – they did request – the Government of Kenya, rather, has publically requested support from the international community – not necessarily from the United States directly – for its military operation in Somalia. And it was done, I believe, through multilateral body like the Intergovernmental Authority on Development during its meeting in Addis Ababa.

Our position on this is that we believe that it’s important for the region, and in particular the African Union, to take the lead in developing a consensus on the way forward regarding these Kenyan requests and how they should relate to ongoing stabilization efforts in Somalia.

QUESTION: So does --

QUESTION: Do you know specifically what they requested?

MR. TONER: I just – sorry, I don’t have the details now.

QUESTION: So does that mean that the U.S. is not going to assist them and is going to wait for the African – its African leaders to do it?

MR. TONER: I think we’re looking to – for a regional response in kind of a coherent fashion that looks at the bigger picture here.


MR. TONER: Oh, yeah.

QUESTION: -- resolution, I’m sure you’re thrilled with the unity, but what is this resolution supposed to accomplish?

MR. TONER: Well, we did release – the Secretary just released a statement, I think, before you guys came in here.


MR. TONER: My apologies for --

QUESTION: White House also did.

MR. TONER: What’s that?

QUESTION: I said the White House did.

QUESTION: The White House as well.

MR. TONER: And the White House as well, certainly.

So what was your question again, Brad? I’m sorry.

QUESTION: What is – what should this resolution accomplish?

MR. TONER: Well, it was a strong – as you said, strong sign of unity on the part of the international community in the wake of the Amano Report, basically saying that the international community is of one mind when it comes to Iran’s nuclear program. And that is that it is concerned and it’s calling on Iran to live up to its obligations and to address the very serious concerns about its nuclear program.

QUESTION: And how does this resolution take the international community any closer to stopping Iran from continuing down the path it’s going on?

MR. TONER: Well, I think it’s important to see it as part of a – however you want to call it – a multipronged effort. We’re – it sends a very important and clear and unequivocal message, we think, to Iran, that its activities are unacceptable to the international community. And in that regard, it is important that it’s a very unified message, and I believe the vote was overwhelmingly for this resolution. But we also have a number of different areas. As you know, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 1929 that implemented or instituted the most serious financial sanctions to date against Iran.

QUESTION: Which was a year and a half ago.

MR. TONER: A year and a half ago, but sanctions that are having an effect. And frankly, that was acknowledged as recently as a couple of weeks ago by President Ahmadinejad. We have worked tirelessly with partners and allies on how to enforce those sanctions in a way that makes them as effective as possible. And we do believe that the resolution today is an effective springboard for other measures that we’re looking to pursue in the coming days and months.

QUESTION: Now, is that multilateral measures you’re talking about?

MR. TONER: Both.

QUESTION: Both multilateral and --

MR. TONER: I think we’re looking for additional – I’ll just characterize it as additional measures.

QUESTION: Now, have you had any indication from the Russians or the Chinese – and I know the President met with his counterparts, both of them in Hawaii – about a greater willingness to consider multilateral sanctions?

MR. TONER: Well, again, let’s be --

QUESTION: New multilateral sanctions.

MR. TONER: But again, we’ve got -- we got a very strong sanctions regime in place. It’s important that we work to enforce that in a way that maximizes its capabilities. And let’s be very clear, Russia and China were both on board voting for that sanctions regime and they were on board with today’s resolution. So there is, we believe, a unified stance here.

QUESTION: But did you want China and Russia to go to the UN Security Council --

MR. TONER: Well, it’s --

QUESTION: -- after this report?

MR. TONER: Again, there’s some – I don’t want to call it confusion, but Iran’s already been in front of the – referred to the Security Council. And so the Council can take this issue up at any time if it chooses to.

QUESTION: So when you talk about maximizing the capabilities under 1929 and --

MR. TONER: Enforcement, I’m talking about, ways to --

QUESTION: Enforcement, but you’re not talking about new measures under the scope or the mandate given under that resolution that aren’t in place right now?

MR. TONER: I think our focus now is on enforcement of the existing measures.

QUESTION: Just a quick follow-up on the IAEA.


