Daily Press Briefing
- U.S. is Working Hard with Partners for Goal of Restoring Democratic and Constitutional Order / Believe Best Solution is in the San Jose Accord / President Zelaya Has Meetings at Organization of American States / Secretary Clinton Plans to Meet with President Zelaya
- U.S. Has Not Made a Determination
- Suspension of U.S. Assistance That Supports Honduran Government / A Number of Diplomatic Activities Going On / MCC Assistance Must be Decided by Board / Decision Involves the Coordination with Other Authorities, OAS and Partners in Region
- Issue of Soto Cano Air Force Base
- Have Not Determined Arrangements for the Press / Possible Readout
- Project of Government Oversight (POGO) / Received Long Letter / Serious Allegations / Secretary Made Clear Zero Tolerance / Matter is Under Investigation / ArmorGroup / State Has Been Looking into Certain Deficiencies
- No Higher Priority than Safety and Wellbeing of Staff
- Various Security Programs / DS Has Role of Oversight of Guard Program
- Pakistani Government Aware of U.S. Concern / Khan Activity is Well known
- U.S. Has Engaged the Government of Pakistan at Highest Level
- Not Expecting an Iranian Representative / Would Review Any Proposal Seriously If One Given / P5+1 Proposal is for Engagement / US Prepared to Respond to Some Kind of Meaningful Response / IAEA Report Shows that Iran is Noncompliant / Iran Have Been Provided a Path / Would Like a Response That Certain Obligations Must Be Met and they Welcome Engagement
- Still Waiting for an Official Response / All Iranians Need to Do is Response to Proposal
- Not Certain if Iranian Leader Will Come
- UNITED KINGDOM
- Release of Letters / Issue is a Matter of UK Government and Scottish Authorities / U.S. Views Well Known to Scottish Authorities
- U.S. Disagreed with Decisions of Scottish Authorities to Release Megrahi / Understood Mr. Megrahi Would Serve Out Sentence
- Special Envoy Mitchell Meeting Tomorrow with Israeli Delegation in New York
- Expect Possible Statements to Come From Meetings
- U.S. Relationship with Japan is one of the Cornerstones of Peace and Security in Asia/ Welcome the Opportunity to Work with New Government
1:34 p.m. EDT
MR. KELLY: Good afternoon. I’d like to, first of all, make a few remarks at the top about Honduras, to give you an update. As you know, we’ve been working very hard with our partners in the hemisphere to reach our goal of restoring democratic and constitutional order in Honduras, and we continue to believe that the best solution to this is the San Jose Accord. As you know, President Zelaya is in Washington this week. He has meetings at the Organization of American States today. I’d refer you to them for further details on that. And on Thursday, Secretary Clinton plans to meet with him to discuss the best way forward on the situation in Honduras.
And with that, I’ll turn it over to you.
QUESTION: Does she expect to make the determination at that point?
MR. KELLY: Well, we still haven’t made the determination. I think you know the issues that are being considered here, but I can’t give you an exact time when that determination will be --
QUESTION: I understand the issues that are being considered.
QUESTION: It’s been more than two months now --
MR. KELLY: Yeah.
QUESTION: -- since the events transpired --
QUESTION: -- so one would – would think that one would have had enough time to judge whether it was a military coup.
MR. KELLY: Right. Well, we have taken the actions that we would be required to take if that determination is made, and that is that we have suspended assistance that goes directly to support the Government of Honduras. And you know what the issue at hand is a – it’s a provision of the Foreign Operations and Related Programs Appropriations Act of 2009.
QUESTION: Before you launch into the whole explanation of what exact – we already know what it --
MR. KELLY: Yeah.
QUESTION: -- exactly it is. What is the holdup?
MR. KELLY: We – as I said – as I’ve said many times, we have – there are a number of diplomatic activities going on. We are – we have done what we have to do under the law, and that is not to provide assistance to the Government of Honduras if the Secretary decides to make this determination. But she hasn’t made the determination yet.
QUESTION: Can you follow up on that? I mean, one big exception to that, as I understand it, is the grant money from the Millennium Challenge Corporation, which would also be – could be implicated in such a decision.
QUESTION: And it’s my understanding that the MCC has so-called notwithstanding authority, so their aid is not automatically cut off? Their board has to make --
MR. KELLY: Right.
QUESTION: -- an affirmative decision to do so.
MR. KELLY: I think that’s right, Arshad.
QUESTION: And that’s more than a hundred – I think it’s something like 111 – well, it’s more. But it’s more than $100 million that would have to be scrutinized and that’s much bigger than the 18 – about 18.4, I think, that’s already been suspended. So in a way, there’s a big, big chunk of money out there that’s going to have to be – on which decisions are going to have to be made.
