Daily Press Briefing - July 9, 2012
Index for Today's Briefing:
- Secretary Clinton's Trip / Libyan Election / Timor-Leste Election
- Deputy Secretary Burns' Cairo Trip / Political Process
- Violence by Assad Regime / Defections / Syria Accountability Clearinghouse
- Annan Visit / Iran's Role
- Russian Arms Sales
- Taliban Execution
- Meetings with Afghan and Pakistani Officials / Haqqani Network
- Assistant Secretary Gordon's Travel
- Senkaku Islands
- Election Results
- ISRAEL/PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES
- Meeting between Netanyahu and Abbas
- Deputy Secretary Burns' Visit
- UNITED NATIONS
- WIPO Investigation
- Human Rights Violations during World War II
- Operation Anvil
Daily Press Briefing
Today's briefing was held off-camera, so no video is available.
1:11 p.m. EDT
MR. VENTRELL: Okay. Good afternoon and happy Monday, everyone. As you know, the Secretary of State is in Mongolia today where she gave a major address at the Community of Democracies. We’ll be putting that address out momentarily.
Over the weekend – as you know, it was a major weekend for elections. We had the elections in Libya, (inaudible) which the President and Secretary Clinton congratulated the Libyan people. In addition, I just wanted to briefly read out our position on the elections in Timor-Leste.
We congratulate the people and Government of Timor-Leste on the successful conduct of peaceful parliamentary elections on July 7th. This was the second parliamentary vote since independence in 2002 and is a significant step forward in the consolidation of peace and security in Timor-Leste’s young democracy. The U.S. remains committed to continued close partnership with Timor-Leste; to contribute to its future peace, stability, and prosperity; and we look forward to working with the new Timorese Government when it is named.
And finally, as you know, Deputy Secretary Burns was in Cairo over the weekend, where he concluded a successful visit to Egypt. He met with a range of senior Egyptian officials, leading political figures, civil society representatives, and members of Egypt’s business community. He had a very constructive meeting with President Morsi during which he underscored the U.S. commitment to building new partnership with a new democratic Egypt. I commend you to the transcript of his press availability after that meeting which has further details on his meeting. Today, he is in Yemen where he’s meeting with Yemeni political leaders and representatives from civil society and the private sector. And he will continue on with a number of other stops before returning back to Washington.
And with that, I will turn it over to you.
MR. VENTRELL: Go ahead, Matt.
MR. VENTRELL: Yes.
QUESTION: You said that he had a very constructive --
MR. VENTRELL: He did.
QUESTION: -- meeting with President Morsi?
MR. VENTRELL: He did.
QUESTION: Can you be – can you elaborate as to why it was very constructive as opposed to just constructive or --
MR. VENTRELL: Well again, this is the first time that we have a senior American official meeting with the newly inaugurated President of Egypt, the first democratically elected civilian leader in Egypt’s history. So again, that was an important meeting. And again, I don’t have a lot further to read out from the content of the meeting, but Secretary Burns did a press availability right afterward, and I urge you to read the transcript which is --
QUESTION: Right. But I’m just trying to find out why you would characterize it as very constructive. I mean, it sounds like it was a meeting. It may have been an important meeting, but --
MR. VENTRELL: Well, again --
QUESTION: -- it doesn’t necessarily mean it was constructive.
MR. VENTRELL: Matt, I think I was --
QUESTION: Did the President ask for the release of the Blind Sheikh?
MR. VENTRELL: Again, Matt, I don’t have any specific details to read out from the visit --
QUESTION: All right. Did Deputy Secretary Burns --
MR. VENTRELL: -- or from the meeting with President Morsi.
QUESTION: This may have happened shortly after their meeting, but did Deputy – or does – did Deputy Secretary Burns or do people in this building now, or in the Administration more generally, have any concerns about the President’s decision to recall parliament?
MR. VENTRELL: Well, Matt, clearly, developments are unfolding quickly. We’re monitoring them closely and we’re in touch with Egypt’s leaders. These issues are for Egyptians to decide in a manner that respects democratic principles and the transition process, and is transparent and protects the rights of all Egyptians.
