Briefing on Secretary Clinton's Upcoming Trip to India and Thailand
Bureau of Public Affairs
Background Briefing by Two Senior Administration Officials
July 15, 2009
Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs Robert O. Blake and Deputy Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs and Ambassador for ASEAN Affairs Scot MarcielMR. KELLY: Well, let’s get settled here. Welcome to a briefing to preview the Secretary’s trip to India and Thailand. We have two briefers here. They’re both on the record. We have Robert Blake, who is Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs, and Scot Marciel, who is Acting Assistant Secretary for East Asia and Pacific Affairs.
What we’re going to do is we’re going to have short introductory remarks, and then we’ll go to your questions. We are under a bit of a time constraint because of the Secretary’s speech, of course, so we’ll be finishing up here no later than 12:10. Do you have a question?
QUESTION: I have a quick question. Since we’re taking audio, can we also get video? Is that –
MR. KELLY: No, this is off camera. So, Mr. Blake, do you want to start things off?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY BLAKE: Thanks a lot, Ian. And first of all, since this is my first time meeting many of you, just let me say I look forward to working with all of you. You all know Karlygash of our staff. And in general, I’m happy to meet with any of you anytime. I can’t always speak on the record, but I’ll do my best to speak on the record as much as possible. So I look forward to working with you.
I thought what I’d do today is just talk briefly about the trip that Under Secretary for Political Affairs Bill Burns and I took to Central Asia last week, just to give you a couple of points on that, and then just preview the Secretary’s trip and then I’ll be glad to take some of your questions.
First of all, on the trip to Central Asia, the purpose of it was really twofold. It was first to have Under Secretary Burns brief all of the Central Asian states on the results of the Moscow summit that he attended with the President. And then secondly, it was to look at ways with all these countries that we can broaden and expand our relations with the countries of Central Asia.
So on the first point, Bill emphasized at every stop that a strong relationship between the United States and Russia is a complement to our partnerships with the countries of Central Asia. And I think there was wide agreement within Central Asia that, you know, they agreed to that notion. And then in each stop we also discussed how we can try to broaden our engagement. As all of you know, each of the Central Asian countries are playing important roles in supporting stabilization efforts in Afghanistan, but we want to try to do more. We want to try to expand our engagement to talk about, for example, economics and trade. In some of the relevant countries like Turkmenistan, we want to do more on energy. And then we also want to do the so-called human dimension side; that is, human rights, democratization, trafficking in persons, and look at that whole basket of issues.
And again, there was broad agreement with all – among all of our countries that they’d like to do that. So in every case, we’re thinking about establishing some joint commissions that will deal with the full range of all those issues and try to make sort of systematic progress in each of those particular areas.
Turning to the Secretary’s visit to India, I think you’ve all seen already some of the speeches that she’s given. She gave a very good speech at the U.S.-India Business Council that you can refer to. It’s on our website and I’m sure the State Department website.
We’re leaving tomorrow for what will be a three-day visit in India, two days in Mumbai and then a day in Delhi on Monday. The purpose of the visit is to broaden and strengthen the strategic partnership between the United States and India, and also to highlight the extensive cooperation that is already taking place between the nongovernmental folks in each side of – in both India and the United States. That is our business people, our scientists, our academics, our students, and so many other people. And those really underpin our relations and kind of propel them forward. So we really want to highlight those during the trip.
There’s been a lot of talk about why have we waited so long to engage India, and there’s a very simple answer to that, which is that we wanted – both sides wanted to wait until after the Indian elections that were finished in mid-May of this year. We believe that the strong showing of the Congress Party, Prime Minister Singh’s return to office, and then President Obama’s very strong support for strengthening ties with India really opened the way for a new and invigorated partnership between the United States and India.
