Ian Kelly
Spokesman
Daily Press Briefing
Washington, DC
September 14, 2009


Index for Today's Briefing
  • DEPARTMENT
    • Under Secretary Kennedy briefed the Commission on Wartime Contracting
    • Briefings for Congress with regard to investigation of ArmorGroup, NA
    • Numerous actions have been taken and others are contemplated
    • The security of the U.S. Embassy in Kabul was not affected by the guards' misconduct
    • The U.S. takes very seriously any allegations of this nature and calls for prompt and thorough actions against any perpetrators of such misconduct
  • CHINA
    • The U.S. is monitoring the continuing unrest in Xinjiang Province and calls for a peaceful resolution
    • Regarding the White House announcement of trade and tariff issues, the U.S. Trade Representative's office should be contacted
  • IRAN
    • P5+1 talks with Iran are being planned for October 1—the purpose being to describe the routes available for Iran to take regarding its nuclear programs
    • The talks will be at the Political Directors level, with the U.S. being represented by U/S Burns
  • VENEZUELA
    • President Chavez has indicated that he wants to begin a peaceful nuclear program and may ask for assistance from Iran
    • The U.S. would perceive this as a technology transfer problem and an unwanted arms buildup
    • The purposes of such purchases must be fully transparent and completely spelled out in detail
  • INDIA/PAKISTAN
    • Former President Musharraf states that U.S.-provided weapons my be moved to the Indian border by Pakistan
    • The U.S. policy remains that no such weapons are to be used against India and it would take very seriously any allegations that indicate this is either planned or contemplated
  • ISRAEL
    • Special Envoy is in Mitchell is in Israel today and tomorrow he meets with both PM Netanyahu of Israel and President Abbas of the Palestinian Authority—he then travels to Egypt, Jordan, and Lebanon for meetings with other leaders in the region
  • NORTH KOREA
    • The U.S. has not formally accepted the invitation made to S/E Bosworth for bilateral discussions with North Korea
    • The U.S. remains firm in its position that the goal is to get North Korea to return to the Six Party Talks—bilateral discussions are only a means to get that goal accomplished
  • AFGHANISTAN
    • Regarding the election in Afghanistan, the U.S. continues to call for patience as the ongoing process is carried out
    • Allegations of fraud are being investigated by the formal bodies established to do so


TRANSCRIPT:

(1:08 p.m. EDT)

MR. KELLY: Okay. Good afternoon, welcoming you, again, to the State Department – a new week. Let me just – first of all, just highlight that this morning, Under Secretary for Management Pat Kennedy briefed the Commission on Wartime Contracting. The Department is also briefing relevant congressional committees on ways that we are addressing misconduct by security contractors in Kabul.

Under Secretary Kennedy reported that 165 employees of ArmorGroup have been interviewed as part of the ongoing investigation. Twelve guards have been removed or have resigned. The entire Amor Group senior management team in Kabul is being replaced. An assistant RSO, Regional Security Officer, from the Embassy has been stationed full time at the contractor’s camp. And as you know, alcohol has been banned there. He also walked the commission through a number of steps that we’ve taken since 2007 to address some of the deficiencies in the contract.

Let me just say that he stressed several key points. First, he underscored that Secretary Clinton, Ambassador Eikenberry, and the senior leadership of the Department were outraged by the misconduct of these contractors, and of course, they have ordered a immediate and strong action.

Second, despite the administrative deficiency discussed with the contractor, the Department did not observe any breaches of security of the mission in Kabul. Through the constant oversight of the RSO and the contracting officers, Diplomatic Security personnel on the ground in Kabul felt that the administrative contract deficiencies did not jeopardize the security and safety of my colleagues in Kabul.

And more broadly, Secretary Clinton has directed both the State Department and USAID to review our reliance on contractors across the board. She has made it a priority to build up the capacities of both agencies to, when appropriate, take on tasks that are now being outsourced. These questions will be a big part of the QDDR process that we began a while back and will also be a big part of our discussions with Congress.

And then, finally, while these broader reviews move forward, the Department will redouble its efforts to ensure that contractors are performing in accord with our policies and values at all times.

And so with that, I’ll take your questions.

QUESTION: Remind me again what the “Q” in QDDR stands for.

MR. KELLY: It’s the Quadrennial –

QUESTION: Yes. That will take four years, right?

