Remarks to the Press

Press Availability
Ian Kelly
Department Spokesman
Washington, DC
November 5, 2009

MR. KELLY: So what can I help you with?

QUESTION: What’s your reaction to Abbas’s criticism of the U.S. siding with Israel?

MR. KELLY: Did you see the Secretary’s press availability?


QUESTION: Well, she didn’t comment on that. That’s why he’s asking you.

MR. KELLY: Well, we are – we’re working very hard on trying to get the two sides to sit down and get to the point where they can begin negotiating towards the goal that both sides want, and really the entire world wants. I think that whatever we have said has been completely consistent with our policy. We haven’t changed anything. You’ve heard the Secretary say many times that our policy on settlements, for example, has not changed. But I think the important thing is to start direct negotiations. And we’re committed to playing a facilitative role to helping the two sides get to that point.

QUESTION: Well, but --

QUESTION: Well, are you concerned that his departure from the scene will make that harder? And do you want him – the Secretary ignored this part of the question – do you want him to change his mind?

MR. KELLY: That is really – this is a – it’s a Palestinian solution to a Palestinian problem. This is really – it’s – we respect Mr. Abbas. We think that he is a – he’s an important player in this whole process. He’s been an important interlocutor for us, and we respect his work and we look forward to continuing to work with him.

QUESTION: I’m sorry, let me ask the question again, because that’s not the answer to the question that I asked.

MR. KELLY: Well, you may not get the answer to the question that you asked, but go ahead. Try it again.

QUESTION: Well, then just tell me that and don’t say – don’t give me the answer to another question. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: Well, he said it’s a Palestinian solution.

QUESTION: Do you want him to change his mind, and are you concerned that his --

MR. KELLY: It’s not up to us to say whether or not he should change his mind.

QUESTION: I’m not saying it is up to you. I’m asking if you would like to see him stay, and if you’re worried that his departure will make it more difficult to get the negotiations started.

MR. KELLY: Look --

QUESTION: I think those are pretty straightforward questions.

MR. KELLY: Yeah. I mean, he has – as I say, he’s played a very productive role. I mean, this is a --

QUESTION: Okay. So in other words, you can’t --

MR. KELLY: This is a decision for him to make. We respect him. We – he’s been a great partner.

QUESTION: Okay, just stop. If you’re not going to answer the question, just tell me you’re not going to answer the question. Don’t go on with this other stuff.

MR. KELLY: All right. We look forward to working with him, and he’s been a good partner for us.

QUESTION: Well, when Clinton said that he – he obviously told her about his decision when they were meeting, because she pretty much said that. And she said that she looked forward to meeting with him and working with him in any new capacity. Did he suggest any new capacity that he could help the negotiations?

MR. KELLY: I don’t know the answer to that, Elise. I just know that we would expect him to continue to play a role. And he has been committed to the – to our shared goal: to a two-state solution, to creating a better future for his people. And we hope that he will continue to play that kind of productive role.

Other questions?

QUESTION: The foreign minister of Egypt stated today that the Arabs want – they would like to see some guarantees that if the Palestinians start the negotiations, it will lead to a Palestinian state with the 1967 borders, so then they don’t make an issue about the settlements before the negotiations.

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

QUESTION: Is the U.S. ready to give such guarantees?

MR. KELLY: It’s – this is really – this is something for the two sides to work out. Our position is clear. We want an end to settlement activity. We want to see the creation of a Palestinian state living side by side with Israel. And this is a matter for the two sides to work out.

QUESTION: Well, you just said a minute ago that you wanted to help facilitate them getting together and sitting down. And if a guarantee by Israel that the negotiations would lead to a two-state solution would enable him to walk down from the position that you put him in by suggesting that you wanted a full settlement freeze and that’s why he went along with you, and now that you’re saying you don’t want one, you’re asking him to climb down from this position.

MR. KELLY: We’re not asking anybody to do --

QUESTION: Of course you are.

MR. KELLY: -- anything but sit down --

QUESTION: Of course you are.

MR. KELLY: -- and start negotiating.

QUESTION: You’re asking – you said you wanted a full settlement freeze, and when you decided that you weren’t getting – didn’t think it was a precondition that you should have for talks, you asked him to walk away from that.

