Ian Kelly
Department Spokesman
Daily Press Briefing
Washington, DC
May 22, 2009

Index for Today's Briefing
    • Confirmation and Attesting of Public Affairs Assistant Secretary PJ Crowley
    • Special Envoy Scott Gration's Work / Darfur Peace Process / Meetings with Officials / Sudan Contact Group
    • Execution of Former Official
    • Cancelling of Contracts with South Korea / Kaesong Industrial Complex / Precipitous and Unhelpful Action / U.S. Supports Dialogue Between North and South Korea
    • Possible Short Range Missile Test / Retrain from Provocative Actions
    • Six-Party Talks / Giving Up Nuclear Program / Urge a Return to Six-Party Talks / Multilateral Approach / Engagement by Ambassador Bosworth
  • IRAN
    • Roxana Saberi / Returning to the U.S
    • Accepting of Detainees by Other Countries / Ongoing Discussions with a Number of Countries / Working Closely with Congress
    • Vice President Biden Remarks While on Travel / Support for an Open Political Process


12:42 p.m. EDT

MR. KELLY: Well, again, I say good afternoon instead of good morning. (Laughter) Actually, I have nothing at the top except I hope that you guys all have – get some time off in the next three-day weekend. You’re probably doing all --

QUESTION: You’re not going to welcome your new boss or anything like that?

MR. KELLY: Of course, I welcome – well, I mean, I’m going to formally welcome my new boss once he comes onboard. He’s not attested yet. But no, obviously, I’m thrilled that P.J. will be right across the corridor from me, and it’ll be great to have him onboard.

QUESTION: Well, he should be today. He was confirmed last night.

MR. KELLY: I know he was. Yeah. But he’s still got to be attested, and then it’ll be official.


MR. KELLY: So, welcome Mr. Dombey, good to see you. Yes.

QUESTION: I have a quick question on Sudan, actually. There’s – the Congressional Black Caucus has been doing some sort of a rolling fast all week in protest of the Administration’s non-efforts on Darfur. Can you kind of bring us up to speed on what you are doing and what the special envoy is doing, and your general reaction to their complaints?

MR. KELLY: Well, you know, I’m not aware of that fast. I think we are doing quite a bit. Scott Gration, in fact, is heading out this weekend. He’s going to be meeting with – he’s going to China to meet with senior Chinese Government officials. He’s going as well to Doha, or he’s going to participate in a meeting of Sudan special envoys from China, Russia, and the United Kingdom, France, and the European Union.

This is all in an effort to align positions on the Darfur peace process under the leadership of United Nations African Union Joint Chief mediator Bassole. He’s also going to go to London, where he’s going to meet with senior British officials, reconvene the Sudan troika, which is Norway, the United Kingdom, and the U.S., and also participate in a meeting of the Sudan Contact Group.

Finally, he’s going to go to Paris, where he’ll meet with senior French officials and will encourage Sudan Liberation Army faction leader Abdul Wahid al Nur to join the Darfur peace process.

QUESTION: Can you tell us about any meetings with the Sudanese Government that he’s had to date and can you bring us to speed? I don’t think we’ve gotten an update in a while.

MR. KELLY: I don’t have an update. I mean, we’ll be happy to see if we can you some information on that. But I don’t have an update on that.

QUESTION: So about this trip, he doesn’t plan to go to Sudan at all?

MR. KELLY: Not on this trip, no.

QUESTION: How many times has he been to Sudan? I think twice since he’s --

MR. KELLY: Yeah, I’m aware of – you know, I’ve only been on this job a few weeks, but I’m aware of one. But we’ll get you that information.

QUESTION: And can you give us the dates because --

MR. KELLY: Well, I can give you the – you know, the start and end dates.


MR. KELLY: He leaves tomorrow, May 23rd, and completes his travel on June 1st.

Mr. Rosen, go ahead.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: Start with North Korea?

MR. KELLY: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Can you confirm the press reports from the region that the regime has executed the former official who was tasked with relations between the North and the South?

