Background Briefing: the Bonn Conference on Afghanistan and Meeting With European Partners
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL THREE: All right, everybody. We are en route from Washington to Bonn for the Bonn Conference on Afghanistan and for a week of diplomacy by the Secretary of State with European partners. Here to give you a sense of the laydown for the whole trip is [Senior State Department Official One]. And then to give you more extensive background on the Bonn Conference and what we can expect tomorrow is [Senior State Department Official Two].
[Senior State Department Official One], why don’t you start off by walking us through the week.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: Okay. Hi, everybody. This, barring something unforeseen, is the Secretary’s last trip to Europe this year, the last of many trips to Europe this year. And it’s built around a number of big international events: the Bonn Conference on Afghanistan that my colleague will talk about; an OSCE ministerial; a NATO ministerial; in The Hague at the end, a big conference on internet freedom; and then Geneva, several other events around International Human Rights Day, a Biological Weapons Review Conference, an anniversary of UNHCR and refuges. So you see that there’s an opportunity to address a number of U.S. soft security issues like democracy and human rights, and hard security issues at NATO and elsewhere.
So again, starting in Bonn – we’ll get back to that, obviously – coming from Afghanistan 10 years after the original Bonn Conference, focused on issues of transition and ensuring international support for the country after transition to lead Afghan security authority in 2014.
Then on the OSCE ministerial, which, as you know, is an opportunity for the Secretary to talk about primarily issues of democracy and human rights in Europe. And this year, I think there’ll be particular focus on questions of media freedom, rights of journalists, and particularly extending those rights to the digital age – we’ll be supporting a strong statement to that effect; empowerment of women, also questions of intolerance of minorities in Europe; also hope to set up a web-based network of NGOs across the OSCE area, called Helsinki 2.0, which is a neat little venture. And we’re focusing on democracy and human rights across Europe.
A number of regional democracy issues, no doubt, will be on the agenda, not least the question of Belarus, where you have a situation with ongoing repression. The Russian elections, which took place today, will no doubt be discussed by ministers. You have the question in Ukraine of perceived political prosecutions and other regional questions in the Caucasus and Central Asia on the status of democracy. And those areas as well as traditional OSCE focus on protracted conflicts such as in Nagorno-Karabakh and Georgia.
Then on to NATO – sorry, then on to Geneva, where, as I mentioned, the Secretary will give a speech on LGBT issues around the anniversary of International Human Rights Day. She will participate in a Review Conference for the Biological Weapons Convention. I believe it’s the first secretary to participate in that venue. And she will participate in the plenary session of UNHCR on the 60th anniversary of the International Refugees Convention.
After that, on to NATO for the ministerial. This NATO ministerial, in a way, if you will, is really the starting line on the road to the Chicago NATO summit that President Obama is hosting in May and will focus on NATO’s role in Afghanistan, on the question of capabilities among the allies, and on the question of partnerships. And the ministerial will include sessions on the Balkans, where NATO obviously still plays an important role, and the Secretary will be looking to bolster strong support for the KFOR operation in Kosovo. It will have a session on Russia and missile defense and the defense – the Deterrence and Defense Posture Review. There will be a working dinner on partnerships, which is obviously a big feature of the NATO operation in Libya. The following morning, there will be a NATO-Russia Council and an ISAF meeting with all of the NATO and non-NATO partners on Afghanistan.
From there, the Secretary – sorry this is so long, but you know what you’re in for now. I think, if I haven’t lost the trail, we go to The Hague for the Secretary’s opening speech on a conference on internet freedom. There will be a number of other European ministers, and that’s hosted by Dutch Foreign Minister Rosenthal.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL THREE: Good. Now on for a little bit more background on the Bonn Conference, Senior State Department Official Number Two.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: Thanks very much. So the Bonn Conference is a quite significant event for several reasons. I think first of all, you’ll hear a lot said about a general stock-taking of where we are 10 years to the day from the first Bonn Conference. And there will be quite a bit in the presentations of the Afghans, in what we highlight, what comes out of conclusions of the conference, as the statement will be called, which is still being negotiated right now but will hopefully be finalized by the morning. A kind of looking back on all that has been accomplished. And it’s been quite significant, obviously, in many ways: on gender issues, on health and education issues – in fact, we just saw the release of this very significant mortality survey a few days ago; on infrastructure, on economic development, on growth of the economy, on regional integration, on a range of issues, and noting where we have come to over the course of the last 10 years, the international community in partnership with Afghanistan.