So the President and Secretary Clinton both see India as a really important partner for us not only in addressing bilateral issues, but also in kind of working with us to shape the world of the 21st century. So in terms of what we’re trying to accomplish, the Secretary and her counterpart, Foreign Minister Krishna, will announce on Monday the elements of our new partnership. And broadly speaking, what we’re going to do is continue the successful cooperation we’ve had on things like defense cooperation, counterterrorism, trade, while also forging new initiatives on things like agriculture, education, science and technology, and women’s empowerment.
As I said earlier, the President and the Secretary also think there’s scope for broader engagement with India on some of the big global challenges of the world, including things like climate change and nonproliferation.
We arrive Friday night, so the first events will be Saturday. In Mumbai, she’s going to be doing some events with business people, she’ll do something with a local women’s association, and then she’ll have an event with a lot of youth who are doing volunteer work in their communities.
In Delhi, as I said earlier, she’ll meet with her counterpart, Foreign Minister Krishna. She’ll, of course, have a meeting with the prime minister. She’ll see the head of the Congress Party Sonia Gandhi, and she’ll meet with the head of the opposition, L.K. Advani.
In Delhi, she also plans some people-to-people events. She’ll do an event at a green building to highlight some of the possibilities for working together on clean energy and climate change. She’ll also have an event to showcase some of the cooperation that is taking place between our scientists, our agronomists, and our NGOs and foundations on agriculture. And then she’ll have an event at a local university that will be an interaction with students and so forth.
So let me stop there, and as I said, I’ll be happy to take your questions. I think Scot will talk briefly about the Thailand portion of the visit, and then we can all go to questions.
MR. MARCIEL: Thanks. Well, let me start by echoing Bob’s offer to be available, and more importantly, I’d like to volunteer my new boss, Assistant Secretary Kurt Campbell, since he’s not here to be available to you. Kurt’s actually traveling in the region, out to the region right now and will join the group in Thailand.
The Secretary’s trip to Thailand kind of has two parts, both physically and in terms of policy objectives. Part one is, if you will, a brief bilateral visit to Bangkok, where the purpose of that is to talk with our good friends, our Thai allies, about the broad range of issues in the bilateral relationship and also how we see the region and how we can work together even more in the region.
As you know, the Thais, a longtime ally, our oldest diplomatic relationship in Asia. So the visit is a great opportunity for the Secretary to talk to her Thai partners about the relationship, to emphasize the importance of it both in terms of her own meetings as well as public events, and to talk about some very real issues, including in the region. The Thai also, of course, are the chair of ASEAN. And so we’ll be talking to them a little bit about ASEAN and the ASEAN regional forum.
Then she will go on to Phuket for the – for a couple of events. There is the ASEAN post-ministerial conference. And the key piece of that, if you will, is the Secretary will meet with her ten ASEAN counterparts. The ASEANs do a rotating series of meetings with their dialogue partners. So she will sit down with her ten ASEAN counterparts to talk about ASEAN. And then the next day is the ASEAN regional forum ministerial, where the ministers from the 27 ARF countries talk more broadly about regional security.
Let me just make – highlight a couple of points. On the multilateral side, in ASEAN – in the ASEAN event, as you know from the Secretary’s travel to Jakarta in February, the Administration is very focused on improving our relationship with ASEAN. We want to see ASEAN succeed. It’s in our interest for the countries of Southeast Asia to further integrate and to grow stronger. And so she’ll emphasize our interest in ASEAN, our interest in further building our own direct relationship with ASEAN, as well as improving our relationship with the ASEAN member countries. I expect that issues such as Burma will come up in that meeting and – but it’s an opportunity for her and for the ten ministers all to raise any issues they want. I think the focus of that meeting itself is going to be mostly on the U.S.-ASEAN relationship.
The ARF ministerial with – again, you have 27 countries represented – it’s – they have pretty much a half-day session. And each minister can raise whatever security issues, both traditional and nontraditional, that he or she wishes. So it’s likely to cover a wide range of issues, everything from climate change and disaster relief to pandemic influenza to North Korea to Burma, and there could be, and likely will be, many other issues raised. So it’s a very broad discussion.