MR. KELLY: It’s – this is part of the process that we’re beginning. It’s part of the overall process of the Quadrennial Diplomatic and Development Review.

QUESTION: So you’re saying that they’re what? That they’re --

MR. KELLY: I’m not saying it’s going to take four years, if that’s what you’re asking.

QUESTION: Well, yeah, that is what I’m asking. I mean --

MR. KELLY: It won’t take four years.

QUESTION: So quadrennial doesn’t really mean quadrennial, then?

MR. KELLY: It means something that would – well, it’s a process of looking out over four years across the board of our diplomatic missions.

QUESTION: So it looks ahead?

MR. KELLY: Sorry?

QUESTION: It looks ahead four years?

MR. KELLY: It looks ahead four years, yes.

QUESTION: Right. Why – last week, P.J. said – I think it was on Thursday – that there had been people from this contract that – or dismissed from this contract prior to these 12 guards over the course of four years, since 2005.

MR. KELLY: Right.

QUESTION: He didn’t have a number then. I’m wondering if you have a number now.

MR. KELLY: I’m afraid I don’t have that number. This is something that you asked on Thursday?

QUESTION: It was on Thursday, yeah.

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

QUESTION: And he said that there had been people who had been removed earlier than --

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

QUESTION: -- after – than just after this latest --

MR. KELLY: Yeah. That is the case as a result of --

QUESTION: Well --

MR. KELLY: -- deficiencies that we had identified.

QUESTION: Why – so – okay. Why don’t we have the number? Why – don’t --

MR. KELLY: Well, sorry. I don’t. We’ll see if we can get you the number.

QUESTION: Okay. And the other thing Pat Kennedy said was that they were – you were seriously looking at terminating the contract with ArmorGroup on this. Why has that not been done yet? I mean, hasn’t the investigation progressed? If you’ve dismissed 12 guards after this latest incident, why hasn’t it progressed to the point now where we’re more than a week afterwards --

MR. KELLY: Right.

QUESTION: -- to the point where you can make a determination that this company is not suitable for --

MR. KELLY: Well, I think, Matt, first of all, the – as we’ve said many times, our main priority in this whole process and in this review is to make sure that our colleagues in Kabul are safe. And this – if we do decide at some point to terminate this, we have to make sure that the mission in Kabul is --

QUESTION: Well --

MR. KELLY: -- more than adequately secured. Also --

QUESTION: Blackwater was told that it would not get renewed, that, you know, its contracts would be ending before you had replacements for them, and it --

MR. KELLY: Right. But that was part of the process of renewing the contract. Let me just finish what I was going to say. There are a number of factors. The most important one is the security of the Embassy. I think another factor is that you’ve got – the majority of the guards there are doing their job and doing it well. So we need to look at that aspect of this. And then I think the third aspect is we do have a contract.

QUESTION: Well, right. But --

MR. KELLY: And there are certain procedures and legal steps that we have to take.

QUESTION: But you had a contract with Blackwater which you told them you weren’t going to renew before you had something renewed – before you had a replacement in Baghdad.

MR. KELLY: Right.

QUESTION: And the security of that – the security of the Embassy workers there was never compromised.

MR. KELLY: Right.

QUESTION: And you also had the vast majority of Blackwater guards who weren’t going around shooting civilians. So I’m not quite sure --

MR. KELLY: But it was a different process in place then. It was – we made the decision, for what it’s worth, in June to extend the contract. We hadn’t come to that point with Blackwater, as I understand it. So this is – we’re at different places in the contract as – again, as I understand it. And I’m starting to get into areas where – I am not an expert on contractual law. But as I understand it, that’s the difference.

Any other questions on --

QUESTION: Different --

MR. KELLY: Okay. Goyal.

QUESTION: Different subject. As far as China is concerned, there’s a lot of things going on. One, there’s a presidential delegation going to Tibet meeting – I mean, to India to meet with the Dalai Lama and his people. And also, there’s some – an unrest also going on in China, many parts of China, some demonstrations and all that. So what do we have as far as what’s going on?

MR. KELLY: Well, in terms of the presidential delegation that you’re referring to that’s in India now, I’d – the White House is about the – I don’t know if they’re going to issue a statement or if they’re just going to issue – going to respond to questions that come up regarding this delegation that is in India now. So I’ll refer you to that.

