Daily Press Briefing - April 23, 2012

Index for Today's Briefing:

    • Fourth Round of U.S. - China Strategic and Economic Dialogue Announced
    • Human Rights Case Highlight / Cuban Blogger Yoani Sanchez
    • UN Monitors / Resolution 2043
    • New Sanctions Imposed
    • Bo Xilai's Son / Walk-ins at U.S. Embassies
    • Broad Strategic Dialogue / South China Sea
    • Initialing of Strategic Partnership Agreement
    • Special Envoy Princeton Lyman Remains Engaged with the Parties
    • Special Envoy David Hale / Working with All the Involved Parties
    • U.S. Working on Partnership Arrangements / NATO Summit
    • Special Envoy Hale's Travel Schedule in the Region
    • Aung San Suu Kyi / Parliament Convenes
  • IRAQ
    • U.S. Wants Disagreements Settled Through Dialogue
    • Lack of a Comprehensive Oil Agreement
    • U.S. Call for New North Korean Leadership to Change Course
Victoria Nuland
Daily Press Briefing
Washington, DC
April 23, 2012


\1:15 p.m. EDT

MS. NULAND: Happy Monday, everybody. You were just treated to an hour of Professor Clinton up at Syracuse University, so we’ve covered a number of issues. Let me do a couple of quick things at the top, and then we’ll go to what’s on your minds.

Today, the Chinese Government announced the fourth round of the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue, which will be held in Beijing May 3rd and 4th. Secretary Clinton and Treasury Secretary Geithner will be joined for the dialogue by their Chinese co-chairs, Vice Premier Wang Qishan and State Councilor Dai Bingguo. The Chinese also announced the third round of the U.S.-China Consultations on People-to-People Exchanges, which will be held in the same time period in Beijing.

And then further to our daily highlighting of a human rights case, and particularly a journalistic freedom/press freedom case in the walkup to World Press Freedom Day on May 3rd, today’s case, if you’ve seen our website HumanRights.gov, is the case of Yoani Sanchez in Cuba. Yoani Sanchez is a Cuban blogger who has attracted international following for her blog Generation Y, which gives readers unprecedented insight into life in Cuba. The Cuban Government has repeatedly denied Ms. Sanchez’s request for travel some 19 times, most recently she was – when she was granted a visa to go to Brazil to attend the premieres of a documentary about media freedom. So she is our person of the day, and we call your attention to our website, HumanRights.gov.

Let’s go to what’s on your minds.

QUESTION: Can I just start briefly with Syria?


QUESTION: Maybe not so briefly on others, but mine is only brief. Are you okay with the limits, the restrictions that the Syrians want to put on the monitoring mission in terms of where monitors can come from, what countries they can come from, how they are able to travel?

MS. NULAND: We are most emphatically not okay with restrictions on monitors. We make clear in Resolution 2043 that we expect monitors to have full freedom of movement, to have full access to Syrians and parts of Syria that they think are important to monitor, and that we expect them to have complete freedom to communicate, to choose their personnel, et cetera. So this is a matter of concern as these monitors begin to deploy. And as the Syrian National Council put it in their own statement after Resolution 2043 was passed, this first deployment of monitors is really a litmus test for the Assad regime’s seriousness with regard to the six-point plan.

QUESTION: And what about the other – about the – where the monitors come from?

MS. NULAND: And of course, with the – it’s up to the United Nations to decide who should be chosen for the monitoring trip.

QUESTION: So you would not be comfortable with a monitoring team made up of people from – made up of monitors from Iran, Belarus, Eritrea --

MS. NULAND: It is not for the Government of Syria to decide who should be a UN monitor for this mission. It’s up for the – to the United Nations to make those decisions.

QUESTION: So have you – you’ve told that – you’re aware of what – where they want the people to come from, correct?

MS. NULAND: We are. We are.

QUESTION: And you’ve raised your objections to them?

MS. NULAND: We have.

QUESTION: Okay. That’s all.

QUESTION: And you are comfortable that 300 monitors can actually do the job that is assigned to them?

MS. NULAND: Well, again, we’ve only just started to have monitors deploy over the last week and a half. We are only at double-digit strength, as you know, with more coming in. The monitors, as you have probably seen through the press reporting, have been greeted warmly by crowds of Syrians wanting to express themselves peacefully wherever they have been able to go. But I think the concern is, as in places like Hama and Homs, that the monitors come in, they are able to provide some space and some openness for opposition leaders to come out and make their views known. They’re beginning to start to see people, and then no sooner do they leave town when the artillery resumes. So this is a matter of concern and something that we will be watching day on day.