A couple of other things that she will do there: She will do some bilateral meetings. As I said, we have 27 countries represented there, almost all at the foreign ministerial level. So she’s likely to do some bilateral meetings. Those are still being finalized. She will also do a meeting with the foreign ministers of Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, and Thailand together. This will be the first time that a Secretary of State’s done such a meeting, at least the first time I’m aware of. And that’s to talk about some common issues that affect particularly the Mekong River region. It’s going to, I think, talk more about health, environment, and those types of issues in that meeting.
She also will see, in addition to seeing the prime minister of Thailand in Bangkok, she will see the foreign minister in Phuket. And the reason she’s seeing him there is because he’s in Phuket the whole week to host other series of meetings that are going on there.
Let me stop there and, like Bob, take your questions.
QUESTION: Glenn Kessler with the Post. Scot, in terms of Burma, it seems like the Burma review has not been completed, and she’s headed there without necessarily a policy in hand. What – I wonder if you could confirm that as well as the reasons for why that review has not been completed. And are there any kind of principles that she’s going to lay out, any kind of core U.S. interests in dealing with Burma that she can bring to ASEAN to lay some markers down?
MR. MARCIEL: Right. It’s a good question, Glenn. As you know, the policy review has been underway since she announced it in February. It’s been slowed, I guess I would say, because of the new developments, specifically the Burmese arrest and prosecution of Aung San Suu Kyi, and that ongoing trial is certainly factoring into our policy review.
But I would disagree slightly with your premise that she’s going there without a policy. I mean, we – the fact that we haven’t completed this policy review doesn’t mean that we’re without diplomatic tools or fundamental policy. The fundamental policy remains the same, which is to do whatever we can to try to encourage progress in Burma. And by progress, I mean the beginning of a dialogue between the government and the opposition and the ethnic minority groups, release of political prisoners and improved governance and, we would hope, more of an opening to the international community.
So those fundamental principles, if you will, haven’t changed. The policy review is really looking at what can we do that might help us better achieve those goals, and that’s still very much under review.
QUESTION: And just to follow up on that, hasn’t, though, the fact that you don’t have a review completed kind of hampered your ability to, for instance, talk about the border incursions that are going on, you know, because of the offensive against the Karen. As far as I can tell, the first time the U.S. really made a statement on that was at the UN earlier this week. And – you know, hasn’t that been a hindrance to you?
MR. MARCIEL: No, I don’t think the policy review has hindered us at all from both speaking out publicly and from being very active diplomatically. I mean, we’ve been extremely active diplomatically on Burma policy. Because, as I said, the basis of our policy, the fundamental principles of our policy are set. It’s – the policy review is sort of trying to figure out the details, or how can we be more effective. But we’re not left empty-handed or frozen, if you will, by the fact that the review’s not completed.
QUESTION: So is she going to express concern about what’s happening on the border with Thailand when she’s there?
MR. MARCIEL: I don’t want to try to predict exactly what she’s going to say. I’m confident that she will raise Burma and express our concerns quite clearly.
MR. KELLY: Let me go to Arshad Mohammed with Reuters.
QUESTION: One question for Secretary Blake: Do you expect any – do you expect to sign the EUM agreement, the end use monitoring agreement, when you’re in India? And do you have any reason to believe that India may announce sites for the U.S. sort of designated nuclear power plants?
And then, Mr. Marciel, on North Korea, it’s our understanding from the organizers that North Korea is going to be represented by an ambassador, not by its foreign minister, in Phuket. Is Mr. Bosworth going, and are there any plans for contact at any level between U.S. officials and whoever is the North Korean representative?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY BLAKE: Arshad, with respect to your question about the end use monitoring agreement, we hope to be able to sign that, and obviously, that will take place on Monday of next week. On the question of the two nuclear sites, again, we hope that that – we’ll be in a position to be able to announce publicly those two sites where U.S. companies can have exclusive right to locate reactors and sell reactors to the Indians. And we think that that’s a major opportunity for American companies. It opens up as much as $10 billion worth of new exports to India. So again, we hope to be in a position for both sides to announce it.