But then obviously, more importantly, we’re looking to the future and what this means and what the nature of our partnership will look like as we go through the transition period of through the end of 2014 and then the period beyond. And that’s, in large part, what this is focused on also. The conference is called, “From Transition to Transformation,” and it’s thinking beyond transition that is going to be quite critical.
We’ve noted in particular that there will be – that the Afghans will present – and this is showing their own ownership of this process – building towards a more sustainable stability on both political and security side as well as the economic side. And I think it’s important to place this in the context of all the various conferences and events over the past few years, particularly the last few months, and then leading into the continuum over the next six months or so.
So it very much built on the commitments from London and then Kabul through Lisbon last year, and then most notably on the regional integration piece, from the New Silk Road event on the margins of UNGA a few months ago to Istanbul, which was this announcement by the region of mutual commitments and a process for meeting it more, which will continue to unfold next year, and now on leading them through, first of all, the NATO summit next year, which will continue to flesh this out and make these commitments more and more concrete, the Kabul Ministerial that was referred to in the Istanbul process, and then probably something to continue to flesh out the civilian assistance piece of this.
On the security and political side of this, I think you’ll see in the conference conclusions – and I just have, at this point, a kind of outline of where they were – that there will be kind of specific pieces the Afghans put forward on governance, on security and the peace process, on hearing from them where we expect to see a political resolution going, committing again to reintegration and a reconciliation, an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned reconciliation process.
It will obviously welcome the results of the Istanbul process, which was an organic regional piece, and we want the rest of the international community to welcome that aspect of it.
And then on the economic piece, which is a piece that’s been, I think, particularly relevant right now, I think you’ve seen some quite interesting and significant events over the past few weeks that will continue to unfold. The Afghans – and I think you’ve just been handed what we think is a final draft, but we don’t yet know so I would ask you not to quote from it directly – an Afghan economic strategy that will be circulated tomorrow. And you see Afghans themselves taking ownership of where the economy is going. It’s quite sober. It’s very clear-eyed. It makes a series of specific commitments that it would like to move forward on, on legal and regulatory reforms.
And I think you can see the seriousness of purpose on this, not only in the document but in recent events, particularly the IMF program restarting again, the JCMB process restarting again, I think reenergizing the Kabul process, given that it had been fairly moribund over the last year. We’re now through the process that relative stalemate that occurred after the Kabul Bank, and I think we’re back on track with a number of economic reforms and the commitment by the Afghans to continue these.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: (Inaudible) I think that they will do, and there’s – the term “mutual accountability” is – frames that: what the Afghans will do and then what the rest of the international community will do as well.
The IMF program obviously restarting is quite significant on a number of fronts. One of – the foremost of which is that it has stalled, which we – I’m not sure we had ever actually said publicly, but it had stalled the disbursements of ARTF payments. So among other things that – the Afghan Reconstruction Trust Fund – sorry – which funds the National Solidarity Program and other kind of key initiatives, quite successful initiatives, in Afghanistan.
One of the things --
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: Exactly, exactly. Much of which the World Bank Trust Fund, which a number of international partners put into, and one of the key programs it funds is the National Solidarity Program, which allows local communities to make decisions themselves about how development assistance is going to be used and has a very localized ownership impact and is widely seen as one of the most successful assistance programs there.