MR. KELLY: We --

QUESTION: But I’m just saying that if you – saying you want to facilitate the climate where they could have talks, and now you’re asking him to not have those settlements as a precondition, are you willing to push Israel --

MR. KELLY: We never said --

QUESTION: -- to guarantee --

MR. KELLY: We never said that there should be a precondition for any of these talks. What we said was that all sides should take steps that they’ve already committed to in the Roadmap that would lead to the kind of environment that could produce useful and significant negotiations.

QUESTION: Okay. Well, now he is --

MR. KELLY: That has never changed.

QUESTION: Now that you asked them to walk away from their settlement issue, they’re saying, okay, if you don’t want us to hook on the settlements, then give us the guarantee that if we’re going to talk, it’s going to lead to a two-state solution. Are you willing to push Israel to give that guarantee? You pushed them for settlements; it didn’t work. Are you willing to push them for this?

MR. KELLY: Look, we – what we’re willing to do is what we’ve been doing all along, and that’s trying to get the – both sides to the point where they’re going to sit down and talk.

QUESTION: Well, this is a point --

MR. KELLY: We’re not willing to do any more or any less.

QUESTION: This is something where they said that they will be willing to sit down if you --

MR. KELLY: I don’t know what kind of guarantees the U.S. can give. I’m not sure I understand the question.

QUESTION: No, he’s responding to the Secretary saying that start the negotiations and it would --

QUESTION: It’ll come. If you build it, it will come.

QUESTION: -- it will solve the problems of the settlements, not block the starting of the negotiation of the issue of settlements, that she’s saying that the negotiations on the border will solve the problem of the settlements.

MR. KELLY: Right.

QUESTION: So he’s responding to this.

MR. KELLY: Yeah. Well, okay. I would need to see exactly what he said, because I’m not sure what kind of guarantee that we can make on the sovereign state of Israel. I’m not sure what he means by that.

QUESTION: No, no, he’s responding to the Secretary is guaranteeing that the negotiation to solve the borders will solve the problem of the settlements.

QUESTION: She’s saying come to the table --

MR. KELLY: Yeah, I’m sorry. I really don’t understand the question.

QUESTION: She’s saying come to the table, and if you have a two-state solution you don’t need to worry about settlements. They’re saying, how we do know that if we’re going to come to the table we’re going to get a two-state solution?

MR. KELLY: You don’t – you’re not going to find out anything until you come to the table. Simple as that.

QUESTION: Next? (Laughter.)

QUESTION: On North Korea, do you have any comment on the reports that North Korea and the United States --


QUESTION: Do you have any comment on the reports that North Korea and the United States had agreed to meet twice bilaterally before North Korea returns to the Six-Party talks?

MR. KELLY: Yeah. That – look, here’s where we are. Sung Kim met with Ambassador Ri Gun about 12 days ago, and they had very useful discussions. We are now deliberating on whether or not to accept the invitation of Ambassador Bosworth to have bilateral talks which would lead to the resumption of the Six-Party Talks. That is – that’s exactly where we are. I don’t know anything about any kind of stipulation for two talks before we have the bilateral talks. We are right now deliberating on the next steps.

QUESTION: Can you make a comment on this Yonhap article that said that Jack Pritchard the KEI and Scott Snyder from the Asia Foundation are going – are planning to go to Pyongyang?

MR. KELLY: I don’t – I’m not –

QUESTION: I sent you an article. I sent it to you this morning.

MR. KELLY: Okay. I didn’t see it. I’ll look for it.

QUESTION: Do you have any --

QUESTION: I called their office, and they substantiated that the trip is on. So – and it said that they’re working with State Department.


MR. KELLY: Yeah, I’m sorry. I don’t know. Hey, there’s one briefer here, okay?

QUESTION: Do you have any readout from the meeting between South Korean Six-Party Talk Envoy Wi Sung-lac and Ambassador Bosworth today?

MR. KELLY: Yeah. I don’t have a readout. They did – I think they met yesterday. He met with both Ambassador Bosworth and with --

QUESTION: Yesterday?

MR. KELLY: Maybe it was today. I’m sorry.

QUESTION: I think it was today.

MR. KELLY: Was it today?