QUESTION: Well, does that mean that you have – do you have concerns about this or not?
MR. VENTRELL: Again, this is a process that’s playing out in Egypt --
QUESTION: I understand that. But --
MR. VENTRELL: -- to be decided by Egyptians.
QUESTION: -- are you concerned that the military might take some action?
MR. VENTRELL: Again, I’ve said that --
QUESTION: Do you think that this parliament that which you did at the time when it was elected – is a legitimate representative body for the Egyptian people? And should it be recalled? Should it --
MR. VENTRELL: Well, I think this is an issue for the Egyptians to work out. Obviously, they’re working on this. This is evolving, and I’m not going to take a further position beyond that.
QUESTION: So you don’t have – so I just want to make clear – you don’t have any concerns about – that this could lead to some kind of a showdown --
MR. VENTRELL: We’re --
QUESTION: -- or confrontation between the military and the newly elected President and the defunct/not defunct parliament?
MR. VENTRELL: Matt, we’re monitoring the situation closely and we’re in touch with various Egyptian actors in the process.
QUESTION: May I --
MR. VENTRELL: Go ahead, Andy.
QUESTION: Well, I just have a follow-up and I can guess what your answer’s going to be. But the – one of the news points that came out after the Burns meeting there was that there was apparently an invitation extended by President Obama to President Morsi to visit the United States. I’m just wondering if you can say anything to that.
MR. VENTRELL: Well, what I can confirm is that Deputy Secretary Burns had a message from the President of the United States which he delivered to President Morsi. But in terms of the contents of that message, I obviously refer you to the White House.
QUESTION: Okay. And back on the discussion of the parliament recall, I’m just curious. I mean, you don’t – does this view – does this building have a view on whether or not as – in the President’s purview, given his democratic, sort of, credentials, whether it’s within his rights to recall parliament as he has done? I mean, are you making – do you have any vision, – any call on whether the President or parliament or the court is the – sort of the guiding institution here?
MR. VENTRELL: I mean, obviously, we’re monitoring it closely. This is something that the Egyptians need to work through, but I’m not going to go any further than that.
QUESTION: Yeah. Do you know if Secretary Burns discussed the issue with President Morsi, recalling the parliament? Because it happened --
MR. VENTRELL: Again, I wasn’t in the meeting, so I don’t have a --
QUESTION: It was decided at the same time.
MR. VENTRELL: -- detailed readout of everything that happened. I – of course, he gave a readout of his own meeting, so I refer you to that. But I don’t have anything further.
QUESTION: But if – on the 21st of last month, I believe, the Secretary of State actually expressed her concern about the situation with dissolving the parliament and so on. So it seems to fit together. Do you think that this is something that the United States would look positively on?
MR. VENTRELL: Well again, Said, you do know where we are in terms of wanting a full transition. And obviously, having a democratically elected president is one step, but having a democratically elected parliament that has the ability to make laws is also another part of that. I’m not going to prejudge how this is going to play out, but you know, broadly speaking, where we are on the Egyptian transition and what the broad principles are that we’re looking for.
QUESTION: New one?
MR. VENTRELL: Yeah.
MR. VENTRELL: Well, as you know, just overnight, the information that I have is that there are credible reports that a hundred people have been killed by the Syrian regime over the past two days. Monday’s violence included house-to-house raids and arrests in Dara’a and very intense shelling at Homs. So that’s what we know about on the ground.
Is there something further that you’re looking for?
QUESTION: Would you say there is a feeling that the sort of the defection of Tlass – Manaf Tlass would usher in sort of a flood of generals and high-ranking officers that will be defecting or changing sides?
MR. VENTRELL: Well, again, we talked about this last week, Said. We’re obviously hopeful that there will be more defections at an appropriate pace, and we look for more of them to peel off from the regime. But I don’t have any further analysis for you on – we welcome this defection. It was clearly somebody who’s close to the President and his cronies, so we’re pleased that he’s peeled away. But I don’t have anything further.