One of the things that the Secretary will announce tomorrow – and again, this is totally on background because we are just now in the last hour or so informing the Afghans themselves that this is back on – but we will start moving this money back through the ARTF pretty immediately. And it’s cued to overcoming the key pieces that we conditioned from Kabul Bank in getting that IMF program on track.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL THREE: Can we just – just to be clear, just to be clear, until the Secretary announces that our flow of money will resume, that piece is off the record until she says it tomorrow. But the fact that we’ve had these problems, that they’re now overcome, and that you expect them to be addressed by the conference, you can have on background immediately. Okay?
QUESTION: How much money?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL THREE: How much money?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: Well, we’ll have to – we’ll have to take it on because --
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL THREE: Wait, wait, wait. Are you finished with your brief?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: No, no, let me get – just get a few more words.
In fact, on the margins of the ministerial tomorrow, Finance Minister Zakhilwal will have some quite important meetings with key international partners, including our Deputy Secretary Tom Nides, which is one of the main reasons he’s there, as well as Matt Spence from the White House and others of our key economic team, to talk about this Afghan ownership of the economy, how they can start to create jobs, how they can increase revenue in very specific ways, and how they can build towards this vision, as we’ve talked about quite a bit, of the New Silk Road, the interconnectivity of the region, which will ultimately contribute to the sustainability of Afghanistan and the broader region.
And I think there’s some quite interesting, as we’ve said, proof-of-concept aspects of this New Silk Road Vision, from the trade routes that we’ve talked about, the Afgan-Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement. We’ve – just in the last week, the Afghans have awarded five blocks of the Hajigak iron ore to Indian and a Canadian company, a mining company, which we see as quite promising, through a very, very credible, transparent bid process.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL THREE: Can you spell that, [Senior State Department Official Two] – Hajigak?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: I believe it’s H-a-j-i --
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL THREE: It’s in the back there.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: H-a-g-i – g-i-j-a-k, I think. And it contributes to, as we – an operationalization and making more concrete what we have been talking about in terms of how this – how the New Silk Road Vision will actually benefit the country and the region and be implemented.
The last piece of all this, obviously, is in a mutual accountability. It’s not just what the Afghans are pledging to do but what the international community will do. And I think it’s quite important that you have this number of delegations, close to a hundred delegations – 85 countries, 15 multilateral organizations – many represented by foreign ministers, virtually everybody from the region there. And obviously, we don’t expect Pakistan there right now, but virtually everyone in the region. And they’re all coming together to make this commitment through the transition and then recognizing that this is not a normal post-conflict situation, that we’ve all invested quite a bit in blood and treasure and time and resources over the last 10 years and it will take time to continue to get Afghanistan back on its feet and make sure that we secure the – what we have achieved. And so in this way, we recognize that this commitment will go beyond 2014.
And on this note, we also – the second document we circulated was what we just submitted to the Hill on Friday, which is our own economic strategy for Afghanistan which spells out in quite significant detail specific sectors that we’re concentrating on, reforms that we’re looking for, and how we see this moving forward.
So the combination of the Afghan ownership and the continued enduring commitment of the international community beyond 2014 is going to be the real theme of this, in combination with all the achievements that we’ve seen over the last decade.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL THREE: Okay, let’s go once around the horn. Who wants to start? Arshad.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: Absolutely.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) not a post-conflict (inaudible).
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: Absolutely.
QUESTION: How do you (inaudible) the continuation of violence?
And then second thing, can you be more clear on the money that you expect to resume (inaudible) flowing from this World Bank Trust Fund? That’s U.S. Government-appropriated money that will now start going in and out of that trust fund?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: Yeah. On the post-conflict point, absolutely right; it’s not post-conflict yet. We obviously still have 100,000 troops there. We’ll still have 68,000 troops there at the end of next September. And we are moving, obviously, towards the transition timeframe of removing all combat forces by the end of 2014, but we’ve always said that we will continue some targeted counterterrorism, counternarcotics, and most importantly training and equipping of the Afghan National Security Force, and make sure that they have the capacity to do this on their own.
