Special Briefing
Ian Kelly
Department Spokesman, Bureau of Public Affairs
On-The-Record Briefing
Washington, DC
June 4, 2009


MR. KELLY: So, how are we all?

QUESTION: Nice to see you.

MR. KELLY: Nice to see you guys. Let me start off by giving you an update on the Secretary’s schedule. You know that she was in Cairo today with the President. She was with the President for his meetings, of course. He had several meetings with President Mubarak. She also went with him on a tour of a mosque. And she was at the speech at Cairo University, so she attended that with him.

There was only one time when she split off from his schedule, and that’s when she met with a group of community leaders from Egyptian society. It was leaders of NGOs who were working on women’s issues and issues of economic empowerment, religious freedom, and rule of law. A number of them she had met before, so it was an opportunity for her to see some people that she has talked to before.

In terms of the meeting itself, to characterize the conversation, it was a very broad and in-depth conversation, lasted about one and a half hours. And one of the issues they talked about is – they talked about how the State Department is starting a real vigorous initiative to use 21st century technology to link up NGOs, to create a virtual community across the world of NGOs. And I think we’ll have more to say about that when she gets back.

QUESTION: Is that like a website or something or --

MR. KELLY: No – well, being kind of technologically challenged myself, I don’t know if I can talk about all the various components of it. But it will be sort of, multilayered, not just static websites, but also I think some – using --

QUESTION: Text messages.

MR. KELLY: -- social networking technology, I guess you can say. And then tomorrow, she’ll have meetings with the foreign ministers from Portugal, South Korea, and Turkey. I think in at least one of those meetings, we’re going to have a press availability to give the Secretary a chance to --

QUESTION: So she’s here – that’s here tomorrow?

MR. KELLY: She’s here tomorrow and I have never ceased to be amazed by her energy, because she gets in very late tomorrow and then starts with a – and has a full – a very full schedule tomorrow.

QUESTION: Getting in late night?

MR. KELLY: She gets in early, early tomorrow morning, really – yeah, late tonight. Depends on how you define it.

So what’s on your minds?

QUESTION: North Korea trial.

MR. KELLY: North Korea trial. We’ve only seen press reports that the trial has started. We were informed by the – through the Swedish ambassador that no observers would be allowed at the trial. And we continue to call for the release of these two women.

QUESTION: Is there any word how long the trial is going to be or you have absolutely no idea? They – it’s – no one briefed --

MR. KELLY: It’s a very, very opaque process.

QUESTION: Yeah. No one briefed the Swedes on the procedure or anything? You don’t know anything about the trial?

MR. KELLY: We don’t really know anything about, how long it will take. As I say, we’re not – we haven’t been allowed to have observers in the trial, or the Swedish embassy hasn’t been allowed to have observers.

QUESTION: Do they have any legal representation, or you don’t even know?

MR. KELLY: They do have a defense attorney, as I understand it. But again, this has been a very closed process, and we just don’t have a lot of information.

QUESTION: A North Korean defense attorney appointed --

MR. KELLY: I’m not aware of – I assume that.

QUESTION: Would it be appointed by the state, as far as you know, their defense attorney?

MR. KELLY: I really don’t know, Arshad.

QUESTION: Well, how do you know that they have a defense attorney if you don’t know anything about him? I mean --

MR. KELLY: We do know some basic facts about it, but --

QUESTION: They – both of them have a defense attorney?

MR. KELLY: Sorry?

QUESTION: But both of them have a defense attorney; is that right?

MR. KELLY: That’s my understanding.

QUESTION: Is it the same?

QUESTION: Yeah, is it the same, same attorney?

MR. KELLY: That – I’m not aware of the details. I don’t know if they have separate attorneys or --

QUESTION: Can we get a clarification? You said in your TQ that the DPRK told you that there will be no observers, but you said that now the Swedish told you that. Who – was that told to you through the Swedes or did – were you told directly by the North Koreans in any fashion?