MR. KELLY: Yeah. You’re right. I mean, in the case of the Millennium money and the Challenge Corporation, it is something that will have to be decided by the board. Of course, Secretary Clinton is a member of that board, and so we’ll see about what exactly we have to do with both the USAID – with the USAID programs, military programs, and the Millennium Challenge Corporation programs.
QUESTION: One other thing on this. I mean when, in response to Matt’s question, you said that there are a number of diplomatic activities that are underway, are we to understand it is the case that it is solely a question of the diplomacy, that – in other words, the hope that you can find a diplomatic solution, that is holding off the determination? Or are there other factors, perhaps within the U.S. Government, that are holding it up?
MR. KELLY: As I’ve already suggested, of course, it is a – it’s not just a decision that affects the Department of State and the Agency for International Development. There’s a number of other – another – a number of other avenues that we have to go down, including briefing Congress. We need to – we have to coordinate with the Department of Defense. All along, in this whole conflict that we’ve had around Honduras, we’ve had to, as well, coordinate with the Organization of American States and with our partners in the region. So there is quite a bit of coordination that has to go on.
QUESTION: And regarding the DOD, would this affect Soto Cano Air Base – Soto Cano Air Base, excuse me – would such a cutoff have any effect on that air base and U.S. use of it?
MR. KELLY: Well, obviously, the Department of Defense is best positioned to answer that question. As I understand it, it will – I mean, the military – I shouldn’t say that the determination will affect programs. The suspension has already affected a number of programs that the U.S. military runs. Soto Cano is a – it’s not our base. It’s a Honduran base. Again, you really should – you should get the nitty-gritty details on this from the Department of Defense, but I think that they have suspended their programs except for the kind of activities that you would need to support a base – guarding the perimeter and provisions and activities like that. But please do try and get those kinds of details from DOD.
QUESTION: Can you walk us through what this meeting on Thursday will look like, what kind of access we’ll have to it, what kind of readout there will be?
MR. KELLY: Well, we haven’t determined the arrangements yet for the press. I am – I feel confident that there will be some kind of – that there will be – it will be closed to the press. I mean, there will be some – you will have some kind of engagement with the two principals, but --
QUESTION: But will we be able to --
MR. KELLY: -- it hasn’t been determined. In terms of readout, of course we’ll be happy to give you a readout.
QUESTION: Will we be able to actually ask them questions?
MR. KELLY: That hasn’t been determined yet, so I can’t give you an answer to that yet.
QUESTION: New topic?
MR. KELLY: Yeah.
QUESTION: Can I ask you about a report by the Project of Government Oversight about the Embassy in Kabul that lists, among other things, incredible understaffing, long hours, extreme long hours of guards, improper training, a language barrier between the guards and the staff at the Embassy, and also hazing of new recruits of guards, which has been – some of which has been listed in letters from the State Department to the contractor complaining about some of this behavior over the last two years?
MR. KELLY: Yeah. Well, Elise, we have received a long letter from the Project On Government Oversight with quite a few documents attached. You make reference to some of them. Let me just say that these are very serious allegations, and we are treating them that way. As soon as we received the documents, they were turned over immediately to our Office of the Inspector General. Secretary Clinton has been apprised of the allegations in these documents and has directed the Department and the Office of the Inspector General to take appropriate action.
And let me just say that the Secretary and the Department have made it clear that we will have zero tolerance for the type of conduct that is alleged in these documents.
QUESTION: If I might, I’d like to quote from a letter from the State Department to the contractor in June of 2007. So this was two years ago that you recognized that some of these deficiencies exist and you said these deficiencies endanger the performance of the contract to such a degree that the security of the U.S. Embassy in Kabul is in jeopardy, and that you threatened to terminate the contract.
Yet over the last two years, there are about 11 letters that have been released not just by the project, but by Senator McCaskill’s office, who is in charge of the Subcommittee on Government Oversight, that you continued to warn the contractor about these deficiencies and that you said that the security of the Embassy is in jeopardy, yet why did you continue to extend the contract?
MR. KELLY: Well, as I say, these are serious allegations. What you just read me, I would – I think they’re very serious too.
QUESTION: These aren’t allegations. These are your own words. These are your own words.
MR. KELLY: Well, I – let’s --
QUESTION: I mean, if this report came out today, yes.
MR. KELLY: Yeah.
QUESTION: But over the last two years, you’ve been continuing to warn this contractor about its performance. So does it take an independent nongovernment organization to cast light on what you’ve been kind of overlooking for the last two years?
MR. KELLY: Yeah. I mean, look, as I understand it, we have – we’ve been investigating this organization for some time now. We understand that we have made some – we have pointed out to them some of the deficiencies. And I can’t answer right now from this podium exactly what they have done in response to this letter.
QUESTION: Well, in your letters, it says that they’ve continued to let them go unaddressed.
MR. KELLY: Well, let me see if I can get you more information. But I just don’t have the information right now. And the matter is also under investigation.
