Daily Press Briefing - June 26, 2012
Index for Today's Briefing:
- June 30 Meeting in Geneva / Talks Regarding Iranian Inclusion / Statements Regarding Kofi Annan's Plan
- Turkey Consultations with NATO
- Kofi Annan Plan / Iranian Participation at Meeting / Erdogan's Statements Regarding Syria/ Iranian Involvement in Geneva Meeting/U.S.-Turkey Alliance
- Future of Burma and Democracy
- Rohingya Situation
- Egyptian Court Strikes Down Decree Allowing Military Right to Arrest Citizens
- Visa Issuance to Al-Din
- Changes in Conduct of U.S. Embassy in Cairo
- Egyptian Court Strikes Down Decree Allowing Military Right to Arrest Citizens
- President Lugo's Impeachment/ Consultations at the OAS
- Creation of New Government
- Arrest of Abu Jandal
- Exchange of Prisoners Between India and Pakistan
- Arrests of Christine and Soheil Moghadam
- Terrorist Attacks in Karachi
- Formation of New Government in Pakistan
- Pakistani Soldiers Killed by Terrorists
12:54 p.m. EDT
MS. NULAND: All right. Afternoon, everybody. I just have one thing at the top, and that is to welcome our delegation of presidential advisors from the Office of the Presidency in Burma. They are here at the invitation of the Asia Society and the U.S. Institute of Peace to look at how we can work together. So welcome to the briefing. Let’s go to what’s on your minds.
QUESTION: He’s quick.
QUESTION: Does the –
MS. NULAND: He is. Did you notice that? He went right in on my invitation to brief. That’s because Matt wasn’t here, so he gets to pitch the first question. Let’s try again, Arshad. Was that Syria?
QUESTION: Like I did so for many, many years.
MS. NULAND: You did. There we go.
MS. NULAND: We are continuing to work on the issues surrounding such a meeting so that it can be a success if we have it. The Secretary has just spoken to Joint Special Envoy Kofi Annan again to continue to work on what this conference might look like and how, if we go forward with it, whether it – if it’s at the end of the week or sometime thereafter, we can ensure that it truly makes progress in supporting the Annan plan and specifically in supporting a peaceful democratic transition in Syria. So I would say today that we are getting closer, but we don’t have any decisions yet.
QUESTION: You said “at some point thereafter”. I think that is the first time that I remember you’re suggesting that it could slide from the 30th. Are you now looking at alternate dates?
MS. NULAND: I think the aspiration of the Joint Special Envoy is still to have it on the 30th. As we’ve been saying all along, we want to make sure it’s well prepared. So before we come to a final conclusion on that, we have a little bit more work to do.
QUESTION: Foreign Minister Lavrov said today two things; one, that he will attend such a meeting if one is held, and secondly, that Iran’s participation is critical to the success of such a meeting. Has the Administration dropped its objection to Iran attending?
MS. NULAND: Our view on Iran’s participation has not changed. Given its support for the regime and its continued behavior vis-a-vis Syria, we just don’t see it as able to make a helpful contribution right now.
QUESTION: So is that ultimately then a deal breaker? I mean, how are you going to do this if the Russians think it’s critical, and you think it’s inimical to the holding of such a meeting or the purposes of such a meeting?
MS. NULAND: Well, as I said, we are continuing to work through all of the issues to ensure that if we go forward with this that it can be successful and that we can have an outcome that actually brings more support and more progress for the Syrian people. And one of the issues we’ve been talking about from the beginning is the appropriate participation.
QUESTION: Did the Secretary –
QUESTION: Is that the only issue?
QUESTION: Did the Secretary and Kofi Annan speak specifically about Iran’s inclusion in the event?
MS. NULAND: Well, beyond saying that the conversation was largely about how we can support Kofi Annan’s plan and about crafting a conference for success, I don’t think I’m going to get into the details.
QUESTION: Since it’s his plan, it is the – not the Assad plan – the Annan plan, surely his –
MS. NULAND: It’s complicated, all those people with A names, right?
QUESTION: Right. Surely his wish whether or not to have Iran at this conference must bear some weight with you, since it’s his plan, right?
MS. NULAND: Well, again, we want to ensure that if we have this conference, when we have this conference, that it is well prepared, that it can make progress, that all the countries and organizations around the table are committed to the Annan plan, are committed to a peaceful, positive transition. And so participation does matter, and we’re going to continue to talk about that.
