Ian Kelly
Department Spokesman
Daily Press Briefing
Washington, DC
July 2, 2009


Index for Today's Briefing
  • DEPARTMENT
    • Secretary Clinton didn't have any public appointments, worked from home
    • Ambassador Goldberg concluded his meetings in Beijing; going to KL, Malaysia
    • Celebrating July 4th National holiday; recognition of military members Afghanistan
  • AFGHANISTAN
    • US State Department's role in Helmand, Afghanistan
    • DoS and USAID have two officers directly linked with Marines
    • Two advisors very familiar with local situation / local government
    • Additional USAID officer on the way / three of more to follow in a couple of weeks
    • Currently a combat operation / positioning for the build part of hold-and-build
    • Part of larger increase of 450 civilians DoS and other civilian agencies
  • THE SECRETARY
    • Secretary remains very active in departmental activities / attended a number of meetings;
    • Announcement soon on Secretary's travel to Asia / India and Southeast Asia
    • Never had firm plans to go to Moscow / Phone conversation with FM Lavrov
  • NORTH KOREA
    • Seen reports that they have launched 4 missiles; we can't confirm the reports
    • No update on two imprisoned journalists /
    • Question about Amb Bosworth's movements (TQ)
    • Question about Japan's special measures law in legislation (TQ)
    • Question as to whether the US Navy has tried to intercept NoKo missiles
  • CHINA
    • No details concerning Chinese envoy Wu Dawei to Six-Party partners meeting
  • PALESTINIANS
    • Secretary and Palestinian PM had a productive meeting / covered wide range of issues
  • HONDURAS
    • We continue to work with the OAS to work out a resolution /
    • Goal is the restoration of the constitutional order / restoration of President Zelaya
    • Legal review to determine if Section 7008 Foreign Assistance Act must be applied
    • Determining which programs would need to legally terminate as a result of the act
  • BOLIVA
    • Bolivian Ambassador conveyed disappointment that the US did not renew trade preferences
    • Look forward to deepening our relationship with Bolivia
  • VENEZUELA
    • Mutually agreed to exchange ambassadors again / a very positive development
    • Amb Duddy is happy to be back in Venezuela
    • Not aware of any specific bilateral contact regarding Honduras issue


TRANSCRIPT:

1:08 p.m. EDT

MR. KELLY: Afternoon. I do apologize for delaying the briefing on the afternoon before a three-day holiday. At any rate, let me give you a quick update on some schedules. I think you saw the Secretary didn’t have any public appointments, but she did work from home this morning. Ambassador Goldberg concluded his meetings in Beijing today with representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and other ministries involved in the implementation of UN Security Council 1874. He’ll depart Beijing over this weekend for Kuala Lumpur. We’ll have – he’ll have meetings with Malaysian officials on Monday, July 6.

As we look to the Fourth of July, our national holiday, I’m very cognizant of the fact that my counterparts – not my counterparts, my colleagues, my fellow citizens are now in harm’s way in Afghanistan in the Helmand region. So my thoughts and prayers go out to them and their families.

I want to give you a little bit of an – some information about the involvement of the State Department and USAID in Helmand. We are well positioned for the immediate assistance effort that will follow clearing operations that were launched by the Marines in the last 24 hours. State and the U.S. Agency for International Development currently have two officers who are directly linked with the Marines in the operation in Helmand. They’ve been in Helmand for over two years. We understand that they’re highly regarded by their Marine colleagues, and are some of the most experienced civilian experts that we have in Afghanistan. An additional USAID officer will arrive in Helmand this weekend, with three more to follow in the next couple of weeks. These are stabilization experts from our Office of Transition Initiatives, as well as senior development advisors who will be working directly with the Marines to assist with holding and building.

These added civilians are part of the larger increase of more than 450 civilians that State and other civilian agencies are sending to Afghanistan to work alongside our military personnel. Their deployments have been and will continue to be closely coordinated by Embassy Kabul and U.S. Forces Afghanistan.

And with that, I’ll be happy to take your questions.

Yeah. Kirit.

QUESTION: Are you planning on sending any more to supplement those? I guess you’ve mentioned three so far. Do you expect that to increase?