QUESTION: Yeah. I understand that they are greeted very well and people have probably waited for them to arrive. But are they – will they be able to discharge their duties as they should? I mean, keep track of what’s going on, have actual data so it can be vetted and determined and defined and so on?

MS. NULAND: Well, these are the standards that we insist this monitoring team be able to have, so we just have to see, Said. It’s really very early days, but as I said, it’s a litmus test for the seriousness of the regime.

QUESTION: And just a quick follow-up to the discussion that took place here last Friday on the Plan B – your Plan B, so to speak – a great deal of discussion was talked about yesterday. The Washington Post had an editorial saying that you don’t really have a Plan B, that basically your approach to this whole Syria crisis has been ad hoc. Do you have a comment on that?

MS. NULAND: Well, of course, we disagree with that. As the Secretary made clear in Paris, even as these monitors deploy, the international pressure has to stay on the Syrian regime. You saw the EU impose new sanctions today. The United States imposed new sanctions today. We are continuing to work with all of our international partners. And as the Secretary made clear in Paris, if this Kofi Annan plan fails, if this monitoring mission fails, we’re going to be back in the UN Security Council, we’re going to be looking at Chapter VII and looking at other ways to increase the pressure.

QUESTION: That’s once the 90-day period is over, correct?

MS. NULAND: I’m not going to speak to the timetable. I think we have to see how it goes, as I said, day on day.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MS. NULAND: Please.

QUESTION: And that within the 90 day, or after the 90 days, you’re going to go to the Security Council?

MS. NULAND: Well, I think Said just asked that question. Obviously, Resolution 2043 gives this initial monitoring effort 90 days, but I think the question is, even within the 90 days, are we able to get folks in? Are they able to do the job? Is the zone of peace enlarging or is it shrinking as a result? And we’re just going to have to watch and see.

Please, Jay.

QUESTION: A question concerning China. Just --

MS. NULAND: Yeah. Are we done – first of all, are we done with Syria?

QUESTION: Oh, yeah.

MS. NULAND: Yeah? Okay. Go ahead. Go on to China.

QUESTION: I know you guys aren’t getting into the give-and-take on the Bo Xilai case, but I’m trying to get sort of on a broader sense if the – if you could describe what the State Department’s, like, policy is towards walk-ins. Are there sort of clear parameters that the State Department has always used or is using now in dealing with them, just on a general basis? Because there have been cases in the past where, I guess during Tiananmen, we gave sanctuary to a dissident for, like, more than a year. So I was just trying to see if there was any parameters you could outline. And traditionally, is the White House involved in these decisions?

And the other question I just had is: Is there any – do you know what the status is of Bo Xilai’s son is up in Boston as far as his legal status here? I assume he came in as a student, on a student visa, but I don’t know if he’s – if there’s any sense on if he has to renew it or if the Chinese want him back. I was trying to get an update on that.

MS. NULAND: Well, first, on the latter question, there’s been broad press reporting that he is a student in good standing at Harvard. We don’t speak to individual visa matters, as you know, but you can draw your own conclusions from that. And obviously, student visas are, as a general matter, subject to the term of the educational opportunity that the person is here for.

With regard to walk-ins, every case is different. People walk into U.S. embassies and consulates around the world for a broad variety of reasons and with a broad variety of requests. There are some guiding regulations with regard to individual requests that might be made in the Foreign Affairs Manual. We can get you those if you need, Jay, but in general cases have to be decided based on the circumstances, and they’re very much case by case, depending upon what the individual is seeking and what the circumstances are.

Please. Still on this issue? No. Something else?

QUESTION: Can I try Afghanistan?

MS. NULAND: Why don’t we stay on China, first? Yeah. Go ahead.

QUESTION: A question that’s much easier. First, could you please talk to us about the focus of this, the fourth one of S&ED?

MS. NULAND: I don’t have too much more detail than what was put out by the Chinese side. As you know, this is a broad Strategic Dialogue that allows us to talk about the full range of bilateral issues, regional issues, and global issues. On the Treasury side, they’ll speak to their issues, but you know that – all those things that we talk about on the economic and financial and currency side with the Chinese Government. On the State Department side, it’s everything from our student exchange program, as you can imagine, to the regional issues that we talk about, like North Korea, to the global issues, like our work together on Iran, et cetera. So I think it’ll be a rich and broad menu of issues.