QUESTION: And just lastly, my understanding was that Kofi Annan wanted you and Russia, as two key parties to this potential event, to make a decision on Iran and a couple other things. Has the Secretary spoken to Foreign Minister Lavrov about this? Are there plans to speak about whether Iran should come or whether maybe Saudi Arabia should come?
MS. NULAND: Well, in the first instance, the Secretary has spoken to Foreign Minister Lavrov in the past about the general question of how we support the Annan plan and about the idea of a conference. She will see him; as you know, she’ll be in St. Petersburg on Friday. So they will have – in addition of their work together in support of APEC, they’ll have a bilateral meeting there, and they’ll be able to continue the discussion. But our teams have been working with Kofi Annan and his team, and the Russians also have a team there. So we’ve been in constant communication with the Russians in Geneva, in New York, in Moscow, and here about the path going forward.
QUESTION: So (inaudible) you won’t have a decision till Friday?
QUESTION: It’s been reported that Kofi Annan did invite Iran. We understand that he issued an invitation to Iran, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Kuwait, beside the permanent five. Could you confirm that?
MS. NULAND: Well, I’m going to refer you to Kofi Annan with regard to the formality of invitations issued, et cetera. But as I said, we are continuing to talk about ensuring that if this goes forward when it goes forward, that it’s a success.
QUESTION: So you’re not aware of any official invitation that may have gone out by Annan to any particular country?
MS. NULAND: I really can’t speak to his communications with Iran.
QUESTION: Is it conceivable to you that there will be no decision on whether there is any such meeting until the Secretary meets Foreign Minister Lavrov?
MS. NULAND: We are going to work on this so that we get it right. I just can’t predict how soon or late that will be, Arshad.
QUESTION: And what would constitute success?
MS. NULAND: Again, we have said, and the Secretary said it herself, starting with her statements in Istanbul some two and a half weeks ago, and all the statements that she’s made since and that other U.S. principals have made since and that we’ve made from this podium, we think one of the underdeveloped aspects of the Annan plan is how you get to the post-Assad political transition. We think the international community can help the Syrians by laying out some principles, some parameters that can give people a vision of how they can get from the horrible, violent, somewhat hopeless situation they’re in now to a new political reality. And so we want some kind of a framework along those lines to be the outcome of any group that is pulled together, and we really need to ensure that this group is supportive of the overall mission of Kofi Annan and all six of his points, including a halting to violence.
QUESTION: Just to follow up, Victoria, I mean, yesterday’s statements from this building and a statement by Ambassador Rice basically said that the Kofi Annan plan is basically kaput. So you’re saying that it is not, that it’s still – it is alive and kicking and it can go forward?
MS. NULAND: That is not the way I would have read what we had to say about that. We have never characterized the plan in those terms. We have certainly been clear that there are concerns that the plan’s not being implemented, therefore the monitors can’t do their job. And the international community has got to come together in a united way to give Kofi Annan more support and to get this plan implemented.
QUESTION: So what – I mean, just to follow up on Arshad’s question, what would constitute the go forward post the 30th of June?
MS. NULAND: Said, I think I just outlined what we’re looking for. We’re looking to set forth a framework for a political transition that includes the ceasefire, includes the pullback of heavy weaponry, that gives a path forward for the Syrian people so that they can see that they’re going to have a political transition, they’re going to have the right to choose their own government, and that the rights of all Syrians – whether they are majority or minority, men, women – are going to be protected by the process. And then we’ll be able to move forward from there.
QUESTION: So while you are trying to get Annan plan work and the armors and heavy armors pulled back, at the same time, Turkey now is – sent its military convoy to the border this morning. It’s quite known on media and credible news reports. Are you concerned that there would be some events or incidents happening at this border?
MS. NULAND: Well, first of all with regard to our ally, Turkey, as you know – and NATO has issued a statement to this effect and NATO Secretary General Rasmussen has been out in front of the press – NATO met today to hear Turkey’s briefing on the incident and stood in strong solidarity with our ally, Turkey, particularly with regard to any further incidents, called the incident that happened unacceptable, condemned it in strongest terms, et cetera. So we will continue to stay in close touch with Turkey about its security concerns and stay solid as allies, as we always do.
