Ian Kelly
Department Spokesman
Daily Press Briefing
Washington, DC
August 24, 2009


Index for Today's Briefing
  • ISRAEL/PALESTINIANS
    • Special Envoy Mitchell Travel to London
    • U.S. Places High Priority on Comprehensive Peace / Wants Regional Solution / Mitchell Laying Foundation to Resumption of Meaningful Negotiations
    • Israel Must Stop Settlement Activity / Palestinians Must Take Measures to Prevent Terror and Stop Incitement to Violence / Have Asked Arab States to Normalize Relations with Israel /
  • GERMANY
    • Foreign Minister Steinmeier and Secretary Clinton Discussed Opel / Department of Treasury Issue / No Comment on Substance of Diplomatic Communications
  • UNITED KINGDOM
    • British Government Denies Commercial Factor in Decision to Release Mr. Megrahi
    • U.S. Disappointment Regarding Decision / Distinction between U.S. Position on Specific Decision and U.S. Relationship with Great Britain and Scotland
    • Government of Great Britain to Handle Any Kind of Investigation
    • Distinction between Government of Britain and Government of Scotland
    • Great Britain a Close Ally / Decision Sent Wrong Signal to Families and to Terrorists / Not Seeking Retaliation
  • LIBYA
    • Celebrations of Megrahi's Return Extremely Disturbing / Continuing to Lionize Him Will Have Negative Effect on Relationship / Looking Forward to Productive Relationship with Libya / U.S. Closely Watching / Haven't Looked at Concrete Steps
    • Meetings with Libyan Officials
    • Discussing Visits to UNGA with UN and New York City Officials
    • Urge Foreign Leaders to be Sensitive to Concerns of Victims of Terrorist Attack
  • SUDAN
    • Special Envoy Gration in Addis Ababa Facilitating Discussions with Darfuri Groups / Building Cohesion in Support of Doha Peace Process
    • Special Envoy Gration in Cairo Discussing Efforts to Advance Darfur Peace Process and Improve Regional Security
    • Announcement of New Policy Soon
  • HONDURAS
    • U.S. Supports Visit by OAS Foreign Ministers / Imperative that All Parties Support San José Accord
  • IRAN
    • Reserving Comment on Potential Minister of Defense Until He Takes Up Position
  • UNITED ARAB EMIRATES
    • U.S. Would Be Happy to Discuss Concerns with America's Cup organizers and UAE
  • NORTH KOREA
    • Support Dialogue between North and South Korea / Welcome Meaningful Steps Leading to Reduction of Tension
    • No U.S. Contact with North Koreans at Funeral of Kim Dae-Jung
    • Have Seen Helpful Steps in Thawing the Relationship between North and South Korea / No Specific Movement towards Resuming Six-Party Talks


TRANSCRIPT:

1:19 p.m. EDT

MR. KELLY: Welcome to the State Department and welcome back to several colleagues I see out there who I haven’t seen for a while. I really – I don’t have anything at the top except to say that I want correct a sort of minor misimpression that I may have given some of you guys Friday and over the weekend. As you know, George Mitchell’s going to be meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu in London. I said it was tomorrow. It’s, in fact, Wednesday, Wednesday morning. So I just want to make sure that was – that the record was corrected on that.

And let me put my glasses on and then I will take your questions.

QUESTION: Can I ask about that?

MR. KELLY: Yeah, please.

QUESTION: Just for – very briefly. What are you hoping to get—what is he hoping to get out of this meeting?

MR. KELLY: Well, I think – you know that we have placed a very high priority on getting a comprehensive peace – comprehensive in the sense that we want a regional solution to the problem. And we wouldn’t want this solution to be based on a two-state solution. What we’re trying to do right now is we are trying to lay the foundation – or what George Mitchell is trying to do is lay the foundation that will lead to the resumption of meaningful negotiations. And this is part of that whole process. There have been some reports that we’re close to a breakthrough. I think I would say that – I would characterize it as that we’re getting closer to an agreement. But any reports that we’ve come to an agreement, or that we expect one on Wednesday necessarily, I would have to call premature.

But I will say that we hope that this particular phase of the discussions will end very soon.

QUESTION: Well, wait a second. When you say you’re getting closer to an agreement, you mean you’re getting closer to an agreement with the Israelis that could allow resumption of --

MR. KELLY: We’re getting closer --

QUESTION: -- the talks?

MR. KELLY: Exactly. And we’re getting closer to laying this foundation where everybody’s comfortable to coming and sitting down and talking.

QUESTION: It’s got to be an – but it’s not just with the Israelis, right? I mean, are you also getting closer to an agreement --

MR. KELLY: Right. That’s right, but --

QUESTION: -- with the Palestinians and the Arabs in some --

MR. KELLY: -- we’ re now – I’m focusing on the Israeli part of it because of the meeting on Wednesday.

QUESTION: Well, basically, doesn’t it all center around an agreement with Israel to stop settlement activity?

