Special Briefing
Ian Kelly
Department Spokesman
Remarks to the Press
Washington, DC
August 21, 2009

MR. KELLY: Hey, guys.


MR. KELLY: How are we all doing? What’s on your minds?


MR. KELLY: I’ll say one thing at the top. There’s going to be a statement of the G-8 foreign ministers coming out very soon that we just approved on the Afghan elections. No surprises there, but they basically congratulate the people of Afghanistan for successfully conducting the elections, condemning the insurgents for trying to disrupt the elections, and calling on all the different candidates and their campaign offices to exercise restraint and not speculate on results before the results are out. And that just so happens to be – those are basically our lines as well.

But other than that, I don’t really have anything at the top, so –

QUESTION: And this is a statement from the G-8 foreign ministers?

MR. KELLY: Yeah. It’ll be coming out – I mean, it’s been approved. The Italians will have to put it out.

QUESTION: So that means Secretary Clinton signed off on this?

MR. KELLY: Secretary Clinton signed off on it.

QUESTION: Where did she do the signing off at? (Laughter.)

MR. KELLY: She – I mean, this is something that she could do telephonically.

QUESTION: Yeah. Where was she?

MR. KELLY: Laughter.

QUESTION: So have the Clintons now left Bermuda, because –

MR. KELLY: Oh, jeez.

QUESTION: Yeah, I feel the same way about this. It would just be nice to know.

QUESTION: It’s got be answered.

MR. KELLY: No, she’s not in Bermuda.

QUESTION: She’s not in Bermuda anymore? She left?

MR. KELLY: She’s not in Bermuda.

QUESTION: Is she in Martha’s Vineyard?

MR. KELLY: I don’t know where. Frankly, I don’t know where she is.

QUESTION: Did they leave this morning?

MR. KELLY: I’m not sure when they left.

QUESTION: Ian – there are pictures of them walking on the beach in Bermuda in the New York papers.

MR. KELLY: Okay.

QUESTION: So why can’t you just say that they left, that they –

MR. KELLY: I said that they’re not in Bermuda.

QUESTION: No, you – you didn’t say that they left. Did it have anything to do with the storm coming in?

QUESTION: Why did they cut their holiday short in Bermuda?

MR. KELLY: Any other questions?



MR. KELLY: No other questions? Okay.

QUESTION: No, we have other questions, but what’s the weirdness about this? I mean, they’ve left Bermuda. There are pictures of them.

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

QUESTION: We’re not just asking you to be irritating.

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

QUESTION: I mean, we’re getting a lot of questions from people who want to know because they’re doing hurricane coverage, so they want to know, you know, do they need to have an extra team out there so they can see the Clintons leaving? I mean, this is a news story.

MR. KELLY: Yeah. Well, they’re on vacation. We don’t think it should be a news story.

QUESTION: Well, it’s too late. It already is. Did they leave Bermuda today to get out of the way of the storm?

MR. KELLY: They did not leave Bermuda today. They left Bermuda yesterday.

QUESTION: Okay. And are they in Martha’s Vineyard now because of Chelsea’s –

MR. KELLY: I do not know where they are. That’s the honest truth.

QUESTION: And can you please just either say – just deny these ridiculous rumors about Chelsea Clinton’s wedding?

MR. KELLY: No. It is not my role to talk about what Chelsea Clinton’s plans are. That is really inappropriate.

QUESTION: Ian, can you take it a little step further on their leaving Bermuda yesterday and say it was due to the incoming storm?

MR. KELLY: I really have no further comment on it. I mean, go ahead and – guys are – it’s your right to ask me questions, but it’s also my right not to answer the questions.

QUESTION: Okay. On another question that you probably won’t be able to answer either, on Lithuania, there’s this story on ABC and it’s been floating around about the CIA having secret facilities in Lithuania for detainees. Do you have any comment on that?

MR. KELLY: I – actually, I am not aware of these stories, and even if I were aware of these stories, why would I comment on an intelligence matter? You know what our policy is on commenting on intelligence matters.

QUESTION: Just got to ask.

MR. KELLY: Okay.

QUESTION: How would you describe Lithuania as an ally?

MR. KELLY: Lithuania is a very important ally. I mean, they are punching way above their weight in terms of contributing to NATO operations. At least when I was at NATO, they were in charge of a PRT in Afghanistan. So thank you for the question.

