Background Briefing: Senior State Department Officials En Route to Prague

Special Briefing
Senior State Department Officials
En Route to Prague, Czech Republic
December 3, 2012

MODERATOR: All right, welcome everybody. We are en route from Washington to Prague for the Secretary’s week in Europe. We have with us [Senior State Department Official One], hereafter Senior State Department Official Number One, to set forth the whole week for you, and we have a special guest, [Senior State Department Official Two], hereafter Senior State Department Official Number Two, to talk about some of the particular meetings in his area of the world that we will also be having when we get to Brussels.

So without further ado, take it away, [Senior State Department Official One].

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: Thanks. Hi, everybody. As we’re setting off on another wide-ranging Europe trip with a lot of different stops and a lot of different parts, I thought I might just begin with a little bit of context about what the Secretary has been trying to achieve in Europe overall.

Some of the themes that she was able to highlight from the speech she gave at Brookings earlier this week, which I hope you saw and encourage you to see if you didn’t, where she talked about the different aspects of our partnership with Europe, the global cooperation on issues like Afghanistan, Iran, Libya, Syria, Arab Spring, and defense, where she argued that we’ve never been more strategically aligned than we are today in this partnership; about our economic partnership with Europe as still by far our leading trade and investment partner; and our thinking mutually about how we can continue to advance that partnership, including considering on both sides the possibility of launching a comprehensive economic partnership; and then finally, our commitment to stability and democracy and prosperity within Europe and her personal attention to those issues. Of course, there have been recent developments on the democracy front, human rights front, including elections in Russia, Ukraine, Georgia, Belarus, and our commitment to advancing stability and democracy throughout Europe is another key element of our partnership.

So in that – the reason I mention that context is this is one of those trips that’s going to touch on all of those issues in different ways. It will begin with the stop in Prague, visiting the Czech Republic, for her first solo visit as Secretary. She’s been, I guess, twice with the President, but this will be her first bilateral visit to this key NATO ally that is a strong partner of ours. The Czech Republic maintains troops in Afghanistan. They have had in the past troops in the Balkans and in Iraq operating alongside ours. They have continued to serve as our protecting power in Syria. They play an important role on some functional defense issues like dealing with chemical and biological weapons, and we’ve worked together on that, including in the recent past. And so she’ll be able to express our appreciation for that bilateral security partnership.

Energy will be a key piece of the discussion with our Czech allies. Energy security, again, has been a major theme for the Secretary all along, particularly in Central Europe where there is significant reliance for energy on one particular country, Russia. And we have sought to help them diversify their energy supplies, and there will be an opportunity for the Secretary to support an important American company, Westinghouse, for a big nuclear reactor, civil nuclear reactor project that the Czechs have, which we think would be great in lots of ways for American jobs and an American company, for energy security and diversity in the Czech Republic, for jobs in the Czech Republic, and for partnership, scientific and innovation partnership with the United States.

She will also follow up – when Prime Minister Nečas visited Washington last year, he and President Obama talked about moving forward with a joint civil nuclear center, and this will be an opportunity to advance that project and cooperation as well.

After the Czech Republic, we’ll go on to NATO for what I think is the Secretary’s ninth NATO ministerial. And this one, like all the others, will cover the full range of issues NATO deals with, and maybe it’s just easiest if I just walk you through the different meetings and you can come back and ask about them. But there will be a NATO-Russia Council meeting. We have felt all along that the NATO-Russia partnership is an important one. We do important things together. We’d like to do even more together. Obviously, Afghanistan is a key piece of that cooperation where transit across Afghanistan for NATO troops and supplies has been critical to our efforts. And they’ll have a chance to talk about continuing that partnership moving forward as well as the other projects that we either are undertaking with Russia or would like to undertake. Training for counternarcotics is something we’ve done with the Russians. There’s a helicopter maintenance trust fund that Russia has contributed to for Afghanistan. Obviously missile defense, which has stalled but is something we’d continue to like to do with Russia. So a wide-ranging NATO-Russia Council meeting.