MR. KELLY: Well, I think, obviously, this is the part of this foundation that we are focusing on with the Israelis. But as your colleagues pointed out, it’s not just Israel. The – of course, Israel has to stop all settlement activity. But there are also – there are also things that the Palestinians have to do to --

QUESTION: Well, I know, but --

MR. KELLY: -- taking measures to prevent terror and stopping incitement to violence.

QUESTION: Right, but it doesn’t – it doesn’t see that – it doesn’t seem that anybody is willing to take any steps until Israel commit – or even start negotiations until Israel commits to stopping settlement activity. So it sounds like this is the whole linchpin --

MR. KELLY: Well, I wouldn’t call it the linchpin. I mean, as I say --

QUESTION: Really?

MR. KELLY: -- it’s something that we’re focusing on because this is the next step in the process, the meeting on Wednesday.

QUESTION: Well, how would you assess the progress? Is there progress in the U.S. convincing the Israelis to actually stop?

MR. KELLY: Well, Jill, I don’t want to get too much into detail about what the details are of our talks with the Israelis or with anybody else. This is because we want to make sure we have a good outcome here and we don’t want to get too much into detail. I’ll just --

QUESTION: But can you say --

MR. KELLY: -- just say that we’ve – that we’re more hopeful that we can get to the point where we can resume these talks.

QUESTION: But I mean, just to define “getting closer,” what does that mean? Why do you think you are getting closer?

MR. KELLY: I just – I don’t want to go into the details of exactly why, but just to say that we are – we’re hopeful that we can resume very soon.

QUESTION: Well, you going to have to forgive us a little bit of skepticism, because on this issue in particular, and especially during the last administration, after talks had actually begun post-Annapolis, we were consistently being fed this line that progress is being made in the talks, that the two sides were going – and there was never any proof that it was. And we were just asked to take this at face value, and it turned out that there wasn’t any progress.

MR. KELLY: Well, I certainly --

QUESTION: So --

MR. KELLY: -- I appreciate that, and that is your --

QUESTION: Well, it’s not mine.

MR. KELLY: No, that is your role --

QUESTION: It’s actual --

MR. KELLY: -- as media representatives to be skeptical.

QUESTION: Yeah, but I mean, that’s the basic fact of the matter of what was happening.

MR. KELLY: This has been a --

QUESTION: We were told consistently that there was progress being made, and, in fact --

MR. KELLY: Okay. Well, that was then and this is now. But I take your skepticism.

QUESTION: Two – just two things. One, you said Israel has to stop all settlement activity. That includes so-called natural growth?

MR. KELLY: That includes so-called natural growth.

QUESTION: What about existing construction? Are they supposed to halt --

MR. KELLY: I think we’ve been very clear that all means stop all construction.

QUESTION: Even units that are currently under construction?

MR. KELLY: That has been our position very consistently.

QUESTION: Because, I mean, reportedly, the deal under discussion involves that some of the units currently under construction could be finished?

MR. KELLY: Yeah, I’m not aware of the details of any deal like that.

QUESTION: And you said – is a time-limited freeze for cessation acceptable to the U.S. Government?

MR. KELLY: Well --

QUESTION: Or does it have to be indefinite?

MR. KELLY: You’re getting into areas where I don’t really want to get into because of the sensitive nature of our negotiations.

QUESTION: Well – well, but leaving aside the issues of a precise time, does it have to be indefinite?

MR. KELLY: Again, you’re getting into details that – I mean, it doesn’t serve anybody’s purpose for me to discuss what those details are.

Yeah.

QUESTION: A Kuwaiti newspaper has conducted an interview with Israeli President Shimon Peres three days ago. How do you view this gesture?

MR. KELLY: What was the suggestion?

QUESTION: This gesture.

QUESTION: Gesture.

MR. KELLY: I’m sorry.

QUESTION: It’s the first time – it’s the first time that a Kuwaiti newspaper interviews an Israeli official.

MR. KELLY: Yeah. Well, I mean, I would – I mean, I think you know what our policy is in terms of what we think should be done to attain this regional solution. I told you what – with respect from the Israelis, and what we inspect from the Palestinians. But we also have been clear that we have asked Arab states to take steps to normalize their relations with Israel. And any steps that would lead to that kind of outcome I would encourage.

QUESTION: Do you view this interview as a step –

MR. KELLY: Yeah, I haven’t seen the interview, so I don’t want to characterize the interview per se. I’ll just say that we have been asking Arab states to take steps to normalize their relations with Israel.

QUESTION: Change subject?

QUESTION: Related to the call from President Lula --

MR. KELLY: No, wait. I think Arshad had --

QUESTION: Sorry, I was going to --

MR. KELLY: I think Arshad had –

QUESTION: Just a quick one.

MR. KELLY: We’ll get to you in a second.

QUESTION: Can you comment on – what can you tell us about the conversation that Secretary Clinton had with German Foreign Minister Steinmeier? When did it happen? Who initiated it? Did the issue of GM’s possible sale of its Opel subsidiary come up? Who raised that? What was the substance at least on that?