MR. KELLY: No, I have – I’ve seen those press reports, but I’m unable to confirm them. I’ll see if we can get you some more on that.

QUESTION: Do you find them disturbing?

MR. KELLY: Well, if they’re true, I would find them disturbing. But like I say, we haven’t been able to confirm them.

QUESTION: And in addition, this week the North Koreans announced that they regard all contracts with the South, with respect to the Kaesong industrial complex, to be invalid.

MR. KELLY: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Presumably, since that was announced by the regime, that doesn’t require confirmation.

MR. KELLY: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: And I wonder what you make of that announcement.

MR. KELLY: Yeah. Well, we’ve seen the reports that they may cancel these contracts at the complex. And we believe that such a precipitous action by North Korea would be unhelpful and a step in the wrong direction. In general, the United States supports dialogue between North and South Korea, which we think is in the interest of all concerned.

QUESTION: Is there some reason to believe that the South Koreans brought this on themselves by virtue of the new government’s hard-line stand on the delivery of aid and other things to the North?

MR. KELLY: Oh, I – James, I don’t think I would comment on that. I’m not going to speculate as to why the North Koreans did what they did.

QUESTION: Thank you.


QUESTION: Bringing up North Korea, so I think the report is that North Korea issued warning to the ships around their missile base. And it seems that North Korea may be preparing for the missile – short-range missile test. So my question is: Do you have information about that? And what will you do if North Korea did missile test?

MR. KELLY: Well, I have seen those press reports. I think you know that – and I think I’ve said before from this podium, that we don’t have eyes on the ground, of course, in North Korea. And we don’t comment on intelligence matters. So I’m not going to comment on the test itself.

I think that as far as commenting on what our reaction would be, I think I would just say that we have consistently called on North Korea to refrain from provocative actions. And of course, we called a previous missile launch a provocative action. But let’s see what happens.

QUESTION: Is there any reason to believe that the Six-Party Talks will ever be revived? Is there any affirmative reason to believe that?

MR. KELLY: Well, we continue to believe that the best way to get North Korea to do the right thing, which is to give up its nuclear program in a transparent and verifiable fashion, is for them to return to the Six-Party Talks. Our patience, obviously, is not unlimited. But we continue to push on a multilateral approach.

QUESTION: But there’s nothing you can point to that gives you encouragement that that’s going to happen?

MR. KELLY: Well, there’s – we – as I said before, we think this is the best way to do it. The best way to do it is to have international leverage on them.

QUESTION: I understand what you regard to be the best way. I’m – what I asked is if there’s any evidence that that’s going to come to fruition.

MR. KELLY: There’s nothing that I’m willing to share from this podium.

QUESTION: So does that mean that there are things that you’re unwilling to share that do give you encouragement?

MR. KELLY: As I say, we are not willing to give up on the multilateral approach. We still call on North Korea to return to the Six-Party Talks.

QUESTION: But you have no indication they will do so?

MR. KELLY: Well, you know, Ambassador Bosworth has been very engaged in this. He’s had a bunch of – he’s had a lot of private diplomatic exchanges. And I’ll just leave it at that.

QUESTION: With the North Koreans?

MR. KELLY: I’m sorry?

QUESTION: With the North Koreans?

MR. KELLY: No, no, I’m talking about in this multilateral approach that we have.

QUESTION: And you think his work is – should give us encouragement they will return to the Six-Party Talks?

MR. KELLY: Well, no, I’m not going to say that. I can’t characterize it that way.

Yes, Dave.

QUESTION: Roxana Saberi is apparently flying in to D.C. today, and I’m wondering whether you plan to have her into – you know, for a debriefing about her experiences in Iran.

MR. KELLY: Well, let me say, first of all, that we can confirm these reports that she’s left Vienna for the U.S. We are very pleased for her and her family. And of course, they’ve gone through a tremendously difficult experience.

I think out of respect for her and her privacy, I’m not going to talk about any details of her travel plans, but I – you know, I will say that – stay tuned, that we may have something more to say, I think, on Tuesday on this.

QUESTION: Which suggests you’re going to meet with her?

