Background Briefing en Route to Istanbul, Turkey

Special Briefing
Office of the Spokesperson
Senior State Department Officials
en Route to Istanbul, Turkey
April 19, 2013

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: We’ll make this brief. We just wanted to make sure everybody had a good overview of the weekend. So obviously, we’ve provided to all of you an overview of what the Secretary intends to announce tomorrow in terms of the Administration’s additional non-lethal aid. We’ll have more for you on that tomorrow.

But I just thought I could tick through the meetings. And we can get you a list tomorrow, as we did on the last trip, of the attendees for each one. It’s still being finalized, not on our side but on the other sides. So let me do that first, and then [Senior State Department Official Two] can walk through the Turkey portion and the Sunday pieces so you’ll have a good understanding of that.

So tomorrow the first meeting when we arrive is with al-Khatib and other members of the Syrian – of the SOC. We’ll get you a list of that tomorrow so you have a better understanding of that. Then he will – we will go to the larger core group meeting. The core group is basically the London 11. I can list the countries if you want, but I think you all know what they are.

QUESTION: Would you though?

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: Would you want me to list them?


SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: Okay. Egypt, France, Germany, Jordan, Italy, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, UAE, UK, U.S. There’s 11.

That will be – the foreign ministers will be at the core group meeting, the foreign ministers from those countries. And then they go to a working dinner with members of the SOC. So that’s how tomorrow all breaks down.

And [Senior State Department Official Two] – we’ll have [Senior State Department Official Two] go through the Turkey portion of the trip and then we’ll take a few questions.

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: Yeah. Yeah. So for the bilateral portion of the trip the Secretary will meeting with Foreign Minister Davutoglu and also separately with His All Holiness, the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew.

In terms of the issues that we expect the Secretary to raise with Davutoglu, I don’t think there are probably going to be any surprises. I mean, clearly regional security issues is going to be the prime issue. Obviously though having just come out of a bunch of Syria meetings, I think they’ll be reviewing that, as well as probably a little bit about the Middle East peace process, and of course, the rapprochement between Turkey and Israel that we are continuing to encourage. And I think you probably know that the Israelis are sending a delegation the 21st and the 22nd to talk about compensation for the Mavi Marmara incident.

We’ll also talk about our continuing counterterrorism cooperation. Obviously, Turkey is an important player in – on those issues. And again, we will be talking about the PKK and the reconciliation, the resolving of the conflict with the PKK and the human rights issues associated with that.

Another issues that the Secretary will raise is Halki seminary. I think you all know that Halki seminary was closed in 1971. And we have been strongly encouraging the Turkish Government to reopen Halki seminary. It would be an important step forward in terms of signaling Turkey’s accord for openness, religious freedom, and tolerance. Then --

QUESTION: Could you spell it?


QUESTION: Spell it one more time.

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: H-a-l-k-i, seminary. And separately, the Secretary will then go on to meet with the Patriarch in his Patriarchate. And clearly just the Secretary’s presence there signals our support for the important issue of reopening Halki seminary and our commitment to religious freedom.

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: One other piece on Sunday is the meeting with President Abbas that the Secretary will have. They will, of course, discuss – continue the conversation that they’ve been having for several weeks now about how to get both sides back to the table. They’ll also be talking about the Secretary’s dinner he had earlier this week with Tony Blair and other business leaders and continue to discuss the economic piece that they started talking about just a few weeks ago.

PRN: 2013/T04-01