MR. KELLY: Yeah, yeah. Well, in terms of the details on the call, the call took place on Saturday. It was initiated by Foreign Minister Steinmeier. He did speak to Secretary Clinton, and they did discuss the issue of Opel. But beyond that, I don’t want to get into the details of their conversation.

QUESTION: Did he raise Opel, or did she?

MR. KELLY: I believe he raised Opel.

QUESTION: And we have unnamed Administration officials saying that the U.S. Government does not intend to take any position on who GM or its board may decide to sell Opel to, should it sell Opel.

MR. KELLY: Mm-hmm, yeah.

QUESTION: Is that correct that the U.S. Government does not plan to adopt a position on that matter?

MR. KELLY: Arshad, I’m not trying to punt this over to – well, actually, I am trying to punt this over to the – (laughter) -- Department of Treasury. But I do think that this is a policy matter for the Department of Treasury.

QUESTION: Okay. And last thing on this, and the reason I’m asking is that when what is actually a commercial matter comes up at a – you know, at a political level, right, it leads to – people to suspect that the government, though it’s loaned a huge amount of money to General Motors, is actually going to take some kind of an active, you know, role in a corporate decision. And I’m essentially trying to see if you can help steer us toward or away, or steer people toward or away that impression in this instance.

MR. KELLY: I think you’re really – you’re getting into – again, a Department of Treasury issue. It’s a – I don’t think I want to wade into –

QUESTION: If it’s a –

MR. KELLY: If you want me to see – I mean, there – I’m sure that there is a State Department position on this that we can give you, but this is a pretty sensitive issue that relates to markets and government involvement in the private sector, and I don’t think it’s appropriate for me really to comment. But if there is a State Department angle to this, I’d be happy to give it to you.

QUESTION: Well, if there isn’t a State Department angle to it, why was the Secretary speaking to the German foreign minister about it? Why, if this is a Treasury issue, why isn’t Secretary Geithner speaking to the German –

MR. KELLY: You’ll have to ask the German Government.

QUESTION: Was that a –

QUESTION: What?

QUESTION: Was it a lengthy –

MR. KELLY: No, not a lengthy –

QUESTION: Why would she – you know, why would she take the – if this is a Treasury matter, it doesn’t have anything to do with her or the State Department.

MR. KELLY: He’s her colleague. She took the call.

QUESTION: Well, I know.

MR. KELLY: But like I say, I’m not going to tell you about the – I will tell you what was on the agenda, but I’m not going to tell you exactly what was discussed.

QUESTION: But I don’t understand why she was talking – if it’s not a State Department issue, why was she talking about it at all?

MR. KELLY: Well, it was a State Department issue because her foreign minister colleague had called her –

QUESTION: So in other words, her part of the conversation was, this is really a Treasury issue, Frank-Walter, so we should --

MR. KELLY: Well, like I say, I’m not going to – I’m not going to go into the substance of the call.

QUESTION: You should tell your guys to get in touch with Secretary Geithner?

MR. KELLY: Not going to go into the substance of the call.

QUESTION: Was there any substance to the call?

MR. KELLY: Yes, there was. Of course there was.

QUESTION: Well, then how can you say it’s a Treasury issue?

MR. KELLY: Maybe they talked about something else, too.

QUESTION: Was there substance on Opel or just there was substance in the call?

QUESTION: Any substance?

MR. KELLY: They discussed the Opel sale.

QUESTION: That was the sole purpose of the call?

MR. KELLY: As I understand it.

QUESTION: Then –

QUESTION: And did she say, you really have to deal with Treasury on this?

MR. KELLY: I told you I’m not going to tell you what she said.

QUESTION: Was it a lengthy call?

MR. KELLY: It was not a lengthy call.

QUESTION: Is the State Department going to have a role in this issue or did she --

MR. KELLY: In what issue?

QUESTION: In this Opel issue? Is the Secretary of State getting personally involved in the Opel issue, or did she say to the guy, deal with Treasury?

MR. KELLY: You’re asking me to tell you what she told him.

QUESTION: I’m asking you whether the State Department is – I don’t –

MR. KELLY: I’m not – I just told you, I’m not going to get into what she said.

QUESTION: Okay. Well, is the State Department going to have a role and the Secretary of State going to have a role in this issue? I mean, you opened up the door. I really don’t even care, but now that you opened it. (Laughter.)

MR. KELLY: I think Arshad opened up the door.

QUESTION: Look, just so we’re clear, you said that that was the first subject of the call, correct?

MR. KELLY: As far as I know.

QUESTION: Okay. And you said that there was substance in the call?

MR. KELLY: Well, yeah, they talked.

QUESTION: Well, you can talk without substance, as we have just demonstrated for the last 10 minutes -- (laughter). But --

MR. KELLY: Well, look, --

QUESTION: Just answer whether the –

MR. KELLY: – we don’t comment – and here I’m reading – on diplomatic – the substance of our diplomatic communications.

QUESTION: Okay.

QUESTION: Well, but you can just answer whether or not the Secretary of State is going to have a hand in this issue. It has nothing to do with the call, in the Opel issue.

MR. KELLY: On what issue? What issue are you referring to?