MR. KELLY: Well, I – as I said, we have two more – we two there now, and we have another one who is planning to arrive this weekend. But then, as I said, we also have this larger civilian effort that we’ll roll out over the next few months.

QUESTION: So there will be something –

MR. KELLY: Well, this is – the larger civilian effort is – and this is part of our plan to help Afghanistan in general. I’m not aware of exactly where they’ll be positioned within Afghanistan.

QUESTION: Could we see – how many civilians in Afghanistan by the end of the year? Do you have any idea?

MR. KELLY: I’m not sure of the exact timeline, Lach. But the number is 450, but I’m not sure exactly what the timeline is. It could be a rolling thing and the numbers would go up and down according to transfers and redeployments.

QUESTION: If I can go back to the earlier point you made about the Secretary staying at home --

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

QUESTION: -- when will she resume a normal schedule at the State Department? What do the doctors say? And then can you confirm why she’s not traveling to Moscow now?

MR. KELLY: Yeah, yeah.

QUESTION: Is it because of the elbow injury, or is there another reason?

MR. KELLY: Well, you all saw her on Monday. She is very actively involved in the operation of the Department and in advocating U.S. policy. She had a very full day yesterday, and she attended a number of meetings, including a few public meetings.

But as far as her medical prognosis, it’s just not the kind of details that I’m prepared to share. I do know that she’s looking forward to resuming a full schedule. I mean, I think she’s got a pretty full schedule anyway. I mean, you see that some days she’s at home and other days she comes to the office. But she looks forward, for example, to going to India and Southeast Asia in a couple weeks.

QUESTION: But that’s it? I mean, she’s just been busy so she’s not going to Moscow? That’s the --

MR. KELLY: Well, there were never any firm plans, necessarily, for her to go to Moscow. I think she called Foreign Minister Lavrov yesterday to tell him that she wasn’t going to go and she looked forward to seeing him soon. But in terms of what’s going to happen in the next few weeks, as I said, she does plan to go to this trip to Asia in a couple weeks, and we hope to have an announcement soon about that.

QUESTION: You’re still not – you’re still not saying why that decision was made for her not to go.

MR. KELLY: Well, I think – she broke her elbow and she is getting therapy.

QUESTION: Yeah.

MR. KELLY: So quite naturally, she’s focused on that, on healing.

QUESTION: That makes sense.

MR. KELLY: Yeah, thanks.

QUESTION: Why won’t you give us those medical details? The White House came out and said it was because of physical therapy --

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

QUESTION: -- intensive physical therapy that would be impossible to maintain --

MR. KELLY: Right.

QUESTION: -- over the course of the trip.

MR. KELLY: Right.

QUESTION: First, why won’t you reveal more medical details?

MR. KELLY: Didn’t I just say that? Didn’t I say that she needs to – she needs to pay attention to her elbow, she needs to – she needs to heal?

QUESTION: Is that a doctor recommendation?

MR. KELLY: I don’t know.

QUESTION: Is there a possibility of an additional operation?

MR. KELLY: I doubt it, but I just don’t know.

QUESTION: And can you give us any details about the physical therapy? Is it daily? Supervised? Does she go someplace and have it?

MR. KELLY: I’m just not aware of it.

Yeah.

QUESTION: Afghanistan?

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

QUESTION: Will Blackwater be providing the State Department the same services performed in Iraq and Afghanistan? And if so, would you need an increase in Blackwater’s services due to a possible increase in your personnel there?

MR. KELLY: Well, of course, we – whenever – wherever Foreign Service personnel are deployed around the world, of course, their security is very important. And we do assess the situation on the ground and make a determination based on the situation on the ground. Of course, the situation in Afghanistan is – it’s a very dangerous environment.

I’m not aware of the exact details of what kind of security arrangements we’ll have for any kind of increased Foreign Service personnel in Afghanistan. And, frankly, I’m not sure we’d want to share that kind of information. But if we do have that kind of information, I’ll be happy to provide it.

QUESTION: So you won’t be able to let me know if there’ll be an increase in Blackwater personnel or a decrease?

MR. KELLY: Well, first of all, I’m not aware of whether or not it will be required. I would expect we would need increased security personnel there, but I’m just not aware of what exactly is needed.