MR. KELLY: I don’t know the exact answer to that question. I think I’m assuming that it came through the Swedish --

QUESTION: And have – it was through the Swedes?

MR. KELLY: I think that’s my assumption.

QUESTION: Okay. And then have there been any contacts with the North Koreans in the past couple weeks you can update us on? And since the nuke test, there was --

MR. KELLY: Direct contacts with the North Koreans?

QUESTION: -- there was that one notification before the test that – you know, an hour before.

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

QUESTION: So has there been any sort of contact with them?

MR. KELLY: Well, I think, as you know, we have regular contacts through the North Korean mission in New York to the UN. And I would assume that those contacts are ongoing, but I don’t have any specific details.

QUESTION: Since the test?

MR. KELLY: I don’t think I’ll be able to share those kind of details.

QUESTION: But those aren’t substantive contacts. I mean, they’re just answering the phone and taking your call and not giving you any information.

MR. KELLY: Well, I’m not going to characterize what kind of contacts they are.

QUESTION: Bill Richardson said in The Washington Post today that – I don’t know if it was The Washington Post, but they quoted him – he has experience in this issue and he said that once the sentencing comes down, then the negotiations can begin. Is that your – is that the way you’re viewing it?

MR. KELLY: Well, I think the way we’re viewing it is that these two women should be released. I’m not going to try and get into how the North Koreans are looking at this, what they see the next steps as. We’re just going to call for their release.

QUESTION: Yeah, but past practice says that once they are found guilty, which they undoubtedly will be, that that’s when they could be released on some kind of humanitarian gesture.

MR. KELLY: Well, yeah. I’m not going to prejudge how it comes out. I’m just going to say that I sincerely hope that these two young women are allowed to be reunited with their families.

QUESTION: Do you have any release conditions about how they’re being held, where they’re being held that you can tell us now and --

MR. KELLY: No, I don’t.

QUESTION: -- what their condition is, how well they’re faring.

MR. KELLY: I don’t have that kind of specific information, and in fact, we don’t – because of privacy concerns, we can’t really go into that kind of information.

QUESTION: Ian, what do you think will be the main topic of discussion in the Secretary’s meeting with the South Korean foreign minister tomorrow? Obviously, Deputy Secretary Steinberg has been out there in the region all this week. Can you shed any light on what the two of them are going to take up?

MR. KELLY: Well, without really going too much into the agenda, I mean, obviously, the issue that’s on all our minds, of course, is North Korea’s defiance of the international community. Of course, we’re going to discuss this. Deputy Secretary Steinberg has had a couple of days of discussions now in Seoul. I would also expect that we would talk about a broad range of bilateral issues with South Korea as well.

QUESTION: Just to get back to the two journalists, has Al Gore approached the State Department to ask whether it’s a good idea for him to go, seeing as it’s his TV station?

MR. KELLY: I just – this is such a sensitive issue that I just – I’m not going to – I’m just not going to go into those kinds of discussions that we may or may not have had.

QUESTION: What is those two journalists’ family reaction to the --

MR. KELLY: You’ll have to ask the family. I think the family has been – has appeared on the media, and I’ll just let those encounters speak for themselves.

QUESTION: But would it be useful for someone like Al Gore to go, or Bill Richardson?

MR. KELLY: Well, our bottom line is that these two young women should be released, and I’m – but I’m not going to say – I’m not going to go into any kind of details on what we will or we won’t do. It’s just that that’s our bottom line that we want them released.

QUESTION: But you don’t rule out such a possibility?

MR. KELLY: I’m just not going to get into the details of our – as I say, it’s a very, very sensitive issue, and I’m not going to go into the details.

QUESTION: Did you – have you talked to the families about the calls that the women made back to the States debriefing them, or do you – what significance do you see in that?

MR. KELLY: Well, I know that the Bureau of Consular Affairs here, of course, has been in close contact with the families. As we’ve said many, many times, both myself and Robert and all our predecessors, that the welfare and safety of American citizens is our concern number one. And we’ve been in frequent contact with the families.