MR. KELLY: Well, I’ll just say just stay tuned. We’ll – you know, we’ll see if we can tell you something on Tuesday.

Yeah. Well, I guess I’ll go to – why don’t you –

QUESTION: On – well, I would like to go back to Asia. Apparently, Thailand is trying to close a Hmong refugee camp in Thailand and to send the Hmongs back to Laos. Did you hear about that?

MR. KELLY: No, I haven’t heard that.

QUESTION: Okay. Because they gave a press conference yesterday and they are trying to get the U.S. Government to help them pressure the Thai Government.

MR. KELLY: Yeah. No, I haven’t heard that.


MR. KELLY: James, yes.

QUESTION: On Guantanamo, we talked about this a bit the other day. I’m wondering what you can tell us about the progress of our efforts to get other countries to accept detainees from Guantanamo and whether we should believe that the President will be able to meet the self-imposed one-year deadline.

MR. KELLY: Yeah. Well, on the latter question, of course, the President has made the decision to close Guantanamo. And we, of course, are working very hard to meet the deadline in the executive order.

On the issue of our contacts with other countries, the President said yesterday that the Administration has ongoing discussions with a number of other countries about the transfer of detainees to their soil for detention or rehabilitation. But because Ambassador Fried, who is a diplomat that is perhaps – I admire more than – he’s a former boss of mine, and I admire Dan very much, and I don’t really want to – I don’t really want to go into real detail about his discussions until he’s had a chance to come back. I mean, he was just out in Europe.

QUESTION: How many countries are we discussing this with?

MR. KELLY: I’m sure quite a number of countries. I don’t have the exact number, though.

QUESTION: Well, when you say just out, when was that?

MR. KELLY: I believe he’s just getting back today.

QUESTION: And is Ambassador Fried overseeing those talks with the various countries, or is he conducting them directly or --

MR. KELLY: Let me talk to Dan. In fact, maybe we can arrange something next week where we can get some more information.

QUESTION: Where did he go?

MR. KELLY: You know, I’m not – I don’t – I’m not sure where he went.

QUESTION: Has the Secretary been talking to members of Congress on this subject?

MR. KELLY: She – of course, she had hearings the other day where the subject obviously came up. And of course, we’re consulting very closely with Congress.

QUESTION: Is she making private phone calls on this to lawmakers?

MR. KELLY: She does speak on the phone quite often to lawmakers, but I’m not going to characterize what she’s said.

Mr. Dombey.

QUESTION: A series of senators, including Chairman Bachus and Senator Lugar yesterday, sponsored a piece about the – a piece of legislation to promote agricultural and medical exports to Cuba and which would lift the travel ban. Since the President during the campaign, and the White House before the recent Summit of the Americas, said that they opposed lifting the embargo since it was an important form of leverage while Cuba did not reform, should we take it that the Administration opposes this initiative?

MR. KELLY: No, I wouldn't characterize that at all. I mean, I haven’t had a chance to look at this particular proposal. I mean, obviously we respect very much the views of Senators Lugar and Bachus, but beyond that, I don’t really want to comment.


QUESTION: On the Vice President’s trip to Beirut, does the State Department have any officials that were present at the Vice President’s meetings, and what message do you hope he sends to the Lebanese Government?

MR. KELLY: Well, you know, in terms of what messages he’s sending to the Lebanese Government, I’ll – I think the Vice President has made a number of public comments, so I’ll let his words speak for themselves. I know that there have been a few State Department officials on the trip. Let me see if I can get back to you and give you the names of the officials who went with them.

QUESTION: There’s been a thought by the opposition that the meetings between the government and the Vice President might be seen as sort of support for one side and not another. How do you view that perspective?

MR. KELLY: Well, we – what we support in Lebanon is an open political process in which all Lebanese can participate to allow the Lebanese people to determine their own future, to have a future of peace and prosperity. We stand foursquare behind their sovereignty. But beyond that, like I say, I’d refer to Vice President Biden’s remarks.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MR. KELLY: Thank you.

(The briefing was concluded at 12:56 p.m.)

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