QUESTION: Including hosting detainees?

MR. KELLY: Sorry?

QUESTION: Including hosting detainees? (Laughter.)

MR. KELLY: You guys are ornery.

QUESTION: Ian, there’s some reports that the voter participation rate in southern Afghanistan is around five percent. I mean, does that trouble you? I know you don’t want to jump ahead to the results –

MR. KELLY: Yeah, we really don’t want –

QUESTION: But I mean, these reports are starting to become fairly prevalent that there was extremely low turnout.

MR. KELLY: Yeah. Yeah. Well –

QUESTION: Does it tell you something?

MR. KELLY: We – I think – I really want to be very careful not to characterize the legitimacy – comparative legitimacy of these elections before we have all the data. That figure strikes me as very low. I don’t think we’ve really – I mean, that is not what we’ve been hearing.

QUESTION: It’s not what you’ve been hearing?

MR. KELLY: No, that seems – I mean, it’s possible that there are some isolated polling places that had those kinds of figures, but there were thousands of polling places. But overall, that figure strikes me as low.


Ian, a different subject. There was an incident in the Black Sea when Georgian ships tried to stop Abkhazian ships.

MR. KELLY: Uh-huh.

QUESTION: Is there any comment that State Department could make on this incident?

MR. KELLY: I have – I’d have to see the reports, Peter. I don’t – I’m not aware of it.

QUESTION: Ian, on Libya.

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

QUESTION: It appears the Libyan’s didn’t heed your warnings not to welcome him as a hero yesterday. Do you have any reaction to that?

MR. KELLY: Well, I think first of all, the images that we saw yesterday of this convicted terrorist, mass-murderer coming off a plane and being greeted with great elation – I mean, these personally to me were very offensive. And if they were offensive to me, I can only imagine what the families of the victims of that act in 1988, how they responded to these kinds of images.

And I would say just as a general principle that we’ve taken Libya off the list of State Sponsors of Terrorism. We’re looking forward to productive relations with Libya. We have – we’ve got a fully functioning embassy there. It is – Libya has made every indication to us that they want to put this in their past, this – their connections with terrorism in their past. So I think we’re going to be watching very closely in the days and weeks ahead to see that, indeed, they do want to put these kinds of incidents in their past. And I think celebrating this man who was convicted in a court of law as a terrorist would, of course, cause us to question that, indeed, they do want to move to a new phase in our relationship.

QUESTION: But there are no plans to block Qadhafi from getting a visa to come to the UN General Assembly.

MR. KELLY: I am not aware of any plans to block him from coming.

QUESTION: You mentioned that you did –

QUESTION: Pop his tent in Central Park (inaudible).

QUESTION: You didn’t take him off the state sponsors -- you did mention you didn’t take them off the state sponsors list. Isn’t this a demonstrable incident of state sponsorship of terrorism?

MR. KELLY: Well, I’m not going to take an event – a single event at an airport and this single data point and say that this is going to cause us to totally reconsider our relationship with Libya. But as I said before, we will be watching, as they go forward, how this man is treated.

QUESTION: Ian, what are you looking for them to do going forward?

MR. KELLY: Well, I mean, we understand that he has been taken to his home. He’s still there at this town called Sebha. I’m not sure exactly where it is. As you know, we did – as the President indicated yesterday, we did ask them to put him under house arrest. We haven’t – they haven’t informed us officially what his status is while he’s in there, while he’s in his house. But, I mean, today is the first day of Ramadan. Libyan Government offices are closed. And we’ll just this – as I say, we’ll be watching to see how this is handled.

QUESTION: Do you have reason to suspect that the Scots and the UK would do this for business reasons? Seriously.

MR. KELLY: Yeah. No, I’m just not going to speculate on that, Indira. That’s not my place.

QUESTION: The sale of jet fighters from BAE?

MR. KELLY: You know what? You’ll have to talk to my counterpart in London about that, I think.

QUESTION: But would you say that the early signs are not good, that Libya wants to move ahead with a better relationship?

MR. KELLY: Well, again, this is – we’re talking about an event in an airport right now. I mean, that was an extremely unfortunate public display. But let’s see how things play out.