QUESTION: Can I follow up with that, though?
MR. KELLY: Sure.
QUESTION: In June when Senator McCaskill held hearings, the Assistant Secretary of – Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Management William Moser told the hearing that these problems have been looked at, and that since January, they had been addressed. So on what basis did he give that testimony when, according to the POGO report, this behavior, this whole pattern that Elise just sketched out, this --
MR. KELLY: Yeah.
QUESTION: -- whole pattern has continued up to the present day, up to August?
MR. KELLY: Yeah. Well, I’ll have to ask Mr. Moser. I’m not exactly sure what he was basing his determination on when he did tell Congress that these issues have been addressed.
QUESTION: Can you tell us if, up till now, the State Department has been satisfied with the performance of ArmorGroup in providing security for the Embassy in Kabul?
MR. KELLY: I’m just not prepared to say that right now. I mean, let me just see what we can say about this congressional testimony that you --
QUESTION: The letter says Secretary Clinton says that the contract – it says the management of the contract to protect the U.S. Embassy Kabul is grossly deficient, posing a significant threat to the security of the Embassy and its personnel.
MR. KELLY: Yeah.
QUESTION: And this is a now question. Is this the case? Are you worried about how well your staff is protected?
MR. KELLY: Well, we always worry about our staff and how well they’re protected. There is no higher priority for us than the safety and well-being of our people, especially our people who are serving in a dangerous environment, like Kabul.
QUESTION: And the question of language was raised, which is that many of the staff on this security contract don’t speak English, and indeed, the State Department was made aware of that. If there are lots of security staff, something like two-thirds, who don’t speak proper English, how can you make that assurance?
MR. KELLY: Well, you’re asking a lot of good questions. But I just – I can’t comment on them. One, I don’t have the answers to them right now at this moment from this podium. And two, the matter is under investigation. I can’t comment on it.
QUESTION: Well, why is this matter under investigation, Ian? It looks like it’s been under investigation for the past two years.
MR. KELLY: I’m sorry, Elise. I can’t answer it. I’m sorry.
QUESTION: Can you answer one other matter raised in the letter, which is that POGO is saying essentially the State Department has a pattern of ineffectual oversight, and that Congress or somebody ought to give the oversight of embassy security, when you’re in a war zone to the military? Now what’s the State Department’s position on that?
MR. KELLY: Well, again, these are very serious allegations. This is – these particular recommendations are from this particular organization. We’re happy to consider them. But these are extremely serious questions that you’re asking. And I want to make sure that you get a good answer to it, because as I say, the security of our colleagues serving overseas is an extremely serious matter.
QUESTION: When did this stuff, this material, get turned over to the IG?
MR. KELLY: I don’t have an exact time, but it was – as I said when I was first asked this question, they were turned over as soon as we got them.
QUESTION: Well, which was when?
MR. KELLY: Well, I think we got the material in the last week or so. But I don’t have any --
QUESTION: Well, if you got it in the last week or so – they’re talking about letters that go back two years.
MR. KELLY: Oh – well, I mean, it’s a matter --
QUESTION: You’re saying that the IG – the IG has not been looking in --
MR. KELLY: -- a lot of this is a matter of public record --
QUESTION: -- the IG has not been looking --
MR. KELLY: -- because we testified in June.
QUESTION: -- the IG has not been looking into this since 2007? Is that --
MR. KELLY: Matt, I don’t --
QUESTION: And it’s only since you got this stuff from POGO that you’ve looked into this?
MR. KELLY: I think that we’ve been looking into – separate from some of these very serious allegations of a more recent nature in the POGO documents, I mean, we have been – as I say, we have been communicating with Congress. I know that Congress does have concerns. And we’ve also been talking to the contractors too asking them to redress some of these deficiencies.
QUESTION: Well, has the IG been looking into it since 2007, since the --
MR. KELLY: That I don’t know.
QUESTION: Well, because if they have, and it’s been two years and nothing has been done, that would suggest that you have a problem.
MR. KELLY: Yeah. Well, I just don’t know the answer to the question of when they actually started investigating.
QUESTION: That’s –
QUESTION: Well, you know, can I just make – this is unwarranted advice, but you know, you have all this stuff, you know it’s coming out, the briefing gets delayed by an hour.
MR. KELLY: Right. Well --
QUESTION: One would think that someone in the IG’s office or in a legal office or somewhere that come up – you had to anticipate these questions coming.
MR. KELLY: I – Matt, I have told you what I know. And I’ve talked to the IG Office, I’ve talked to the Office of Diplomatic Security. I understand that they have been looking into certain deficiencies in their performance. And then as soon as we got these documents relating to – the documents that you see in the POGO report, those were turned over as well.
QUESTION: They’ve been on a congressman – they’ve been on Senator McCaskill’s website for months, since June.