QUESTION: But the Secretary of State put a sense of urgency, I mean, over the weekend. She talked about, I think, that time is really running out and basically suggesting that this is really – it may be an indication of what might happen and people who want to be a part of the future of Syria and so on.
MR. VENTRELL: Well, obviously this is a moment where the Syrians who still either directly support the regime or are still on the fence need to make a careful decision. And the Secretary was very clear about that in her interventions, both on Friday and then over the weekend, I believe when she was in Tokyo. So we’re clear that this is a key moment where these folks need to seriously consider what they’re doing, who they’re supporting, and we want them to peel off from this regime.
QUESTION: And lastly, Bashar al-Assad gave an interview to a German media outlet, and he accused the United States of directly intervening. Do you have any reaction to that?
MR. VENTRELL: Well, Said, quite frankly, we think his comments overall are ludicrous. We’re not even going to dignify his wider analysis with a response.
QUESTION: Well, you just did. You just called them ludicrous.
MR. VENTRELL: Again, that’s --
QUESTION: You just did dignify them with a response.
MR. VENTRELL: All right. Well, my response then is they’re ludicrous. Thanks, Matt.
QUESTION: Considering Mr. --
QUESTION: Patrick, what’s the – Kofi Annan visited –
MR. VENTRELL: Jill, go ahead.
QUESTION: -- and can you give us your interpretation of what happened in that meeting?
MR. VENTRELL: Well, obviously we don’t know yet. We’ll wait to hear directly from Kofi. You know he’ll be in the Security Council on Wednesday, so we look forward to hearing more directly from him. Obviously, to the extent that the Syrian regime would be willing to immediately stop and desist from this violence, that would be welcome. But we haven’t seen that yet and we haven’t seen any signs of it. So we’ll wait to hear from Kofi to see what he has to say, but the Syrian Government needs to immediately cease violence and comply with its obligations under the entire six-point plan and UN Security Council Resolutions 2042 and 2043. So we haven’t seen any signs of that to date. We’ll wait to hear from Kofi in a couple days.
QUESTION: What is the U.S.’s issue with Kofi Annan talking to leaders in Tehran about the situation in Syria? Is there something else beyond the concern that Tehran may be trying to avoid talking about its nuclear program and its nuclear ambitions?
MR. VENTRELL: Well, look, on the issue of Syria, Ros, you know our concerns about Iran’s destructive behavior in Syria. We want them to stop that destructive behavior. And so of course, Kofi Annan in Tehran, to the extent that he can stress to the Iranians the importance of cooperating with the plan, that’s a good thing. But we haven’t seen signs of that either yet.
QUESTION: But he has also said that he believes that there is a role for Tehran to play in all this. What are the reasons that he and his team have expressed to the U.S. Government, and does the U.S. Government consider those reasons – namely that Tehran could be a valuable interlocutor – does it concern – does it consider those arguments valuable?
MR. VENTRELL: Well, if the Iranian regime wants to stop giving direct material support to the Syrian killing machine then – and play a constructive role, we would welcome that. We’re not at that point yet.
QUESTION: Russia has just declared that they’ve stopped the arms sales to Syria. Is – it was the step that you were expecting?
MR. VENTRELL: At this point, we’re seeking further information. We’ve seen some of the news reports. But obviously, if it were true, it would be a good sign. But we’re still seeking further clarification from the Russians. Our – we’ve repeatedly raised our concerns with the Russian Government at a variety of levels. We’ve expressed our belief that continued arms sales to the regime will only further throw flames on the fire, and so we want them to stop all arms transfers, not only existing contracts but any new contracts as well.
QUESTION: And secondly, do you have any new findings about the Turkish plane incident? I mean, do you – last week you had –
MR. VENTRELL: Can you say that again?
QUESTION: The Turkish plane which has been crashed in – near Syria. Do you have any –
MR. VENTRELL: I don’t have anything further for you.
QUESTION: Back to the question about Russia possibly ending its arms sales, can you characterize what the level of discussion has been in the past week between Moscow and Washington on ending those arms sales?