MR. TONER: Yeah.

QUESTION: I mean, if the --

MR. TONER: No, no, I just said I’ll get to her. It was a little nod to her.

QUESTION: Yeah, the IAEA --

MR. TONER: Go ahead and finish your question.

QUESTION: Okay. You almost said that we are at the maximized level of sanctions, so what else could you do? And what disincentive should the Iranians have if they are really already reeling under the maximized level of sanction?

MR. TONER: Well, again, there’s – there is still this dual-track strategy. We do believe that a diplomatic solution is ultimately the way to resolve this situation. It’s a way for Iran to pull itself out of the mess that it finds itself in. So there is a diplomatic process if Iran is willing to engage meaningfully with it.


MR. TONER: Yeah. Go ahead.

QUESTION: Yesterday, the U.S. Ambassador to Moscow met with the Russian deputy foreign minister. Although this was yesterday, and therefore before the approval of this resolution, do you have a readout of that meeting?

MR. TONER: I do not. And you’re talking about our Ambassador in --

QUESTION: In Moscow.

MR. TONER: No, and I mean, I can certainly see if Iran was on the agenda.

QUESTION: Well, it was.

MR. TONER: It certainly -- probably was. It was --

QUESTION: It definitely was.

MR. TONER: It’s the next thing out of my mouth. But bilateral missions all the time are engaged in those kinds of meetings with high-level host government contacts.

QUESTION: East Asia, Under Secretary Sherman’s trip. You sent out this guidance today, but I was wondering if you can elaborate more on her agenda there, specifically – I don't know – if she’s going to be talking about North Korea and any other countries. And also in Japan, she’s going to be discussing Futenma relocation or TPP?

MR. TONER: I mean, I’d prefer to – certainly all the issues that you raised are issues that are on the forefront of our agenda with many of these countries. But I’d rather let her meetings take place and then we can try to get you a readout of what issues they actually did discuss.

QUESTION: All right. Thank you.

QUESTION: Just one last --

MR. TONER: Yeah, Kim.

QUESTION: I just got an email that there was a change in Treasury.

MR. TONER: I hate the connectivity in here.


MR. TONER: Really.

QUESTION: Well, see, I can’t follow the link, so that’s why I’m asking you. Has there been a change in any sanctions regarding Libya? Has there been a lifting of sanctions or anything that you’re aware of?

MR. TONER: What I’m aware of – and I also heard it when I – before I came down here – was – and I don’t have it, unfortunately. But there was – I believe that Libya was --

QUESTION: Reelected to the --

MR. TONER: Thank you.

QUESTION: -- Human Rights Council.

MR. TONER: Was reelected to the Human Rights Council. That’s all I know.


MR. TONER: Thanks. And we welcome that.

QUESTION: Can I ask a question on Yemen?

MR. TONER: Sure.

QUESTION: It seems that President Saleh backpedaled today. He’s saying that he wants to serve the remainder of his term. Do you have any comment on that?

MR. TONER: He needs to sign the GCC agreement and step aside so that a democratic transition can take place.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: Can I have one more here?

MR. TONER: Oh, I’m sorry, Lach. Sure. I’m sorry, guys.

QUESTION: No, just – in --

MR. TONER: It’s just Friday. We’re so close here.

QUESTION: Yeah. In Brussels, the head of the European Parliament’s delegation for relations with Iraq raised concerns about the fate of Camp Ashraf refugees. He said that Iraq has served a virtual death warrant on the residents, and he pointed to an embassy note from the Iraqi Government saying that they’re committed to close the camp by the end of 2011.

MR. TONER: That’s correct, yeah.

QUESTION: And it says that dissidents there are terrorists, and the Iraqis deny they have refugee status, and therefore the Europeans are fearing that the UNHCR will not be able to interview them as refugees.

MR. TONER: Well, we are working – look, I don’t have a detailed response to those accusations. I do know that we are working with international organizations, including UNHCR, to find a suitable outcome and a suitable destination for these individuals, and we recognize the urgency.

(The briefing was concluded at 1:56 p.m.)

DPB #177