MR. KELLY: All of these documents?
MR. KELLY: Yeah. Sorry, I wasn’t aware of that.
QUESTION: No, I mean, not the photos of these – of this lewd – not the photos of the lewd behavior. But I mean, all of these complaints that are in the report, you’ve been --
MR. KELLY: Yeah.
QUESTION: -- making to the contractor yourself over the past two years.
MR. KELLY: All right, all right. I really – I’ve told you really all that I know, and then – and I can’t really address a lot of these issue because they’re under investigation.
QUESTION: Just back to the issue of contract – of oversight of contractors, I mean, obviously, there was a huge issue of oversight over Blackwater.
MR. KELLY: Right.
QUESTION: And there were major revisions to the procedures and all of that stuff. Didn’t at that time, considering this was going on concurrently, I mean, isn’t there a need to kind of reevaluate all of contractor oversight of the State Department, not just in particular instances where there’s a – where there’s a case of abuse?
MR. KELLY: Yeah. Well, I – I don’t know if you recall, but the Secretary herself, and I think in one of her town halls, has said that it is her view that we have to lessen our reliance on contractors for security of our embassies. And so she’s asked for a review of the whole system. Whether or not we can move to banning them, I mean, I would highly, highly doubt that. There are contracts involved, and there’s also the whole issue, as I said before, of the importance of protecting our people. And this is not something that we can do overnight.
QUESTION: Could you explain – just a factual matter – what part of the security ArmorGroup is responsible for, where their responsibility ends and DS begins?
MR. KELLY: Yeah.
QUESTION: Whether the U.S. military has any role in protecting that compound.
MR. KELLY: Yeah, yeah.
QUESTION: And of course, there are also Afghan military forces --
MR. KELLY: Right, right.
QUESTION: -- on the perimeter as well.
MR. KELLY: Yeah, yeah. I can only address that in a very general way from my own experience as a Foreign Service officer serving overseas, and I haven’t served in Kabul. But I know that the – it’s the Regional Security Office which is in charge of security basically of our perimeter, and that is usually local guards that provide that. There’s also, of course, the Marine security guard program, and they – they’re more responsible for protection of classified information and also protection of the chancery. There’s also, of course, protection of Americans themselves. A number of embassies, including at least one I served at, had a residential security program as well, where you had local guards at our residences.
So that’s just kind of a general overview. But obviously, in a place like Kabul, it has its own challenges, to put it mildly. And there’s also coordination with the military as well.
QUESTION: Could you take that question and give us an outline of what they do there, their area of --
QUESTION: Specifically what their area --
MR. KELLY: Can you repeat the exact question that I’m taking?
QUESTION: Well, the exact question is exactly what is ArmorGroup responsible for?
MR. KELLY: Okay.
QUESTION: We were told it’s what they call static security and they don’t do the so-called close protection --
MR. KELLY: Yeah.
QUESTION: -- of moving around with the ambassador.
MR. KELLY: Right.
QUESTION: But that they are fairly – that they are in charge of, except for the most outer entry point, but really all the entry points, checking cars and all that.
MR. KELLY: Okay.
QUESTION: But if you could just describe that and what is DS’s role.
MR. KELLY: Sure. I mean, DS’s role, I think, is mainly to over – the oversight of the guard program. But that’s a good question, and we’ll get you the info on it.
QUESTION: And what is the oversight of this particular contractor? Does DS have an oversight of that contractor? Because in the whole Blackwater situation there was a lot of complaints that DS didn’t have enough oversight over the contractors. So who specifically --
MR. KELLY: Well, I do have a specific answer to that question.
MR. KELLY: The contracting officer is assigned here in Washington, D.C., and that person has overall responsibility for oversight of the contract and participates in weekly meetings between the program office and AGNA, or the ArmorGroup. And this person is also the one who has interactions on a more frequent basis --
QUESTION: From here?
MR. KELLY: From here in Washington.
QUESTION: So there’s no adult supervision of this contractor on the ground?
MR. KELLY: I’m getting to that.
MR. KELLY: In Kabul, there are two assistant Regional Security Officers designated as the contracting officer’s representative and assistant contracting officer representative, respectively. There is also always a duty RSO who deals with the routine guard force matters such as access requests and on-compound events.
So that’s – I guess that goes some way to answer your question. Right? It does appear that they do have the guard force responsibility.
QUESTION: Meaning the Armour Guard force?
MR. KELLY: Well, I mean, it’s an embassy guard force, and Armour has the contract for it.
Can we --
QUESTION: To guard the perimeter of the embassy? Is that what they do?
MR. KELLY: Well, let’s find out exactly.
MR. KELLY: New subject?
MR. KELLY: Okay.