MR. MARCIEL: Arshad, on your North Korea question, we too have seen the same reports that the North Koreans will be represented, I think, by an ambassador-at-large or something – someone besides the foreign minister. Ambassador Bosworth is not planning to go. At this point, we are not planning any meetings with the North Koreans. We certainly expect North Korea to be discussed extensively in the visit. I guess I wouldn’t completely rule out the possibility of a discussion with the North Koreans, but at this point, there’s nothing set. And I think there’s going to be, Ian, a background briefing, right, on North Korea?
MR. KELLY: Yeah. We’re trying to arrange a background briefing later this afternoon with senior Administration officials on North Korea.
QUESTION: One more on that. Is there likely to be a meeting of the five, you know, parties in the Six-Party Talks other than North Korea on the sidelines in Phuket?
MR. MARCIEL: There’s been some discussion about how best to do that. At this point, there’s no five-party meeting set. It’s more likely at this point that there would be a series of maybe bilateral meetings with the five-party partners. Again, that could change between now and Tuesday.
MR. KELLY: Dave Gollust from VOA.
QUESTION: For Mr. Blake, could you describe the kinds of conversations you’re going to have with the Indians about Pakistan? Are you going to try to, you know, persuade the Indians to do what they can to ease tensions so that the Pakistanis can pay more attention to the insurgency?
MR. MARCIEL: Well, let me say on that first that there’s already been quite a lot of dialogue that’s taken place. As you know, Prime Minister Singh and President Zardari met on the margins of the SCO Summit in Yekaterinburg. More recently there, the two sides have had meetings in Sharm el-Sheikh. There’s the Non-Aligned Summit that’s going on now there. The foreign secretaries – both sides met on Tuesday, I believe. And I think the prime ministers are scheduled to meet tomorrow. So I think there’s already been good dialogue underway and certainly we welcome that. And I’m sure that Pakistan will be a subject of discussion during the meetings.
QUESTION: Can I just follow up quickly? Michele Kelemen of NPR. Why is the Secretary not going to Pakistan? What kind of signal is she sending by going to just -
ASSISTANT SECRETARY BLAKE: She’s not really trying to send any signal at all. This is a trip where we’re trying to focus on India and really highlight the new strategic partnership and again, all the people-to-people ties. But that doesn’t mean that we attach any less importance to Pakistan and Afghanistan. There’s already been extensive high level engagement between the United States and the leaders of both of those countries.
The President most recently hosted a trilateral summit here, as you know, with President Zardari and Karzai. So we’re not trying to send any signal at all, except at this stage to talk about our enhanced relationship with India. And I know that the Secretary looks forward to an early opportunity to get out to both Afghanistan and Pakistan.
QUESTION: This is for Assistant Secretary Blake. Do you expect in India to discuss Iran at all? I mean, India has extensive energy cooperation with the Iranians. I know in Congress there’s already talk about Reliance or some of these companies possibly being sanctioned in the future. Is this an issue? In the pipeline, obviously, in the past, it’s been an issue.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY BLAKE: It’s difficult to predict, to be honest. I mean, we have such a wide range of bilateral engagement now that it’s hard to say which of these countries is going to come up. There’s so many.
QUESTION: But Iran’s kind of on the top of the agenda.
QUESTION: It’s not high on the agenda, Iran? Is that what you’re saying?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY BLAKE: Iran is always going to be important. I mean, not only from the nonproliferation side, but also from what’s going on there right now. So, you know, I’m sure it will come up in one of the meetings.
QUESTION: Indira Lakshmanan from Bloomberg News. I wanted to ask Mr. Blake, you mentioned the areas in which the U.S. and India have grounds for multilateral cooperation. And specifically, you talked about climate change, nonproliferation, and trade.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY BLAKE: Right.