QUESTION: How would you assess Turkey’s briefing today at NATO? Were you satisfied by Turkey’s arguments?
MS. NULAND: My understanding is it was a very productive session.
QUESTION: Going to the Annan plan --
MS. NULAND: Yes.
QUESTION: -- would you say that the two sticking points to having a meeting are Iran’s participation and the getting to a new political reality post-Assad? Would you say those – are those the only two, or are there more?
MS. NULAND: Again, I think I’ve said what I have to say about our work to get to a conference that’s going to be productive. We want to make sure that if we do this, it’s not going to be an empty meeting, that it’s going to actually produce results for the Syrian people.
QUESTION: At this – you will be going if Iran goes or not?
MS. NULAND: Again, we are still working on the participation. We do not think that Iran has a place at the table.
QUESTION: Have you received an invitation, Toria, or – from Annan?
MS. NULAND: Well, we’ve been working with Annan on what the terms would look like, so we are still working on how it’s going to look.
QUESTION: The Turkish Prime Minister today, referring to last Friday’s incident, talked about new rules of engagement when it comes to Syria and talked about how such incidences would be treated as a threat going on. Does that kind of talk worry the United States about raising tensions even further along an already tense border?
MS. NULAND: Well, I’m going to refer you to Turkey to whatever decisions it’s made about its own military posture. We understood those public statements to refer to how Turkey would respond if its territory were incurred.
QUESTION: Wait a minute. I mean, you guys can surely have a position on what he said. And as I understood it, what he said was that if their territory was breached that they would respond militarily. Is that a good thing for him to lay out that line?
MS. NULAND: I’m not going to comment directly on his statements or his comment beyond saying that I think the statement that the alliance made today at 28 expressing our solidarity with Turkey and our commitment to her as an ally speaks for all of us.
QUESTION: Victoria, regarding the Iran aspect of this possible meeting --
MS. NULAND: Yeah.
QUESTION: -- don’t you think if Iran was included in this meeting, it could help with their own case with the West, their nuclear program? They could be maybe more forthcoming and the international community could have a closer eye on it regarding what it does in Syria and what it doesn’t?
MS. NULAND: Again, we see these as distinct issues. There is the question of Iran living up to its international obligations and demonstrating to the world that it is telling the truth when it says its program is purely peaceful. That’s a separate track of talks.
With regard to Syria, we’ve talked about this many times here. The Secretary’s talked about it. This is a country that not only has never publicly accepted the Annan six-point plan; it’s actively aiding and abetting the Assad regime on the ground in its murdering of its own people. So we don’t see that they are in a positive place now to contribute in a way that’s going to get us to the post-Assad transition.
QUESTION: But if they actually attended a conference on Kofi Annan’s six-point plan, wouldn’t they be accepting Kofi Annan’s six-point plan?
MS. NULAND: That’s not where we are at the moment.
QUESTION: But could a change in Iranian policy mean that it would be acceptable for them to attend?
MS. NULAND: Again, I’m not going to speculate on where this conversation’s going to go. You know where we are on Iran participating.
QUESTION: New subject?
MS. NULAND: Yes.
MS. NULAND: Please.
QUESTION: Now, you mentioned something about breaching Turkish sovereignty and so on. Are you aware of any incident where Syrian forces or Syrian airplanes have breached actually Turkish airspace or Turkish boundaries?
MS. NULAND: Again, I think that conversation’s better directed – that question is better directed to the Turks in terms of the precise technical question.
QUESTION: Just – Turkish officials today said Syrian helicopters five times breach the Turkish airspace, just to respond to that question.
MS. NULAND: Thank you. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: My question is: At this point, is – U.S. is ready to extend any arm assistance to Turkey for any aggression or in case of any event at the border (inaudible)?
MS. NULAND: Well, Turkey is our ally. As NATO said today and as the Secretary General said today, we’re prepared to look at any request that Turkey wants to make.
QUESTION: Have there been any requests or have there – has there been any contingency planning in the event of a further provocation or act of aggression?
MS. NULAND: Well, like the U.S. military, NATO prepares for all contingencies. So I’m not going to speak to details, but as you know, the setup today was a briefing followed by the very strong political statements of support.
QUESTION: A new subject?
MS. NULAND: Yes.