QUESTION: Yes.

MR. KELLY: What issue?

QUESTION: The Opel issue.

MR. KELLY: What’s the Opel issue?

QUESTION: Yes, the Opel issue.

MR. KELLY: I mean, for me to comment, you’ve got to tell me what the issue is.

QUESTION: On who General Motors sells the subsidiary to, if anybody --

MR. KELLY: That’s not a State Department issue.

QUESTION: Well, then why is she taking calls on it?

MR. KELLY: Because this is the foreign minister. I think we can move on, please? Can we, please? Thank you.

QUESTION: Libya?

MR. KELLY: Please. Libya.

QUESTION: Let’s get even more exciting.

There are some pretty serious allegations, speaking of commercial interests, that allegedly this release of the Lockerbie bomber was because of commercial interests – oil, gas, et cetera – between Britain and Libya. Is there a position that you, as the State Department, have on this? Do you believe these allegations? What do you think?

MR. KELLY: Well, I really – I have to really refer you to the British Government. We are not aware that this played a role in the decision to release Mr. Megrahi. I think you have multiple senior British officials who have denied this, and I will take what they said on face value.

As far as our position on the release of Mr. Megrahi, you have many different senior officials, U.S. officials, commenting on that and our deep disappointment about the decision. But we will take what the British Government has said about this as the final word on it. I’ve seen British officials denying that there was any commercial factor in this decision.

QUESTION: But taking it a step further, you have some pretty strong words going back and across -- across the Atlantic. The Scottish former chief prosecutor says that he’s appalled that the head of the FBI would make comments that he did, setting his face so openly against Scotland. What is this going to do to the relationship between the United States and Britain, and what will it do also to this nascent relationship with Libya?

MR. KELLY: Yeah. I think you have to – I would urge everyone to make a decision – I’m sorry – make a distinction between what we’ve said about this decision per se, which we think was a mistake and sends the wrong message. Make a decision – make a distinction between this particular decision and whatever feelings we have or relationship that we have with Great Britain and with Scotland. I mean, I would discourage anyone from assuming or drawing the conclusion that we are somehow going to retaliate against the Government of Great Britain or against Scotland. I mean, we have an important relationship with Great Britain and also with Scotland, and we have no plans to retaliate against them.

QUESTION: Are you launching–

QUESTION: What about an investigation?

QUESTION: Yeah.

MR. KELLY: I’m sorry.

QUESTION: What about an investigation? Senator Lieberman wants an investigation.

MR. KELLY: An investigation into the possibility that they made the decision based on commercial –

QUESTION: Yes. He said there are just too many allegations out there.

MR. KELLY: Well, I think that’s something for the Government of Britain to decide for themselves.

QUESTION: Whether you’re going to launch an investigation into whether they –

MR. KELLY: Well, I don’t think we would launch an investigation.

QUESTION: Well, I mean, this guy was released – a Scottish decision. The U.S. is protesting it strongly that the decision was made.

MR. KELLY: Right.

QUESTION: Now there are these allegations that the deal was linked to, you know, these oil deals –

MR. KELLY: Those are serious allegations.

QUESTION: Friday – when the allegations came out Friday, you had a very strong statement about the allegations that if it were true, it was, you know – it was inappropriate or – I don’t remember the exact words you used, but you came out very strongly on Friday. So you have – so is the United States looking into these allegations, or – you know, the – Britain said that it isn’t and you’re taking them at – this government is taking it at its word and the issue is over?

MR. KELLY: No, I don’t think the issue is over. I think – well, a couple things. One is, this is up for the Government of Great Britain to handle any kind of investigation into allegations. The British system is one of the most open and the political system is one of the most freewheeling in the world. And if there are serious allegations that there was some kind of deal to be made – something that’s been vehemently denied – I would imagine that this would come out in Britain.

QUESTION: But I mean, doesn’t the United States want to follow these investigations further? It’s one of the – before 9/11, it was the largest terrorist attack against U.S. citizens.

MR. KELLY: I’m not sure what that – what this – the relation to Megrahi has to do with it.

QUESTION: It means that the majority of passengers onboard were American –

MR. KELLY: Right.

QUESTION: And you’ve been – you’ve been kind of advocating on behalf of these families the whole time.

MR. KELLY: Sure.

QUESTION: You protested his release.

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

QUESTION: And now you say that it’s up to Britain to investigate itself into these allegations?

MR. KELLY: Yeah. It is. It is up to Britain to investigate itself. It’s not up to us.

QUESTION: But Ian, if the British Government really ignored the advice, the counsel from the United States, its biggest friend in the world, doesn’t that hurt the relationship to know that they just basically ignored what you advised them to do?

MR. KELLY: Well, again, making the distinction between the Government of Britain and the Government of Scotland. I mean, this was clearly within Scotland’s purview to make the decision. We made demarches. We made diplomatic representations in both London and in Edinburgh, but the decision was in Edinburgh. And the British Government made it quite clear that they would not intervene in the decision-making process of Scotland because of their devolution agreement. So let’s make that distinction, as we have already.