MR. KELLY: Just a moment. Our concern over the potential for proliferation activities by Mr. Khan are well known to the Pakistani Government. We believe that he remains a proliferation risk. We’re following this closely, and of course, the Pakistani Government, as I say, is well aware of our concerns about Mr. Khan.
QUESTION: So why do you think he still remains a proliferation risk? Has been something come to your notice about this?
MR. KELLY: I’m sorry, say that one more time.
QUESTION: Why do you think so he still remains a risk to the international community?
MR. KELLY: Well, I just – his activities, I think, are well known. And we have concerns about them, and we’ve made those concerns known to the Pakistani Government.
QUESTION: When was the last time that you raised this with the Pakistanis?
MR. KELLY: I’m not sure of the answer to that.
QUESTION: Well, has it – I mean, this popped up last week or --
MR. KELLY: I think it popped up on Friday.
QUESTION: Friday. Exactly.
MR. KELLY: Yeah. I just – I don’t have an exact answer to that question. I’m sure we’ve had frequent contact with the government through our Embassy in Islamabad.
QUESTION: Do you believe that he’s just under house arrest and that he is still now in a position where he is not a proliferation risk given the measures that have been taken about his movement and his access to information?
MR. KELLY: Yeah. Arshad, I just don’t have the information to be able to answer that question.
MR. KELLY: Related? Okay.
QUESTION: Yeah. The Bureau of Atomic Scientists confirms that Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal is increasing 60 to somewhere to 70 to 90, and yesterday in Geneva, they refused to discuss disarmament, saying their national security is not being respected. Do you have a response to that?
MR. KELLY: I’m not aware of that report, so I don’t have a response to it. Yeah.
QUESTION: New topic?
MR. KELLY: Okay.
QUESTION: Can I go back to Pakistan?
QUESTION: Have you ever discussed with – State Department ever discussed with the Justice Department attempts to prosecute him? Isn’t there enough evidence in some countries, even in the U.S., to have him prosecuted for violation of various laws?
MR. KELLY: I’m not aware of that either. I’m afraid I don’t have an answer to that question.
QUESTION: One more on –
MR. KELLY: Iran?
QUESTION: No. One more on –
MR. KELLY: One more on A.Q. Khan?
QUESTION: There are some reports also in Pakistan that recently Pakistan has upgraded its missiles, and maybe A.Q. Khan has a hand, which was sold by the U.S. And is there any reaction from India to the State Department?
MR. KELLY: Well, I don’t – yeah, I think you’ll have to talk to the Government of India if they’ve had any reaction to these press reports. I mean, we’re – we’ve seen these reports in The New York Times. We take the possibility of any potential violations of obligations entered into pursuant to the Arms Export Control Act – we take these allegations very seriously. We have engaged the Government of Pakistan at the highest levels. We recently negotiated an agreement in principle to establish mutually agreed inspections to address possible modifications to any arms that we’ve transferred, and we’ve notified Congress of potential violations of obligations entered in pursuant to the Arms Control Export Control Act to ensure that key leaders are provided information on U.S. efforts to address them.
QUESTION: I’m sorry. Before the press – I mean, in the press in The New York Times, did Ambassador Holbrooke during his trip to Pakistan raise these questions with the Pakistani authorities?
MR. KELLY: Well, first of all, I’m not – I’m just – I’m talking in very general terms. I’m not addressing these – this particular allegation. And I’m not aware of any representations by Ambassador Holbrooke.
QUESTION: On Iran?
MR. KELLY: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: Iran says that it has prepared a counter-offer to your offer. I’m wondering if you’ve heard – if anyone in the P-5+1 has heard from the Iranians. Will this offer be discussed tomorrow at the political directors meeting, and will there be an Iranian representative there?
MR. KELLY: Well --
QUESTION: Were you expecting one?
MR. KELLY: First of all, we’re not expecting any Iranian representative tomorrow in Frankfurt. There is a – as you know, this is a meeting of the six political directors from the P-5+1 countries. And of course, the main item on the agenda is Iran’s nuclear program.
We’ve seen these press reports that they’re developing a new proposal. We have not received any proposal. We would review any proposal that they give us seriously, and in the spirit of mutual respect we would welcome the Iranian Government’s constructive response to the P-5+1 to their April 2009 invitation to meet face-to-face.
Moving forward with these discussions could begin to bring Iran into compliance with its international obligations and create confidence in the exclusively peaceful nature of its nuclear programs.
QUESTION: But just to be clear, you haven’t seen an offer or --
MR. KELLY: No, we have not.
QUESTION: And none of the other members of the P-5+1 --
MR. KELLY: Not to my knowledge.
QUESTION: Can I ask you about al-Megrahi’s return to Libya?
MR. KELLY: Any other on Iran?
MR. KELLY: Yeah.