QUESTION: Just real quick -- but beyond the ritual calls for solidarity and everyone is behind Turkey, can you just logistically speak about what happened behind closed doors and --
MS. NULAND: So not. Good try though. (Laughter.) So not.
QUESTION: Logistically, not substantially?
MS. NULAND: No. I cannot.
QUESTION: New subject?
MS. NULAND: Yeah. I think Goyal is up next if we’re going to change subjects.
QUESTION: I have a question on Burma.
MS. NULAND: Yes.
QUESTION: Message for the visiting guests here and also --
MS. NULAND: He’s pandering to you. You see, right?
QUESTION: -- (laughter) -- also for the Burmese living outside of Burma --
MS. NULAND: Yes.
QUESTION: -- and of course the Burmese people inside Burma, what is the future of Burma today and the real democracy? When do you expect to – and what message do you have that U.S. will help, really, Burmese people to end violence and bring real democracy?
MS. NULAND: Well, I think, as our Burmese visitors know better than anyone, we have been encouraging the kind of opening and reform that we are now seeing in Burma for many months. The Secretary’s trip that she made in the late fall was a seminal moment given that we hadn’t had a Secretary there since the ’50s. And we – she said then that we would match action with action.
So as Burma has gone forward with free, fair, parliamentary elections, has taken steps on the border, has begun to talk about opening its economy, we’ve tried to match those steps. We’ve had the naming of an ambassador. We’ve had the beginning of suspension of sanctions. We’re working now on being able to license our companies for investment, for trade, et cetera. But as we’ve said, these are suspensions. These are not erasing of sanctions because our continued progress is contingent on Burma’s own continued progress in terms of democratic reform, economic opening, peace and security, national reconciliation, and good human rights standards throughout the country.
QUESTION: Just to follow, what is that something that you – I mean, U.S. wants from Burma before fully diplomatic and economic or trade relations?
MS. NULAND: Well, again, this is a step-by-step process, and there’s quite a road to go, as I think our Burmese guests would agree with.
QUESTION: Could I just follow up briefly --
MS. NULAND: Yeah.
QUESTION: -- on the Rohingya situation?
MS. NULAND: Yes.
QUESTION: There have been some moves between Myanmar – Burma and Bangladesh to have some sort of dialogue about what’s going on. But there still have been reports of ill treatment of the Rohingya who have been fleeing to Bangladesh. Is there any contact that the U.S. has had with the two governments about the treatment of the refugees?
MS. NULAND: Yeah. We have had contacts with both governments. As you know, we have been urging Bangladesh to open its border to treat refugees properly. We’ve been supportive and encouraging of the UN’s Special Envoy, who, I understand, is now in Rohingya state working with the Burmese Government, working with the Rohingya to try to have a dialogue about grievances, to try to settle issues peacefully. And they are – also, as I understand it, the UN’s envoy will be traveling to Bangladesh. So --
QUESTION: Do you see any progress on that from the Bangladeshi side, in particular?
MS. NULAND: I think the fact that they are in dialogue with the Burmese is a good thing. But again, we’d like to see that border open.
QUESTION: Change topic?
MS. NULAND: Yeah.
QUESTION: Egypt. As I’m sure you’re aware, an Egyptian court today struck down the decree under which the military was given the right to arrest civilians. From the U.S. perspective, is that a good thing?
MS. NULAND: I have to say, Arshad, that I haven’t seen the details. But you know that we have had concerns all the way along about these emergency powers that the military has taken for itself. We pushed for a long time to have that emergency law lifted. When it finally was, we encouraged that. And then we had some additional powers laid back on.
So I think I will take some time to review what has happened, but if it is in support of human rights and dignity for the Egyptian people, then it would be a good move.
QUESTION: And one other thing on Egypt.
MS. NULAND: Yeah.
QUESTION: Yesterday, as you will recall, we had a long back and forth about the visa issued to Mr. Al-Din, the self-proclaimed member of Gama’a al-Islamiyya, the U.S.-designated Foreign Terrorist Organization. Do you now have any greater clarity as to how he came to be issued a visa and whether any U.S. laws were broken in his being issued a visa, and finally on whether there are any criminal or administrative inquiries into whether laws may have been broken here?