QUESTION: Ian, if you don’t plan – if you have no plans to retaliate, what exactly does a country have to do to draw some kind of punitive measure from the U.S., other than just saying you’re disappointed? I mean, whether you want to say this is the Brits or the Scottish Executive, they still freed a guy who was convicted of killing, you know, a lot of Americans. What exactly does a country – what draws more than just a slap on the wrist or some, you know, angry words?

MR. KELLY: Well, I – this – Great Britain is a close ally, and we, of course, have a very close relationship with them. We made it quite clear that we disagreed passionately with this decision, because we thought it sent the wrong signal to not only the families, but also to terrorists; that it wasn’t a good decision in terms of making sure that justice is done. But I really discourage you from thinking that we necessarily have to have some kind of tit-for-tat retaliation because of it. I just don’t see it.

QUESTION: Well, let’s turn –

MR. KELLY: Not with Britain.

QUESTION: Not with Britain? What about with Scotland, then?

QUESTION: Can we turn to –

MR. KELLY: Well, not with Scotland either.

QUESTION: Well, you made the distinction between the Scottish Executive and the British Government. Does that mean –

QUESTION: Could we turn to –

QUESTION: The government that’s – the Scottish Executive does not have the same relationship with the United States that the UK Government does.

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

QUESTION: For one, it’s pretty new.

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

QUESTION: And for another, you know, you don’t recognize Scotland as an independent sovereign country.

MR. KELLY: Right.

QUESTION: You only have, you know, two consulates in Scotland.

MR. KELLY: Right.

QUESTION: So if you’re not prepared –

MR. KELLY: (Inaudible.)

QUESTION: There’s not one in Glasgow too?

MR. KELLY: No, I think it’s just Edinburgh.

QUESTION: Burgh. So the – (laughter).

MR. KELLY: My father was born there. I know how to pronounce it. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: So if you’re not prepared to say that you’re going to look for retaliation against the British Government, why is there no thought of looking into something against the Scottish Executive?

MR. KELLY: I just don’t think it’s productive. Simply put, I don’t think it’s productive.

QUESTION: Well, it wasn’t productive to release this guy.

MR. KELLY: Of course it wasn’t, and we’ve said that very clearly.

QUESTION: Does it have any effect on the U.S. relationship with Libya? The President described the sort of welcome and the celebration as highly objectionable. Does this in any way temper the U.S. Government’s enthusiasm for improving relations with Libya, which have been, you know, on an upward swing for six years now almost?

MR. KELLY: I think that what we saw on Friday – was it Friday, or Thursday? I guess it was Thursday – these celebrations of his return was extremely disturbing. And we have made it quite clear to the Libyan Government, both publicly and privately, that we are going to be watching very closely how they receive this man. And if they continue to lionize him in a public fashion, that these kinds of public demonstrations can only have a profoundly negative effect on our relationship.

And I think as I said on Friday, we’ve been looking forward to a productive relationship with Libya, and we had hoped that Libya had put into the past its – the kind of relationship that it had with terrorism. And we want to see a Libya that cooperates with us, that shows clear indications that they’re prepared to put this in the past and move forward. So we will be watching very closely.

QUESTION: Well, wait a minute –

QUESTION: Are there actual – are there actual sanctions that you – I mean, since their December ’03 decision to – or the announcement that they had given up WMD, you’ve peeled off nearly all of the sanctions, or maybe all, that you had against them – the IEEPA sanctions, the State Sponsors of Terrorism. Are you – I mean, you said, “profoundly negative.” Are you actually thinking about concrete actions that you would take if this kind of lionizing of Mr. al-Megrahi continues?

MR. KELLY: No, I think it’s premature for me to say that we’re actually sitting down and considering concrete actions that we would take. But we are watching very closely.

QUESTION: Okay. You said that you would continue to watch and that – you said if they continue to lionize him. Okay, so we saw the pictures on Thursday.

MR. KELLY: Right.

QUESTION: And then you said that. You said we’re going to be continuing to watch him. On Friday, you saw more celebrations. On --

MR. KELLY: No, no, we’ve seen more celebrations on Friday?

QUESTION: On Saturday, Colonel Qadhafi met with the guy and kissed him and said that he’s innocent. So I mean, did you continue to watch this over the weekend? And have you – I mean –

MR. KELLY: I sure did.

QUESTION: Well, I’m saying, have you – you know, you say you’re going to continue to watch, but haven’t they done enough to kind of have a – already have a profound effect on the relationship?

MR. KELLY: Well, I won’t stand up here and say it hasn’t had an effect, because it has had an effect.

QUESTION: What?

MR. KELLY: These kinds of demonstrations, of course, are going to affect our–

QUESTION: What was the effect?

MR. KELLY: Well, I mean, it’s going to affect how we look at the relationship. Again, we haven’t looked at concrete ways, concrete steps to take.

QUESTION: Well, then it hasn’t had an effect?

MR. KELLY: It has had an effect in a general way.

QUESTION: You’re still engaging with Libya the way you were last Monday.

QUESTION: Have there been any discussions with Libyan --

QUESTION: Right?