QUESTION: And last question --

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

QUESTION: -- on the same subject. There was apparently a shooting between some Blackwater security guards and a civilian Afghanistan, and I was wondering if --

MR. KELLY: I haven’t seen those reports.

Yes.

QUESTION: Al Jazeera English, also on Afghanistan. The President’s strategy is calling for increased diplomacy and humanitarian assistance. What factored into the decision to only have those two civilians that you mentioned there right now, and not more?

MR. KELLY: Well, what we have going on right now – and of course, I’ll have to refer you to the Pentagon for the exact details of the combat operation going on. But what we are preparing to do, of course, is – well, first of all, we have these two advisors who are on the ground, have been there for more than two years, are very familiar with the local situation, very familiar with the local government there. They’ve been working with them for two years.

But in terms of other factors, I’m just – I’m not sure. In fact, if you could repeat your question. I kind of --

QUESTION: Yeah, I mean, just why aren’t there more than two diplomats there to start off?

MR. KELLY: Oh, okay. So we’re starting off with the – I mean, it’s the combat operation now. What we are positioning ourselves to do is to go in behind this combat operation and be part of the build part of hold-and-build.

QUESTION: And then is there a plan set up for how many diplomats will go at a certain increment of time, or is that not set?

MR. KELLY: Yeah, I just don’t have the exact details of how – who would go, how many will go, to what exact areas. I think here part of it will be dictated by the circumstances.

Yeah.

QUESTION: On North Korea, the missile launches. Do you have any details of the missile launches? What do you take from the provocative act? And did they give you any warning that they were going to do this?

MR. KELLY: A lot of what you’re asking me is intelligence information. I’ll tell you, though, that, of course, we’ve seen the reports. We’ve seen reports that they’ve launched, I think, four missiles. These kinds of reports are not new.

North Korea knows exactly what it has to do. And these kinds of actions, of course, are not helpful, are dangerous. The international community has spoken loudly, and North Korea, as I say, knows exactly what it has to do. It has to cut out these kinds of provocative actions and return to denuclearization talks.

QUESTION: Do you think that this – there was a lot of speculation that they were going to fire a long-range missile over the holiday, and it looks like that they’re just going to go with the short-range missiles. Do you think that this is, in a way, a de-escalatory step by the North Koreans?

MR. KELLY: Well, I wouldn’t call it a de-escalatory step. I mean, I don’t know what their intentions are. I don’t know what they’re – what they plan to do over the next few days. I know that all of you guys have been talking about how they’re going to do something over the July 4th weekend, but I certainly wouldn’t characterize it as a – the choice to use short-range missiles I wouldn’t characterize as rationing down of tensions; on the contrary.

Yeah.

QUESTION: Do you have any update on the two journalists in North Korea?

MR. KELLY: Well, as the Secretary has said many times, we call for their immediate release on humanitarian grounds. As I’ve said many times, our Swedish protecting power represented by Ambassador Foyer continues to try and get information about them, to try and get access to them. But unfortunately, since that last consular visit he’s had, he hasn’t had access. That’s a long way of saying I don’t have an update for you.

Yeah.

QUESTION: Okay. So Chinese Government announced that they’re going to send envoy, Mr. Wu Dawei to Six-Party partners including U.S. So what is schedule, and who in the U.S. Government will meet Mr. Wu Dawei?

MR. KELLY: I’m just not – this – what you say, as we say, is ringing a bell, but I don’t have the details. So let me see if I can get you that information.

Kirit, did you have a question?

QUESTION: Just on another topic unless somebody – back to Afghanistan. Do you have anything to say about this soldier that’s apparently been kidnapped? Do you have any information about him or is he --

MR. KELLY: Kidnapped?

QUESTION: Apparently, an ISAF soldier has been kidnapped in Afghanistan.

MR. KELLY: No, I don’t have any information on that. I’d refer you to the Pentagon.

Yeah.

QUESTION: Did the Palestinian prime minister meet with Senator Mitchell yesterday? And can you give us a read-out on the Secretary’s meeting with him, if you don’t mind?

MR. KELLY: Yeah, I can give you a read-out of the Secretary’s meeting with him. I’m not – I’ll see if I can get you information on any other meetings that he had.