MR. VENTRELL: Well, I mean, you know, obviously, that Secretary Clinton saw the Russian Foreign Minister Mr. Lavrov in St. Petersburg and again in Geneva. I believe they’re going to have an opportunity to see each other again soon, but I don’t have a particular date on that. So we’re raising this at the highest levels. It’s something that’s come up at the highest levels and continues to be an issue we’ve raised with them.
QUESTION: Was that a particular point of discussion at their last two meetings, and have there been lower-level officials working this issue because the U.S. has been concerned about these arms sales for at least three months, by my count?
MR. VENTRELL: Well, I wasn’t in that particular meeting, but I can tell you that it’s something that we consistently raise at all levels.
Jill – or Dana, go ahead.
QUESTION: Last week, Secretary Clinton talked about how the clearinghouse – the human rights clearinghouse is already opened. Can you talk a little bit about whether people have already started to report to that, whether – what’s going to be used, how that information is going to be used? Will it be used as evidence when – if or when you go back to the Security Council? And, I mean, is this a way to prevent atrocities? How serious are people taking this?
MR. VENTRELL: We take it very seriously, obviously, and we hope others will too. This is something that came out of the Friends of Syria process. We’ve said very clearly that accountability is going to be vital, that those with blood on their hands will be held to account. And so a part of the Friends of Syria process, the group came together to start this accountability project. My understanding is they have started to receive credible information and that, at an appropriate time, when justice can be served, that that information will be at the disposal of the appropriate authorities.
QUESTION: I’m sorry. I thought that part – it also came out of the Administration’s mass Atrocities Prevention Board – like, initiative.
MR. VENTRELL: Well --
QUESTION: That’s – I thought that’s what the –
MR. VENTRELL: Again, the mass Atrocity Prevention Board is a wider Administration initiative, not specific to one situation. The Syria Accountability Clearinghouse was and is a process that came out of our discussion with the Friends of the Syrian People. So --
QUESTION: So the two aren’t related then?
MR. VENTRELL: Well, I mean, they’re related in extent – to the extent that the U.S. Government is doing everything it can to hold people to account for brutal and heinous crimes. But you’re talking about two different things.
QUESTION: Do you think it’ll be a deterrent to those that are committing crimes now?
MR. VENTRELL: Well, we’d hope so. We’d also hope that people will peel off from the regime and stop using violence against their own citizens and make the tough choice and look toward Syria’s future instead of repressing their own people.
Jill, go ahead.
MR. VENTRELL: Yes.
QUESTION: Just one more (inaudible)?
MR. VENTRELL: All right. Go ahead, Said. One more on Syria.
QUESTION: Yesterday, Secretary – I’m sorry – Senator McCain called your performance on Syria thus far as disgraceful and shameful. Do you have any response to that?
MR. VENTRELL: We’re doing everything we can to stop this violence.
MR. VENTRELL: Yeah.
QUESTION: And they broke off. But where are we? What’s the status report on talks with the Taliban?
MR. VENTRELL: Well, first let me say, on the particular incident you’re talking about where this woman was executed, we think that’s a – we agree with President Karzai that that’s a despicable act. We condemned it from our Embassy in Kabul and again here. From this podium, I’ll condemn it is a heinous and brutal attack.
More broadly speaking, I don’t have an update for you on the reconciliation process. You know what the steps are that we talked about in terms of getting an Afghan-led process where the Afghans can talk to each other, but we’re not at a point where we’ve had any forward movement that I can report at this point.
QUESTION: So there’s no discussion going on at all?
MR. VENTRELL: Well, I mean, again, there’s a pretty clear way that the Taliban can take the steps they need to to get this process on track, but we’re not at a point where we have anything new to read out.
QUESTION: And what about the Haqqani Network, listing them?
MR. VENTRELL: You know that we had the trilateral Core Group meeting. This was the first time at the foreign minister level, where Secretary Clinton and her counterparts from Afghanistan and Pakistan sat down in Tokyo. So that was a chance to discuss the wider security issues and cross-border issues and commitment to stopping terrorism on both sides of the border that affects Afghan interests, Pakistan interests, America’s interests.