QUESTION: What is your sense about – from their – what they’ve said? Are they willing to meet, or it’s just that they’re saying that they have a package to offer? Because --
MR. KELLY: We don’t have any understanding of that. I mean, all we’ve seen is what you’ve seen, is that there is one Iranian press report that purported to quote their Iranian – the Iranian nuclear negotiator that there was a new proposal. But we haven’t seen any new proposal and we haven’t received any answer to our proposals, the P-5+1 – the issues outlined in their declaration of April and our proposal to engage with them and talk about these issues, the nuclear issues.
QUESTION: When Jalili made his announcement, he blamed --
MR. KELLY: I don’t think he – did he make an announcement, though? I --
QUESTION: To the press in Iran.
MR. KELLY: Okay. Okay.
QUESTION: He blamed the West for the talks when they stopped last year, saying that the West did not want to go further because of what was going on in the world, the financial crisis, the Georgian war, and so on and so forth. So they basically put the blame on the suspension of the talks on the West.
MR. KELLY: Yeah.
QUESTION: Would you agree with that?
MR. KELLY: No. Look, I mean, we’re prepared to respond to some kind of meaningful response. We’re not going to respond to something that’s made through the media. The offer of the P-5+1 remains on the table, and we’re – we can respond to that when they respond officially. In the meantime, as we saw in the most recent IAEA report, they are not complying with their obligations to the international community and their behavior remains a matter of deep concern to us. And I’ll just say what I’ve said before, that we provided a path whereby they can become a full and respected member of the international community, and it’s up to them as to whether or not they want to choose that path.
QUESTION: One last one --
QUESTION: This is Iran-related. Have you – are you going to be on the nuclear issue?
QUESTION: Yeah. Still on the nuclear stuff, yeah.
QUESTION: Go ahead.
QUESTION: Thank you. Look, Ian, why shouldn’t one regard these reports of a new proposal that just happened to surface on the eve of a P-5+1 meeting and about three weeks in advance of the UN General Assembly when this is going to be a major subject of --
MR. KELLY: Yeah.
QUESTION: -- topic of conversation, why shouldn’t one regard this as something other than an effort by the Iranians to blunt the U.S. push to consider additional sanctions?
MR. KELLY: It may well be, but it’s just nothing that we can respond to because it’s not done – they still haven’t officially responded to our various initiatives.
QUESTION: And they haven’t given you anything, just not – not just they haven’t responded officially?
MR. KELLY: Well, to the best of my knowledge --
MR. KELLY: -- we have not received a response.
QUESTION: What would you consider a meaningful response?
MR. KELLY: A response that said we understand that we have certain obligations that we have to adhere to, and that they welcome a reengagement with us in the P-5+1 context to try and address some of these concerns that we have.
QUESTION: Have you heard anything from the Russians and the Chinese yet about what they --
MR. KELLY: Regarding the most recent press reports, you mean?
MR. KELLY: I’m not aware that we have received anything from the Russians (inaudible).
QUESTION: Because, related to Arshad’s question, it seems that, you know, oftentimes in the past on the cusp of big meetings or events, the Iranians have come out with statements like this talking about proposals which appear to be designed entirely to isolate the Russians and the China – or to keep the Chinese and the Russians from getting – from getting on board with the rest of the group on sanctions.
MR. KELLY: Yeah, yeah.
QUESTION: You don’t see that this --
MR. KELLY: You’re asking me to speculate on what their motives might be for this one statement being made to the media. It may well be, but it would be just speculation on my part.
QUESTION: Why do you keep – why do you keep referring to this as, you know, made to the media or press reports or some kind of --
MR. KELLY: Because we’re still waiting for an official response. They’re not talking to us. They’re talking to the media.
QUESTION: Well, you don’t think when Jalili gets up there as the chief negotiator and makes it – like what you’re doing right now, what you’re – you’ve given us the official --
MR. KELLY: I’m not a negotiator.
QUESTION: You gave the official U.S. – you gave the official State Department response to us about these allegations of the Afghan Embassy.
MR. KELLY: That’s my job.
QUESTION: Why isn’t Jalili?
MR. KELLY: Well, Mr. Jalili is their representative?
QUESTION: He’s a representative of the Iranian Government.
MR. KELLY: Right.
QUESTION: He’s a spokesman for the government.
MR. KELLY: Yeah, but I’m a spokesman. This is what I do. I talk to you guys. We’re waiting for him to respond officially to our --
QUESTION: Fair enough. Well, fair enough. But you get Bill Burns down here and tell us something, we’re going to report it as you said this, and the Iranians aren’t going to say, “Well, that’s just a press report.” They’ll take it as coming from – it’s coming from the government.
QUESTION: You said – you said from this podium – or not you, but previous spokesmen have said from the podium that we’ve present – we’re getting ready to present an offer to the Iranians. I mean, how do we know?
MR. KELLY: Yeah. We have made an offer to the Iranians and we made them --
QUESTION: I know, but – but before you did it, you told – you announced that you were doing it.