You know that the President and Secretary are very committed to achieving comprehensive peace, and this is part of this – of these efforts to try and achieve a comprehensive peace. The Secretary and the prime minister had a productive meeting and covered a wide range of issues, including the way forward on economic and security matters, and also political progress. Our goal is to foster the conditions for successful negotiations and the creation of a Palestinian state. This includes support, of course, for the Palestinian Authority as a partner for peace with Israel.

Yeah. Charley.

QUESTION: Any update on reaction to what’s happening in Honduras – crackdown on protestors, crackdown on journalists?

MR. KELLY: I can give you – sure, I can give you an update.

We’re continuing to work with our regional partners through the OAS to seek a solution to the crisis in accordance with Wednesday’s OAS resolution – an OAS special commission consisting of the Secretary General, the chair of the Special General Assembly, Argentine Foreign Minister Jorge Taiana, Dominican Foreign Minister Carlos Morales Troncoso and others. This delegation is moving forward with diplomatic initiatives aimed at resolving the crisis and restoring the constitutional order in Honduras.

QUESTION: And are there particular concerns about the ousted president returning this weekend before a resolution?

MR. KELLY: Well, of course, our goal is the restoration of constitutional – of the constitutional order in Tegucigalpa, which means the restoration of President Zelaya. There is a process led by the OAS which is in place. We think that this process should be allowed to play out, and we would discourage any actions that would prove to be an obstacle to this process reaching its desired outcome, which, of course, is the restoration of Mel Zelaya to power.

QUESTION: So just so I’m clear, are you suggesting that possibly his return at too early a stage might be an obstacle?

MR. KELLY: It could be. I think that what everybody needs to focus on now is this OAS mission that was mandated by the OAS Special General Assembly. Of course, I can’t speak for President Zelaya, but it’s my understanding that he has delayed any plans to return.

QUESTION: And even as this building moves into a long holiday weekend, the United States Government and the United States State Department will be monitoring events?

MR. KELLY: Oh, absolutely. Very much so. Yeah.

Yeah.

QUESTION: Do you have any news on the review of possible aid cutoff to Honduras?

MR. KELLY: Yeah, I do have an update for you on that if you’ll just hold on a second.

The legal review is ongoing. We’re trying to determine if Section 7008 of the Foreign Assistance Act must be applied. In the meantime, we’ve taken some actions to hit the pause button, let’s say, on assistance programs that we would be legally required to terminate if it is determined – if the events of June 28 are determined to have been, as defined – I’m sounding more and more like a lawyer here – as defined, under the Section 7008 of the Foreign Assistance Act, as defined as a military coup.

I also want to emphasize, though, that we’re continuing assistance programs that would not be subject to legal determination – I’m sorry, to legal termination, and this is in order to continue to help the Honduran people. And of course, these programs include democracy assistance and humanitarian programs, which of course would be excluded under this particular section of the Foreign Assistance Act.

QUESTION: Would you say that this pause button applies to most of the aid that we would normally be providing them, or any idea?

MR. KELLY: You know, I think that’s fair to say, yeah. But I don’t have a dollar figure.

Yeah.

QUESTION: Sorry, I missed the beginning. Have we done anything on North Korea? Have you got any reaction to the test?

MR. KELLY: Well, the reaction is that we’ve seen the reports. We can’t confirm the reports, but that reports of these kinds of launches are nothing new. We’ve seen them many times in the past and the – North Korea knows exactly what it has to do. The international community has spoken clearly, and they need to cut out these kinds of provocative actions and return to denuclearization talks.

QUESTION: What are – Ambassador Bosworth, what are his movements these days? What’s he doing?

MR. KELLY: I’ll have to get you that information.

Yeah.

QUESTION: Just one more North Korea question. Considering the special relationship between Japan and the U.S. and these recent tests, will the U.S. be making any kind of statement on Japan’s special measures law that is in legislation right now?

MR. KELLY: Yeah. I’m not aware of that law. But if we can get you information, we will. So we’ll take that question.

Yeah. In the back.

QUESTION: North Korea.