QUESTION: Before we leave North Korea, what about Steinberg? He wraps up in Moscow, or just Beijing?

MR. KELLY: He is – let me get you the update. I’m catching up myself. I had a couple days in Latin America, as you know.

QUESTION: You look tanned.

MR. KELLY: I do? I was inside the whole time. (Laughter.)

Yeah, so – yes, he was in Seoul today, as I mentioned. He had – he continued consultations with senior Korean officials, including the President Lee Myung-bak, Prime Minister Han Seung-soo, and Unification Minister Hyun In-taek. And we understand the meetings were productive and reinforced the high level of coordination between the U.S. and the Republic of Korea on the North Korea nuclear issue.

He also spoke to a group of students of international relations today at Seoul National University. Tomorrow, he’s going to Beijing. He’ll meet with senior Chinese officials, including State Councilor Dai Bingguo.

QUESTION: Dai Bingguo.

MR. KELLY: Dai, okay. I knew I’d blow one. I’m just glad it wasn’t on camera.

Foreign Yang Jiechi and Vice Foreign Ministers He Yafei --

QUESTION: He Yafei.

MR. KELLY: He Yafei. I tell you, I’m good with Slavic languages, but not so good with Chinese. He Yafei, Wang Guangya, Wu Dawei --

QUESTION: (Inaudible)

MR. KELLY: No, come on, I read them all out. I want you guys to get all that.

But in terms of Moscow, yeah, we do plan and we – we do plan to and we are consulting very closely with our Russian partners in the Security Council. And of course, they’re our Six-Party Talk partners as well. It just was just a – and Deputy Secretary Steinberg did plan to go, but it was just a matter of not getting the right people in Moscow while Secretary Steinberg was available to travel.

QUESTION: So he won’t be going now?

MR. KELLY: So he won’t be going to Moscow. Neither will Ambassador Bosworth. But we hope to be able to have high-level consultations with them in – well, I won’t put a time period on it – in the near future.

QUESTION: Why did Ambassador Bosworth say that the U.S. has some confidence the North Koreans will return to talks? What gives you that impression?

MR. KELLY: I’m not aware that he’s – I haven’t seen his remarks.

QUESTION: He said it yesterday.

MR. KELLY: Well, I’ll just let Ambassador Bosworth’s words speak – I mean, I wasn’t there and I – I’ve not – I haven’t been in the meetings and --

QUESTION: Well, is there confidence in this building that the North Koreans will come back to the table?

MR. KELLY: Well, I mean, we continue to believe that the best thing that North Korea can do is come back to the talks, to cease their saber-rattling, to cease their defiance of their – of the commitments they’ve made in the international community. And that continues to be our policy.

QUESTION: Yeah, but I mean, believing that it’s the best course for them and them – and believing that they’re going to follow the best course are two different things. I mean, what gives you confidence that they’re going to?

MR. KELLY: Well, yeah, we’re going around and around on this. We continue to believe that the best approach for this is an international approach using the --

QUESTION: No, I know. But you’re saying that you believe that’s the best approach. But several officials have said, not just Bosworth, but others have said we’re pretty confident that eventually we’ll come back to – is that because you’re planning to make it so unbearable for them that you believe eventually they’re going to come back to the table?

MR. KELLY: Well, we’re at a sensitive time in our negotiations on coming up with a set of consequences to North Korea’s actions. I haven’t been in these meetings, these very intensive meetings, in South Korea and Japan and then coming up in China. So I will let Ambassador Bosworth’s words --

QUESTION: Does the fact that the – that Kim Jong-il has apparently tapped his third son as the successor, is that what gives you confidence that the North Koreans might --

MR. KELLY: No, I would not say that. Again, I will let Ambassador Bosworth’s words speak for themselves.

QUESTION: Did Ambassador Bosworth try to set up a meeting with the North Koreans or visit there?

MR. KELLY: No, there are no plans to meet --

QUESTION: Not at all?

MR. KELLY: Not at all. No plans.

QUESTION: He didn’t even try? Did he even try to do that?