QUESTION: But those are actually three areas that have had some important sticking points between the two countries. On climate change, India said they won’t accept carbon emissions caps. On trade, it was a dispute between India and the U.S. that led to a breakdown in Doha. And on nonproliferation, India said it’s not going to sign global nonproliferation agreements, unless there’s global disarmament. So tell me how you’re planning to overcome those and work together in this meeting?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY BLAKE: Well, that’s an answer that would probably consume the rest of our twenty minutes here. So let me do it rather quickly and just say that we believe there is scope for progress on all three of those issues. And, you know, we look forward to working with our Indian friends on all three.
With respect to climate change, we think there’s a big opportunity now for India to pursue a path, a clean energy path that will leapfrog sort of the old technologies and adopt a clean energy, low-carbon future. And I think the Indians are very much committed to that. We’ve already had extensive bilateral consultations and multilateral consultations on the very important Copenhagen agreement – the Copenhagen meetings that will be coming up in December. And certainly, we hope that our two countries can work together to find a solution and common ground so that there can be a strong international agreement on that.
On global trade, again, we think there are new opportunities now. With the Indian elections now behind us, there is a dynamic new trade minister in India by the name of Anand Sharma who knows the United States well. And he has already had a visit here to meet with Ron Kirk. And he expressed India’s intention to work with the United States to try to, you know, move to a final phase of negotiations on Doha.
Similarly, on nonproliferation, I think the agreement on civil nuclear cooperation really opens the door for much greater cooperation, not only bilaterally in terms of the nuclear sites and things like that, but also multilaterally. India’s special negotiator on these issues Shyam Saran, gave a speech at Brookings earlier this year, in which he said exactly that. He said that India looks forward to working with the United States and other countries to advance the global nonproliferation agenda. And so we are going to – part of the new strategic cooperation that will be announced will be, you know, a dialogue on nonproliferation issues that will be shared at a very senior level by our new Under Secretary Ellen Tauscher and obviously with her Indian counterpart. So we think there is an opportunity here on all three.
QUESTION: Just quickly, is Todd Stern going to travel with you on this trip?
MR. MARCIEL: Yes.
MR. KELLY: (Inaudible.)
QUESTION: (Inaudible) with Voice of America. An issue on North Korea. Do you expect that the North Korea issue is going to be included in ARF statement if there is going to be any?
MR. MARCIEL: It’s hard to predict what will be in any statement. I expect, based on previous experience, that at the ARF retreat there will be a fair amount of discussion on the North Korea issue, and usually any statements that are made would reflect the discussion. So I think it’s probable, but I can’t guarantee it.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) position is trying to get North Korea out in the statement?
MR. MARCIEL: We’re not really focused on getting it in the statement or getting any particular thing in the statement. What we’re focused more on is the discussion and also, of course, having discussions with our five-party partners on the margins about how to try to move the process ahead.
MR. KELLY: You’ve got a question behind you.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) from BBC.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY BLAKE: Hi.
QUESTION: India accuses to Pakistan that it has some training – terrorist training camps still running somewhere. Is that a view shared by the U.S. as well?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY BLAKE: That Pakistan has training camps?
QUESTION: That’s what the allegation is.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY BLAKE: Well, let me just say on the whole broad issue of terrorism that the United States has been very encouraged by the important steps that Pakistan has taken, most notably its operation in the Swat Valley and now more recently some of the steps in South Waziristan. We think those steps have garnered the support of the Pakistani people and that that support in turn will help provide the basis for continued action to make sure that Pakistani soil is not used as a platform from which terrorist attacks can be launched against any of its neighbors.
MR. KELLY: Yeah, in the corner.
QUESTION: Josh Lipes, Radio Free Asia. I’m wondering if the imminent repatriation of the Hmong is going to be on the Secretary’s agenda (inaudible).