QUESTION: And the fact that Saif – that Qadhafi’s son went to pick to him up and was on that plane, is that an indication? Does that concern you as well that there’s been such a public demonstration of support for him by the Qadhafi family?

MR. KELLY: Well, again, I think we’ve made it quite clear that they need to be very careful and need to be very sensitive to the feelings of the families, and they need to restrain themselves from celebrating a convicted terrorist.

QUESTION: Well, when was that? When was that last – message last delivered? I mean, if you say that today is the first day of Ramadan, Friday, Libyan offices are closed, did the ambassador or anyone else make any representations to the Libyans?

MR. KELLY: Yesterday.

QUESTION: Yesterday?

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

QUESTION: After the plane had landed?

MR. KELLY: Before the plane landed.

QUESTION: And then after?

MR. KELLY: I’m not aware of what –

QUESTION: Well, have you – has your outrage at the greet – at his welcome been conveyed to the Libyan Government directly, or is it just –

MR. KELLY: It has – I mean, he arrived last night in the evening. I’m not sure if we had any kind of contact today, frankly, in Tripoli. I do know that Jeff Feltman did call in the Libyan Ambassador, and that would have been, I think, after he arrived.

QUESTION: Here in Washington?

MR. KELLY: I think.

QUESTION: Yesterday?

MR. KELLY: Yesterday.

QUESTION: They called him in last night, basically.

MR. KELLY: No, no, he called him in – it was the afternoon, but it would been night in Tripoli.

QUESTION: He telephoned him or he called him in?

MR. KELLY: I believe that he was called in. And I really will have to check that, because I’ve – I haven’t even cracked open my book. See here. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: Do you think it might be in your book?

MR. KELLY: It’s not in my book. I know it’s not in my book.


QUESTION: So we can’t say yet that he called him in?

MR. KELLY: Let us – let me – just let me check that with NEA, but I think that was the plan.

QUESTION: What would you do if the Libyans refuse to put him under house arrest?

MR. KELLY: I’m not going to speculate on what we’ll do and what we won’t do. But as I said before, what they do going forward is going to have some kind of effect on our relationship, but I can’t speculate right now what that will be.

QUESTION: What about on the other end of this with the Scots and the Brits?

MR. KELLY: Well, I mean, we had – as we’ve said a number of times, we’ve had a lot of engagement with them. I don’t know if we’ve had any engagement today. You know that we contacted them at a number of different levels from a number of different cabinet agencies, urging the Scottish authorities not to do what they did – release this man. But I just – I’m not sure what’s going to happen today.

QUESTION: Well, is there any repercussion?

MR. KELLY: Well, – we – as the Secretary said and the President said, we were deeply disappointed.

QUESTION: Yeah, but does that --

MR. KELLY: But we do respect their right to make this kind of decision.

QUESTION: Yeah, but states are not children as much as the Secretary might refer to the North Koreans. They don’t respond to deep disappointment, you know. That isn’t what – that’s not something that a state – that a sovereign country responds to. So are there any plans to do anything to demonstrate your displeasure?

MR. KELLY: Well, we have demonstrated our displeasure --

QUESTION: Well, other than just saying you’re deeply –

MR. KELLY: -- on multiple occasions and in very public fashion.

QUESTION: Other than saying you’re deeply disappointed, which as I said, it doesn’t have any effect on them?

MR. KELLY: Well, look, I mean, you’ve heard the term “special relationship” used. I mean, it’s become almost trite. But we have – we do have a very important relationship with Great Britain. And I would not – you said that states are not children. I would not really – I wouldn’t --

QUESTION: In terms of responding to the --

MR. KELLY: I wouldn’t improvise any metaphors --

QUESTION: Look, you say – when a parent tells a child that he’s disappointed in them --

MR. KELLY: -- regarding how you treat children who have done something that you don’t like, I mean, it’s – this is not – our relationship is such where we’re not talking about it in that way.

QUESTION: So, okay. So you’re not talking about any kind of punishment?


QUESTION: So it is okay to – you’ve essentially traded the justice for the victims of 170 Americans for the special relationship.

MR. KELLY: First of all, this was a decision by the Scottish Executive. Are you talking about --

QUESTION: I totally understand that.

MR. KELLY: -- imposing some kind of punishment upon the –


MR. KELLY: Scottish Executive or upon Great Britain? -

QUESTION: Yeah, or either of them.