MR. KELLY: I feel confident in saying that he did not have any plans at all to contact North Koreans in Pyongyang.

QUESTION: But does the Secretary plan to go anytime soon to see the -- you know, the other four parties to discuss this or --

MR. KELLY: No, she doesn't have any travel of that nature scheduled.

QUESTION: Do you see a delay in voting on the resolution in the Security Council?

MR. KELLY: A delay? Well, a delay of what? There hasn’t been anything scheduled.

QUESTION: But it’s taking so long to --

MR. KELLY: I don’t think it’s taking so long. I mean, it’s – we’ve been involved in intensive consultations on a daily basis. I think it’s --

QUESTION: But you also said you wanted a swift response.

QUESTION: Do you – would you consider, like, two weeks swift?

MR. KELLY: Well, we – I’m not going to put a timeline on it. I think that we’ve sent a very clear --

QUESTION: But you did put a time – I’m sorry, you did put a timeline on it by saying you wanted a swift response.

MR. KELLY: Well, we have – I think we have done a swift response in terms of sending a very strong signal to the North Korean leadership that their recent actions have – are unacceptable. But we want to make sure we get the best resolution, and so that’s why we’re consulting intensively both out in the region with Deputy Steinberg’s delegation and also in New York at the Security Council.

QUESTION: But Steinberg isn’t necessarily negotiating the elements of the resolution. He’s thinking – he’s more talking about, like, the big picture of kind of how you deal with North Korea, rather than the specific measures of the resolution. Is that right?

MR. KELLY: Well, he’s talking with our partners about how we respond on a number of different levels diplomatically to the – to North Korea’s defiance.

QUESTION: What strong signal have you sent to North Korea? I’m just curious about that phrase that you used. I mean, words or actions?

MR. KELLY: Well, I mean, we’ve – the – at this point, of course, it’s been mostly a – as Robert just said, international reaction to – what we’re working on now is coming up with some specific – with a specific package of measures to make sure that there are consequences.

QUESTION: The international reaction is the strong signal to North Korea?

MR. KELLY: The international reaction and the intensive consultations that we have to develop a specific package of --

QUESTION: But so far, no actions have been taken.

MR. KELLY: Well, we’re working on those actions.

QUESTION: So what --

MR. KELLY: These things take time.

QUESTION: So Steinberg will come back here and brief the Secretary after the visit to China, is that it?

MR. KELLY: Yeah, that’s the plan, that he’ll come back this weekend.

QUESTION: And Bosworth with him?

MR. KELLY: I’m not exactly sure of Ambassador Bosworth’s itinerary, but I assume so.

QUESTION: Tufts University.

MR. KELLY: Well, he will come back here because he’s a full-time envoy working on a very serious issue.

QUESTION: Well, is he going to actually come back here and be full-time, because he seems pretty part-time?

MR. KELLY: Yeah. I just – like I say, I don’t have specific details on Ambassador Bosworth’s itinerary.

QUESTION: School is out for the summer, at least. (Laughter.) At least be full-time for the summer.

QUESTION: Can I ask about another topic? Israel.

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

QUESTION: What is your understanding of agreements that the Bush Administration apparently entered into regarding settlements in the West Bank? There’s been some back-and-forth, as you know. Some Israeli officials were on background today, saying that they have had some agreements with the Bush Administration for some settlement activity, and now you’ve got the Obama Administration saying no settlement activity whatsoever, including natural growth. So there seems to be a divide here on --

MR. KELLY: Well, actually --

QUESTION: -- understandings of the Roadmap.

MR. KELLY: -- I think we do have an update for you on that. Just give me a moment.

Our goal is ensure a peaceful future for generations upon generations of Israelis. We’re not asking the Government of Israel to do more than it has committed to doing. Upholding its existing commitments is in Israel’s long-term security interests. The President’s been clear. He wants to see a stop to settlements.