So it may not be post-conflict for a little while, but we are still operating on the trajectory and that’s where we’re moving towards. And certainly, we hope that by the end of transition – and again, this is the second part of the conference (inaudible) the transformation is that that will – that that will be a post-conflict scenario.
On transition, I think the security transition is also important to note that the second tranche of transition was just announced, meaning that by the time that’s concluded, you’ll have over 50 percent of the country’s population under Afghan National Security Force control. So we are moving, hopefully more steadily, into a post-conflict situation. And once we get there, we want to make sure that we have the financial resources to ensure it has – that it is viable.
There’s been a lot of very interesting work – and I would look at the World Bank studies, I’d look at a range of other things – on what the economic impact of this drawdown will be. It will be very significant. There’s been remarkable economic growth in Afghanistan over the last 10 years, something like 9 percent to 11 percent a year; many, many new jobs created; and really putting Afghanistan back on its economic footing in such areas, traditional areas as agriculture and light manufacturing. And obviously, over many years, we hope to continue to expand that to areas like the extraction sector and mining. But at this point, we are trying to focus on what’s viable in the transition frame and again in the transformation frame.
On the ARTF funding, there was a portion of 2011 funding that we had not moved forward until the conclusion of the Kabul Bank, and that’s what will move forward. It’s not new funding. So I just have to get that number and make sure that we’re being public about it, but it’s all reported by – transparently by the Ministry of Finance in Afghanistan, so I assume that it will be. I just want to confirm that.
QUESTION: Two things quickly on Pakistan. Does the fact that Pakistan is boycotting, at least at a high level, suggest to you that they intend to continue to play spoiler going forward? I mean, you’re talking about the future here, I mean, and this just – does this show to you that they can just yank the – basically yank things when they want to?
Secondly, you had hoped, I think at one time, to have some better news to – on reconciliation and to talk about it in this conference. Are you focusing on the economic part of it because you don’t have good news on reconciliation?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: On Pakistan, I mean, I certainly hope that we’re not entering a phase with them where they play some sort of spoiler role. And we’re not proceeding with that assumption at all. We continue to engage at the highest levels. You’ve all seen the readout of the Secretary’s call with Prime Minister Gilani yesterday. And as we’ve been on the plane, the President spoke with President Zardari. And I think it’s regrettable that Pakistan is not attending. As Mark Toner said in some of his briefings earlier this week, I think it’s in Pakistan’s own interest to attend.
But I don’t think it will impact the conclusions of the conference in any way. We have the rest of the international community there in force, and I think even in the drafting of the conference conclusions we were quite careful to ensure that these were not things that Pakistan would feel uncomfortable with. Much of the language was drawn from earlier statements that they had agreed to, the Istanbul statement and others. And I think that we’re all anticipating that they will continue to play an important role moving forward. So we’ll have to see what comes next, but I wouldn’t read too much into their non-appearance tomorrow.
On reconciliation, it’s interesting because we continue to get asked this question about heightened expectations on reconciliation. I hope people realize that those weren’t our – those weren’t our expectations and they certainly are not the Afghan expectations. I think if you talk with any Afghans at this point, they will focus far more on the security transition, on civil society issues, on the gains that have been made and not ensuring that there’s any backtracking of those, than anything else.
And I think that obviously has been quite a different situation post-Rabbani’s assassination and a range of other things, and we’ll see where this goes. We’ve always said that we want to continue to keep these avenues open as we’re committed to this Afghan-led, Afghan-owned reconciliation with our three red lines which we’ve stated for many years now. But it’s not on any sort of timetable. It will happen when it’s right, not for pre-forced scheduled events.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL THREE: Cami.