QUESTION: No more golf at St. Andrews. That’s it.

MR. KELLY: We have to respect the right of countries --


MR. KELLY: Kelly – to make sovereign decisions.

QUESTION: And – okay, well, that doesn’t preclude you taking action when they do something --

MR. KELLY: Well, we did take action. I mean, we took –

QUESTION: You didn’t do anything.

MR. KELLY: No, I mean, we let them know that we disagree with them in the strongest terms.

QUESTION: Yeah, but in countries with whom we do not have a special relationship, we impose sanctions, we do all sorts of things to show our displeasure.

MR. KELLY: There’s no talk about imposing sanctions.

QUESTION: I know, but that’s what we’re – we’re talking about if this were not Great Britain, then –

MR. KELLY: Look, we disagreed with them. We disagree with our allies frequently. This is one where we deeply disagreed with them. But it doesn’t mean we’re going to impose sanctions on them.

QUESTION: I’m not – I’m trying to ask you whether you would do anything to punish them in a way that you would punish a country that we’re not a close ally for doing exactly the same thing.

MR. KELLY: The quick answer to that is no.


MR. KELLY: Dave.

QUESTION: Can I ask a couple about Iran? Ahmadinejad seems to have named as his defense minister a guy who was wanted by Interpol in the 1994 terrorist attacks in Argentina. And I just wonder if you have any reflection on that, the appropriateness thereof?

MR. KELLY: We’ve seen the press reports. I mean, I just saw them this morning. In fact, you sent it to me, which I appreciate. And clearly, if this report is true, and if this man is confirmed as a cabinet minister and he is wanted by Interpol for his involvement in a terrorist act, of course, this would be, again, disturbing. But there’s going to be a process in place here. I mean, he has to go – the whole slate has to go before parliament, so before that process plays out, we’ll withhold any comment.

QUESTION: If he were to come here for the UN General Assembly or something like that, would the U.S. take any action?

MR. KELLY: That’s a very good question. It’s a speculative question, but --

QUESTION: No, it’s not. If he’s wanted by Interpol and he arrives here in the U.S., what is the U.S. going to do about it?

MR. KELLY: I’ll just take that question, Kirit. I’m really not sure. Just I’m not sure of the various regulations and immunities of a UN visit. I’m just not sure.

QUESTION: Any comment on Iran agreeing to allow inspectors back in?

MR. KELLY: I will crack open that book now. We look forward to the IAEA’s forthcoming report on Iran’s compliance with its Security Council, NPT, and IAEA obligations, which we expect will comprehensively address all issues associated with Iran’s cooperation with IAEA. I understand that report is going to come out next week sometime. We’re going to withhold comment until that report is released. But I will underscore that Iran does have obligations to the IAEA and to the UN Security Council to suspend its enrichment and heavy-water reactor activities and to cooperate to address a full range of very serious questions that we have.

Just a few comments on these reported steps that they apparently offered to make regarding improving surveillance of the Natanz plant and access to the Arak reactor. These reported steps would not address the reason for its noncompliance nor constitute the full and comprehensive cooperation that’s required of Iran and would fall well short of Iran’s obligations.

And finally, I’ll just highlight that they still have not responded to our offer from April to join us in P-5+1 talks that the U.S. is willing to sit down and participate in.

QUESTION: Have you kind of given up on that? I mean, it’s been a long time. Do you think that that’s just not coming now?

MR. KELLY: No, we have not given up on it. I think you’ve seen the President has said that our patience is not infinite, that the timetable is not indefinite, but the invitation is still out there.

QUESTION: So you’re still thinking of the UNGA as your sort of deadline as to when you start --

MR. KELLY: I don’t think that we’re – UNGA, per se. I mean, obviously, there would be a lot of opportunities at UNGA to meet in a P-5+1 context, but UNGA is not necessarily the key date here.

QUESTION: Ian, South Korean? Are you sending anyone to the Kim Dae-jung’s funeral?

MR. KELLY: We are. But that announcement will come out of the White House.

QUESTION: It already has.

MR. KELLY: It has? Oh, okay.

QUESTION: Ambassador Bosworth.

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

QUESTION: And they said that --

QUESTION: And Bosworth.

QUESTION: And Harold Koh.

MR. KELLY: Bosworth is going, too. Yeah.