MR. KELLY: Today. All right, they met today. But I don’t have a readout of it.

QUESTION: They met here?

MR. KELLY: They met here, yeah. And both – it was both Bosworth and Sung Kim.

QUESTION: Can you get anything – get us anything on that?

MR. KELLY: We’ll see.

QUESTION: Is he going to be here tomorrow, too?

MR. KELLY: I’m not sure. We’ll see if we can get you a readout.

QUESTION: And one more.


QUESTION: Do you have any comment on the report that South Korean foreign minister said United States and North Korean bilateral meeting is going to be the end of this year or the beginning of next year? He said that.

MR. KELLY: Yeah. Well, we’ve made no decision about when and where.

QUESTION: Ian, in the --


QUESTION: Is this another Korean?

QUESTION: No, it isn’t.

QUESTION: Okay. In the talks with Westerwelle just now --

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

QUESTION: -- did the issue of basing the nukes in Germany come up and --

MR. KELLY: They had a – kind of a general discussion of the issue of the Nuclear Posture Review and how this was being done within a NATO context. There was no – it was no real specifics about the location of the nuclear weapons, and you know that we never talk about where nuclear weapons are anyway. They had a general conversation, but it was in the context of the Nuclear Posture Review and NATO’s nuclear policy.

QUESTION: Any word about this report that there was a Saudi Arabian incursion into Yemen territory? Yemen is denying it.


QUESTION: Yemen is denying it, right?


MR. KELLY: Let me read you what I have. We’re concerned by the expansion of the conflict along the Saudi-Yemeni border. It’s our view there could be no long-term military solution to the conflict between the Yemeni Government and the rebels – the Houthi rebels, is that how it’s pronounced?


MR. KELLY: Yeah. We call on all parties to the conflict to make every effort to protect civilian populations and limit damage to civilian infrastructure. But I don’t have any information about whether or not the conflicts were across the border or not.

QUESTION: Was there no --

MR. KELLY: No confirmation on that, yeah.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) Saudi (inaudible).

MR. KELLY: But within the Yemeni border, yeah.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

MR. KELLY: Yeah, I don’t have any confirmation.

QUESTION: Ian, do you have any – well, characterization – do you have any comment on the fact that Karzai’s two vice presidents are basically corrupt and (inaudible)? (Laughter.)

MR. KELLY: Well, that’s one of the more loaded questions you’ve ever asked.

QUESTION: Is there some new development on that today?

QUESTION: No, I’m just wondering what your opinion is of it.

MR. KELLY: Yeah. Well --

QUESTION: What’s the U.S. opinion?

MR. KELLY: I think we’re really looking to the future. We’re – we are going to, of course, support President Karzai as he forms his new government. But of course, we’re going to look for some pretty quick and vigorous steps to try and address some of the problems that he himself has identified, including the need to fight corruption.

QUESTION: Right. But do you have any position on these guys – these two guys --

MR. KELLY: I honestly do not have a position on --

QUESTION: -- the former warlords?

MR. KELLY: Yeah, I don’t have a position on that.

QUESTION: Well, but I mean, President Obama – didn’t President Obama call for like a tribunal or some kind of investigation against Dostum in the first place?

MR. KELLY: Dostum is not one of them.

QUESTION: But I’m not – I’m talking like in a general sense.

QUESTION: It’s Fahim and then someone else.

QUESTION: I mean – and then there was Fahim. He had – President Obama himself had kind of made comments that he didn’t think that Fahim should be his running mate, so --

MR. KELLY: Well, no, I don’t --

QUESTION: I’m just saying --

MR. KELLY: I don’t have any position on these two, I’m afraid.

QUESTION: Could you clarify one thing on North Korea?

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

QUESTION: U.S. got an invitation from North Korea, right?

MR. KELLY: Right.

QUESTION: Did they invite specifically Stephen Bosworth, or did they just invite high-ranking official? Could you clarify that, please?

MR. KELLY: I believe it was Stephen Bosworth, but if that’s --

QUESTION: Specifically?

MR. KELLY: -- incorrect, we will let you know. But I believe the invitation was to Ambassador Bosworth.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MR. KELLY: Okay. Thanks.

QUESTION: Thank you.

PRN: 2009/1101