MR. KELLY: All right, look. This is very simple. They – all they need to do is respond to our proposal in some serious and official way.
QUESTION: Through what channel would you expect that to come through?
MR. KELLY: The – we don’t have an embassy in Tehran, but our partners in the P-5+1 have embassies.
QUESTION: Another one on Iran, if --
MR. KELLY: Yeah.
QUESTION: The Iranian president has apparently decided to come to the UNGA, participate there. Has he applied for a visa? And if so, is it anywhere close?
MR. KELLY: Actually, I’m not aware that he has. I understand that he does plan to come. He’s come in years past. I mean, I would have every expectation that he would receive a visa under our obligations, under our agreement with the UN.
QUESTION: On Iran again.
MR. KELLY: Yeah.
QUESTION: Anything new on the three Americans held there?
MR. KELLY: No, I’m afraid I don’t. I’m sorry to say I don’t have any --
QUESTION: This was – nothing from the --
MR. KELLY: -- further information on consular access or information on their welfare or whereabouts, which is, of course, very distressing to their families and of great concern to us.
QUESTION: Can we go back to powerful world leaders who plan to come to the UN? (Laughter.) Is there any movement on Qadhafi yet?
MR. KELLY: Not that I’m aware of, Matt.
QUESTION: All right. And then the segue into that is what do you make of these – the release of these letters in Britain about al-Megrahi --
MR. KELLY: Well, this is – as I said --
QUESTION: -- release?
MR. KELLY: As I said yesterday, this is a – this has been a matter for the UK Government and the Scottish authorities to make. They consulted with us with respect to the release of certain documents relating to the U.S. view. And our views, of course, are well known. I mean, the – those views are that we strongly oppose any outcome that would result in the transfer of Mr. Megrahi to Libya.
QUESTION: Did the U.S. Government believe that the – they had – it had a commitment from the British Government that Megrahi would not be released?
MR. KELLY: I think we’ve said all along that we understood that this was a matter for the Scottish executive to decide. The – our interlocutors in London made it clear that this was a matter for their justice officials to --
QUESTION: Did you seek such a commitment?
MR. KELLY: Well, we’ve told you that we – on many different occasions --
QUESTION: Well, you said you didn’t want him released.
MR. KELLY: -- on many different occasions at very high levels have made our views known to the Scottish authorities, including Secretary Clinton.
QUESTION: We understand that there was, if not a written, then at least a reasonably solemn, informal agreement between the then-Foreign Secretary Robin Cook and the then-Deputy Attorney General Eric Holder that he would not be released.
MR. KELLY: That I’m not sure about. I’m not sure of any kind of agreement in the past between our Department of Justice and the British authorities.
QUESTION: We understand that there was such an agreement. If we can accept that there is no written document --
MR. KELLY: I think there was an understanding that he would serve out his sentence in Scotland. But --
QUESTION: Is the Department --
MR. KELLY: -- I don’t know if I would characterize that as an agreement. If you’re talking about some specific agreement relating to a previous attorney general, I think you have to ask the Department of Justice.
QUESTION: A previous deputy attorney general who is now the attorney general, by coincidence. But is the Department comfortable with the fact that even if a – there is no written agreement that has been broken, nonetheless, a significant agreement between two close allies has been broken?
MR. KELLY: Well, we’ve said many times that we disagreed strenuously with the decision of the Scottish authorities to release him and allow him to return to Libya. And it won’t be the first disagreement we’ve had with a close ally and it won’t be the last. But this is – but whether or not it’s – I don’t know if I’d characterize it as an agreement. There was an understanding that we had that he would serve out his sentence. But the British Government has also let us know that because of their policy of devolution and allowing Scotland to be responsible for its own home affairs, that it was a decision for the Scottish Executive to make. So there’s been complete transparency throughout.
QUESTION: Well, it was their decision to make. I mean, yes it was a Scottish decision to make, but as we’ve seen from all these documents that are coming out, that the British intervene to the Scots to --
MR. KELLY: I have to refer you to the British authorities.
QUESTION: You don’t feel like the Brits sold you out?
MR. KELLY: No, I don’t feel like the Brits sold me out.
QUESTION: Even though it’s (inaudible) that under the terms of the devolution that foreign policy remains a matter for the UK Government as opposed to the Scottish authorities?
MR. KELLY: I just have to refer you to the Government of Britain for issues like that.
QUESTION: Of course, it’s up to them in the end how they play this. But how does the Department feel?
MR. KELLY: Well, it’s been very clear how we feel. We – this was a – we just think it was the wrong decision. I mean, that – nobody’s trying to hide that.
Yeah, go ahead, Michel.
MR. KELLY: Yes, I do. Just a moment. All right. I know what – I know what the answer is. It’s not in here. But the answer is that they’re going to meet tomorrow in New York. The Israeli side will be represented by the deputy chief – is it the deputy chief?