Regards to the unrest going on in China, as we have said many times, we are monitoring the situation in Xinjiang very closely. We have called upon the Chinese authorities to deal with this – the unrest in a transparent and lawful fashion.

QUESTION: But there’s also a warning – Travel Warning from the State Department to China. I have not seen in many, many years --

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

QUESTION: -- from this building, or from the U.S., any warning to China.

MR. KELLY: Well, I’m not sure if it’s a warning or an advisory, but there’s a difference, of course, between the two. I mean, one of our top priorities in terms of our consular responsibilities is to advise American citizens on the situation in areas where they may travel. And of course, it’s our responsibility to inform U.S. citizens who may be planning travel to a region like Xinjiang that there have been – that there is this tension and occasional unrest. So it is our responsibility to update American citizens on the situation on the ground. This is not – this is something that we do almost every day, I think, and sometimes several times a day.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

MR. KELLY: Travel advisory.

QUESTION: Travel alert?

QUESTION: Sorry.

MR. KELLY: Travel alert, okay. Not the same as a travel warning.

QUESTION: On Iraq?

QUESTION: On China – can we stay on China?

QUESTION: Go ahead.

MR. KELLY: Go ahead.

QUESTION: The unrest in the trade relations with the U.S. and China, what is the State Department’s role in dealing with this?

MR. KELLY: Yeah. You saw the announcement from the White House. The President signed a determination to increase duty on certain goods. We believe that the remedy that we’ve crafted, the announcement from the White House will address the surge in tire imports in a way that falls fully within the scope of our trade agreement with China. And of course, we support a rules-based trading system, and that means that those rules need to be applied, so that’s why we decided to apply them.

QUESTION: Right. But my question was what is the State Department’s role in this? Have you had – have there been any discussions with the Chinese about this?

MR. KELLY: I think this has really been in a USTR track. They’ve been talking to their counterparts in Beijing. I’m not aware that the – that we’ve had any discussions on a political level with --

QUESTION: You’re not – are you concerned at all that the Chinese might view this as some – as a kind of a hostile act and might retaliate in ways other than what they have done through their WTO filing?

MR. KELLY: Well, again, there is a --

QUESTION: In terms of buying treasuries --

MR. KELLY: There is a system that’s set up to address these, and we will act within that system.

QUESTION: But you’re not concerned that this will have any – that this will have a broader effect on U.S.-China relations?

MR. KELLY: I mean, as I’ve said before, we looked at this very closely and we didn’t see this as being in any way contradictory to the trade agreement that we have with China.

QUESTION: I’m talking about more broadly. You’re – there’s no – is there any concern that this was going to have an impact on broader U.S.-China relations?

MR. KELLY: I’m not aware of any deep concerns that we have. We’ve done this in complete transparency with our Chinese interlocutors in Beijing, and we just – we’ll let the process play out.

QUESTION: Iran’s decision to hold talks with the P-5+1 on October 1st – doesn’t that avoid the UN General Assembly? It takes the – you can’t really raise it and debate there.

MR. KELLY: Well, I mean, I think we still intend to meet – the P-5+1 partners intend to meet during the UN General Assembly. And the point of all this is to sit down with the Iranians and explain directly, face-to-face, the choice that they have. And we’ve explained what that choice is. They have – they can go down one path which leads to the – to integration with the international community, or they can continue down another path which leads to isolation. And that’s the path that we’re concerned that they’re on now because they’re not meeting their obligations to the international community.

And we plan to address this issue of their not living up to their obligations head on. We – this is going to be front and center in our talks with them on October 1st. And we are not planning to start a whole new process here. This is just going to – we’re going to sit down and have the opportunity to explain to them directly what their choice is.

QUESTION: You’re not going to have much to work with at the UN since the talks with Iran are going to be later.

MR. KELLY: Well, I mean, it’s a chance for us all to sit down once again and talk through these concerns that we all have and discuss the best means for us all to get to our common goal, and that’s to make sure that the – that Iran understands that it has obligations as well as rights, and the obligations are to provide more transparency into this nuclear program that they’ve started.

Yeah.

QUESTION: Any information on where the talks might be held and who might represent the U.S. side?

MR. KELLY: No decisions have been made regarding the venue. It’s not going to be – it won’t be in the U.S. It’s going to be in some third location. And that will be worked out with Mr. Solana’s office.

QUESTION: And representing the U.S. – anyone?