QUESTION: Will the South China Sea issue be addressed? Because I’m wondering if you are following the dispute with (inaudible). The Philippines now is seeking international support in the standoff with China. So under what circumstance will the U.S. wade into this dispute?

MS. NULAND: Well, I think you know our position on these disputes in the South China Sea. We want to see them resolved through dialogue; we want to see them resolved through consensual means. In general, in all of the most recent meetings that Secretary Clinton has had with Chinese counterparts, whether they were here, whether they were in China, whether they were in multilateral fora, she has reiterated our interest in deepening and broadening mechanisms within ASEAN, within regional fora, and bilaterally for solving these things consensually, not by force, calling for restraint by all sides. That’s where we are on this particular one and where I’m sure we’ll be in Beijing next week.

QUESTION: So do you believe China and the ASEAN countries can solve this problem in a – through friendly diplomatic consultations?

MS. NULAND: We do. We have always thought that this needed to be resolved through dialogue, and we’ll continue to press that on everybody.


QUESTION: When was the last time you haven’t?

MS. NULAND: Haven’t what?

QUESTION: Thought that something should be resolved through dialogue? (Laughter.) When was the last time you said, “No, I think we really need war.”

MS. NULAND: In the Libya context, dialogue failed and we had to call in NATO and call in other countries, as you’ll recall. That’s probably the --

QUESTION: On that same issue, I think you saw that Liberation Daily had a very strong piece over the weekend which essentially accused the United States of, in support of the Philippines, increasing the potential for military conflict in the South China Sea. Do you have any response to that charge from a newspaper which is widely seen as the mouthpiece of the PLA?

MS. NULAND: Well, again, our position has been consistent. The Secretary’s position has been consistent on all of these skirmishes in the South China Sea and certainly with regard to this one, that this can only be solved diplomatically, that we want to see restraint on all sides, we want to see ASEAN play a helpful role in coming to a resolution. And that’ll be the Secretary’s message again when she’s in Beijing next week.

QUESTION: Okay. Also --

MS. NULAND: In the back. Afghanistan?

QUESTION: Can we try Afghanistan? Thanks very much. May I try two actually? As you know, the Strategic Partnership Agreement is being inked now to take the United States relationship on beyond 2014. And we’re hearing that $2.7 billion is going to go to Afghan security forces. It’s a huge amount of money. What more can you tell us about the inking of the Strategic Partnership Agreement, please?

MS. NULAND: Well, let me start by saying that on April 22nd Ambassador Crocker and Afghan National Security Advisor Spanta initialed the text of the Strategic Partnership Agreement. Let me stress this is an initialing. This is not yet a signing. After much work together, we’re pleased that our negotiating teams have come to a common text to recommend to their respective governments. As is the case with all such agreements, both governments now have to review it, the text in interagency terms. We have to, on our side, have consultations with our Congress and the President has to make a final review. So that is still to be done.

With regard to dollar figures, I don’t have anything to announce yet. I think you know that we have been talking to the Afghan Government, we’ve been talking to our allies and partners around the world about the need to ensure that as the Afghan national security forces take on lead responsibility for security around Afghanistan that they are fully funded, that they are fully equipped, and that we have the ability to continue to train them. The Afghans themselves will contribute to those costs, but it’s going to take international support as well. As the Secretary made clear when she was with Secretary Panetta at NATO last week, we’re talking to lots of countries about how they can help the Afghans foot the bill, and the United States also will pay its fair share, but I’m not going to get into numbers here today.

QUESTION: Okay. I’m going to just add one more, and that is: What effect do you think the initialing of this document will have on peace talks with the Taliban?

MS. NULAND: Well, frankly, at this stage, that is very much up to the Taliban. Let me say that the Strategic Partnership document is primarily about the United States’ medium and long-term relationship with the Government of Afghanistan, with the Afghan people, and it sets out a blueprint for how we can move forward together on the political side, on the economic side, and continuing to provide appropriate security support, even as the Afghans manage their security increasingly self-reliantly.

As you know, in the context of the larger peace effort that the Afghan Government’s engaged in, we have very much supported the idea of Afghan-Afghan talks about political reconciliation. We have tried to be helpful in that regard, but really the Taliban have a choice to make now. They need to decide if they are ready to come to the table under the terms that we’ve all supported, led by the Afghan Government, starting with renouncing violence and expressing interest in these talks. So ball’s very much in their court.