So – and then, of course, Secretary Clinton met with Foreign Minister Khar in a bilateral setting. And I can assure you that (inaudible) said the Haqqani Network was something that was raised at the forefront. And now that we’ve obviously moved past the issue of getting the GLOCs open, we’re going to continue our discussion on cooperation on counterterrorism. And we want the Pakistanis to put the squeeze on the Haqqani Network, and we’ve been very clear about that.
QUESTION: And put the squeeze on them for what exact purpose?
MR. VENTRELL: Well, we’re talking about a group that’s --
QUESTION: Either it’s run them out of town or get them to the table?
MR. VENTRELL: We’ve got to get this group to stop – this is a group that has taken – that has made heinous attacks against Afghan civilians, against Americans as well, and we want them to be stopped and we want the squeeze to be put on.
QUESTION: The U.S. House of Representatives is due to vote sometime this evening, Washington time, on a bill that would compel the Administration to put the Haqqani Network on the FTO list. The Senate’s already passed it. It’s assumed the President will sign it. The question is: Since the designation just about 13 months ago of the top leadership of the Haqqani Network, why hasn’t the network itself been designated an FTO?
MR. VENTRELL: Well, Ros, you know where we are on this. We’ve designated a number of the leading individuals of the Haqqani Network with the full brunt of U.S. sanctions. We haven’t taken a decision on the wider issue that’s still under review, but clearly, we’ve put the pinch on all the key leaders. And so that’s where we are. I just don’t have an update for you at this time.
QUESTION: Maybe you could explain to people here in this room or, more appropriately, on the Hill, where this is – what difference it would make in terms of the actual sanctions, if you put them on the FTO list.
QUESTION: And why is there – if you could explain to us, Patrick, why is there hesitation to put them on it? Tell us, if you could, from the podium, a little bit about --
QUESTION: If, like he just said, Part A of the question, I believe the answer is there isn’t much. So you can answer Part B for Indira, but I’d like to know the answer to Part A. Is there a tangible difference between putting them on the FTO list as opposed to just having the group’s known leadership and members designated as individuals?
MR. VENTRELL: Well, again, I’m not a lawyer or a sanctions expert.
MR. VENTRELL: I’d be happy to look in --
QUESTION: So maybe you take the question and get back to us with someone --
MR. VENTRELL: I’d be happy to look into it further. Obviously, Dan Benjamin’s shop, which follows counterterrorism issues, I’m sure has some more information we could provide, but --
QUESTION: So the question is: What specific additional sanctions would be involved with an FTO listing that are not currently already in place --
MR. VENTRELL: Right.
QUESTION: -- under the SDGT --
MR. VENTRELL: From here at the podium, I don’t know. We’ll obviously have to look into it for more information. But, I mean, we’ve been very aggressive about sanctioning their top individuals, and we’ve seen that as the most effective way to go about this. But the review is ongoing, and is actively ongoing.
QUESTION: And is the concern --
MR. VENTRELL: Go ahead, Indira.
QUESTION: Sorry. Is the concern about designating them as FTO – I mean, a lot of people have talked about that that would then force us to designate Pakistan as a state sponsor of terrorism. Can you speak a little to that?
MR. VENTRELL: Again, I’m not going to get into our analysis of the review as it’s ongoing, but obviously we look at each case individually and carefully and apply the law appropriately. So I just don’t have anything further for you.
In the back.
QUESTION: Question on Serbia? Can we change --
MR. VENTRELL: Do we have anybody else on Pakistan?
QUESTION: Okay. Yes. The State Department officials Mr. Gordon and Mr. Reeker visited Belgrade in the last few days. So my question is: Did they at any moment went there trying to persuade Serbian officials to form big coalition between Tadic’s and Nikolic’s party as Serbian media reported?
And the second one is: Do you believe that government led by Socialist Dacic would continue new integrations of Serbia and reconciliations with neighbors?