MR. KELLY: It’ll going to be at the political director level, so that will be Under Secretary Burns.

QUESTION: Ian, I’m not – you’re going to use this to sit down and explain to the Iranians exactly the choice they have to make, the choice they face?

MR. KELLY: We haven’t had that opportunity for quite a while.

QUESTION: Well, no, but don’t you think the Iranians are fully aware of the choice that you’re offering them?

MR. KELLY: Well, we --

QUESTION: I mean, they’ve thumbed their noses at it --

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

QUESTION: -- for the last several years, and nothing – it’s the same choice that they have faced dating back to the prior administration. What on earth makes you think that somehow now they’re going to be willing to take it?

MR. KELLY: Because we plan to highlight to them exactly what the best means --

QUESTION: And you don’t think the last administration did that?

MR. KELLY: What we say in public is one thing, and what we say in – what we hear in private is another. So the six members of the P-5+1, we are united in this common goal of getting the Iranians to introduce more transparency into their nuclear program. And as I said, we’re not interested in a process that’s going to go on forever --

QUESTION: Well, actually, you seem --

MR. KELLY: -- but, actually, we want to take this opportunity --

QUESTION: You seem to be.

MR. KELLY: Well, I don’t agree. We have a dual-track policy, and we’ve been pursuing one of these tracks. It’s time now to pursue the other one.

QUESTION: Ian, the dual-track policy goes back years.

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

QUESTION: And it hasn’t produced any results yet, and the Iranians say specifically that they’re not interested in talking about their nuclear program.

MR. KELLY: Well, we’re going to talk about, and I don’t –

QUESTION: And they’re just going to hold their – they’re going to, you know, put their hands over their ears and say, you know, I can’t hear you.

MR. KELLY: We hope that the six of us can really lay out to them in a very stark fashion the choice that they have, and we’re going to take this opportunity to do it.

QUESTION: And for some reason – for some reason you --

MR. KELLY: I think it’s really incumbent on us to do this, to take this opportunity.

QUESTION: But you don’t – but for some reason, you think that they don’t understand?

MR. KELLY: Well, look, we’re under no illusions about the Iranians.

QUESTION: Well, I know. Well –

MR. KELLY: And – but we have an opportunity here to present a united front – the five permanent members of the Security Council plus Germany – to show that the international community wants them to abandon their nuclear – their – any plans they have for militarization of their nuclear program.

QUESTION: All right. Well, you will accept, though, that for the past several years this is the same message the Iranians have been getting, yes?

MR. KELLY: I’ll accept that, sure.

QUESTION: Okay.

MR. KELLY: Like I say, we have no illusions --

QUESTION: Can I ask you --

MR. KELLY: -- about the Iranians.

QUESTION: All right. There’s an unrelated – sort of semi-unrelated thing, there’s a report in Iran that the U.S. is prepared to sell them planes, Boeing planes and spare parts.

MR. KELLY: Not true.

QUESTION: Do you know anything about that?

MR. KELLY: It’s not true. It’s inaccurate.

QUESTION: What is inaccurate?

MR. KELLY: That we’re selling them spare parts and Boeing planes.

QUESTION: Planes.

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

QUESTION: What’s the U.S. position on whether the Pakistanis can use U.S. --

MR. KELLY: Is there anything else on Iran, by the way?

QUESTION: I actually --

MR. KELLY: Yeah, Mark, go ahead.

QUESTION: Well, first of all, a moment ago you said something that was interesting. I just wanted to ask you about it. You said what we say in public and what we hear in private are not necessarily the same --

MR. KELLY: No, no. Okay, yeah --

QUESTION: Can you clarify that?

MR. KELLY: I didn’t phrase that – I didn’t phrase that very well.

QUESTION: Right, okay. (Laughter.)

MR. KELLY: What nations say in public is one thing, and what they say in private is another thing.

QUESTION: Are you --

MR. KELLY: I’m sorry. I was a little --

QUESTION: Fair enough. But --

MR. KELLY: -- a little lax in my phraseology there.

QUESTION: Fair enough. But does that suggest that something you’re hearing in private gives you more optimism about the profitability of these talks than what you were in hearing in public?

MR. KELLY: No. I’m not trying to suggest that. I’m just trying – what I’m highlighting here is that we want to explore this avenue. We want to have this opportunity to sit down with them and for us to present the international community’s concerns directly face-to-face to the Iranians.