We think it’s in the best of Israel that settlement expansion cease so we can resume negotiations and move toward comprehensive peace. We’ve made that very clear, not only to the Israelis but to the Palestinians and others, and we’ll press that point. Stopping settlement activity is difficult for Israel, and we realize that, but we are certain that it’s in Israel’s long-term security interest. We’re asking all parties to take the steps necessary to secure a better future for all the region’s people.

QUESTION: When you say you are not asking Israel to do more that it has committed, what did Israel commit to exactly?

MR. KELLY: Well, it’s – they committed to – I mean, our basic guiding document here is the Roadmap. And so what we’re calling on both parties to do is abide to their commitments under the Roadmap.

QUESTION: But they say they added a letter to this Roadmap explaining that they don’t agree with a total freeze of the settlements, they agree on a freeze within the limits of the settlements.

MR. KELLY: Yeah. Well, we’re looking to the future here. We’re looking to get to a point where we can have both peoples living side by side in peace, and concentrate on a peaceful and prosperous future for their children. And as I said before, what we’re really looking to is the guidelines that were established under the Roadmap.

QUESTION: So just to be clear then, you don’t accept – I mean, the Roadmap says, “a halt to all settlement activity,” parenthesis, “(including natural growth)”, close parenthesis. So you don’t accept the argument that Israel somehow carved out exceptions to that? Your view is that that phrase that I just cited I think exactly is the governing phrase, and they don’t have carve-outs from that?

MR. KELLY: Well, the President has said it once, he said it twice, he said it again today: We want all settlement activity to cease.

QUESTION: But you’re not specifically –

QUESTION: Including natural growth?

QUESTION: Yeah.

MR. KELLY: This is really – what it’s about is Israel creating a situation where we can come up with a long-term solution. This is not about – this is not – we’re not focusing on adding rooms for new babies or any kind of natural growth of the settlements. We’re focusing on creating the conditions where we can get a lasting solution to this problem.

QUESTION: But, I mean --

QUESTION: What about the issue of the letter, though? I mean, it seems the Israelis are kind of rewriting what they think ought to be. I mean, you’re demanding, for example, that the Palestinians – that Hamas abide – this is just jumping a few steps – abide by all former agreements. So are you then insisting that the Israelis do the same?

MR. KELLY: We’re insisting that they stop settlement activity, so we can get to the point where we can establish a lasting peace and a future for many generations, a peaceful, prosperous future for all generations.

QUESTION: But you’re (inaudible) obviously, because the Israelis are seeing this differently. I mean, they’ve been all over talking about it. And they see their agreements under the Roadmap differently than you do. They say that they’ve had some exceptions under the Bush Administration and agreements there. So you’re saying you don’t recognize that?

MR. KELLY: I’m saying exactly what the President said and the Secretary said.

QUESTION: You know – but, I’m sorry. But Secretary Clinton was clear. I mean, she said no new settlement growth.

MR. KELLY: Right.

QUESTION: But you know, you’re asking – as Sue said, you’re asking the Israelis and Palestinians to abide by their future agreements, and the Israelis are saying you have to abide by – your previous agreements. And the Israelis are saying you have to abide by your previous agreements. So I mean, have you consulted with former Bush Administration officials as to what their kind of understandings of this particular issue were?

MR. KELLY: I’m not going to go there. We’re focused on the future. We’re focused on getting both sides to get to the point where we can come up with a lasting solution to this problem that’s lasted for generations.

QUESTION: I mean, it’s obvious that –

QUESTION: (Inaudible) focusing on the future, you need to be anchored in the past. You agree with that?

QUESTION: You’re asking them to be anchored in the past.

QUESTION: So on what – which past are you on now?

MR. KELLY: Sylvie --

QUESTION: Can you take that question on the letter?

MR. KELLY: No, I’m not going to take the question. If you want the reaction of the Israeli Government to what they think their commitments are, ask them. I’m telling you what we think should be done to --

QUESTION: But why won’t you specifically say – why won’t you specifically --

MR. KELLY: Because I’m not --

QUESTION: No, why won’t you specifically --

MR. KELLY: I’m not going to characterize what the Israeli Government says. I don’t have – and you’re telling me things they have said on background.