QUESTION: A follow-up to that. There were some reports in Pakistan that the Pakistanis have convinced some Taliban representatives to come to these talks. Is that true, and are they coming?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: I’ve actually not even seen those reports. I’m not aware of that at all.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL THREE: The question was whether there were Taliban representatives coming to Bonn, and you heard [Senior State Department Official Two] say that he didn’t see --
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: I haven’t seen those reports. And we’ve always said it’s a single Afghan delegation; it’s up to the Afghans to determine their delegation. But I haven’t seen that there’s any sort of Taliban representation in it, but I could be wrong. They’re still sorting it out. I would note that 25 percent of the Afghan delegation, official delegation, is comprised of women, 20 percent of parliament is now women – or 25 percent, close to 20 percent of their civil society.
And you’ll see many sub-themes in this conference, not only the economic piece and the security piece, but this was preceded by two days of civil society events on December 2nd and 3rd, I think a very, very credible, very transparent process which resulted in one civil society representative from each of the 34 provinces being selected, and they then selected their own two speakers, who will address the plenary tomorrow – one man, one woman. We heard the two of them speak when we were in Astana two weeks ago. They’re extremely articulate and can talk about the importance of civil society. And then separately, obviously, there will be quite a few references to the role of Afghan women and the importance of making sure that progress there is not reversed.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL THREE: Elise.
QUESTION: A follow-up on that, and then I have a question. So you don’t – there were some rumblings after the Loya Jirga that it wasn’t representative and he wasn’t (inaudible) broadly enough, inclusive. You don’t think that this Afghan strategy moving forward doesn’t have wide support of Afghans?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: All of our reports from the Afghans, and certainly the Afghan leadership, is that the Loya Jirga was quite a success. And in fact, I think for those of you who haven’t yet asked about the strategic partnership agreement, I think that there was significant – that the president got from the Loya Jirga exactly what he was hoping for in terms of continuing --
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL THREE: President Karzai.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: President Karzai – continuing to move forward on the strategic partnership agreement. We fully anticipate that those discussions will continue, and hopefully they’ll be concluded fairly soon.
QUESTION: My question is (inaudible) Afghan support for it? Even it said that the withdrawal of forces and the withdrawal of forces, the withdrawal of the whole international presence, could reduce the economy by almost 50 percent. And so the combination of the reduction in economy because of the transition and the means to kind of pick up their own economy and the security situation, I mean, it seems like Afghanistan is going to be dependent on donors at least – they were saying in the report – maybe for 40 percent of the budget for some time to come. So are you concerned about, once the international community leaves, that there is going to be this kind of all right, we’re done, with donors?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: And that’s exactly what I was talking about in terms of the economic piece of this. You --
QUESTION: (Inaudible) that they were committed, but (inaudible).
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: But that’s why – that’s exactly why I think what comes out of the conference conclusions that’s released – I’ll be very interested to see when we land what state it’s in – what it says about the continuing commitment of the international community to address exactly this issue. And the whole point here was to continue to make these commitments at a higher political level and more concrete as we get through each conference.
This was never meant to be a donors conference. It was never meant to be a pledging conference. But what it will do is say we recognize exactly that point, that there will be quite significant implications for Afghanistan’s economy with the drawdown, and we are pledging a continued – some sort of continued commitment of resources even after 2014. And then the idea is that that will again be made more specific at these upcoming conferences next year both on the security side and on the civilian assistance side.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL THREE: Karen.
QUESTION: Forgive me if everybody knows this and I just don’t know, but I’m still not clear on the withdrawal of funds and the resumption of funds. Are you saying this is a fund that’s administered by the World Bank to which all the donors contribute? Are you saying that it was the World Bank that stopped paying it out, or we just stopped paying our contribution?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: We stopped paying our – we and many other donors stopped paying our contribution to the ARTF until there had been a resumption of the IMF program. And the IMF program couldn’t have been resumed until Kabul Bank was resolved. And there were a few key things on Kabul Bank --
QUESTION: The problems with Kabul Bank?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: The problems with Kabul Bank. A few key issues on Kabul Bank, including the fact that parliament undertook a recapitalization of – I don’t have the exact figure – someplace between $50 and $70 million a few weeks ago, that there were audits done, that there were a series of things that were ultimately done which made the IMF decide to restart its own program. And based on the IMF decision, we have decided to restart our own funding.