QUESTION: Okay. And then one last Iran-related question. And I apologize if this has come up in previous briefings and I didn’t see it. But Hugo Chavez was quoted as saying that Venezuela wanted to pursue a peaceful nuclear program with help from Russia.

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

QUESTION: And there’s obviously been a long and close association between Venezuela and Iran.

MR. KELLY: Right.

QUESTION: They’re close allies.

MR. KELLY: Yep.

QUESTION: Is there any concern about technology transfers or nuclear transfers on the U.S. part between Iran and Venezuela?

MR. KELLY: Yeah. The short answer is, to that, yes, we do have concerns. We have concerns in general about Venezuela’s stated desire to increase its arms buildup, which we think poses a serious challenge to stability in the Western Hemisphere. What they are looking to purchase and what they are purchasing outpaces all other countries in South America. And of course, we’re concerned about an arms race in the region.

And we urge Venezuela to be transparent in its purchases and very clear about the purposes of these purchases. And we’re also very concerned that they put in place very clear procedures and safeguards that these – that these arms are not diverted to any irregular or illegal organizations in the region.

QUESTION: Well, what about their nuclear – this idea of a nuclear program?

MR. KELLY: Yeah, I’ve seen – yeah, I think I saw a press report on that. Venezuela is a signatory of the NPT. It has certain obligations, of course, under the NPT for any civilian nuclear program. And of course, we will be looking closely at this. But beyond saying that, let me see if I can – if we can get you some information from our – from the people who follow these things day to day.

QUESTION: Okay.

MR. KELLY: Yeah, you had --

QUESTION: Yeah.

MR. KELLY: -- Venezuela. Did we answer your question or --

QUESTION: No. India and Pakistan.

MR. KELLY: And Pakistan. Yeah.

QUESTION: The question was about what’s the U.S. position on – obviously, the U.S. has given a lot of military aid to Pakistan over the years. What’s the U.S. position on whether Pakistan can use that against – or defending itself in a situation with India?

MR. KELLY: Well, I think anytime that we sell arms or provide the means to sell arms, we put in place what I was just talking about with Venezuela, that we have – we put in place safeguards and monitoring mechanisms to make sure that these weapons are used for the intended and agreed-to purpose. And this is the same for Pakistan as well.

QUESTION: Are you saying that the U.S. is selling weapons to Venezuela?

MR. KELLY: No, no. I’m sorry. I was referring to, when I was talking about arms sales to Venezuela, that we would hope that they would have in place the kind of safeguards and monitoring mechanisms that we have when we sell arms.

QUESTION: Can we stay in India --

QUESTION: Can I follow-up on a question related? Musharraf has said in interviews in the last couple days that he actually did take U.S.-provided arms and move them to the India front. Do you have any reaction to that?

MR. KELLY: Well, first of all, Mr. Musharraf is a private citizen. He provided very few details, so we would refer you to him to get these kinds of details. And I would just say as a general principle, we take very serious – very seriously any allegation of using U.S.-origin military assistance for purposes other than we had already agreed to and that we had intended them for.

QUESTION: Do you think there is any recourse, and are you worried about the diplomatic implications of what the former president is saying?

MR. KELLY: Well, again, it was a very broad statement with no specifics that I know of. And we would just need, I think, to have more details about that --

QUESTION: Was there – when the weapons were sold to Pakistan, was there an understanding or a provision that they would not be used against India?

MR. KELLY: Well, I --

QUESTION: I mean, who did you think that they were going to fight? They had three wars.

MR. KELLY: Yeah. I – well, again, I don’t know all the details of what Mr. Musharraf said. But I believe that he was referring to this most recent assistance to help fight religious extremists in Pakistan. So I think that was the intent of this latest round anyway. But I just – I don’t know exactly what he was referring to.

QUESTION: Can I just follow up? Did all this came up with the Secretary’s meeting with the Indian foreign minister when they met here in the State Department?

MR. KELLY: I don’t know the answer to that. And if I can get you the answer – I won’t promise you that I can get you the answer – I’ll get you the answer.

QUESTION: So there are some follow-up implications to this?

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

QUESTION: You’re saying we need more details.

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

QUESTION: So how do you go about doing that?

MR. KELLY: Well, again, this is a former president who’s made these allegations, and we take seriously any allegations like this. But we simply don’t have the details to be able to respond to the allegations.