Then there’ll be the NATO – the NAC, the North Atlantic Council meeting just for allies, which will survey the full range of activities that NATO is undertaking, including some of those that I’ve just mentioned. And that will be the opportunity also to talk about something I’m sure you’re interested in, which is the missile defense efforts for Turkey in the context of the Syria crisis. You know that Turkey has made a request that NATO look at ways in which it might provide support for Turkey against the risk of ballistic missiles. And we’ve said before and we’re positively considering that request by a NATO ally, and allies will have the chance to discuss that and hopefully conclude the way forward on how we can collectively come and support Turkey on that issue.

There will be a foreign ministers dinner, again, where they’ll be able to talk about whatever issues on the NATO agenda they want, but I think the discussion will mostly be focused on North Africa and the Middle East, given all the key developments there. Even where NATO doesn’t have a particular role, it’s obviously something of great concern and interest to allies.

The next morning there’s a NATO-Georgia Commission meeting. Georgia, of course, is one of the formal aspirants to NATO membership. We support a strong NATO-Georgia partnership, support Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and Euro-Atlantic aspirations. I’m sure you all saw the Secretary met just this week in Washington with the new Georgian Foreign Minister. Obviously, there’s a new government in Georgia. We are working closely with them and are pleased with the way in which they have expressed continued commitment to democracy, human rights, and their Euro-Atlantic path.

Finally, there’ll be an ISAF meeting, the 50 partners who are together working Afghanistan. My colleague will talk in more detail about those issues. From the NATO aspect, I can just say I wouldn’t expect major decisions, most of which have already been made at the Chicago summit in terms of the timetable, but it will be an opportunity to review where we stand, to recommit to that timetable and our common goals and the principle of “in together, out together” as we move forward together in Afghanistan. And NATO allies will also discuss the issue of financing for Afghan National Security Forces after 2014. You’ll recall the significant pledges that were made in Chicago, and allies and partners have been working since then on funding mechanisms to provide a way for those pledges to be delivered to the Afghan people.

The next stop after that is Dublin for – sorry. In Brussels, there will also be the meeting of the US-EU Energy Council. I mentioned moments ago the Secretary’s personal commitment to these issues, why they’re important to the United States to ensure that our partners in Europe not only have access to vital energy supplies but to avoid excessive dependence on sole suppliers, which is problematic in economic terms, in energy terms, and in political terms. And the US-EU Energy Council has been our opportunity to discuss ways through technology, regulatory measures, political choices, to how to advance that common goal of energy security. The Secretary and High Representative Ashton launched it in 2009. They’ve met a number of times since, and there will be another opportunity on this trip in Brussels to advance those goals.

Dublin is both the opportunity for an OSCE ministerial and a bilateral meeting with our Irish partners. The OSCE will be an opportunity for the Secretary to talk about and help advance the agenda I mentioned of, in particular, democracy and human rights all across Europe and Eurasia. Obviously, there are important components of the OSCE in terms of security, the first basket, and economics and the environment, the second basket, but particularly recently we have been focused on the third basket of democracy and human rights. Again, I mentioned the developments in Russia on this score in terms of reversals in many ways of opportunities for civil society and human rights, elections in Russia, elections in Ukraine, elections in Georgia, elections in Belarus. And we support very much what the OSCE has been able to do on this score, in particular through their election observation teams, which played a role not only observing the elections I just met but also, if you recall, in Serbia, and in particular played an absolutely critical role in ensuring that – allowing ethnic Serbs living in Kosovo and Serbian citizens living in Kosovo to vote in the Serbian elections in a peaceful way. So we strongly support that agenda, and this will be an opportunity for the Secretary to talk about and advance that agenda.

She will also, on a similar score, give a more global human rights speech while in Dublin talking about our commitment to human rights not just in Europe and Eurasia but around the world, and some of the advances made in the past four years and challenges that we continue to face. And then finally, she’ll have bilateral meetings with the full range of Irish leaders, which will be an opportunity to continue to express our support for the difficult choices Ireland has made in getting its economy back on track and Ireland’s commitment, like ours, to the global democracy and human rights agenda – Ireland was just elected, as was the United States, to the UN Human Rights Council – and other bilateral issues.

Finally, we’ll go on to Belfast. You all know of the Secretary’s longstanding personal commitment to peace in Northern Ireland, everything she’s done over the past two decades on that score, and this will be an opportunity – she will meet with the First Minister, the Deputy Minister, and hear from them on the progress they’ve made recently on devolution and on peace and on economic advancement in Northern Ireland.