QUESTION: And I was going to ask is there any chance for him to meet with the North Korean while he’s over there?

MR. KELLY: There’s nothing planned that I’m aware of. I’m glad that announcement is out that because --

QUESTION: Speaking of North Koreans, where are the two North Korean diplomats?

MR. KELLY: I’d refer you to the mission of North Korea to ascertain that.

QUESTION: Yeah, and would you give me – what do you think the odds are of me getting an answer from the mission of North Korea?

MR. KELLY: Probably slim to none.

QUESTION: Mm-hmm. And you’re still comfortable doing that?

MR. KELLY: That’s really all I can do, Matt.

QUESTION: Did they – well, you talked about them going to New Mexico.

MR. KELLY: Yeah, that’s because that was public knowledge.

QUESTION: Well, it has since become public knowledge that there are other stops that they were planning as well. I’m wondering why that’s not --

MR. KELLY: Because we don’t – we just don’t talk about the itinerary that are filed – that is filed by other diplomats. It’s just not the kind of information we reveal.

QUESTION: Okay. We’re not doing very well on the Obama Administration transparency here.

MR. KELLY: We do our best.

QUESTION: Do you have any idea what they’re doing?

MR. KELLY: I understand they’re on personal travel. Well, actually, no. I’m not so sure that’s true. I think they had some other activities in New Mexico related to renewable energy.

QUESTION: That was yesterday.

MR. KELLY: That was yesterday? Okay.

QUESTION: Visiting Los Alamos. (Laughter.)

MR. KELLY: Bad news.

QUESTION: That’s today.

QUESTION: Is there anyone traveling with them? Does the State Department keep an eye on these people, or does anyone keep an eye on them?

MR. KELLY: I’m going to say no. But if I’m not being truthful, then I will get back top you. But that’s not normally something we would do.

QUESTION: So you let them roam around and take photographs of Los Alamos and --

MR. KELLY: This is the State Department. It’s not within the competency of the State Department.

QUESTION: Does someone from the government do it, if it’s not the State Department?

MR. KELLY: You’ll have to ask the law enforcement authorities to --

QUESTION: Well, it’s a diplomatic security issue.

MR. KELLY: No, it’s not, actually. Here in the U.S., it’s – those sorts of activities fall under the law enforcement.

QUESTION: Well, certainly the – so the police in Vegas are just supposed to know that the two Asian guys who got off the plane are North Korean diplomats?

MR. KELLY: Oh, no, I’m sure the law enforcement authorities have a complete – have all the data needed to – all the data of their itinerary, all their movements.

QUESTION: So in other words, you do share the information?

MR. KELLY: Yes, just not with the public.

QUESTION: Unless they’re going to New Mexico?

MR. KELLY: We do our best.

QUESTION: This is a unpalatable question, but if there is a change in the weekend over this celebrity story involving Chelsea Clinton, will you please – are you going to be putting anything out? I know it’s a personal issue, but --

MR. KELLY: No. The State Department’s not going to put anything out.

QUESTION: So you’re never going to confirm whether she’s in the Vineyard or not?

QUESTION: The Uighur American Association had a press release today that said Rebiya Kadeer’s buildings and houses in Xinjiang were being demolished. Have you heard anything about this, any comment?

MR. KELLY: You mean her – this is property that she owns in the province?

QUESTION: She has a restaurant, supposedly, on the top floor, and 30 members of her family still live in the building. Yes, owned in the province.

MR. KELLY: Yeah. I have not seen these reports. If – I mean, if there’s something – if there – I mean, if we have any comment, we’ll let you know, but I haven’t seen --

QUESTION: Could you put something out if you do find something on it?

MR. KELLY: Sorry?

QUESTION: Could you put something out on that as a TQ?

MR. KELLY: Yeah. If we have a comment.

QUESTION: Actually, and also, there’s a Guantanamo detainee who says that – whose lawyers say he’s going to be deported to – I can’t remember where it was – Bosnia, and they’re worried that he’s going to be sent from there to Algeria. Have you heard about this? I sent you something.

MR. KELLY: Yeah. No, I saw the email. No, I – that was news to me. I’ll check with Dan Fried’s office about it.



PRN: 2009/851

[This is a mobile copy of On-The-Record Briefing]

Short URL: http://m.state.gov/md128310.htm