MS. NULAND: Well, we pushed a little harder. I’ve got a little bit more for you, but we are still somewhat constrained given the confidentiality of visa cases. On your last two questions I don’t have any evidence of U.S. laws being broken or a requirement for criminal follow-up.
Based on the background checks that were conducted as part of his visa application and other additional information that has come to light since that time, we neither had then nor do we have now any reason to believe that this particular individual, who at the time of his application was a member of parliament, would pose a threat to the United States. So after careful review, we concluded that the appropriate procedures were followed, including a review of the claimed affiliations. So --
QUESTION: Isn’t the membership in an FTO in and of itself by U.S. law grounds for their said person’s inadmissibility to the United States?
MS. NULAND: In and of itself it is grounds for inadmissibility. However, there are also waiver procedures when it is in the U.S. national interest. I’m not going to get into the specifics of how this case was handled for all the confidentiality reasons. But as a general matter, yes, if you are a member of an FTO, you are excluded unless your admission is waived.
QUESTION: So what you are suggesting is that if you had known then all of what you know now, you could or you would have waived the law because he does not constitute, in your judgment, a threat to the United States?
MS. NULAND: I’m not speaking at all to how his particular visa was processed except to say that we didn’t then and we don’t now see a threat from this person having been in the United States.
QUESTION: You’re leaving dangling the idea that he would have gotten a waiver. Are you not trying to make that point?
MS. NULAND: I am trying to protect the privacy of the visa process and not go any further with regard to the specifics of this case.
QUESTION: So --
MS. NULAND: You can draw whatever conclusions you’d like.
QUESTION: So you will not be revoking his visa, even symbolically, now that he has left the country?
MS. NULAND: Again, I don’t have anything further for you on that one either.
QUESTION: Did you know of his self-professed membership in the organization when he was granted the visa?
MS. NULAND: Beyond saying that neither at the time he applied nor since have we had reason to think he was a threat to the United States, I’m not going to give you – get into any specifics of the case.
QUESTION: And that means – is he able to come back to the States?
MS. NULAND: Again, all visa processing is confidential, so that would be a subject of confidentiality in his application.
QUESTION: Victoria, I’m --
MS. NULAND: Yeah. Still?
QUESTION: Have there been any – as a result of --
QUESTION: Just one more on this? Forgive me. Just related to this. Thank you. Are you trying to (a) tighten your visa procedures so that you have a better – I’m not talking about his case, but any other cases so that you have a better sense of who may be applying to come to the United States, particularly from Egypt; and (b) are you trying to look at the Egyptian – now currently Egyptian politicians, or at least those who may have been elected before the parliament was dissolved, to make sure that your current views on who is and isn’t admissible are consistent with your current understanding of their positions? In other words, is there some kind of an effort by the U.S. Government to go back and take a look at people, some of whom may have been deemed ne’er-do-wells by the Mubarak regime, to make sure that you have a current view on whether they are or are not admissible? Or are you just going to deal with this kind of ad hoc if and when it comes up?
MS. NULAND: As a general matter, we have confidence in our visa procedures, in our ability to apply U.S. law, in our ability to vet and understand who applicants are. But as we’ve been saying all along, it’s a new day in Egypt, it’s a new day in a lot of countries across the Middle East and North Africa, so new political personalities are coming to light. We’re learning more about all of them every day. And we have more folks who want to come here, want to know us, want to learn about the United States, want to develop relationships with us. We have the same interests with regard to them. So we are obviously going to have to continue to improve our understanding of who’s who and make those kinds of outreaches that we are doing, and that’s why so many of those embassies and the programs that we are support are so busy as these countries change.
QUESTION: I was just going to ask you if there’s been any changes in the conduct of the U.S. Embassy in Cairo as a result of the elections and the personnel. Have there been any changes in personnel or the level of alert or anything like this, or things are going as normal?
MS. NULAND: Apart from saying that they are extremely busy covering all of the new developments in Egypt and reaching out to all of these political players and economic players, I don’t think there have been any major changes out there except that they’re not getting a lot of sleep.
QUESTION: To go back to the earlier question about the court striking down the military’s ability to arrest civilians, can you get us a formal comment by the end of the day? Do you think you’ll have sufficient clarity of what happened to actually say we think this is a good thing or we think this is not a good thing?
MS. NULAND: Let me see what we can do, Arshad.