So like I said, it’s a trip with a lot of different moving parts but an opportunity for the Secretary to focus on so many different aspects of our relationship, from the security partnership to our global partnership to our economic partnership, to our commitment to democracy and stability and human rights all across Europe and Eurasia.

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

MODERATOR: Speak loudly.

QUESTION: It’s just the plane noise (inaudible).

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: Yeah, I’ll do my best. I’ll do my best.

QUESTION: If you can talk loudly, that will be great.

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: Thanks, [Senior State Department Official One]. We’re going to take the opportunity while we’re in Brussels on Monday night to take the opportunity to track that – Foreign Minister Khar, the Pakistani Foreign Minister, and General Kayani, the head of their military forces, the army, are going to be in Brussels – to get together on Monday evening for some time to review where things stand on the U.S.-Pakistan bilateral relationship.

This has been a series of these kinds of get-togethers. I think the first couple were in 2010 when Admiral Mullen hosted them when he was the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. We were in Pakistan last October for dinner with the Pakistanis, the same kind of format, interagency format, and we took the opportunity to do so again on Monday night.

I think that’s sort of how it – kind of how it comes about. Obviously, if you sort of step back a little bit, for us 2011 was as hard a year in U.S.-Pakistan relations as you can imagine. And so we tried in 2012 to sort of get back into some sensible business with them. Our philosophy has been that it ought to be possible between Pakistan and the United States to systematically identify our shared interests and act on them jointly, so that’s what we’ve tried to do.

During this year, I think very importantly, first to go back to April of this year, the Pakistani parliament, as you’ll remember, had issued a series of statements about the fundamentals of U.S.-Pakistan relations, and we found those to be very positive to start us to get back into business with them in April. You remember you had President Zardari visited Chicago, part of the NATO summit, in May. And at that time Secretary Clinton visited with him, we decided to lay out four or five things that we might be able to do together, very practical things to make 2012 a little bit better year than 2011. Those things had to do, first of all, with counterterrorism cooperation; secondly, more work together on Afghanistan; third, reopening the ground lines of communications, which very much thanks to Tom Nides and the Finance Minister of Pakistan, that got accomplished; to continue to focus in on these counter IEDs, the improvised explosive devices which bring such damage to not just people in Afghanistan but people in Pakistan as well; and then finally, to see if we could move toward a relationship with Pakistan based more on trade, market access, and not aid, to try to sign with them a bilateral investment treaty.

And so we’ve pursued since May work on all those areas. As you’ll recall, those of you who were with us in Tokyo, Secretary Clinton had a long session with Foreign Minister Khar there, which we thought was a very constructive and positive event. And then you’ll recall also that Foreign Minister Khar visited Secretary Clinton just before the United Nations General Assembly and they spent some hours together in Washington, D.C. – again, we thought a very positive development. And so when this opportunity arose, we took it and thought it’d be a very good chance to kind of get together.

I’d say that for the items that are likely to focus on for the meeting on Monday night, counterterrorism, counterterrorism, first of all, very important. Secondly, a lot of conversation, I would imagine, on the future in Afghanistan, the work that the Pakistanis have been doing with the Afghans most important, and also with us and also in the region to promote Afghan peace and reconciliation. And then third, to talk also a little bit about this question of the bilateral relationship and how to move it on. Let me just talk a minute about each of those.

First I’d like to focus in on the question of Afghanistan. And here I guess I would just ask you in your thinking about this and reporting about this to consider kind of where Pakistan and Afghanistan are today compared to a year ago. And really, there are three things, it seems to me, important here. One is the Pakistan-Afghanistan bilateral relationship, which is really the most important thing of all. I think over the past few months that we see some very interesting developments. You all followed, I know over the past few weeks, the visit of the High Peace Council Chair Rabbani to Islamabad, where there were some prisoner releases and also discussion about the road forward. General Kayani then went to Kabul almost immediately afterwards to meet again with the leadership in Afghanistan. And then just last week, I think, the foreign minister, Foreign Minister Rassoul of Afghanistan went to Islamabad to continue that conversation. And again, I recognize my bias here, but if you look at the joint statement that they issued, it talks about all of the things that the Secretary has been interested in over this past couple of years, which is their work together, economic aspects of this, peace and reconciliation. So there’s a lot, I think here, on the Pak-Afghan side in support of Afghanistan.