QUESTION: When did it stop? And aren’t you still concerned about the lack of prosecutions of Kabul Bank (inaudible)?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: The prosecutions was another piece of it. We’ve seen some commitments to some prosecutions. I’m not going to opine on whether – I don’t have enough background on whether they’re the right people or they’re high enough, whatever else. There has been – there have been some charges that have been filed, and we’ll have to see how that continues to play out.
But this was an IMF decision. These were IMF – these were IMF benchmarks which they set out, and it was the IMF that made the decision to restart its program. And we were tying our assistance, although perhaps I don’t think we ever said it publicly, but we were tying our continued disbursements to the IMF having a program. We didn’t feel we could, in good faith, continue sending hundreds of million dollars into the ARTF when the IMF itself didn’t even have a program in place.
QUESTION: When did the disbursements stop and when will it start again?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: They stopped at least several months ago and they will likely start fairly soon. We’ve got to give congressional notification (inaudible).
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: This is the Afghan Reconstruction Trust Fund that the World Bank administers.
QUESTION: I’m just wondering if you had a dollar figure (inaudible)?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL THREE: We’ll get it for you. We have to (inaudible), then we’ll get it for you.
QUESTION: Could I ask one more Afghan (inaudible)?
QUESTION: You’re not pulling a Taliban – you’re not expecting the Afghan delegation to pull a Taliban out of its hat, correct?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: I certainly am not. But I mean --
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: No.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL THREE: Jackie, did you have anything?
QUESTION: I actually did. I understood that Ryan Crocker decided not to extend an invitation to the Taliban, but you’re saying you don’t know what the situation was with the Taliban?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: I have not heard --
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: I have not heard that. But Ryan Crocker – Ambassador Crocker is in no position to extend any invitation or not.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL THREE: We are not hosting this.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: This is neither hosted nor chaired by the U.S. I mean, this is, obviously, German-hosted. And it is significant that this is the first major conference that the Afghans have chaired on their own. I mean, this is them on their own doing this. And they were the ones that made every decision, certainly on their delegation and how this conference would be structured.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL THREE: Okay, Steve, last one.
QUESTION: This is for both of you. It’s two parts. Russia – are they attending? And there was a report I saw (inaudible) Russia is trending to renegotiate or cut off the NATO supply lines from the north.
QUESTION: Tying it to missile defense. You’ve seen this, right?
QUESTION: And then the second part for later in the week, when you say that you’re going to raise the internet freedom issues, how directly are you going to confront Russia on that, especially given that they were closing the election sites right before today’s election.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL THREE: We’ll start with [Senior State Department Official Two] and then go to --
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: I have not heard any indication that the Russians are not attending, and I know that they’ve been very active members of the senior officials meetings that have been going on in the last two or three days. So that would be news to me.
QUESTION: How much (inaudible)?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: I hadn’t heard about that.
QUESTION: They basically said they’re going to hold – they’re going to try and blackmail (inaudible) NATO supply lines
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL THREE: Do you know anything about the northern route?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: That’s totally [Senior State Department Official One]’s question. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: (Inaudible) Tweets from Russia’s NATO ambassador?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL THREE: Well, we’ll give you an off-the-record comment on that later.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: I mean, I haven’t seen the Tweets, I mean, at least talked about tying it to missile defense. I’d just restate what we’ve stated all along, which is our commitment to missile defense in all four phases is solid and we’re moving ahead. We would like to do it cooperatively with Russia, period.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL THREE: Okay, thank you very much.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: On internet freedom, I won’t preview what specifically the Secretary is going to say in the speech. As for the targeting of sites and the observers, we’ve already addressed that and expressed our concerns about web attacks, digital attacks, on these – on this firm, Golos, which is trying to observe the Russian election.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL THREE: It was a statement released by the White House yesterday. Okay, or it might have been Friday when we were flying.