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

QUESTION: North Korea has test-fired four missiles today. I wonder if the – I know that the American military has been monitoring closely to -- the North Korean military activities. I wonder if U.S. Navy or U.S. military arms in South Korea has tried to intercept North Korean missile test.

MR. KELLY: I can’t answer that question. Literally, I can’t answer it. It’s – that’s not a question for the State Department, first of all.

QUESTION: Because a U.S. general, I think a Victor Renuart, my -- sorry for my pronunciation – poor pronunciation. And he said that the United States has a very, very credible ballistic missile defense capability.

MR. KELLY: This is true.

QUESTION: Yeah, yeah, and that’s why I ask you just now that – if U.S. has tried to intercept North Korean missiles, because otherwise there’s no proof. Nobody can believe that the United States has a real missile shield effective capability to intercept North Korean missiles. So what’s your comment?

MR. KELLY: Well, you are getting into areas which are not in my competence. I think you really have to address these to the Pentagon. These are strictly military issues and it’s – I have to refer you to the Pentagon.

Yeah. Charley.

QUESTION: Another issue?

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

QUESTION: Any reaction to Vice President Biden in Iraq, and particularly recent comments from the White House that the Vice President is overseeing Iraq policy? And some would say that this is possibly Secretary Clinton’s role to oversee Iraq policy.

MR. KELLY: Yeah, I’m not sure of these comments that you refer to that the Secretary should oversee this.

QUESTION: The White House comments were that Biden was overseeing Iraq policy.

MR. KELLY: Yeah, Charley, I’m just going to refer your question to the White House.

QUESTION: In the context of a number of other issues, her injury, her not going to Moscow, the fact that Biden seems to be taking an ever-increasingly visible active role in these central international policy questions, from where you stand, how do you view it?

MR. KELLY: Well, I – as I’ve said earlier, I see the Secretary as very engaged, very involved. She – as I said, she had a full schedule yesterday. She worked from home today. She sees the President weekly, talks to him often. She met with him yesterday. But in terms of Vice President Biden’s role, I would have to refer you to his office.

Yeah. Dave.

QUESTION: Yeah, the President of Bolivia has reacted or taken badly news that the U.S. is going to continue some curbs on trade preferences to Bolivia, among other things; it’s a betrayal of the Obama Administration’s idea of partnership with Latin America. He says that the decision was based on false information, and that’s some of the milder stuff. I just wonder if you have any response to that.

MR. KELLY: Well, you know that Secretary Clinton met with the foreign minister yesterday. We put out a statement about it. He did convey the Bolivian Government’s disappointment over our decision not to reinstate these trade preferences. The Secretary listened attentively and welcomed the opportunity to engage in a dialogue on this. But we continue to look forward to deepening our relationship with Bolivia and helping them achieve their goal of a secure and prosperous future.

Lach. Yeah.

QUESTION: Venezuela. Can you tell us about Ambassador Duddy’s first day back on the job, what contacts he’d had with the Venezuelans? And is he discussing efforts to resolve the crisis in Honduras?

MR. KELLY: I mean, first of all, let’s just step back a second. Of course, we take it as a very positive signal that both countries – that we mutually agreed to exchange ambassadors. We see this as a sign that Venezuela is open to deepening communications by having this kind of contact at the ambassadorial level.

Ambassador Duddy is very pleased to be back in Venezuela, and he looks forward to engaging the Venezuelan Government on issues of mutual interest, including counternarcotics cooperation, anti-terrorism efforts, and, of course, trade relations.

I don’t – I’m not aware that he has discussed Honduras on a bilateral level. It’s quite possible that he has. But you know that our engagement on this issue has been through the OAS – and, of course, Venezuela is part of the OAS – but I’m just not aware of any specific bilateral cooperation on this issue of reaching our common goal of the whole OAS of restoring the constitutional order in Honduras.

QUESTION: Has the Secretary herself been in contact with her counterpart in Venezuela in light of this return of the ambassador and other issues?

MR. KELLY: I’m not aware that she’s had any contact with her counterpart.

Yeah. Way in the back.

QUESTION: Can you take the question on the Blackwater shooting in Afghanistan?

MR. KELLY: Yes.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MR. KELLY: Okay. Thank you.

(The briefing was concluded at 1:35 p.m.)

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