On-the-Record Briefing - Remarks to the Press by State Department Spokesman Ian Kelly

Washington, DC
July 16, 2009

QUESTION: The Indian and Pakistani prime minister have agreed to conclude the dialogue. They met in Egypt. So do you have anything on this?


MR. KELLY: I’ve just seen reports and, of course, we’re very encouraged by these positive signals coming out of the talks. But we haven’t had a chance to really sit down and really look at them. But the initial indications are that this is something very positive.


QUESTION: Thank you.


QUESTION: What do we get from this trip? Because so much publicity has been going on and she seems, I think, well-prepared and well-briefed, because I have never seen any Secretary of State leave – going to India and talking to almost everybody, like the Secretary of Defense --


MR. KELLY: Yeah.


QUESTION: -- and think tanks and --


MR. KELLY: Yeah.


QUESTION: -- all the former secretaries and all of that.


MR. KELLY: Yeah.


QUESTION: So what’s happening? Is something big going to happen?


MR. KELLY: Well, I think you heard Assistant Secretary Blake yesterday talk about some of the agreements that we hope to reach. But I think this is just – it’s an indication of the importance that Secretary Clinton and the Administration, in general, places on our relationship with India, with the world’s largest democracy.


We, of course, wanted to wait until the elections were over. But I – what – when we think about South Asia, we think – lately, we’ve been thinking mostly about Afghanistan and some of the problems we’ve had with extremism in that area. And I think we want to really look forward and look at this relationship as something that can be very constructive in the kind of role that India can play not just in the region, but as a global player. And Secretary Clinton is genuinely excited about this trip and is really looking forward to spending a lot of time in India, three full days.


And as Assistant Secretary Blake said yesterday, we’re looking forward to our bilateral meetings and some of our – we hope to conclude some bilateral agreements. And Secretary Clinton – for the first two days, it’s going to be almost entirely people-to-people type activities, which she, of course, enjoys very much and puts a lot of importance on.


QUESTION: One more thing, quickly: Are you worried or aware about Chinese threat or something? Some stories been going on that China may attack India or do something.


MR. KELLY: I haven’t heard this. God forbid. I haven’t --


QUESTION: I mean, is the U.S. or the Secretary have something on the agenda that –


MR. KELLY: No, I haven’t heard anything about that, no.


QUESTION: The Secretary will be staying in Mumbai hotel where the terrorist have attacked since (inaudible). Is there any significance for it or it’s just --


MR. KELLY: Well, I think she plans to commemorate that event while she’s in Mumbai. It was a horrific event and we know that it touched the lives of many families. And so she wants to pay tribute to the people who suffered in the event. So there is a commemoration planned, I think, on Sunday.


QUESTION: And she will be staying in the same hotel, which –


MR. KELLY: Well, I don’t think we talk about where we stay when we – before we get there, so I’m not going to confirm where we’re staying.


QUESTION: Can you say what’s planned in Mumbai tomorrow – Saturday, rather? Is it just meeting with business leaders –


MR. KELLY: I think so, yeah. It’s – yeah, a meeting with business leaders, a commemoration of the attacks. She’s going to meet with a women’s NGO and she is also going to go to a –


QUESTION: What’s the name of the NGO?


MR. KELLY: It just – it doesn’t say the name of the NGO here. And she’s also going to go to Xavier College, where there’s going to be a event to discuss the importance of education.


QUESTION: With a Bollywood film star?


MR. KELLY: I’m sorry?


QUESTION: With a Bollywood film star?


QUESTION: That’s all Saturday?


MR. KELLY: You know the whole schedule. (Laughter.)


QUESTION: Ian, that’s all Saturday?


MR. KELLY: That’s all Saturday, yeah.


QUESTION: And Sunday?


MR. KELLY: Sunday, we go to – we’ve got some events in the morning with the Consulate and then we go to New Delhi.


QUESTION: Ian, is --


MR. KELLY: And there, we’ll have a visit of a green building --


QUESTION: Oh, yeah.


MR. KELLY: -- which I think the Secretary mentioned in her speech yesterday. And then she’s going to a – some kind of agricultural cooperative. I’m not sure exactly how to characterize it --


QUESTION: Ian, yesterday --


MR. KELLY: -- to emphasize food security.


QUESTION: I’m sorry. Yesterday, the Secretary mentioned, as one of the main things of this Administration, nonproliferation and nuclear issues. And how does this Administration square that with the deal, reached before they came into office, but with India on nuclear cooperation without having an agenda (inaudible)?


MR. KELLY: Yeah. Well, I’m getting a little out of my depth when I start talking about this.


QUESTION: Well, just, I mean (inaudible).


MR. KELLY: Yeah. It’s – I think that there’s going to be – whenever there’s one of these agreements, the so-called 123 agreements, there’s quite a bit of transparency measures built into it, IAEA safeguards. And so I don’t think we really have any real concerns, any proliferation concerns, about going forward with this.