QUESTION: -- officials since he arrived home?

MR. KELLY: Well, I mean, we --

QUESTION: A week ago, the U.S.-Libyan relationship –

MR. KELLY: -- we haven’t had any engagements with the Libyan Government. I mean, I think we did today but – because they’re open for business, but they were – I don’t even know if they are open because it’s Ramadan.

QUESTION: But you said that you’ve included them in public and in private --

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

QUESTION: -- which implied to me that you had actually spoken to Libyan officials in private. Is that not correct?

MR. KELLY: Well, we have – we sent in our embassy to the ministry of foreign affairs on Thursday to caution them against public -- what’s being called in shorthand against a hero’s welcome for Mr. Megrahi. Assistant Secretary Feltman also met with the Libyan Ambassador on August the 20th and just passed on these messages that we would urge them to refrain from these kinds of public displays.

QUESTION: Well, what about since then?

QUESTION: Was the ambassador called in, or is that not the right term --

MR. KELLY: That’s – I understand that he himself asked for a meeting here at the Department, that the Libyan Ambassador asked for a meeting.

QUESTION: But what about since then, though? I mean, this was before he left.

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

QUESTION: What about since he’s gotten home? Has there been any kind of representation to the Libyans since Friday?

MR. KELLY: Yeah, I’m not aware. I’m not –

QUESTION: Can you take it?

MR. KELLY: Yeah, we can – I’ll find out.

QUESTION: Did you just misspeak when you said, “We sent in our embassy to the Minister of Foreign Affairs?” You meant the ambassador, I assume?

QUESTION: Or the chargé.

QUESTION: The chargé – the Chargé d'Affaires?

MR. KELLY: The chargé. I think the ambassador is not in town.

QUESTION: Chargé.

MR. KELLY: Chargé, yeah. Sorry, I did misspeak.

QUESTION: Just – what – is there any demonstrable difference in your relationship with Libya and the U.S. relationship with Libya today from last week or two weeks ago?

MR. KELLY: You know, Matt, I can’t point to something in particular, no.

QUESTION: So nothing has been – no meetings have been canceled, no –

MR. KELLY: Not that I’m aware of. I don’t think we’ve had any meetings scheduled to cancel.

QUESTION: Is the Secretary going to meet with the foreign minister at UNGA?

MR. KELLY: It’s too early for me to say.

QUESTION: Well, do you think that what’s happened will have an effect on whether she decides to meet with him?

MR. KELLY: Well, I mean, that meeting, if it takes place, will be over a month from now – not over a month – about a month from now.

QUESTION: Well, but haven’t they – but if you’ve seen, like the hero’s welcome that you asked them not to give, they’ve already given it. So I mean, I’m asking if what’s happened thus far has had an effect.

MR. KELLY: Well, we’ll see. We haven’t scheduled any meeting with the Libyan foreign minister, and we’ll make our decisions on whether or not to have such a meeting based on what happens in the next month.

QUESTION: Well, what about what’s happened in the last 72 hours?

MR. KELLY: Like I say, we have not scheduled anything. I don’t know what the decision is.

QUESTION: New subject?

MR. KELLY: Yes.

QUESTION: Can you give us an update on Scott Gration’s meanderings? And when do you expect some announcements on Sudan?

MR. KELLY: I can give you an update. He was in Addis Ababa over the weekend, this Saturday. He was facilitating discussions with various Darfuri groups, trying to build cohesion and unification in support of the Doha peace process. I will say that four groups that agreed to return to the Doha peace process for broader, more inclusive, peace talks for the first time since 2005, the United Resistance Front and three splinter factions of the Sudan Liberation Movement have agreed on a common approach to the peace process. Yesterday, he was in Cairo, where he had meetings. They discussed – they focused in their discussions on coordinating efforts to advance the Darfur peace process in Doha and improving regional security. And I’m not sure when he comes back.

QUESTION: Does this get us closer toward a new policy in Sudan – the announcement of a new policy?

MR. KELLY: I’m sorry. Say that again?

QUESTION: Does this get us closer to an announcement of a new blueprint of a new –

MR. KELLY: Let’s wait until Mr. Gration gets back. I know that we’re going to be announcing a new policy very soon. We’ll wait until he gets back and has a chance to debrief us on his trip.

QUESTION: When will he be back?

MR. KELLY: Again, I’m not sure. I think it’s very soon, though.

QUESTION: Can I ask you a quick one on Honduras?

MR. KELLY: Yes.

QUESTION: What is the U.S. Government’s view of the visit by the OAS foreign ministers to Honduras? And we’re now two and a half months, I think --

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

QUESTION: -- away from their planned elections.

MR. KELLY: Right.

QUESTION: -- if those elections go forward, essentially, the coup instigators will have won, as it were.

MR. KELLY: Yeah, yeah.

QUESTION: So what’s your view on the meeting by the – on the visit by the OAS foreign ministers and what do you hope will come out of this?

