Special Briefing by Ian Kelly

Special Briefing
Ian Kelly
Department Spokesman
Washington, DC
July 29, 2009

MR. KELLY: I just want to let you know that Ambassador Goldberg is going to New York tomorrow, Thursday, July 30 for consultations with the United Nations 1718 sanctions committee. He’s also going to be consulting with the Turkish chairperson of that committee. He’ll brief the 1718 committee on U.S. efforts to implement UN Security Council Resolution 1874, and will, of course, reiterate U.S. support for the continued work of the sanctions committee.


He also plans to lead an interagency delegation starting on Monday, August 3 to go to Moscow, where he’ll meet with Russian foreign ministry counterparts and financial officials to coordinate on our efforts on the implementation of 1874. He plans to return to Asia with an interagency delegation sometime in mid-August, and we’ll give you more information on that as we get closer to the date.


QUESTION: How about the North Korean --


QUESTION: Can you say where in Asia?


MR. KELLY: No. As I say, we’ll give you the details of that closer to the date that he departs.


QUESTION: How about the North Koreans in New York? Do you know?


MR. KELLY: There are no plans right now to meet with the North Koreans in New York. It’s just – it’s with the 1718 committee in New York.


QUESTION: Why is it necessary to meet with the 1718 committee? I mean, obviously, they know what authorities are contained in the – you know, in the resolutions. And – so why is this necessary?


MR. KELLY: Well, it’s just part of our whole consultative process to let the various players involved in enforcing these sanctions know about our plans, how we’re implementing the various sanctions, particularly 1874. I believe it’s Ambassador Goldberg’s first meeting with officials up at the UN. So it’s just part of our general consultative process.


QUESTION: New topic?


MR. KELLY: New topic?


QUESTION: One more on North Korea.


MR. KELLY: Yeah, one more on North Korea.


QUESTION: Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Wang Guangya said yesterday, I quote, “China believes that if the package solution that the U.S. Government is thinking about will accommodate reasonable security concerns of the DPRK, it’ll be attractive to the DPRK side.” So my questions are, first, do you think that the security concern of the DPRK is reasonable? And my second question is if it’s so, how will you accommodate it in the package?


MR. KELLY: Well, I think as I’ve said many times, it’s not really a matter of us accommodating anything. It’s a matter that the – North Korea knows exactly what it has to do. It has to carry through on its own obligations, carry through on the commitments that it made in the joint statement with the Six-Party – in the Six-Party Talks. And as we’ve said many times, we stand ready to talk, but it has to be in the context of the Six-Party Talks. So that, for us, is the next step.


QUESTION: Well, how do you think about the – China’s view that Security Council is reasonable?


MR. KELLY: Well, that’s China’s view, and I’ll let them characterize it how they – however they want.


QUESTION: On a related issue, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is going to work for the release of the two U.S. journalists in North Korea. What kind of talks have you had with him about that?


MR. KELLY: Well, first of all, we – we’re trying to explore every avenue we can to try and get these two women released, and we would welcome efforts by the Secretary General to achieve this goal of reuniting them with their families. But I’m not aware – this is a report that I’m hearing right now.


QUESTION: But is that – is it a coordinated effort with the U.S.?


MR. KELLY: I’m really not aware.


QUESTION: I would imagine, since --


MR. KELLY: Yeah. I mean, I’m just not aware of the details of it.




QUESTION: Ian, do you have anything on the Irish announcement that they’re going to take two Guantanamo detainees?


MR. KELLY: I might if you hold on a second. Yes, I do.


Today, Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform Mr. Ahern – if I’m pronouncing that correctly – announced that Ireland will resettle two detainees from the Guantanamo Bay detention facility. We’re very grateful to the Government of Ireland for its willingness to join our effort to close Guantanamo through this humanitarian gesture. We’re also grateful to the efforts of the EU, which help facilitate these discussions, and are encouraged that so many of our close friends and partners are also considering assisting us in our effort to close Guantanamo.