QUESTION: But doesn’t it send the wrong signal?


MR. KELLY: No, I don’t think so. I think just because we have this priority about proliferation doesn’t mean that we’re – that we have concerns about civil uses of nuclear energy, as long as there are proper safeguards built in.


But again, I’m getting a little out of my depth here.


QUESTION: Ian, can I ask you about the reports on Thomas Pickering meeting with Hamas officials? Did he have any role that – was it officially sanctioned or otherwise associated with the Administration?


MR. KELLY: Tom Pickering was there as a private citizen. I am not aware of any kind of coordination beforehand. I mean, our position vis-à-vis Hamas is clear, that Hamas has to renounce terrorism, accept Israel as a sovereign state, and abide by the Quartet principles.


QUESTION: Did you debrief – was he debriefed here afterwards?


MR. KELLY: No, not that I’m aware of. And I did ask the question.




QUESTION: Did you ask whether he had talked to Senator Mitchell or anybody on the staff beforehand?


MR. KELLY: Again, as far as I know, he didn’t consult with anybody, but I can’t guarantee that. But as far as I know – and again, I did ask the question whether he pre-coordinated.


QUESTION: I have a question from South America, Argentina.


MR. KELLY: Okay.


QUESTION: Two days ago, the Department of State came with a warning, an advisory for travel to Argentina, that it became one of the largest countries with death in the swine flu or – but the situation is a little bit more. Here, they are talking about 60 people dead, and I think that in this moment Argentina has around 110.


MR. KELLY: Yeah.


QUESTION: Also, Argentina is the second country. The first country is the U.S. I want to know if there is – if there’s going to be – considering that we are entering now in the U.S., and also taking all these experiences, all these countries that are suffering – in the fall, right?


MR. KELLY: Yeah.


QUESTION: It’s going to come here in probably four or five months. There’s going to be like, bilateral talks related to how to manage the situation.


MR. KELLY: Yeah.


QUESTION: If – considering all the problems in Latin and South America that may come here to North America in order to gain experience or try to find a vaccine or to work better with this --


MR. KELLY: Yeah, yeah.


QUESTION: Do you have any more information?


MR. KELLY: Well, in regards to the Travel Alert, I mean, this is something that we take very seriously. I mean, the Department of State takes very seriously its role of advising American citizens and advising them to take precautions because of various events in countries around the world. This is an important function of the State Department. We update these travel advisories constantly. And as you point out, sometimes these travel advisories are advising about the same kinds of events that can happen here in this country, practicing caution in urban areas and being careful about --


QUESTION: No, but what’s going on here is – here, you didn’t enter in the fall, where all these kinds of flus are more widespread now.


MR. KELLY: Yeah.


QUESTION: So I’m thinking that maybe the U.S. is thinking to really understand what’s going on in South America to prevent the problem here in four or five months. Because I think all the --


MR. KELLY: Well, I haven’t read the travel advisory. But the primary purpose of these travel advisories is to give advice and guidance to American citizens who are traveling to the country. It’s – this is not – this is for people who are outgoing, not incoming.


QUESTION: No, no, but taking away the travel advisory --


MR. KELLY: Yeah.


QUESTION: -- the swine flu over there, the flu is a problem in this moment.


MR. KELLY: Right.


QUESTION: And I think that maybe in Argentina, it’s top news.


MR. KELLY: Yeah.


QUESTION: And maybe it’s going to be here top news in four or five months.


MR. KELLY: Yeah, yeah.


QUESTION: And I am thinking that maybe the experience of these countries can be also taken or --


MR. KELLY: Yeah.


QUESTION: -- how they’re managing the situation. Because here, maybe when this fall comes, there’s going to be a large problem, too.


MR. KELLY: Yeah.


QUESTION: That’s – Australia today said that they are calculating 6,000 people that may die of this. So that’s why the --


MR. KELLY: Because this is the flu season for them, you mean?




MR. KELLY: Yeah. Oh, I understand, okay. Yeah. Well, this is a global problem. Yeah, we should share information and exchange ideas.


QUESTION: Ian, do you have anything more to say about Iran and the prospects of demonstrations tomorrow on his resignation? Can you say --


MR. KELLY: I don’t really have anything to add beside what the Secretary said upstairs, that we’re watching the situation very closely, we’re very concerned about the situation in Tehran, in Iran.


QUESTION: Can you tell us anything about the meeting with the Iraqi foreign minister? What’s on the agenda, what’s –


MR. KELLY: That meeting is this afternoon in about 45 minutes. And, I mean, you know that we have a very broad partnership with Iraq. We’re very committed to helping Iraq attain a full sovereignty, in keeping to our timetable under the security agreement. We have Prime Minister Maliki coming here next week, coming to the White House on Wednesday, and I imagine they’ll talk about that too.