MR. MARCIEL: I think when the Secretary has an opportunity to talk to the prime minister and the foreign minister, there will be a whole host of issues. It’s certainly possible. I can’t guarantee it. It’s certainly possible that they’ll discuss the Hmong issue, refugee issue, writ large.
MR. KELLY: Go ahead.
QUESTION: Frank O’Malley from (inaudible). For Mr. Marciel, I’m just wondering, ever since the passage of 1874, the whole idea has been to try to build solidarity and sense of unity against North Korea. And when President Lee was here last month, he brought up the idea of the five-party meeting. The U.S. has supported the idea of a five-party meeting. Why have you not been able to get that done going into the (inaudible)? Why does it look like we won’t be able to have that five-party?
MR. MARCIEL: What I’ll say is, I mean, our focus has been really on winning international enforcement of 1874 has been our priority, as well as trying to get the diplomatic process underway. I would just say that there’s – all of the five parties are very concerned about recent developments and about what’s going on with North Korea’s behavior. I think there is an ongoing discussion about the best way to move the diplomatic process forward, and that hasn’t been fully resolved yet. So there will be ongoing discussions. It’s just the formatting question is still up in the air.
QUESTION: Will Ambassador Goldberg be on the trip as well?
MR. MARCIEL: I don’t believe he’s planning to be on the trip.
QUESTION: During the trip, do you expect any treaties to be signed between the two countries?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY BLAKE: Any treaties?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY BLAKE: No. I think there’ll be agreements, but I don’t think we’ll be signing any treaties.
QUESTION: And after the G-8 declaration on NPT and transfer of nuclear technologies to non-NPT countries, there are some apprehensions in India about the future of Indo-U.S. civil nuclear agreement. Can you address those concerns?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY BLAKE: I don’t think there should be any apprehensions about the future of the civil nuclear agreement. I mean, the Secretary and the President are fully committed to that agreement. I think the Indians are also fully committed. They’re going to be, I’m sure, moving forward to file a declaration of safeguarded facilities with the IAEA, which is sort of the next step in that process, and then we’re going to start reprocessing talks, probably either later this month or in August.
So all of that is very much on track. And as I say, those will – we’ll also be starting some bilateral cooperation with – hopefully with the announcement of these two nuclear sites. So I would discourage any talk that somehow the agreement is off track.
MR. KELLY: Down at the end of the table.
QUESTION: Yes, Howard LaFranchi with Christian Science Monitor. To return to Iran a minute, as my colleague noted the various concerns coming up in Congress about relations, especially in the energy sector, India and Iran. And I’m wondering, first of all, if the Secretary has been in contact with – speaking with members of Congress about their concerns before taking this trip, and also if she’ll be taking those concerns to her meetings in India.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY BLAKE: The Secretary has had a number of contacts with members of the Hill on both sides to sort of brief them on her trip, and she got a variety of different pieces of advice about issues to raise. And I’m sure Iran was one of them, so --
QUESTION: Mr. Blake, Nina Donaghy from Fox News.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY BLAKE: Hi.
QUESTION: There was a lot of speculation a few months ago that the U.S. might appoint a special Kashmir envoy. Can you talk about that at all or shoot it down?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY BLAKE: I can assure you we are not going to appoint a special Kashmir envoy. This is longstanding U.S. policy that this is an issue that needs to be worked between India and Pakistan, and we do not have plans to appoint an envoy.
MR. KELLY: First Warren, and then after that Nick.
QUESTION: Warren Strobel with McClatchy Newspapers, also on India and Pakistan for Secretary Blake. Did the United States play any specific role in getting this meeting together tomorrow between the premiers of India and Pakistan? And what would you like to come out of it in terms of reduced tensions that would allow Pakistan to focus more on its western border?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY BLAKE: Well, first of all, we did not play any role. I mean, this was set up entirely between the two countries. And as I said earlier, it’s a continuation of some of the previous contacts they’ve already had.