The United States and Ireland will continue to work closely on matters pertaining to the actual transfer. And we’ll have no further comment at this time.


QUESTION: New topic.


QUESTION: Right. Where is Dan Fried right now?


MR. KELLY: Where is Dan Fried right now? I am actually not sure where Dan Fried is right now.


QUESTION: Do I have to tell you?


MR. KELLY: You – well, I’m sure that you probably have that information, Matt, but – yes.


QUESTION: (Inaudible) their organization claiming that at least four people are dead, and the news seems to be somehow authentic. Any reaction from State?


MR. KELLY: We don’t have any confirmed reports of casualties. We are waiting to get this confirmation from the Government of Iraq. As I said yesterday, we received assurances from the Government of Iraq that any actions that they took at Camp Ashraf would be consistent with humane treatment of the individuals there, and that they would not relocate any of the individuals there to a country where they would have a well-founded fear of persecution.


As I said yesterday, this is – this action or this decision by – on the part of the Government of Iraq is entirely consistent with their rights as a sovereign country to establish control over the area. And I think as you’ve seen from various comments from American officials in Iraq, we were not informed in advance that they would do this. But we do think it’s – the action itself was within the rights of Iraq as a sovereign to do.


QUESTION: Well, now that Iraq is a sovereign entity and continuing to take control over its own territory and prisoners and everything are you trying to persuade the Iraqis to sign the Geneva Convention?


MR. KELLY: Well, we have – I don’t know if I can address that exact question right now, but I do know that we’ve received written assurances from the Government of Iraq that they would treat these individuals humanely and wouldn’t relocate them to a country where they may suffer persecution.


QUESTION: Did you receive assurances after the actions yesterday?


MR. KELLY: Before. We received written --


QUESTION: Not after what happened?


MR. KELLY: No, before. Before that.


QUESTION: When did you get those, Ian? Because I’m told that, according to a lawyer for families of some of the people who are in Camp Ashraf, Camp Ashraf was not mentioned in the SOFA agreement. So was there some kind of a side letter or something in which you received those assurances, and did you – and if so, when did you get that?


MR. KELLY: Well, you know, I don’t know the exact answer to that. I do know that this is all part of the transfer agreement that we had, transfer of authority from coalition forces to the Government of Iraq. And that was back in February. When we exactly received these written assurances, I’m not sure. I would assume that it would be within the context of the transfer of security responsibility, but --


QUESTION: According to the lawyer and another representative of people who are there in Camp Ashraf, they – the latest numbers I got this morning were that seven people have died, that 19 were severely injured, i.e., in comas, and that about 400 were injured more generally. And the representatives of the Camp Ashraf residents have produced footage which we got in Baghdad that show people with bullet holes in their heads. And we’ve – it’s impossible to verify when those pictures were taken or –


MR. KELLY: Yeah. Right.


QUESTION: You know, so we can’t vouch for their authenticity. On the other hand, it’s hard for me to figure why they would be lying about it either. And the Iraqi Government, according to our story, denies that anyone was killed. So you said that you were waiting for the Iraqi Government to – for confirmation that people have been killed. Is there any – is the U.S. Government giving – given the assurances that you obviously sought and obtained, is the U.S. Government giving any consideration to actually investigating itself to see what may have happened here?


MR. KELLY: Clearly, these reports that you’re giving me are disturbing, and we – and as I said yesterday, we’re paying very close attention to this. We’re – we are seeking more information from the Iraqi Government. And at a certain point, I think that we’ll be able to make more comment on exactly what happened yesterday.


We would, I think it’s fair for me to say that we would be ready to assist in any way in terms of dealing with what happened yesterday or in terms of looking into what happened. But as far as I know, we haven’t been asked to assist.


QUESTION: The lawyer and the representative said that they would like the U.S. military to try to help evacuate the severely injured so that they can be treated. Did your comment, “We would be ready to assist in any way,” – did you mean that to address that issue of trying to help treat people who may have been injured?


