Ian Kelly
Department Spokesman
Daily Press Briefing
Washington, DC
August 18, 2009

Index for Today's Briefing
    • Secretary Clinton's meeting with Colombian Foreign Minister
    • Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration Eric Schwartz to give a briefing Wednesday, on the occasion of the inaugural commemoration of World Humanitarian Day
    • Ambassador Goldberg's travel to Asia
    • Secretary sending Cheryl Mills to attend President Obama's debriefing with President Clinton
    • North Korea remains under a number of UNSC sanctions related to missile launches
    • Delegation representing the de facto regime will meet with OAS and Acting Assistant Secretary Kelly
  • IRAN
    • No update on three missing American hikers
    • Taken Question concerning traveling restrictions imposed on Palestinian-Americans
    • Human Rights Report Sent to Congress
    • Condolences sent over Death of former President Kim Dae-jung
    • Launch of Satellite
    • Missing American in custody/ has had consular access/ no formal charges have been made
    • Senator Webb's visit to Myanmar
    • U.S. concerns on Burma's human rights abuses


1:14 p.m. EDT

QUESTION: Welcome back.

MR. KELLY: Hey, guys. Yeah, thanks. Good to be back in the house. Welcome to the State Department. As you know, Secretary Clinton is going to meet with the Colombian foreign minister this afternoon. Primary topics for discussion will include the conclusion of the U.S.-Colombia Defense Cooperation Agreement and, of course, the ongoing situation in Honduras.

Foreign Minister Bermudez is in Washington for high-level discussions covering a wide range of issues of mutual interest. I believe he also has a meeting over at the National Security Council with General Jones later. We hope to have a readout for you after the press availability. Our colleagues in the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs have offered to arrange something, so we’ll give you more information on that in an hour or so.

Also tomorrow, we hope to have Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration Eric Schwartz to give a briefing to you. This is on the occasion of the inaugural commemoration of World Humanitarian Day. He will talk, of course, about issues affecting refugees around the world, and that should be at noon tomorrow.

So with that, I’ll turn it over to your questions.

QUESTION: Okay, can I ask you – this Colombia thing, are they actually going to sign this agreement?

MR. KELLY: No. We’re – I think as P. J. mentioned yesterday, we’re very close. We have an agreement in principle, but we’re not – I think it’s going to be a few more weeks before we actually sign it.

QUESTION: And they are having a press conference. Presumably, that will be a readout. What time is this press conference supposed to be?

MR. KELLY: Well, the press conference – well, the meeting is 4:15 --

QUESTION: You’re pushing like 5:30 in the afternoon.

MR. KELLY: Sorry?

QUESTION: It’s a little late for the summertime to be doing another briefing after a press conference is –

MR. KELLY: Yeah, I know. I know. Well, it’s totally voluntary. The meeting is at 4:15. The press avail will be after that, so around 4:45.

QUESTION: So we can expect to have a briefing around 6:00, 6:30? Is that what you’re talking about?

MR. KELLY: 5:05.


MR. KELLY: Yeah, Libby.

QUESTION: A question on North Korea. President Clinton will be in the Situation Room later today to brief President Obama about his visit to North Korea. Why won’t the Secretary of State be there? It seems a bit unusual that she wouldn’t want to participate in that.

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

QUESTION: Or not that she wouldn’t want to, but that she isn’t.

MR. KELLY: Well, I – she has a previous – she’s got a conflict, this meeting that we discussed, this meeting with the Colombian foreign minister. She is going to send a person that she thinks is appropriate to participate in this meeting. This is her Counselor and Chief of Staff Cheryl Mills. But it’s simply a matter of trying to juggle schedules.

QUESTION: Can you explain what Cheryl Mills – what her role was in Bill Clinton’s mission?

MR. KELLY: Ms. Mills was the Secretary’s point person in dealing with the issue of Ms. Lee and Ms. Ling and their detention in North Korea. So she was the person who coordinated our efforts.

QUESTION: And what – I don’t know how much you know about how much she’s been briefed by her husband about the visit, but can you tell us anything about that?

MR. KELLY: Well, I have no doubt that he did share his impressions with her, but you know it’s our longstanding policy not to discuss the substance of conversations between the Secretary and either of the two presidents she deals with – one former, one present.


QUESTION: Do you have any update on the meeting today with the delegation from Honduras with, I think, Assistant Secretary of State Craig Kelly?

MR. KELLY: Yeah. Craig Kelly is the Acting Assistant Secretary of State. There is -- there is a delegation representing the de facto regime, which is in Washington today. They have meetings at the headquarters of the Organization of American States. The primary purpose, as I understand it, for this trip is for them to prepare the ground for a trip that’s being planned of a commission – I believe the foreign ministers from the OAS – that’s going to be going soon to Honduras.

Within the context of those meetings, there’s going to be a group of State Department officials who are going to meet with them again, within the context of trying to move this situation that we have towards a peaceful resolution, towards restoration of democratic and constitutional power in Honduras. So it’s within that context that State Department colleagues are going to be meeting with this group. But it in no way – I’d like to emphasize this in no way is meant to imply any kind of acceptance of the de facto regime in Tegucigalpa.

QUESTION: And it’s going – sorry.

MR. KELLY: Yeah, go ahead. You had a follow up?

QUESTION: It’s going to be for the Arias process?