QUESTION: Have you talked to the Bush – they say it on the record. The Prime Minister has said. I mean, have you specifically spoken to former Bush Administration officials working --

MR. KELLY: Have I specifically spoken?

QUESTION: No, not you. I mean, has this Administration, to get clarification as to what the agreement was?

MR. KELLY: No, I have no way of knowing, what has been said.

QUESTION: Then why can you take the question? Why can’t you take the question? I mean, you won’t – you’re saying –

MR. KELLY: Haven’t we taken this question many times?

QUESTION: You won’t specific – no, you won’t specifically answer whether you recognize the Bush Administration’s letter to Prime Minister Sharon about settlements.

MR. WOOD: We recognize the Roadmap. End of story.

MR. KELLY: That’s it.

MR. WOOD: That’s it.

QUESTION: Yeah. But what about the commitments of the former administration? That’s the problem.

MR. KELLY: No, I’m not going to go there.

QUESTION: Ian, do you think the Israelis then are just kind of messing you around on this one and –

MR. KELLY: I’m not going to – like I said, I’m not going to – you ask them if they’re messing around. You ask them for their position. I’m telling you what our position is. Sorry. I got a little heated there, didn’t I? I’m a little tired from the trip.

QUESTION: Well, I mean, you won’t explicitly say that you don’t recognize it, but you’re obviously not recognizing it. So I mean, if we were to write that you’re not recognizing the Bush Administration’s commitments, I mean, would we be wrong? Because you certainly won’t say that you are.

MR. KELLY: Any other questions?

QUESTION: What is the – on the agenda with the Turkish foreign minister tomorrow?

MR. KELLY: We have, of course, a very broad agenda with Turkey. Turkey is a valued member of NATO and a significant contributor to NATO operations. We have an important bilateral agenda with them as well. As I said before, I think that you guys are going to have a chance to probably talk to the – or have a chance to ask questions after the meeting.

QUESTION: So that’s what, a press avail will be after the Turkish --

MR. KELLY: I think it’s after the Turkish foreign minister.

QUESTION: Because Turkey’s heading the Security Council this morning?

MR. KELLY: No, I mean, that’s certainly not the reason for the visit. We have regular meetings with – and I think you’ll also have a chance to talk to Ambassador Jeffrey at some point, too.

QUESTION: Did you get any--

QUESTION: I’m sorry, go ahead.

QUESTION: No, please go – did you get any assessment of – about the reaction to President Obama’s speech in Cairo?

MR. KELLY: Yes, in fact, we do. If you’ll just give me a second.

QUESTION: Juts minutes from a clean getaway. (Laughter.)

MR. KELLY: Let me give you the reaction from the region first. Just give me a second. I thought I had reaction, but I guess I don’t have reaction. Well, I think just from looking at the – looking at some of the media reports, it’s been a very positive reaction, both in terms of the media and some of the official reaction. I think it’s really extraordinary, of course, the buildup to the speech and then the impact that it had in terms of a global audience and --

QUESTION: Haven’t you been gathering comments on America’s --

MR. KELLY: We have. And I’m sorry, I thought I had – I thought I had those comments.

QUESTION: Maybe you want to put out a sampling.

MR. AKER: There’s some of the --

MR. KELLY: Oh, under – I don’t know – think there is anything under – yeah, okay. Well, I think I’ll just take that question, okay?

QUESTION: Yeah, but I mean – could just – still on the speech, I mean, you said it was – you know, there was a lot of positive reaction. But there was also, kind of, I think some people were looking to see more specifics about certain things, not just on the Israeli-Palestinian process --

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

QUESTION: -- but – but also on democracy in particular, about specific steps that needed to be taken without kind of offending your Egyptian hosts, but --

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

QUESTION: And then also, Hamas and Hezbollah, like, you know, said it’s not – you know, these are all, you know, what he said – you know, okay, these are fine words, but --

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

QUESTION: -- there needs to be a fundamental change about policy.