QUESTION: And the court also postponed judgment on an appeal to the constitution-writing panel, the 100-member panel, which puts, I guess, into doubt how a new constitution will be written if the panel doesn’t know if it will exist or not in a couple months. So if you can include that maybe in your reaction.
MS. NULAND: I mean, I’m happy to – with regard to the constitutional process, I think this is going to be a work in progress for a little while. But let me see what I can – whether we have anything to say on either of those on Arshad’s timeline.
QUESTION: Different topic?
MS. NULAND: Yes, please.
QUESTION: On Paraguay.
MS. NULAND: Yep.
QUESTION: A couple of things. First of all regarding the conversation yesterday, has there been any further determination on the part of the U.S. about what happened in Paraguay, whether this constitutes a coup or more broadly whether the U.S. has objections to what took place in Paraguay?
MS. NULAND: Well, as you know, we are having consultations in the OAS today, and we would expect that the OAS will come forward after those consultations. As a general matter, we haven’t called this a coup because the processes were followed. I think the question is one of speed. And the OAS is looking at how it can support the Paraguayan democratic process going forward. You know that they’re supposed to have elections in 2013, which need to go forward. So I think we will refrain from further comment until we see how we come out of the OAS meeting. But our interest remains in protecting and preserving Paraguayan democracy.
QUESTION: Sure. The current leadership in Paraguay – does the U.S. recognize them as legitimate – the current president?
MS. NULAND: Again, we are going to be guided by the conversation that we have at the OAS about how we should deal with formers, currents, all those kinds of things.
QUESTION: When you said you –
QUESTION: And –
QUESTION: And just – you issued a response to a question yesterday. President Lugo – then-President Lugo a day before the impeachment to go in at his own request to the U.S. Embassy.
MS. NULAND: Right.
QUESTION: I just wanted to see if there’s any more substance that you can tell us, what happened, what was the nature of the conversation. Obviously, the fact that this was right before his impeachment draws questions about what was discussed there.
MS. NULAND: Yeah. I wish I did. I have nothing more for you there, Sean.
QUESTION: You said you haven’t called it a coup because the processes were followed. Does that mean you’ve decided it’s not a coup?
MS. NULAND: Yeah. We have not decided to call it a coup because it was – there were constitutional processes that were followed. The concerns that we’ve had, as we said yesterday, were that the process seemed to be extremely speedy, so –
QUESTION: Her question – that wasn’t her question. Her question was: Have you decided not to call it a coup?
MS. NULAND: I think, again, we will make our final conclusions on all of this as we see how the OAS comes forward.
QUESTION: So if the OAS decides that this was a coup --
MS. NULAND: Said, you’re taking me into all kinds of hypotheticals that I’m not going into.
QUESTION: You said that you will be consistent with the OAS decision. If they decide that it was a coup, that means that you will recognize it as such?
MS. NULAND: Again, I’m not going to prejudge the outcome of the meeting until we’ve had the meeting.
QUESTION: Can we change the subject?
MS. NULAND: Yes.
QUESTION: Okay. Question on Serbia. Serbian media reported today that President Nikolic gave the mandate for the creation of the new government to the president of Socialist Party, and that most probably these two parties will create a new government. Would the United Sates cooperate with new government if we know that these two parties were ex-parties of Slobodan Milosevic and Vojislav Seselj who led Serbia in ’90s?
MS. NULAND: Well, again I’m not going to prejudge whatever negotiations might be going on in Serbia, but as a general matter, assuming that the government is legitimately formed, then we will obviously work with them, but let’s await what is decided in Serbia.
MS. NULAND: Yeah.
QUESTION: India has arrested an Indian citizen, a wanted terrorist who was living in Karachi with 26 different names in flight to Saudi Arabia, but Pakistan was asking Saudis not to hand over because of Interpol and FBI’s help and, of course, the cooperation for the Saudi Government. Now he’s in the Indian custody. Any comments on that? Because he was behind the Mumbai attacks and other terrorist attacks inside India.
MS. NULAND: Well, we spoke about this a little bit yesterday, Goyal. I don’t know if you were – I can’t remember if you were with us, but we’re aware of these reports. We obviously have long supported and called for the arrest and prosecution and conviction of all of those responsible for the 2008 Mumbai attacks, because we lost six of our own, as you know.