QUESTION: Do you have anything to add to your statement from this morning on Sudan?

MS. NULAND: Other than to say that our Special Envoy Princeton Lyman remains very much engaged with the parties, with the African Union, and that we very much welcome the fact that the South Sudanese did withdraw from Heglig and that it’s now time for the Government of Sudan to stop its aerial bombardment and for everybody to get back to the table. That’s essentially where we are. And just to remind again that neither one of these governments is going to be able to fully benefit from the resources of both countries, from peace, from integration with the international community, until the violence stops. So they both – both sides have an interest in getting this violence stopped.


QUESTION: Change of issue?

MS. NULAND: Say again?

QUESTION: Change topics?


QUESTION: The Palestinian issue?


QUESTION: Yes. There is an apparent estrangement between Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and his Prime Minister Salam Fayyad. And my question to you, in this kind of atmosphere, how do you conduct whatever talks or lack of talks, if you would, with both entities? How do you conduct your business with them?

MS. NULAND: Well, I’m not going to get into internal issues within the Palestinian Authority. Obviously, we work with all the leading Palestinian figures. We obviously work with President Abbas, who David Hale had the chance to sit with on Saturday. We see Mr. Fayyad obviously, and David also works with Palestinian negotiator Erekat, who he anticipates seeing, I think it’s tomorrow.

So our goal is to continue to try to work with all parties on the Palestinian Authority side and with the Israelis to increase the opportunity for them to be in direct contact and to really get this conversation back to where it needs to be.

QUESTION: And Mr. Hale discussed the content of the letter that Mahmoud Abbas submitted last week with him?

MS. NULAND: Well, I would anticipate that he did, but I’m not going to get into the details of their discussion.

QUESTION: Yeah. This letter is really the point of contention between the two – between Fayyad and Abbas.

MS. NULAND: From our perspective, the fact that the sides are in contact, whether it’s by letter – obviously we prefer face to face, but the fact that this conversation is continuing is important. So we are trying to talk to all of the involved parties about how they can make the most of the time in front of them and the channels available to them.

QUESTION: Are you aware of the misunderstanding between Abbas and Fayyad?

MS. NULAND: I’m really not going to get into internal issues between members of the Palestinian Authority.


QUESTION: There are some press reports that (inaudible) Turkey is blocking Israel’s participation to next NATO summit. And the U.S. side is not happy with that. It’s disappointed and trying to convince Turks not to block Israel to NATO. Do you have any comment on that – on those reports?

MS. NULAND: Well, I think you know for quite some time now, we have been continuing to talk to both our ally Turkey and our ally Israel about the relationship that they have with each other, to encourage them to continue to get back to a place where can have conversation with each other, where they can work well together. We think it’s important to both of them, and it’s certainly important to the region.

With regard to arrangements for the NATO summit and partnership events, as you know, Israel is one of NATO’s partners in the Mediterranean Dialogue. I don’t have anything particular to announce on partnership planning at the moment. Those discussions are continuing as we head towards the May summit in Chicago.

QUESTION: So Israel may participate in some?

MS. NULAND: Again, we’re still working on what the partnership arrangements are going to look like for the summit, so I’m not going to comment on them from here as those conversations continue. There are many aspects of how the partners may or may not participate in the NATO summit that are still being worked on.

QUESTION: Well, are you comfortable with the Turkish position?

MS. NULAND: Again, I’m not going to comment on internal deliberations going on at NATO about arrangements for the summit from this --

QUESTION: NATO operates by consensus, correct?

MS. NULAND: Correct.

QUESTION: As you well know. So if one NATO member objected to Israel or any other country’s participation in a partnership dialogue, you wouldn’t be allowed to – that country wouldn’t be allowed to participate, correct?

MS. NULAND: We need consensus at NATO. And again, Israel is one of NATO’s partners, has participated over the years in many, many, many NATO activities, consultations, exercises, et cetera. So we’re going to keep working on the arrangements for partnership at Chicago, but I don’t have anything particular to announce today.

QUESTION: Well, would you be – would the Administration be comfortable if Israel did not participate?

MS. NULAND: Again, there are many, many ways that these partnership activities may go forward. They’ve been done in different ways at different summits. So I’m not going to get into what we’re talking about, how it might work, who’s going to come. We’re still working on all of that.

QUESTION: The Administration won’t come out and say that it wants Israel to be at the – to participate at the summit in Chicago?