In terms of what we’d like to see come out of it, obviously, we want to see greater understanding and progress particularly on the issue of Pakistan moving forward with prosecution of those responsible for the Mumbai attacks. And there’s some early indications in the Pakistani press that the charge sheets are going to be filed as early as next week on that, which certainly would be a positive step forward.
MR. KELLY: Nick Kralev.
QUESTION: Bob, there’s been some concern by refugee NGOs about the Pakistani Government coming out of this call to refugees in Swat to come back to their homes, feeling that it’s not safe enough. And do you support the Pakistani Government’s determination that it’s safe, or do you have concerns like the NGOs?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY BLAKE: Well, I think it’s just important for Pakistan, like all countries, to observe international standards on this and not force refugees to go back into Swat. But to my knowledge, they’re not doing that. And we have been working very closely with the Pakistani Government. We’re the largest single bilateral donor to the whole process. We’ve committed more than $300 million to helping the IDPs, and we’ll continue to be very, very engaged.
MR. KELLY: Over here to the right now.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) from the Telegraph. Mr. Blake, you mentioned the end use monitoring agreement likely to be signed on Monday. Are you also likely to sign the other two --
ASSISTANT SECRETARY BLAKE: I didn’t make a prediction on that. I just said we hope to.
QUESTION: Are you also likely to sign the other two defense-related agreements that have been hanging (inaudible)? And also, I understand Mr. Anthony will be out of Delhi on Monday, so who do expect to sign the agreement with the defense minister?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY BLAKE: The agreement would be with her counterpart, Foreign Minister Krishna. The end use monitoring is the only one that’s on the table for the moment.
MR. KELLY: Yes, on the left.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) about five-party talks. Is the U.S. in the position to actively convince China to hold such kind of talks, or U.S. is rather passively supporting the idea?
MR. MARCIEL: I hadn’t quite thought of it in those terms. I would just say that we’re having continuing discussions with all of our five-party counterparts about the best way to move ahead, including the right format and form mechanism. But so there’s – we’re not passive, but there’s a lot of discussions going on.
MR. KELLY: Yeah, go ahead.
QUESTION: Mr. Marciel, there’s a report that the U.S. was going to be signing the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation. Can you just confirm that and just give a --
QUESTION: I’m sorry, I couldn’t hear the question.
QUESTION: The Treaty of Amity and Cooperation.
MR. MARCIEL: The ASEAN.
MR. MARCIEL: We have been working toward that end since the Secretary in February announced our intention to begin the interagency process for accession to the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation. So I can tell you that that work has been intensive, is continuing intensively. I’m hesitant to predict where we’ll be by Wednesday of next week.
QUESTION: But it’s a possibility?
MR. MARCIEL: It’s a possibility.
MR. KELLY: The last question.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) will the Secretary, by any chance, meeting the Burmese foreign minister on the sidelines of the ASEAN (inaudible)?
MR. MARCIEL: There’s no planned meeting. They will probably – they could be in the same meeting when she meets with her ASEAN foreign minister counterparts. But there’s no bilateral meeting scheduled.
MR. KELLY: Arshad, you have – okay, this is the last question.
QUESTION: A small follow-up. Can you address the symbolism of the Secretary’s decision to visit Mumbai? It’s not a place that secretaries of state always go, although I know some have in the past, and particularly in the light of the attacks of last year.
UNDER SECRETARY BLAKE: Well, I mean, I wouldn’t frame it just in that context. I mean, certainly the United States has been – expressed its condolences for those attacks. Our counterterrorism cooperation has increased significantly since those attacks. But there will be a much wider range of activities beyond simply any kind of commemoration of what happened there. As I said earlier, we’ll have some – Mumbai is the business capital of India, so we’ll have some very important interactions with the Mumbai business community. We’ll have this meeting with the women’s association, and we’ll have one of the – this community service event, too. So it’s a much wider – it goes well beyond simply the commemorative aspects that you talked about.
MR. KELLY: Okay. Thank you.
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