Secondly is the work we’re doing with the three – two countries, so three of us altogether in the Core Group. Again, you’ll recall, those of you who were with us in Tokyo, that the Core Group met at that time at ministerial level, at the Secretary’s level, issued a statement calling on the Taliban to participate in a political process in Afghanistan. The Core Group has now met eight times altogether. The last time we did one was at the United Nations General Assembly, which was at my level, and it started to work now on some practical areas. Most importantly for me, it’s got a subgroup that focuses in on safe passage In other words, those Taliban who are in Pakistan and may wish to move someplace for a reconciliation conversation, peace conversation, the Core Group is working on how to manage that safe passage. So the second part of Afghanistan will be this Core Group, which I think is quite important.

And then third, again, is the review of where we stand in the region. Again, those of you who follow the story and were with us last year, the Secretary was (inaudible) mother had died. Those of you who were – follow the story, we were in Istanbul last November, where we got the region together to talk about a secure, stable, prosperous Afghanistan inside of a secure, stable, prosperous region. That effort – Istanbul, Bonn, and Chicago and Tokyo – really has been followed up, and Istanbul in particular has been followed up by the region. The Pakistanis have played a very good, I think, and constructive role on what they call the Heart of Asia process.

So on Afghanistan, you’ve got, as I say, the bilateral deal between Pakistan and Afghanistan. That’s really important, the work we’re doing with the countries together, and then this regional aspect of it, all of which I think will be reviewed on Monday night.

And then the final thing I’ll say is on the bilateral relationship, one of the things we agreed last May was that we would get back into having some meetings and some working groups between Pakistan and the United States and we didn’t want to go to dozens and dozens of working groups, we wanted to choose four or five that would really make a difference. And so over the past couple of weeks, again you will have noticed perhaps about three or four weeks ago the Interior Minister of Pakistan was in the United States for a meeting of a law enforcement working group that Assistant Secretary Brownfield co-chaired with him, which was great, then he also had a chance to call on Secretary Napolitano and others in our government. Just last week, the Finance Minister was in the United States. It was Tom Nides. They co-chaired a meeting of the economic and finance working group. And also on Monday, but in Islamabad, there’ll be a meeting of the defense consultative group which will be chaired on our side by Jim Miller, the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy. And then going forward, we hope before the end of the year there’ll be a working group on energy which Carlos Pascual will do, and one on strategic – kind of strategic thinking going forward, which Rose Gottemoeller will go to Islamabad for. So you sort of want to take these working groups one thing at a time.

A final point, and that is a very important point to the Pakistanis and an important point for us too, is not to have you lose, I think, as you think about this or report about it, the economic aspect of this. We want to see what we can do to move this relationship with Pakistan from an aid relationship to market access and trade. It turns out that the United States already takes 20 percent of Pakistan’s exports. Huge numbers of goods, about 3,500 items come in under GSP, and we want to tie all that to the Secretary’s vision that she laid out last year in Mumbai for the New Silk Road. And it isn’t just for the economics, of course. It’s because there’s no success in Afghanistan and Pakistan unless the two of them are trading and then connecting Central Asia and South Asian economies. So the economic piece of this is extremely important and I’m sure will be part of the conversation on Monday night.

MODERATOR: Did you say anything about the ISAF meeting, or no?

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: I’m sorry. My colleague did a fine job with the ISAF part. I would just add simply this, that as my colleague said, really important to go back to the commitments made in Chicago, $4.1 billion a year in ’15, ’16, and ’17 for the Afghan National Security Forces. The key now is to make sure that that money is – those pledges turn into real money, and one of the most important parts of achieving that is to make sure that the mechanism for giving that money is a good one. And so there’s been a lot of work done at NATO over the past few weeks on trying to define that mechanism, and I think ministers will be presented with a report and then some language so they can approve at least the beginnings of a mechanism I say that folks at NATO and the Afghans have worked very hard on.

MODERATOR: Let’s go around once. Brad.

QUESTION: [Senior State Department Official Two], just on the U.S.-Pakistan bilateral relationship, it seems that the Pakistanis are holding off on things like reconciliation until a new national security team is in place for the Administration. How do you prod them forward while they feel there’s some degree of uncertainty in the personnel and who’s going to be running things going forward?