MS. NULAND: We haven’t made any announcements about who --


MS. NULAND: -- among NATO’s 25-30 partners around the world we expect to invite to Chicago. So I’m not going to comment on individual partners and whether they’re coming to Chicago.

QUESTION: Well, you’re being asked about one specifically.


QUESTION: Is it important to the United States for Israel to participate?

MS. NULAND: It’s important that we come to a consensus agreement at NATO about a strong partnership aspect of this summit. So we’re still working on that.

QUESTION: So you’re saying that that could happen without Israel’s participation?

MS. NULAND: I’m saying that there are 25-30 global partners of NATO. Is it still under discussion at NATO what events there will be in the context of the summit that will highlight the partnership and which partners will be invited. No decisions have been made.

QUESTION: So you’re saying that some partners may not be invited?

MS. NULAND: I’m saying that there have been NATO summits where no partners were invited --

QUESTION: Toria, I’m trying to help you out here, because you’re going to get absolutely slammed.

MS. NULAND: I understand. Matt, there is no --

QUESTION: You are. If you can’t come out and say that the United States wants Israel to participate, its main ally in the Middle East and you won’t come out and say that the Administration wants them to participate in whatever event is going in Chicago, that’s – that is going to be seized on.

MS. NULAND: Matt, at the last summit in Lisbon, there was zero partnership participation with the exception, I think, of ISAF partners. At Lisbon there were some partnership events, and I don’t know whether all partners were included. I think they were not.

QUESTION: Well, as --

MS. NULAND: So every summit is done on a case-by-case basis, and we haven’t made a decision about who’s going to be invited yet.

QUESTION: Well, yeah, but isn’t the planning for at least most of these partnership – these partnerships to have some kind of meeting revolving around Chicago?

MS. NULAND: NATO has, I think, five --

QUESTION: Wasn’t there a meeting at heads of state level between NATO and the Russians in Lisbon?

MS. NULAND: I think there was a NATO-Russia Council at Lisbon. There will not be a NATO-Russia council meeting at Chicago. So again, the point is that for each summit, NATO makes decisions by a consensus what the partnership geometry will be. And that has not been decided.

QUESTION: Fair enough. But the Turks wouldn’t be objecting to Israel’s participation if someone hadn’t proposed that Israel participate. And if you have proposed that they participate --

MS. NULAND: Again --

QUESTION: -- and you’re not willing to stick up for it, I don’t understand why.

MS. NULAND: I’m not going to get into, here, what we have proposed and where we are in the internal dialogue at NATO until the issues are settled by consensus. That’s not the way NATO works. Okay?

Let’s move on.

QUESTION: Can we go back to the Palestinian issue?


QUESTION: Is Ambassador Hale mediating between the Palestinians, or between the Palestinians and the Israelis?

MS. NULAND: So David – let me just go through his schedule, if I can. Special Envoy Hale met with President Abbas on Saturday, with Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Sabah and other officials in Kuwait on April 22nd. He arrived in Jerusalem today. He will meet with Israeli negotiator Molho.

QUESTION: I’m sorry. Can you say that again?

MS. NULAND: He’s in Jerusalem today. He’ll meet with Israeli negotiator Molho, and then he’ll meet with Palestinian negotiator Erekat separately tonight and tomorrow. I’m not sure in what order. And then he will also, tomorrow, see Foreign Minister Judeh, I assume in Amman. And then, as we said, he plans to go on to Saudi, to Qatar, to Egypt. And then he’s probably going to go back to the region, but that hasn’t been decided yet.

QUESTION: That means he’s not mediating between Abbas and Fayyad?

MS. NULAND: Correct. He is not getting involved in internal Palestinian Authority issues.

QUESTION: And when did he see Fayyad?

MS. NULAND: Say again?

QUESTION: When did he see Fayyad, the prime minister?

MS. NULAND: We had Fayyad here in Washington not too long ago.

QUESTION: No, no. Isn’t he supposed to meet with Fayyad in --

MS. NULAND: I don’t have that on this list, but let me check with him whether he intends to see Mr. Fayyad on this trip.

QUESTION: New topic. On Myanmar, here seems to be a hiccup in this warming – warmth between Aung San Suu Kyi and the ruling party, the military-backed party, and that they disagree over the oath of office and Aung San Suu Kyi’s – and her NLD counterparts have declined to take their seats in parliament until this oath is changed. Does that concern you at all? Do you think that’s a setback? And what’s your view on this – the oath itself?