MR. VENTRELL: Well, as you know, we put out a Travel Note earlier about Assistant Secretary Gordon’s travel to the region, and it laid out pretty clearly what he’d be doing there. I don’t have a readout of his actual meetings from when he was there, but I’d be happy to look into it after the briefing and seek some additional information about his specific meetings.
QUESTION: Japanese Government is going to potentially purchase Senkaku Islands. I know they mentioned this at the backgrounder but in Mongolia, but could you please be more clear on – do you think this a productive way to solve the issue?
MR. VENTRELL: Can you repeat that one more time?
QUESTION: Japanese Government is going to potentially purchase Senkaku Islands.
MR. VENTRELL: Yeah.
QUESTION: Could you please be more clear about your stance on this?
MR. VENTRELL: Yeah.
QUESTION: Do you think this a productive way to solve the problem?
MR. VENTRELL: Well, the U.S. does not take a position on the ultimate sovereignty of the Senkaku Islands. We expect the claimants to resolve the issue through peaceful means among themselves.
QUESTION: That’s an excellent answer, but unfortunately it doesn’t answer the question she asked, which was: Do you think that this is a productive way to resolve the dispute? You say want it resolved in a peaceful manner. Would the Japanese purchase of these islands resolve it in a peaceful manner?
MR. VENTRELL: Again, Matt, I’ve got nothing further for you on this. I’ve stated the U.S. position on the Senkaku Islands and I’ve got nothing more for you.
QUESTION: Well, that’s fine. That’s the position on the islands themselves. It’s not the position of whether the Japanese Government should buy them from the private individual that owns them now.
MR. VENTRELL: Matt, I’m not --
QUESTION: Are you saying that you don’t have anything because this isn’t something the U.S. Government has been watching?
MR. VENTRELL: Obviously, we’ve been watching, but I’m simply not going to go one step further.
QUESTION: Well, maybe you could ask someone in EAP to find out what the position – what the answer to the – my colleague’s question is, okay?
MR. VENTRELL: We’ll look into it –
QUESTION: It may be the case that you don’t have a position, but the answer that you gave to her question wasn’t an answer.
MR. VENTRELL: The answer is our comprehensive position on the Senkaku Islands, and that’s where we are.
Can we go ahead to the next question?
MR. VENTRELL: (Inaudible), go ahead.
QUESTION: Yes. On Mexico.
MR. VENTRELL: Yeah.
QUESTION: As you know, the official results are out and the leftist candidate, Lopez Obrador, has announced that he will request an annulment of the elections. He’s saying more than 5 million votes were bought. Do you have any reaction on this, since you were saying that it was a transparent process? Do you still think it was a transparent process?
MR. VENTRELL: Well, we welcome the electoral authority’s announcement of the final results, and obviously we look forward to working with President-elect Mr. Pena Nieto.
Said, one more. Yeah.
QUESTION: Palestinian-Israeli peace accord. Palestinian sources suggest that there is a meeting being organized between the Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Is this brokered by the United States or is it a result of the meeting between the Secretary of State and President Abbas?
MR. VENTRELL: Well, again, I don’t have any specific update for you on our role in this. Obviously, you know that we want to get them back together around the table negotiating, but I just don’t have anything further for you.
I will say that the Deputy Secretary Burns will travel to Jerusalem and Ramallah, and he will meet with Palestinian President Abbas and Prime Minister Fayyad, and he will lead the U.S. delegation to the U.S.-Israel Strategic Dialogue where U.S. and Israeli officials will consult on a range of important regional issues of mutual interest. So Deputy Burns will make a stop there while he’s in the region.
QUESTION: Do you have dates for that?
QUESTION: Yeah. What’s the date of --
MR. VENTRELL: I actually don’t have dates on that. It looks like he’s going there directly after Yemen.
QUESTION: So it’s this week?
MR. VENTRELL: Yeah.
QUESTION: It would make sense that it would be this week.
MR. VENTRELL: It’s this week.