And then just on the issue of prisoner releases, my understanding was that this Administration wasn’t pleased with all of the releases and how some of the people seem to be kind of just dumped back into the insurgency. What issues will you address with them on that front?

MODERATOR: The questions were getting the Taliban back to the table with the new Administration and Taliban prisoner releases.

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: On your first question, I mean, you have all – you have different sources and talk to different people. I’ve actually not – I’ve not sensed that at all. I’ve not sensed any Pakistani hesitation about kind of our leadership and change in our leadership. Indeed, again, you have --

QUESTION: Well, then can you explain the slowness on reconciliation?

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: That’s – again, with respect I would disagree with you. I think if you take the last three weeks and you take Rabbani’s visit to Islamabad the first time in months and months and months that the HPC chief had been in Islamabad, and I think I’m right, it’s the first time Rabbani himself had been there. I think his deputy Stanekzai had been, and of course his father before he was assassinated had been, but I think it’s the first time he’d been there himself. He was there three days. He saw everybody. Again, the statements that they issued, the work they’ve been doing, I don’t think they’re holding back at all.

Second, I think the fact that, again, that Foreign Minister Rassoul went almost immediately is also a really important thing. We’ve had no hesitation, for example, in meetings with the Core Group, meetings with – of the safe passage working group. So again, I don’t deny that you’ve got people who tell you that. I just – I don’t think that’s right. I think the Pakistanis actually are pressing forward because, like a lot of people in the region, they recognize that 2014 is not so far away. And so I don’t find any hesitancy at all.

On the second question, the Afghans have been asking a long time for prisoner releases from Pakistan. And the fact that during the HPC visit, Rabbani’s visit to Pakistan, some of those took place I think is a good thing. And the issue now is what happens to those people. And if, as the HPC wants and I think everybody hopes, they either come off the battlefield, or very importantly, actually participate in some peace process or peace conversation or speak out in favor of a political process, then that’s what everybody is trying to see.


QUESTION: It’s a simple question for [Senior State Department Official One]. There was a story this morning, I think in the Times, about chemical weapons, some concern that the Syrians are moving them around. We’ve had this before, but it looked a little bit weirder than usual. Do you have any explanation or level of concern raised, et cetera?

MODERATOR: The question was Syria, chemical weapons, is there some new development.

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: I don’t have a comment on any new developments. I can say, as you know, that this is something we’ve been very much focused on from the start. President Obama has addressed the nature of chemical weapons in this context as being fundamentally different than even the dramatic other military uses that we’ve seen so far. It’s something we bilaterally have been focused on from the start and NATO. We mentioned the context of the Czechs hosting a conference among countries who have capabilities to deal with such things. So again, without commenting on any new developments – and I haven’t seen the story you’ve seen – you can be sure that it’s something that we’ve been very much focused on from the start, as have other allies.


QUESTION: [Senior State Department Official One], can you – what’s the status on the Patriots to Turkey? Has the site survey been completed? What specific position do you think might be made Tuesday and when would they – if the decision is a go-ahead as expected, when would they be deployed?

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: Right. The site survey is still going on. We’ve had people there over the course of the past week, and our German and Dutch partners have begun to participate as well, Germany and the Netherlands being other NATO allies with Patriot capabilities that could be considered.

What is the status? Turkey made a formal request to NATO to help it bolster its air defenses in the context of potential threats from Syrian missiles, and NATO is actively considering that request, as I put it I think earlier, in our case positively. This is a NATO ally. We’ve said from the start that we have strong commitments to NATO allies when they feel threatened, and so we would like to be able to be responsive in a positive way to the request that Turkey made to bolster its air defenses. Patriot missiles are the way we are currently looking at how we might bolster their missile defenses. There are other possibilities, but as you know from the site survey, that’s where we’re particularly focused on now.

And I think you also asked is there likely to be a formal decision. We would like to – I mean, I can’t obviously predict how it’s going to come out among ministers, but we’re all positively considering it and are hopeful that NATO will be in a position to respond positively and agree to help Turkey bolster its air defenses, and that the three contributing countries that are being considered – United States, Germany, and the Netherlands – will be in a position to also contribute.