QUESTION: Ian, on North Korea?


MR. KELLY: Yeah.


QUESTION: North Korean number-two leader Kim Yong Nam said yesterday that the Six-Party Talks came to a permanent end because U.S. and others don’t respect its sovereign rights.


MR. KELLY: Yeah.


QUESTION: Do you have any reaction to that?


MR. KELLY: Well, I mean, our position is clear. We believe that the way out of this crisis is a return to talks that would lead to the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. And North Korea knows what it has to do. It has to give up, in an irreversible and verifiable manner, its nuclear program and ballistic missile program.


QUESTION: But there’s – now, they’re saying clearly that they are not coming back to talks.


MR. KELLY: Well, they should --


QUESTION: What are you going to do to get them back to the talks?


MR. KELLY: Well, we will continue on the path we’re on, which is showing North Korea that this path that they’re on, this path of isolation, is in nobody’s interests, that it does nothing for their people, it does nothing to contribute to regional stability and prosperity. And we’ve given them a way out, and that’s to return to the denuclearization talks.


QUESTION: Ian, you said we’re continuing on the path that we are. What is the path that the U.S. is taking?


MR. KELLY: The path that we’re taking is, on the one hand, to show North Korea –


QUESTION: In the --


MR. KELLY: Sorry?


QUESTION: Oh, yes, I --


MR. KELLY: To show North Korea that there is a way out, that there is a way of cooperation and contributing to regional security. So we’re – that’s open, as long as they also agree to irreversibly give up their nuclear program.


But we’re also trying to show that the actions that they’ve taken have consequences. In fact, just about an hour ago, the sanctions committee met and designated five more entities and five individuals under the sanction regime.


QUESTION: So is the U.S. going to continue to place sanctions on North Korea?


MR. KELLY: We are going to pursue this path of showing North Korea that their actions have consequences.


QUESTION: And any --


And I’m going to call last question, because I know some people have to get out to --


QUESTION: One more on India, if I can clarify, please.


MR. KELLY: Yeah.


QUESTION: Secretary traveled to the Pentagon the other day and met with Secretary Gates. Are we looking at any big defense MOUs or signings? And also, as far as China, what I meant was that if the U.S. is worried about China’s military buildup, if this is going to be on the table between her and the Indian prime minister?


MR. KELLY: On that latter point, I just – I can’t predict what will come up. I mean, it’s going to – we’re going to have – we have a meeting with the prime minister, have a meeting with the foreign minister. I think most of the focus is going to be on our bilateral relationship. Assistant Secretary Blake mentioned that we will have some agreements in the security field. But I think it’s really going to be more talking about our partnership, about our bilateral relationship.


QUESTION: Thank you.


MR. KELLY: Okay, thanks a lot.


QUESTION: One last question on North Korea, please? One last question on North Korea.


MR. KELLY: Yeah.


QUESTION: Yesterday, [Senior State Department Official], the briefer of the background briefing yesterday --


MR. KELLY: Yeah.


QUESTION: And he said he thinks some ambassador-at-large may come to Thailand, you know, for the meetings. So who would you – be the counterpart from the State Department if the meeting with North Korea happens?


MR. KELLY: Oh, we’re not planning any meeting with North Korea.


QUESTION: Yeah, if there would be – you know --


MR. KELLY: Well, you’re asking me to speculate on something that hasn’t happened that we don’t anticipate happening.


QUESTION: Ian, do you have something on the Chinese activist that you can talk about?


MR. KELLY: We have – we got no information on that.


QUESTION: Are you going to respond?


MR. KELLY: No, absolutely nothing. Sorry.


QUESTION: What was the question?


MR. KELLY: This was a Chinese activist who --


QUESTION: Has been trying to go back to China six times and --


MR. KELLY: And wasn’t – unable to. Yeah. No, we just didn’t have any information.


QUESTION: For (inaudible) Arias, Honduras, something – I don’t know, I think they’re going to meet again tomorrow?


MR. KELLY: Saturday, I think.


QUESTION: Saturday, Saturday.


QUESTION: Hey, Ian, did you --


MR. KELLY: Yeah.


QUESTION: Do you share – this Israeli – a new Israeli accusation about Iran and Syria sending weapons to Hezbollah, do you have anything on that?


MR. KELLY: You know, as a matter of fact, my colleague, Mr. Wood, showed me that report, but I don’t have any reaction to it.


QUESTION: Okay. And then up on the Hill, while these guys are – lawmakers are upset about the – allowing Chinese interrogators at Guantanamo to interview the Uighurs, do you have anything on that?


MR. KELLY: I don’t have anything on that either.


Okay. Thanks, guys.

PRN: 2009/747