MR. KELLY: Yeah. Let me see if I can get you more information on that. That’s a fair question.


QUESTION: And the last one on this for me is they claim that in 2004, the residents of Camp Ashraf were informed by the U.S. Government, and it was done by DOD, that they regarded – the U.S. Government regarded these people as protected persons under the Fourth Geneva Convention, which obviously has obligations in terms of how the United States, when it had custody of these people, should treat them. And I guess the question then becomes, well, do you believe that such obligations as you had continue, having transferred authority over these people, or not? And did the assurances that you seek mirror the obligations that the U.S. Government assumed in viewing them as subject to the Fourth Geneva Convention?


MR. KELLY: Well, Arshad, first of all, I’m not aware of these obligations that you mentioned from a few years ago, and so it’s – it wouldn’t be appropriate for me to comment on some responsibilities that I’m not aware of that we said we would take on. So let me see if we have more information for you on that.


The main obligation that we have now is the obligation to transfer authority to the government – responsibility for security within Iraq to the Government of Iraq. But, of course, we also have some concerns about the treatment of people who were previously under our – whatever the word is, custodianship or jurisdiction, so we are, of course, paying close attention to what’s going on.


But you’ve raised a few issues that I think that I need to find out some more information on.


QUESTION: Ian, I have a question about – if we can switch topics.


QUESTION: On this issue still do you think there is --


QUESTION: Do you think he has anything more to say?




QUESTION: Is there any --


MR. KELLY: I guess Matt thinks I don’t have anything more to say.


QUESTION: Is there any link between Secretary Gates’ visit to Iraq and the invasion of --


MR. KELLY: No, I wouldn’t – I would discourage you from making a connection in that regard. I mean, we have senior officials in Baghdad all the time. I don’t think there was any particular political signal that anybody intended to send in terms of the timing.


QUESTION: Do you have any update on the kids from Medford, Oregon that are quarantined in China? When do you expect them home? There were some reports that they’re coming home July 30th, but then there was also some conflicting reports that some of the kids were being tested again and might get stuck. So I think there’s --


MR. KELLY: Yeah. I think as I said yesterday, we don’t talk about particular groups because of privacy concerns. But it’s possible that we have a waiver for this particular group, and I can see if we – see if --


QUESTION: You don’t have anything?


MR. KELLY: No, I don’t have anything right now.




QUESTION: I have a question. What efforts are being made by the Secretary and her senior aides to get Jeff Feltman confirmed? Has the Secretary spoke to Senator Levin, who has the hold on his nomination?


MR. KELLY: Yeah, yeah. Well, of course, the – we’re all looking forward to having Jeff become the confirmed assistant secretary. There’s a lot of important diplomatic activity under his purview in North Africa and the Middle East. I know the Secretary is eager to have him come on board as a full-fledged assistant secretary, but I don’t think I’m prepared to talk about what exactly she’s done with Congress.


QUESTION: Well, is she making efforts on his behalf to get him confirmed?


MR. KELLY: The Department of State is making efforts to try and move this nomination for his confirmation forward.


QUESTION: Do you think that this is hurting your policy in the region? I mean, the Syrians, for instance, have made comments that perhaps they don’t want to meet with him because he’s not confirmed --


MR. KELLY: Yeah. Well --


QUESTION: -- affecting the bilateral relationship that is under his purview of many portfolios?


MR. KELLY: Well, you’ve heard the Secretary say a number of times that she’s getting very impatient about the number of positions that haven’t been filled by permanent assistant secretaries and under secretaries. And we look forward to having Jeff confirmed soon.


QUESTION: Yeah, but this isn’t necessarily like an issue of a holdup with vetting and stuff like that, considering he’s already been doing the job for like, close to a year, right?


MR. KELLY: Right, right.


QUESTION: So I mean, this is about a political holdup by a member of Congress because of an issue that has nothing to do with his nomination. So, I mean, the question is: What can you do about it to end the standoff?