But what I wouldn’t expect is a very concrete outcome on details like number and sites. The sites survey needs to do its work, and before we’re going to be in a position to say exactly how many Patriots or where they might go and for how long, national decisions need to be made because it’s important to understand as well NATO would agree to do this, but any contributions of Patriot missiles would be national decisions by the countries that are providing them. That hasn’t happened yet. It’s not likely to happen by Tuesday.

QUESTION: So when’s the earliest they’d be deployed?

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: If NATO takes a positive position to do it and the three contributing countries signal a willingness to do so, I think it would still probably be at least a matter of weeks because you need the national decisions to be made, the site surveys would have to be agreed by the contributors and by the Turks, the batteries would have to be sent there which just logistically takes a certain amount of time. So it wouldn’t be an absolutely immediate deployment.

QUESTION: Thanks. For Official Number Two, could you tell us something about the latest – could you tell us the latest status of reconciliation or efforts to reconciliation talks between the U.S. and the Taliban and what the status is of the idea of a trade between some Taliban prisoners in Guantanamo and the U.S. sergeant and if anything is still possible to resuscitate with that?

And for Official Number One, I couldn’t hear if you said something about anything about missile defense discussions in Central Europe to do with – did you say anything about Prague? Is there going to be any discussion about missile defense and Russia’s opposition to missile defense in (inaudible)?

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: I’ll just do that because it’s a quick one.

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: No, missile defense is something on the agenda of the NATO-Russia Council and that NATO in general and will be discussed in that context. But there’s not a particular missile defense discussion for Prague. I mean, you know what our missile defense plans are and the four phases, and we stand by that and are committed to it. But there’s no new development on that score.


MODERATOR: The other question was about U.S.-Taliban reconciliation and Guantanamo prisoners.

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: Yeah. On the direct talks between the Taliban and the United States, the situation is exactly as it’s been since the 15th of March when the Taliban decided to suspend those talks. They said that they didn’t want to continue, and we’ve not had any direct contact with the Taliban since that time.

We’ve also made clear, I think it’s important to remember, that we would be prepared to go back into those talks. I think Secretary Clinton spoke very directly to this in a speech she gave in the summer in Norfolk to the World Affairs Council, and she talked quite a lot about the fact that this is a decision for the Taliban to make, that if they wanted to get back into conversations we’d be prepared to do so.

I would say though, and again back to the earlier question or some of the points that I made in my introduction, I think it is important to focus here less on what’s going on between the United States and the Taliban, which of course is nothing, and say that what’s really going on between the Afghans, particularly the High Peace Council, and some members of the Taliban I think is pretty interesting. Again, those of you who came with us in Tokyo know that in the couple of days before Tokyo there was a very senior Taliban representative called Din Mohammad went to Kyoto and participated in a public session. There’s, I think, a very interesting story to be kind of thought about and written about with this guy who’s gone to Turkey, Mustasim Agha Jan, former very senior Taliban official. And again, I think there’s a lot of kind of movement in all of that area.

On the question of the – some kind of an exchange, since we’ve now been back in touch with him since March, things basically stand as they were, which is that we’re – we, as the Secretary has said, are interested in talking to them about a whole range of things, and we would again. Other than that, I think I’ll leave that where it is.

QUESTION: And for Official Two, is there something you think that the Pakistanis might be able to do to nudge the Taliban toward talks that neither you nor their Afghan interlocutors have really fully been able to do?

And for Official One, is there a sense here that the Patriots are sort of an inexorable first – or step towards some sort of inexorable slide toward a no-fly zone, either for you, for NATO allies, or the rebels themselves?

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: On the question to me, I think the Pakistanis have an important role to play here, and that’s why we established the Core Group. And I say it’s met eight times, once with Secretary Clinton in Tokyo.

But again, I would say there are two things. And one is that they speak – that the Pakistanis speak publicly not just to their own population, but to the Afghan population and to the Taliban and the insurgents about their desire for the insurgents to get into a political process in Afghanistan. And again, I recognize my bias, but that seems to be the breakthrough on the statement that we issued in Tokyo, and if you’ll, again, look at the HPC, what the HPC and the Pakistanis said – and Rabbani and the Pakistanis said – I think you’ll see that not only echoed but actually enhanced. And so that’s thing one.