QUESTION: And just a quick – India and Pakistan now are about to talk about different issues and all that, and also there was an exchange of prisoners recently, including Sarabjit Singh inside Pakistan for the last 20 years. Any comments on these upcoming talks between the two countries? Is the U.S. playing any role?
MS. NULAND: Well, you know that we encourage both India and Pakistan to continue to strengthen and deepen the dialogue that they have with each other. They’ve had – made good progress together in the last 18 months on economic issues, and we’re hopeful that that kind of increasing trust can be built on in other areas.
QUESTION: On this – on the arrest of Abu Jandal in India, since six U.S. nationals were also killed in the Mumbai terrorist attack, is U.S. sending in a team for questioning this individual or seeking access from India for this individual?
MS. NULAND: I don’t have anything on that for you one way or the other. I’m sorry.
QUESTION: I have a – can I just ask you, do you know if you are providing any assistance to the Moghadam family from California, which apparently was detained in Ghana with four adopted children, which they say they legally adopted?
MS. NULAND: I think we are providing assistance. I have something from yesterday. Unfortunately, I don’t have it updated today. We can confirm, obviously, that they were detained by Ghanaian officials who were looking into the legality of the adoption of these four children. A bond has been posted for their release. They’ve now been reunited with their biological children, and as of Monday morning, their passports had been returned to them. We visited the family. We are providing all the appropriate consular services and support, and we are monitoring the situation closely and addressing any questions to us from Ghanaian officials.
QUESTION: I’m sorry. Who’s been reunited with their biological children?
MS. NULAND: This was an American couple – Christine and Soheil Moghadam. We do have a Privacy Act waiver on them. They were in Ghana. They had, on June 14th, adopted four Ghanaian children. There were subsequent questions on the Ghanaian side about that adoption, and we’ve been working through that with them.
QUESTION: So the Moghadam family was reunited with their biological children?
MS. NULAND: They were trying to adopt four, and then they had two biological children with them as well.
QUESTION: And so –
QUESTION: But they haven’t been reunited with the four adopted children?
MS. NULAND: As of yesterday, we were still trying to work with the – through the issues so that they could be and so these adoptions could go forward.
QUESTION: And have the Ghanaians explained to you why they had suspicions or what problems they see with their adoption?
MS. NULAND: They may well have. I don’t have any more detail there, but I would refer you to the Ghanaians about the concerns that they had.
MS. NULAND: Other than decrying terrorism in all its forms, I don’t have anything particular.
QUESTION: And after the formation of the new government in Pakistan, have you been able to establish contact with the new prime minister? How do you see the entire process went through – in Pakistan, the change in leadership?
MS. NULAND: I can’t speak to whether we’ve had ambassadorial-level contact with the new prime minister. As you know, we’ve been working with the Pakistani Government all along. I think the Pentagon just announced a senior-level visit to Pakistan for tomorrow. So we will continue to try to keep those channels open and do what we can to improve the situation.
QUESTION: And how do you see the change of leadership inside Pakistan, because you have been pushing for a strengthening of democratic forms in Pakistan?
MS. NULAND: Well, again, we want to – now that there is a declared successor – be able to move on together and to continue to work on strengthening not only our political and economic relationship, but our counterterrorism relationship and get back on track there.
QUESTION: I have one more.
MS. NULAND: Please.
QUESTION: Over the weekend, around 13 Pakistani soldiers were killed by a terrorist. Pakistan says the terrorists were – came from across the border from Afghanistan and saying that NATO force and Afghan forces are not taking any action against the safe havens inside Afghanistan. What do you have to say on that?
MS. NULAND: Well, you won’t be surprised that our pitch will be, again, for increased cooperation between Afghanistan and Pakistan on these terrorist issues, working together through the core group in a trilateral way – NATO, ISAF, Pakistan, and Afghanistan – to try to deal with terrorism on both sides of the border, and it speaks to why we’ve got to get back on track in our own CT cooperation with Pakistan.
QUESTION: Would you support Pakistan soldiers crossing over the border against these militants in Afghanistan?
MS. NULAND: Again, both sides need to respect sovereignty, territorial integrity, but they need to work together in how they’re each going to deal with the problems on their own sides of the border, and I think there are frustrations on both sides by the sound of it.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MS. NULAND: Thank you.
(The briefing was concluded at 1:31 p.m.)
DPB # 117