MR. KELLY: Well, we just would encourage everyone to try and move this process forward as quickly as possible.


QUESTION: And that includes directly talking to Senator Levin?


MR. KELLY: Well, I’m just – I’m not going to talk about who’s talked to Senator Levin. But I know that this is an important issue for the Secretary.


QUESTION: Ian, is he back --


MR. WOOD: You got to wrap it up.


MR. KELLY: Oh, yeah, okay. We’ll take two more questions, okay? Three – three, okay, but make them quick.


QUESTION: Do you have any update on the ongoing trial in Burma of Aung San Suu Kyi?


MR. KELLY: Yes, very quickly, on what – on Aung San Suu Kyi, of course, yeah.


QUESTION: Yes. If the Secretary has been involved in it?


MR. KELLY: Right, right. Yeah. We understand that the final arguments were yesterday. U.S. Embassy officials were able to attend that hearing. You know there’s an American citizen who is also on trial. We expect the final verdict tomorrow, although – not tomorrow, sorry, Friday.




MR. KELLY: And we expect that a Embassy official will be allowed access to the verdict, and of course --


QUESTION: A U.S. Embassy official?


MR. KELLY: Yeah. And of course, we continue to call for the immediate, unconditional release of Aung San Suu Kyi and the other political prisoners.


QUESTION: And where is – where Ambassador Holbrooke is visiting Asia including in --


MR. KELLY: Sorry?


QUESTION: Ambassador Holbrooke, where he’s going to visit in Asia?


MR. KELLY: Well, you’ll be able to ask him in an hour.


Yeah, go ahead.


QUESTION: Last week, Secretary met India’s leader of opposition L.K. Advani in Delhi on Monday.


MR. KELLY: Right.


QUESTION: What sense did the Secretary get about opposition party’s stand on Indo-U.S. relations? And do you have any --


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


QUESTION: Did the Secretary believe that there is difference of opinion between the opposition party and the ruling party as far as --


MR. KELLY: Yeah. I don’t think that’s something that we would get into.


QUESTION: Ian, do you have anything on --


MR. KELLY: Last question, Dave.


QUESTION: -- Chavez freezing relations with Colombia? And he’s making some claims about U.S. troop presence in Colombia that’s irritated him.


MR. KELLY: No. This is a – well, I mean, it’s really not a matter for the U.S., just that we would encourage the two governments – Colombia and Venezuela – to work out these differences via dialogue. But beyond that, we don’t have any comment on it.


QUESTION: You guys haven’t made a determination on whether it was indeed a coup in Honduras, have you?


MR. KELLY: We are very focused on the Arias process and we look forward to supporting that process, and a peaceful resolution of the conflict in Honduras.


QUESTION: North Korea knows what it has to do.


MR. KELLY: Okay. Thanks, guys.


QUESTION: Mitchell – Mitchell – what kind of progress he has made? Do you have anything?


MR. KELLY: Yeah. Mitchell, he – of course, he met --


QUESTION: On the record? On the record?


MR. KELLY: Yeah, this is on the record. He met yesterday with Prime Minister Netanyahu. I understand that it was a positive and constructive – they had positive and constructive talks. The day before yesterday, Mitchell met with Prime Minister Fayyad and with President Abbas, the Palestinian Authority officials.


QUESTION: Did the Israeli agree to stop the settlements or --


MR. KELLY: Well, I think – as I say, I think that both sides felt that there was progress made, but that – no breakthrough. But we look forward to continuing this process. Okay.


QUESTION: Do you know when he’ll give his speech --


MR. KELLY: Thanks.


QUESTION: -- in Bahrain? His speech in Bahrain?


MR. KELLY: He is in Bahrain, yeah.


QUESTION: He’s giving a speech today?


MR. KELLY: I think so. Yeah – no, he’s in Bahrain. I do know that.


QUESTION: All right.


MR. KELLY: Okay. All right. Thanks.

PRN: 2009/798