Thing two, as I said to your colleague, I think it’s important to recognize that the Core Group has got this working group now established under it on safe passage. And so let’s say that Afghans start to talk to other Afghans about the future of Afghanistan. Some of those Afghans are in Pakistan, and so the fact that the Pakistanis would facilitate their movement to place X or Y or Z to participate in some kind of political talk, it seems to me is another important thing that they could do.

And again, I think the fact that they are publicly now – publicly so much willing to talk about an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process, call on the Taliban to get involved in this process, and are having these sort of direct contacts with the Afghans, is all to the good.

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: Well, I was asked the question about whether any Patriot deployment would be part of an inexorable move towards a no-fly zone, and the answer to that question is no. Turkey has made a request for assistance in dealing with a potential threat, and this request is in the context of defensive purposes – how we can help them defend their airspace. So no, it’s not.

We’ve addressed the question of a no-fly zone separately. It is a separate question. I think we’ve said we’re always prepared to look at ways in which we can help the people of Syria. We have not decided to implement a no-fly zone, and NATO hasn’t decided to implement a no-fly zone. But that’s a separate discussion from the defensive deployment that ministers will be looking at now in terms of Patriots.

QUESTION: Mine is sort of a follow to that. Put a no-fly aside; the idea of this deployment of Patriots to some extent would create in some ways like a de facto safe haven or in some ways protect that border between Syria and Turkey. How will it change the kind of support – either humanitarian support, any kind of activity – if those Patriot missiles are (inaudible) to defend Turkish airspace but also obviously some territory beyond?

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: Well, let me just pick up those last words. Obviously, some territory behind that. What I’m saying is, that’s not the plan. Patriot missiles, if they’re deployed, would be deployed to protect Turkish airspace. Turkey is a NATO ally, and if a plane or a missile crossed into Turkish airspace, these assets would be there to defend Turkish territory and airspace.

QUESTION: So you don’t see a de facto effect of also protecting area across the border?


QUESTION: So a safe haven is not --

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: There is no safe haven. There is no de facto cross-border --

QUESTION: Yeah. (Inaudible.)


QUESTION: To follow up to that, so you said that you’re still in discussions about a no-fly zone. Are you any closer to making decisions about that? Are you going to be talking about that?

MODERATOR: That’s not a subject of these – this diplomacy this week. Obviously, we have the Friends of Syria meeting coming up, and we will take that opportunity to talk to all of our allies and partners about what we see on the ground and how we can continue to work together to help the Syrian people.

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: Yeah, I said that in a general way, that we’re always prepared – the Secretary has made that clear – to look at ways in which we can help the people of Syria. But to just be absolutely specific about this, a no-fly zone is not on the agenda for any NATO talks this week.

QUESTION: Can I go to the Czech Republic, please? What will you be saying to the Czechs to convince them to take American-made technology for this nuclear project* as opposed to any others that might be out there, specifically the Russians? And do you have a price tag on how much this could be worth?

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: Well, we’re not doing the negotiations ourselves, obviously. That’s for a private company. But the Secretary will be able to talk about Westinghouse’s safety record. Not surprisingly, in the wake of Fukushima there’s a lot of concern about safety, and we think that the Westinghouse bid has a great track record in terms of safety, in terms of regulatory approvals, in terms of price, in terms of jobs for Czechs, in terms of high technology and civil nuclear cooperation with American scientists. So we think there’s an awful lot to be said for this in terms of, as I put it at the very beginning, energy security and diversifying sources.

The Czech Republic, like a lot of its neighbors, is significantly dependent on a single supplier, and turning to the United States in partnership to develop its civil nuclear energy would be a way of diversifying that energy supply. So we think there’s actually a lot of different reasons why there’s a very strong case for this technology partnership with the United States.

MODERATOR: This is our very last one here.

QUESTION: Is there a price tag?

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: Again, that’s not our role. You can check with the company and you can talk to the Czechs, but that’s not our --

QUESTION: I just wanted to check on ANA funding. Were you saying that you now have all that money in pledges?


QUESTION: Are you saying that you now have all the money in pledges, or are you still waiting for pledges to come? If so, how much? And on OSCE, you have the Ukrainians taking over. You talk about human rights. Is there any particular connection there? And how – is Ukraine a suitable chair for – at the moment?