MR. KELLY: Yeah. Well, it’s pretty simple. We firmly support their visit. They’re meeting today and tomorrow. They just – they departed this morning. They asked for U.S. aircraft to take them from Miami to Honduras. We – per the request, we provided them with a C-17. As I say, they’re meeting today and tomorrow with members of the de facto regime. This mission is in support and is a complement to the Arias plan, the San José Accord.

We believe that it’s imperative that all parties involved support this accord and move forward to resolve this political crisis. And we continue to believe that the Honduran people deserve a peaceful negotiated agreement to which all parties are – can commit and that this accord presents the best opportunity for this kind of agreement.

QUESTION: Going to a little bit south, South America, I have two questions, two situations that happened during the weekend, starting Friday, the call from President Lula to President Obama. He – I think there was – the comment from the U.S., the report was not very extensive, but in the Brazilian press, it was said that Lula requested Obama to participate with a UNASUR meeting. There is a huge UNASUR meeting going on Friday in Argentina. And Celso Amorim said that maybe somebody from the State Department may assist you. Do you have any reports on that?

MR. KELLY: Well, I know that there was the call. Of course, I have to refer you to the White House on the details of the call. I think they did send out a short readout of the call. As far as the UNASUR meetings are concerned, let me see if I can get you more information from our Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs. I believe our position is is that this is a matter for the region themselves to decide the –

QUESTION: Well, it’s based on the U.S. bases on the –

MR. KELLY: I know that’s a major subject of the meetings. But let me see if I can get you more information on what the U.S. – what the thinking is on the --

QUESTION: Also on the weekend, there was a harsh response from Iran to Argentina related to the minister of defense that the Argentinean justice is requesting for the bombing of the AMIA institution. And Iran said that Argentina was interfering in their internal affairs.

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

QUESTION: Is there any position of the U.S. on these, or you are following on this --

MR. KELLY: Yeah. I think that – I mean, we discussed this on Friday a little bit. And what I said was if – I mean, they are aware of these reports that he’s wanted by Interpol. I think that there’s a process that has to play out here, that – I mean, this man hasn’t become a minister. He has to go through parliament and get confirmed. And I think we’ll reserve comment on him, in particular, until after this whole process plays out.

QUESTION: Do not know yourself if he’s wanted by Interpol?

MR. KELLY: I –

QUESTION: I mean, not personally, you, but, I mean, doesn’t the U.S. Government know if he’s --

MR. KELLY: Yeah. Well, I believe he is. But yeah, he is, but –

QUESTION: So what – but what difference does it make if he is – takes up his position or not? I mean, don’t you want him to – if he is wanted, to be arrested and tried?

MR. KELLY: Well, he hasn’t taken up his position.

QUESTION: Well, what difference does it – once he takes up a position, he’ll have immunity, at least in Iran. And I mean, what difference does it make whether he has actually got the job or not? If he’s a private citizen running around in Iran, but still wanted by Interpol, then you don’t really care that much? It’s only if he becomes a government official that’s it’s a problem?

MR. KELLY: Well, we’ll deal with the situation when it arises. But right now, we’re just deferring comment.

QUESTION: Just a quick one on something completely different, regarding the America’s Cup. Apparently, Oracle, the company, has voiced some concern about the choice of – I think it’s Ras al-Khaimah in the United Arab Emirates as the venue. Does the State Department share – I guess there’s some concerns that it’s close to Iran, whatever, there could be security concerns for American citizens. Has State taken a position on that, or --

MR. KELLY: I’m not aware that we have taken a position on it. I mean, we have close cooperation with United Arab Emirates. And I’m not sure that we’ve had any kind of concern – safety concerns regarding it. I saw the press report. We would be, of course, more than happy to talk about these concerns with both the organizers and with the Government of United Arab Emirates. But beyond that, I don’t have anything else I can say.

QUESTION: I have one more on Libya, if you don’t mind. Colonel Qadhafi is supposed to be coming to the UNGA and pitching a tent in Englewood, New Jersey at the home of a Libyan diplomat, which is just, like, miles from some of the bombers – some of the bombing victims’ families. Do you have any position on whether that’s appropriate?

MR. KELLY: Well – whether it’s appropriate. I think what I can say about this, Elise, is that there’s a couple of factors here. Of course, we as the host of the United Nations, have certain obligations regarding transit to and from UN headquarters of leaders attending UN meetings. So there’s that issue. There – I do know that we have been talking to the UN about this issue. We’ve been talking to New York City authorities about the issue of where Mr. Qadhafi is going to stay. But no decisions have been made and –

QUESTION: Well, allegedly, he’s made the decision to stay in Englewood, New Jersey, pitching his tent there because he can’t do it in Central Park.

MR. KELLY: Yeah, well --

QUESTION: And when you say that you have obligations about transiting to and from headquarters, does that mean that that’s an inconvenience for you or –

MR. KELLY: No, no, no. I’m just saying that there’s a number of governing authorities here. Of course, we have – there are local government concerns about these kinds of issues. There are – but there’s also international agreements that we have. I’m just giving you, sort of, general background. I – no decision has been made about where anybody is going to pitch a tent.