MR. KELLY: Well, I don’t think I’d agree with you that he didn’t get into specifics. I think he made it quite clear. He was very frank and candid about the importance of governments allowing their people to fully participate in the political process of the country, to allow basic, fundamental human rights such as freedom of expression and freedom of religion. I think it was just a very candid and forthright speech on the issue of human rights.

QUESTION: If we could segue to Iran and the issue of sort of free speech and political participation, there was a fairly interesting live presidential debate in Iran. And I wondered if the Department had any comment on the exchange of views, which included the moderate candidate suggesting that Ahmadinejad has humiliated Iranians by the policies that he’s pursued, and openly criticized him for his comments denying the Holocaust and so on.

MR. KELLY: Well, I’ve seen reports on that. I think that regardless of the election results, we’ll continue to implement our policy of engagement in ways that will help restore the trust of the international community and see Iran fulfill all of its international obligations. We hope the – after the elections, the newly elected government of Iran will move quickly to take advantage of the opportunity to engage bilaterally with us, as well as with the P-5+1 to address issues of mutual concern. But I’m not going to comment on any kind of internal debate related to the elections there.

QUESTION: One other thing, you said move quickly to engage with us as well as with the P-5.

MR. KELLY: Right.

QUESTION: So you are there suggesting direct bilateral engagement as well as the wider United States participating in the --

MR. KELLY: Well, I think what we want to see first is a response to Javier Solana’s invitation to engage with us in the P-5+1. We’ve indicated we’re willing to sit down at the table with them, and I think that’s the context we’re talking about first, in terms of engagement with the government.

QUESTION: On the elections in Lebanon on Sunday, what’s your expectations or can – do you have any comments on that?

MR. KELLY: We look forward to the Lebanese people being able to exercise their right to choose their own leaders, and we applaud that process and support it.

QUESTION: That’s it?

MR. KELLY: That’s it. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: Ian, it’s been a couple days, but is there any way you can characterize how the START talks in Geneva went?

MR. KELLY: Because these are negotiations between the Government of Russia and the U.S., we’re – we’ve – not that we’re trying to be opaque or non-transparent, but we’re going to let that process work out. I know that our lead negotiator, Assistant Secretary Gottemoeller, has been talking to her counterpart, and I’ll leave it at that.

QUESTION: And is she back here? Where does it proceed from here?

MR. KELLY: You know, I’m not sure.

QUESTION: Are there more talks planned?

MR. KELLY: Yeah, I’m not sure of her exact itinerary either. If we can find that out, we’ll let you know.

QUESTION: Okay. I appreciate it.

QUESTION: Ian, is Dan Kurtzer the new U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia? Has he been named as ambassador to Saudi Arabia?

MR. KELLY: I don’t believe that we’ve named an ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

MR. WOOD: I haven’t heard that.

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

QUESTION: Can I ask you about START, to follow on?

MR. KELLY: Well, okay. I just answered a question in a very circumscribed way, but you want to take another shot at it, Peter?

QUESTION: Okay. Yesterday, I asked a question about – because on the Russian side they made statements that framework agreement on START is achievable by the visit of Obama to Moscow.

MR. KELLY: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Is there any reaction on U.S. side?

MR. KELLY: Yeah. Well, I think our goal has been that we have some kind of framework for the – on the way forward with these talks. Because our goal is to have a successor regime for the START agreement which, of course, expires in early December, we have that done, and the – we’ve got a very limited timetable, obviously, because not only do we have to negotiate all the terms of this very complicated agreement, but it has to be presented to our Senate for ratification and, of course, to the Duma in Moscow. So that – I mean, that is our goal, to have the presidents agree to a kind of roadmap, I guess, on a way forward.

QUESTION: So we could expect that something could be issued by the summit in Moscow?

MR. KELLY: This – that is our goal, to have some kind of framework the two presidents can agree to.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MR. KELLY: Thanks a lot.

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PRN: 2009/545

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