MS. NULAND: Well, as you’ve said, Andy, our understanding is the same as yours, that Aung San Suu Kyi and the members of her party from the National League of Democracy did not sit when parliament opened today because they were concerned about taking an oath requiring them to safeguard the constitution that was passed under military rule. Our understanding is that the NLD is in discussion with the government and with other parties with regard to this issue and we are calling on everybody to try to work this through in a manner that will allow the NLD to take its seats.

QUESTION: Would the action for action that the U.S. has promised to continue to implement be on hold pending them actually sitting in their seats in parliament?

MS. NULAND: Well, I think the measures that we’ve already announced are obviously going forward. We want to see the government and the opposition continue to work on their issues in a consensual manner through dialogue, and that is our understanding of what the NLD itself wants. So I think we need to watch this and hope that in coming days, this can be settled.

QUESTION: And do you have any position on the oath itself? Do you think that the NLD is correct in its objections to the wording of the oath?

MS. NULAND: I think we’re not going to get into the internal conversation that they’re having. As you know, the NLD has concerns about a number of things, including the name of the country, that were adopted at a time when they were not able to participate in the political process. So they’re going to have to work through these things together as part of the general opening in the reform process.


QUESTION: On Iraq, KRG President Maliki criticized an arms sales which will be made by U.S. to Baghdad Government – about the F-16 sales. And he said to freeze the sales until there will be a solution between KRG and Baghdad Government because he’s suspicious that the Maliki government can use this F-16 against KRG. Do you have any comment on that?

MS. NULAND: I’m sorry. Who made these initial comments?

QUESTION: President Barzani.


QUESTION: KRG president.

MS. NULAND: I’m not going to get into the middle of intramural efforts between the various Iraqis. I think you know where we are on this, that we want to see the disagreements that they have with each other also settled through dialogue and through a big roundtable process that they’ve all pledged to join but that still needs to get off the ground.

QUESTION: Is that F-16 sales will go on?

MS. NULAND: I don’t think there’s any change in our policy.

QUESTION: About the – just a follow-up about an oil agreement made by Exxon-Mobil and KRG. Since it’s an American company, the Exxon-Mobil, this agreement is excluding Baghdad Government’s role in the use of oil in KRG region. Do you have any comment? How do you see this agreement? Is it threatening to unity of Iraq, or how do you see Exxon-Mobil and KRG oil agreement?

MS. NULAND: We’ve talked about this issue many times. Our position on it has not changed, that we think the lack of a comprehensive oil agreement is holding Iraq back, that we’ve called on all sides to continue to work through what is necessary to come up with a national oil policy. And we also regularly counsel our companies, including Exxon, about the fact that there isn’t such an agreement. So I think we’ll have a little bit more to say on the issues of Iraq and energy later today. We’re going to have – we have the U.S.-Iraqi energy dialogue going on, and we’ll have some folks briefing later this afternoon on those things.

QUESTION: Toria, just a quick follow-up to this, but Maliki had really harsh words for Turkey. And now both of them are your allies, you have invested a great deal in Iraq. I mean, they’re – he’s pushing the envelopes. You don’t have any comment on that?

MS. NULAND: We have, for almost a decade now, encouraged increased dialogue, increased direct contacts between Iraq and Turkey. There are mechanisms for them to work through their issues together which we have endeavored to facilitate, and we encourage them to continue to use them to work through the issues that they have.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MS. NULAND: Please.

QUESTION: On North Korea?


QUESTION: Different topic. There are multiple reports that the North Koreans have threatened Seoul and South Korean President Lee’s government. Do you have a reaction on those reports with military action?

MS. NULAND: I don’t think our position on this is any different than it’s been before and after the satellite launch. I think if you got a chance to see what the Secretary had to say when she was on Wolf Blitzer last Thursday, that’s the – obviously the most eloquent statement of where we are, that the DPRK needs to understand that it’s not going to achieve anything but further isolation and pressure by threats, by launches, by any of this.

And we call on the new North Korean leadership to change course; instead put their effort into moving their country into the modern world, into the 21st century, opening up the system and giving their people the right to live in dignity and with openness, well fed, et cetera. And they’re just putting their energy in the wrong place.


QUESTION: Any reaction to Iraqi prime minister’s visit to Iran? And do you think – is it related to the P-5+1 meeting in Baghdad next month?

MS. NULAND: I’m going to send you to both of those governments for comments on their bilateral visit.

Okay. Thanks very much.

(The briefing was concluded at 1:46 p.m.)

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