QUESTION: Well, do you think it’s advisable for him to kind of pitch his Bedouin tent in the middle of an area where many bombing victims’ families are living?

MR. KELLY: I would urge any foreign leader to be sensitive to the concerns of victims of the most horrific terrorist attack before for September 11th affecting American citizens.

QUESTION: But I mean, particularly Qadhafi, you don’t think that that’s kind of poking an eye – another poke in the eye of – these victims’ families that have already been victimized by this bomber’s release?

MR. KELLY: Well, let’s – yeah. Before we pronounce on this, let’s see where this ends up because as I say, it’s still in the discussion stage.

QUESTION: Well, what do you make of Qadhafi’s track record in the last couple days on heeding your urgings to be sensitive to the victims of this horrific attack? How does he stand on the Ian Kelly scale?

MR. KELLY: (Laughter.) I’m going to decline to comment on that.

Yes.

QUESTION: A question North Korea. When North Korea delegation meet South Korean president yesterday, North Korea suggest to have a summit between Kim Jong-il and South Korean president. So do you support – do you have any comment on that?

MR. KELLY: Well, I think, as a general principle, as you’ve heard many times, we support a dialogue between North Korea and South Korea, and we welcome meaningful steps that lead to a reduction of tension on the Korean Peninsula. About any kind of proposed summit, though, I mean, I don’t have any details of the discussions that they had that I can share with you. And I just have to refer you to the Government of South Korea.

QUESTION: Do you know if there was any contact between the official U.S. delegation that the President sent, led by former Secretary Albright, and the North Koreans who attended the funeral?

MR. KELLY: I was told there was no contact between our delegation --

QUESTION: Not at all?

MR. KELLY: – and between members of our delegation and North Korean representatives there.

QUESTION: And when you say “your delegation,” you mean the ex officio people as well as the current officials, right?

MR. KELLY: No members of the United States delegation to the funeral of Kim Dae-jung met with the North Koreans.

QUESTION: One more on North Korea?

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

QUESTION: There, as you’re well aware, have been a series of gestures by the North Koreans that – in recent weeks that seem to be sort of conciliatory. And I wonder if you – that gives you any hope that there’s any kind of a shift in the North Korean stance on the nuclear issue, or do you feel that it’s the same as it ever was and that they need to come back to the Six-Party process, et cetera, et cetera? What’s your take? Does this suggest any kind of an opening or an opportunity in your dealings with the North Koreans to try to coax them back onto the denuclearization path?

MR. KELLY: Well, I would say that we’ve seen some – we’ve seen some helpful steps in thawing the relationship between the North and the South, between North Korea and South Korea, in a bilateral basis. In terms of opening up some kind of dialogue, I mean, I understand they – as we were just talking about, they had a meeting on the margins of the funeral. But I would not say that we’ve seen really any progress toward our oft-stated goal and our clear position that we want to engage with North Korea to discuss this denuclearization issue in the Six-Party context. We’ve very firm on that. We’re willing to talk with them bilaterally, but only in this multilateral context.

And I mean, there’s a very clear reason for that. The Six-Party Talks are arranged so the real regional stakeholders around North Korea, the countries that have a real stake in the denuclearization of North Korea, are our partners in the Six-Party Talks, and we want to make sure that they’re enfranchised in these talks. That’s why the denuclearization talks have to take place in that Six-Party context.

QUESTION: And you see no sign that they’re any more into doing that?

MR. KELLY: I have not seen any sign, no. I mean, I’ve seen – obviously, the atmospherics of the last month or so are certainly more productive than we were seeing when they were shooting off missiles and detaining journalists, and so I will say that.

QUESTION: But -- just to complete the thought, the atmospherics are better but --

MR. KELLY: But, I don’t see any real specific movement towards resuming the Six-Party Talks. Their position on that is clear.

QUESTION: When you say that the atmospherics was more productive, you’re including the trip with Bill Richardson in that?

MR. KELLY: I wouldn’t know, because that was unofficial. I wouldn’t necessarily include that on there.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MR. KELLY: I’ve got one – go ahead.

QUESTION: There are reports in Pakistan that hundreds of houses have been rented out by the U.S. Embassy for the employees of the – excuse me – Blackwater Xe, because State Department has ordered security contracts for them. Can you give us little idea how big will be the presence of Xe or Blackwater in Pakistan?

MR. KELLY: How big it will be in Pakistan?

QUESTION: Yeah. I mean, how big will be their presence? How many employees? Because there are reports that several hundreds houses have been rented in Islamabad.

MR. KELLY: Boy, I’ll have to get you more information on that. I’m not aware of Xe having a contractual arrangement with the Embassy in Pakistan.

Last question, yeah.

QUESTION: Do you have any more comment today, rather than -- Friday, you didn’t have anything on this report about Rebiya Kadeer’s house being demolished?

MR. KELLY: No, I’m afraid I don’t. We don’t have any other information on that. Sorry.

Thanks, very much.

(The briefing was concluded at 2:04 p.m.)

DPB # 143

[This is a mobile copy of Daily Press Briefing - August 24]