MR. KELLY: Yes. Yeah.

QUESTION: Nothing –

MR. KELLY: It’s within that context, yeah.


QUESTION: A number of U.S. citizens of Palestinian origin who are not dual nationals have complained to the consulate in Jerusalem and to the State Department that when trying to enter Israel, they’ve been receiving stamps that say, “PA areas only,” thereby not allowing them to enter into Israel proper, in violation of the Oslo Accords. At what level was this brought up with the Israelis, and do you object to this policy of discrimination against U.S. citizens?

MR. KELLY: Well, again – yeah, it’s hard for me to give you a comment on it because I’m not really aware of the specific details of this incident, so –

QUESTION: There was a travel advisory from the State Department saying that it was happening, but didn’t get into the details of what is being done about it.

MR. KELLY: Yeah. Yeah. Let me see if I can get you more information, because I just don’t know the details of it. I’m sorry.

Yeah. Yeah, go ahead.

QUESTION: On Mexico, what are the conclusions of the Human Rights Report that was sent to Congress last week, and also if the United States is ready to release the funds under the Merida Initiative?

MR. KELLY: I think this was addressed while I was on break. I believe the report has been sent up to the Hill, and I don’t think that we have gotten a response back from Congress on it. But I’m flying blind here a little bit. I’m afraid I don’t have all the details on that.


QUESTION: Any update on the (inaudible) three Americans arrested in Iran?

MR. KELLY: No, I’m afraid I don’t have any update on that.


QUESTION: Two questions on South Korea: first, has the U.S. decided who they’re going to send formally to former South Korean President Kim Dae-jung’s funeral? And also, does the U.S. have any comment on the South Korean satellite launch tomorrow that’s causing some attention?

MR. KELLY: Yeah. I think you all saw the statement coming out of the White House. Of course, we also join the people of South Korea in mourning the passing of former President Kim Dae-jung, and our sympathies, of course, go out to his family and to the people of South Korea. He was an inspiring leader and a symbol of the Korean people’s democratic aspirations. And as you know, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in 2000 for his contributions toward peace on the Korean Peninsula.

Regarding who we will send to the funeral, which I believe is next week, that will be a White House decision. So I would refer you to the White House on that.

Regarding the launch of the satellite, I don’t really have any comments on it, other than to say that we’ve regularly consulted with the Government of South Korea on a number of issues relating to security. We know that they’ve developed their space launch program in a responsible manner. And of course, they’re a signatory to a number of international agreements regarding nonproliferation. And beyond that, I don’t really have any further comments.

QUESTION: So does that suggest that you don’t believe that North Korea – the North Koreans have developed their space launch program in a responsible manner?

MR. KELLY: Well, as you know, the North Koreans are under a number of UN Security Council sanctions relating to their ballistic missile program, and the UN Security Council called on them to suspend all activities relating to --

QUESTION: Right. But you don’t see – you don’t see that South Korea’s launching a ballistic missile for the reasons that – for reasons that the North claimed they were launching theirs for, as in any way destabilizing the situation?

MR. KELLY: Well, as I said, the North – the South Koreans have developed their program in a very open and transparent way and in keeping with the international agreements that they have signed onto. This is in stark contrast to the example set by North Korea, which has not abided by its international agreements.


QUESTION: Do you have any update on Ambassador Goldberg’s trip to Asia and what is he trying to – planning to do during --

MR. KELLY: Yeah, I believe I do, actually. Just hold on a second. Yeah, you know that he’s planning to travel to four cities in Asia. He is departing, actually, I believe today, for meetings in Singapore. And Friday he’ll be in Bangkok and then he will travel to Seoul for meetings in Seoul on Monday and then to Tokyo for meetings there.

And as you know, the purpose of this trip – this interagency delegation is to discuss the ongoing implementation of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1874. We expect he’ll have meetings, of course, with counterparts in the respective foreign ministries and finance ministries and other agencies involved in inspections and customs issues and the like.

QUESTION: I asked about this – or I told your office about this earlier. Do you have anything about an Ethiopian American – or an American citizen of Ethiopian descent who was from Minnesota who – and D.C., who has been in custody there for allegedly fomenting a rebellion?

MR. KELLY: Yeah. We’re aware of the situation. We’ve had consular access to him. We’ve ascertained that he’s in good health. We have been informed by the Ethiopian authorities that formal charges have not been made yet. We expect that he will be put on trial, but no date has been set. And we’ll continue to monitor the situation.

QUESTION: Do you have any reason to suspect that he’s guilty of what he’s being suspected of?

MR. KELLY: I have – I really do not have any information about any sort of charges that they’re considering against him.


QUESTION: Myanmar said that Senator Webb’s visit to Myanmar was a success.

MR. KELLY: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Do you have any comment on that unusual reaction from Myanmar?

MR. KELLY: I don’t have any specific reaction to that, to that comment. I would just say that while we were pleased that American citizen John Yettaw has been released, we continue to be very concerned about the problem of human rights in Burma, most particularly the fact that over 2,000 political prisoners remain in detention. And we will continue to make these concerns known to the authorities in Burma.

QUESTION: Do you think that their enthusiasm is a sign of something moving?

MR. KELLY: I’m not going to try and read into what’s in the mind of the Burmese officials.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MR. KELLY: Yeah, thanks.

(The briefing was concluded at 1:29 p.m.)