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: One of the big – I think one of the main achievements of the NATO summit in May in Chicago was the fact that we brought together friends, allies, partners, and very importantly, the Afghans, to pledge $4.1 billion against the cost of the Afghan National Security Forces: $4.1 billion in ’15, $4.1 billion in ’16, $4.1 billion in ’17. And so if you ask me, would I like to see some more pledges come? Sure I would.

QUESTION: But what proportion of that 4.1 billion is actually (inaudible)?

QUESTION: Is pledged?




QUESTION: A hundred?


QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: That’s exactly right. Yeah, we did a lot of work along with [Senior State Department Official One]’ team and others to make that true, and we had a huge amount of support from our friends at the White House and the Pentagon. But again, as you write about this, I think it’s also extremely important that the first pledge – and the first pledge came from the Afghans at $500 million a year. And so that’s important that they’re participants in this as well.

MODERATOR: I think it’s fair to say there were political reasons to do it early, but there were also budgeting reasons so that everybody could make the pledge and then put it into their cycles.

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: Let me just reinforce that point from a NATO perspective. And the Secretary said something about this in her speech just this week. For all of the talk in recent years and months and weeks about peacekeeping fatigue and the cost of deployments and European economic crisis, we went into Chicago determined to get pledges on troops, “in together, out together,” sustaining the commitments that were made in Brussels and Lisbon before that. And we’re very pleased that, notwithstanding all of the questions – and legitimate questions and concerns, every single member of ISAF, the 50 members, recommitted to keep troops in Afghanistan, to stick with the timetable, and on top of that, notwithstanding severe economic constraints, delivered when it came to the pledges that we asked for because they agreed with us that training was the ticket to a successful transition. We needed to transition out to end our combat role, NATO’s combat role, but to do that successfully they needed to come up with money so we could train Afghan National Security Forces.

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: And if I could just to be clear, when you say to me, would there be – would it be great if there were more pledges to come? Yes, absolutely. So there were some people – there were some countries that couldn’t decide by May. Well, someday I’d like them to decide. So – but the – but what we were looking for in terms of a number to match a number of ANSF forces is committed, full stop, period, past tense.

The other thing is, again, as you write and think about this, is that don’t forget that not two months later, in Tokyo, the international community that pledged $16 billion – $4 billion each in ’12, ’13, ’14 and ’15 – to support Afghan economic development. And we signed the mutual accountability framework. So in a very short period of time, we tried to answer this question of history, which is to say when the Lisbon transition is complete on December 31, 2014, will the international community be abandoning Afghanistan? No. And will there be actual dollar figures to back up that pledge? Answer: yes.

So both the money in Chicago and the money in Tokyo, I would argue to you, is an important sign of commitment obviously as we head towards Brussels, ANSF focus on NATO got it, but the international community also in Tokyo not too many weeks later.

MODERATOR: Thank you very much to our --

QUESTION: On the Ukraine --

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: By the way, one of the many countries that came up with an ANSF pledge was the Czech Republic, just as an example of one of the many small countries. It’s not as if they have excess money kicking around, but they understood that if everybody pitched in, we would meet our goals for 2014.

I was asked about Ukraine and its upcoming chairmanship of the OSCE. We’re ending the Irish chairmanship; Ukraine takes over in January. And the question was, given concerns about democracy and other things there, is that a problem? It’s obviously an issue. As you know, chairmanships in office of the OSCE are selected several years in advance, as Ukraine was. Sometimes even when there are concerns, the idea is and the hope is that the spotlight put on them by this chairmanship will motivate them further to meet the goals and ideals of the organization.

Well, we will look to that effect starting in January of this year, because we’ve been very clear and you heard the Secretary comment on this, that the elections that they held in October were a step backward for democracy, as compared to the presidential elections that brought President Yanukovych to power, which were, as it happens, by the OSCE deemed to be largely free and fair and competitive. The OSCE ODIHR, the Office of Democracy Institutions and Human Rights, judged the October parliamentary elections to be a step backwards. And we’ve been very clear about our concerns about selective prosecutions and the continued jailing of former Prime Minister Tymoshenko. These measures are not consistent with the values of the OSCE, and their chairmanship will be an opportunity for Ukraine to show that indeed they are committed to advancing that agenda, both within Ukraine and across the OSCE space.

MODERATOR: Great. Thank you very much, both of you.

QUESTION: Thank you.

PRN: 2012/T75-01