QUESTION: Just also on this topic, there’s an Israeli Government appointed committee which was looking into – was asked to look into the legality of the settlements and has come forth with a ruling saying that they believe that essentially these settlements should be authorized, which is the Prime Minister’s position. The Israeli Government hasn’t accepted this ruling yet, but that sort of stands ready to be accepted. Do you guys take any view on this sort of creeping legalization of the settlement process? And is this useful at this point ahead of Deputy Secretary Burns and the Secretary’s trip to Israel? Is this the kind of thing that you like to see happening?
MR. VENTRELL: Well, I mean, Andy, you know where we are on – the U.S. position on settlements is clear. Obviously, we’ve seen the reports that an Israeli Government appointed panel has recommended legalizing dozens of Israeli settlements in the West Bank, but we do not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlement activity and we oppose any effort to legalize settlement outposts.
QUESTION: So you would be – you would urge the Government of Israel not to accept this panel’s recommendation?
MR. VENTRELL: Well, again, my understanding is this is still – I’m not sure if this is in a draft form, but this is just a panel recommendation at this point.
QUESTION: And the Israeli Government can either accept it or not accept it. What do --
MR. VENTRELL: You know where the U.S. position is, which I just read out. So --
QUESTION: Is that going to be something that Deputy Burns brings up when he’s in Israel?
MR. VENTRELL: I’m not sure. I can’t read out his meetings in advance. But --
QUESTION: Understand. But you don’t think this rises to the level of a senior official discussing it with the Israeli --
MR. VENTRELL: Again, I don’t want to read out his meetings in advance. Let’s --
QUESTION: Well, is it something that you can say that you’re sufficiently concerned about that --
MR. VENTRELL: We’re concerned about it, obviously. The Deputy Secretary will be en route, and let’s see how his meetings go and see if we can report back to you when they’re over.
QUESTION: All right.
MR. VENTRELL: Said.
QUESTION: A quick follow-up on this. When you express your concern, is it just done from this podium, or is it done officially? Does someone pick up the phone and talk to someone in the Israeli Government and say we express displeasure?
MR. VENTRELL: I don’t know if we have raised this directly with the Israeli Government. I just read out our position here from the podium. I can check and see if our Embassy has raised it.
QUESTION: I have an Israel-related question.
MR. VENTRELL: Yeah.
QUESTION: Under Secretary Otero was at a meeting of the Global Counterterrorism Coalition this morning in Spain (inaudible).
MR. VENTRELL: Okay.
QUESTION: She gave a speech or a short speech. Do you know about this?
MR. VENTRELL: I have no information on this (inaudible).
QUESTION: Okay. Well, it was released – it’s a tab on your website.
MR. VENTRELL: Okay.
QUESTION: Anyway, in it she goes through – this is a conference about victims of terrorism. And I’m curious to know why she doesn’t mention Israel or Israelis in her comments talking about victims of terrorism. Does the Administration believe that Israel and Israelis specifically have been victims of terrorism?
MR. VENTRELL: Well, of course, but --
QUESTION: Yes. But not --
MR. VENTRELL: Matt, I don’t have the details of the Under Secretary’s speech.
QUESTION: Well, this – this --
MR. VENTRELL: I know we have a forum with – let me finish.
QUESTION: -- grows out of the forum to which the Israelis have not been invited, which was talked about a little bit a month or so ago when the Secretary attended a meeting Istanbul.
MR. VENTRELL: Yeah, and I don’t have anything further for you.
QUESTION: Okay. So at the time the – someone came back and said that, yes, you were doing your best to get Israel included in these types of events. In the month that has passed, nothing has changed on that. Is that what you’re saying?
MR. VENTRELL: Again, Matt, I don’t have any details on this particular meeting. I’m happy to look into it. You’re – this is the first that I’m hearing about it.
In the back, you’ve been very patient.
MR. VENTRELL: In fact, that came up at the briefing that I did last week and I made extensive comments on it at the time. Although I did make one mistake, which is that we’re looking into it in New York. It’s actually in Geneva. So I guess the only thing that I would correct from my comments last week were that we’re looking into this in Geneva. So I commend you to read the transcript of what I said last week.