STAFF: Defense ministry chief of staff.
MR. KELLY: Defense ministry chief of staff, Michael Herzog. And we hope to have further details on the meeting and whatever media arrangements there are, I hope, later today.
QUESTION: Is Molcho, Zitzhas Molcho, who is Prime Minister Netanyahu – one of his key aides, coming as well?
MR. KELLY: That I don’t know, Arshad. You’ll have to ask --
QUESTION: You don’t have the time and place?
MR. KELLY: The place is – well, the place is in New York. But the exact --
QUESTION: It’s a big state, Ian.
MR. KELLY: Yeah, I know it is. New York City.
QUESTION: That’s a big city – (laughter) – I hear.
MR. KELLY: It’s a great city, too.
QUESTION: Near the UN?
MR. KELLY: Not as good as Chicago, but it’s a great city.
QUESTION: Is it going to be at USUN?
MR. KELLY: That I don’t know. But we’ll find out. You know in the past that they have had a camera spray and statements afterwards, so I would expect that – that model to be followed.
QUESTION: You expect they will have statements afterwards?
MR. KELLY: I do expect that.
QUESTION: You expect that to be coming from here or coming from them up there?
MR. KELLY: Both.
QUESTION: You mean a written statement?
MR. KELLY: Yeah. Maybe I should stop right there and say that we’ll get you further information.
QUESTION: That leaves me – I’m a little concerned about that, because from what I understand, this meeting is not going to be on the early side; it’s going to be on the late side. And that means --
MR. KELLY: That’s probably right.
QUESTION: Yeah. And that means that – are we going to be waiting around until 2 o’clock in the morning for it?
MR. KELLY: No, you won’t, Matt.
QUESTION: And is it --
MR. KELLY: I will call you personally when I have --
QUESTION: Before 2 o’clock?
QUESTION: If you would --
MR. KELLY: I’m not staying up that late.
QUESTION: You can call me and I’ll call Matt. (Laughter.) I promise. But --
MR. KELLY: That’s one of the better lines I’ve heard. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: I’m not sure you’re on camera here. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: Listen, what do – when you said statements, you meant a written statement. You don’t expect anybody to come out and talk in front of a camera?
MR. KELLY: No, I don’t. I --
MR. KELLY: And again, these are my personal expectations. I don’t know this for a fact. But we’ll get you --
QUESTION: Okay. And this meeting’s in preparation for another Mitchell trip to Jerusalem and a meeting with Ehud Barak. Is that right?
MR. KELLY: We’ll have more information about regional travel very soon.
QUESTION: Thank you.
QUESTION: Do you have any more information as a follow-up to the story last night on CBS about the Afghan ministry of defense being in contact with one of the Afghans arrested in an incident earlier this week in which a U.S. soldier was killed and a journalist injured?
MR. KELLY: No. I really – I don’t have any information on that. I’ll take one more question.
QUESTION: Quick one.
MR. KELLY: Bosworth. I don’t have any information on, but we will have information about his travel soon as well.
QUESTION: A quick one --
QUESTION: One on Syria/Iraq. How do you view the escalation in tension between the two countries after August 19th bombs in Baghdad?
MR. KELLY: You’re asking about Syria?
QUESTION: Syria and Iraq, yeah.
MR. KELLY: Yeah, okay. And this will be the last one, okay, and then we can talk – we can talk afterwards.
QUESTION: Can I have one more, please?
MR. KELLY: Sorry?
QUESTION: Can I have one more, please?
MR. KELLY: I am such a softie.
QUESTION: There’s a lot going on.
MR. KELLY: I know there’s a lot going on. Uh-oh. Yeah, I’m afraid I don’t have that information on Syria.
Okay, go ahead. We’ll get you the information. I know I have it. It’s just not --
MR. KELLY: Yeah. I have really nothing to add from what I said yesterday. Our relationship with Japan is a – one of the cornerstones of peace and security in Asia. It’s one of the most important relationships that we have. We’re going to welcome the opportunity to work with the new government and we’ve – with the view to building on our past successes and developing very productive relations for the future. But beyond that --
QUESTION: How about Futenma issues?
MR. KELLY: Sorry?
QUESTION: Futenma issues.
MR. KELLY: Oh, as I say, I don’t have anything to add to what I said yesterday.
QUESTION: Well, wait a minute.
MR. KELLY: Thanks.
QUESTION: Can you give us a little bit of an idea of what your involvement was in the agreement between Armenia and Turkey to start talks to establish diplomatic relations?
MR. KELLY: That was, I think, mostly worked out bilaterally between the two governments through the facilitation of the Swiss. Of course, we took a great interest in the talks.
QUESTION: Thank you.
(The briefing was concluded at 2:18 p.m.)
DPB # 148
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