QUESTION: Speaking of intellectual property, you’ve seen these reports, video, of North Korea using Disney characters on a stage performance, Tigger and Winnie the Pooh --
MR. VENTRELL: I have not seen that.
QUESTION: -- without Disney’s permission. You don’t have anything to say about the performance that Kim Jong-un attended?
MR. VENTRELL: I can tell you that Winnie the Pooh is a favorite in my particular household – (laughter) –
QUESTION: Yeah. But you don’t --
MR. VENTRELL: My son watches, but I haven’t --
QUESTION: You don’t have any concerns about North Korea’s brazen violation of intellectual property?
MR. VENTRELL: Matt, this is the first I’m hearing about it.
QUESTION: Really? It’s all over the place.
MR. VENTRELL: Well, I’m sorry I didn’t see it on the newswire before coming down, but --
QUESTION: Well, all right, on the off chance that you might have something – that the building might have something to say about this, can you look into it?
MR. VENTRELL: I’d be happy to look into it. I don’t have anything for you.
QUESTION: A follow-up on North Korea?
MR. VENTRELL: Go ahead.
QUESTION: Secretary Clinton is travelling to Cambodia for ASEAN Regional Forum, and North Korea’s Foreign Minister will be there. So do you think U.S. officials have any plans for meeting with North Korean officials – North Korea’s there?
MR. VENTRELL: I don’t have anything to read out in terms of the following stops that the Secretary’s going to participate in. So I don’t know with whom her team may or may not meet. I just don’t have any information for you at this point.
Go ahead, in the back.
QUESTION: It’s about so-called comfort women issue between Korea and Japan. Korean newspaper Chosun Ilbo reported that the Secretary Clinton told State Department official that the term “comfort women” is wrong and should be referred to as “enforced sex slaves.” Can you comment on that?
MR. VENTRELL: Well, again, what I can say in general is that what happened to these women during World War II was deplorable. The U.S. position is that it was a grave human rights violation of enormous proportions, and we extend our sincere and deep sympathy to the victims.
In terms of what may or may not have been said in a private meeting, I just – I don’t have any readout for you.
QUESTION: Which terminology do you use for – to describe those women, comfort women or sex slaves?
MR. VENTRELL: Again, I don’t know if the U.S. Government has a preferred term. I can look into it, but I just don’t know if we have a --
QUESTION: I didn’t quite get – understand what you said. And so U.S. position is that they are actually enforced sex slaves?
MR. VENTRELL: Again, I don’t have for – here for you today to readout a particular terminology that is the preferred U.S. Government term. What I can tell you is that during World War II what happened to these women was deplorable. I’d be happy to look in to see if we have a preferred U.S. Government term, but at this point that’s all I have for you.
QUESTION: What is your understanding?
MR. VENTRELL: Hmm?
QUESTION: What is your understanding?
MR. VENTRELL: I don’t have anything further for you.
QUESTION: Again on Honduras.
MR. VENTRELL: Yep.
MR. VENTRELL: One second here. I mean, I do know that the DEA read out some particulars of an operation, Operation Anvil. But I don’t here have any information on the State Department role. So I will take the question. And I’ll --
QUESTION: You don’t – in other words, you don’t know if there was or wasn’t --
MR. VENTRELL: Again, I’m aware that the DEA read out some particulars of the operation.
QUESTION: Well, during the last one, it was – they were using State Department helicopters.
MR. VENTRELL: And again, I just don’t have the line right here, but we will get it for you, Matt. I just don’t have it. Oh, actually – well, no, it’s the same, that the helicopters are flown by a combination of Guatemalan military personnel paid for by the Government of Guatemala and pilots contracted by and paid for using INCLE funds from the Central American Regional Security Initiative. But again, why don’t we take the question and get you a fulsome response back.
Anything else? All right. Thank you.
QUESTION: Thank you.
(The briefing was concluded at 1:44 p.m.)
DPB # 123