QUESTION: But will there be follow-up from you, in terms of looking at this? I mean, he is a former president.

MR. KELLY: Well, I’m not sure. As I say, we take these things very seriously.

Yeah, in the back.

QUESTION: Do you have any specific instances of such violations by Pakistan?

MR. KELLY: I’m sorry.

QUESTION: Do you have any specific instances of such violations where Pakistan (inaudible)?

MR. KELLY: Not that I’m aware of, no.

QUESTION: You’re not aware of.

MR. KELLY: Yes.

QUESTION: Yes. I have question about the journalists, the – recently an Afghan journalist was killed, but the foreign journalists were saved by the NATO forces. In Afghan media they showed very negative reaction that – why there is a discrimination against the Afghan journalists? One of – gets saved and released and the Afghan journalist was killed.

MR. KELLY: Yeah. If you’re referring to the incident I think you’re referring to, it was, of course, extremely unfortunate. And our condolences go to the family of the – are your referring to The New York Times journalist who –

QUESTION: Yes.

MR. KELLY: Yeah. I think there’s an investigation that’s ongoing to determine how exactly this Afghan journalist died. And of course, we condemn, first of all, the fact that they were kidnapped and taken and that we – that British forces were put in the kind of position where they had to go in and free them. But it was a extremely unfortunate incident.

Yeah.

QUESTION: Regarding Prime Minister Netanyahu, he just said today that settlement construction will not freeze at all and rejecting the U.S. call for that. I was just wondering where do negotiations move on from now, and if the U.S. thinks that he’s not committed to a peace process with the Palestinian?

MR. KELLY: Well, first of all, let me just take this opportunity to update you where we are with our talks. You know that Senator Mitchell is in Israel today. Today he attended the funeral of Assaf Ramon, who is a Israeli pilot who died in a training mission. We have a special connection to this family because it was his father who was on the space shuttle Columbia when that tragically exploded. Senator Mitchell felt it important that he attend this funeral as well. And of course, we hope the memory of Assaf’s dedicated and honorable service to his country tempers the grief of his family.

Tomorrow he expects to meet with Prime Minister Netanyahu. He also plans to meet with President Abbas. Given that they are going to meet tomorrow and discuss all these issues, let’s see what comes out of that meeting tomorrow. Our policy, of course, is crystal clear on it. Senator Mitchell, as well over the weekend, met with President Perez, Foreign Minister Lieberman, and Defense Minister Barak. I’m told the talks were positive and productive.

QUESTION: Right. But after this, I mean, isn’t this closing the door to –

MR. KELLY: I’m not closing the door to anything, especially not with Senator Mitchell about to sit down with the Prime Minister tomorrow.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: Excuse me.

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

QUESTION: Yeah, just – sorry, one more on Iran. You say that it’s incumbent on the U.S. to go down this avenue, but you’re also not interested in a whole new process.

MR. KELLY: Right.

QUESTION: So I’m wondering has the U.S., in speaking with the partners in the P-5+1, given any kind of a limit to this avenue, or what the U.S. expects if it doesn’t go anywhere --

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

QUESTION: -- if Iran just stays not talking on a nuclear program?

MR. KELLY: Yeah. Well, Under Secretary Burns speaks often to his political director colleagues. They have talked about the way forward. And as I say, we – our patience is not infinite. We’re not willing to let this go on forever. I think you’ve seen President Obama talk about a time period that ends this fall. But I think beyond that, I mean, we have not had the opportunity really to get an official response from the Iranians on our offer that we made back in April. And so this is why I say we want to take this opportunity to hear from them, face-to-face directly across the table what their choice is in terms of the – which path they’re going to pursue.

Yes.

QUESTION: On North Korea, at the end of last month, P.J. said from the podium that there was no formal invite to Bosworth from North Korea to engage in talks. And then, this past Friday, he stated that there’s an invite that’s being considered.

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

QUESTION: Can you give us more information on when this invite actually came in, the context, through what channel – kind of clear it up a little bit for us?

MR. KELLY: Yeah. I don’t know if I can give you an exact chronology. Well, I know I can’t give you an exact chronology standing right here. But it was fairly – the invitation came fairly recently. The topic of this invitation for Ambassador Bosworth to go to Pyongyang was discussed in the – during the recent trip of Ambassador Bosworth and Ambassador Kim to the region. They discussed this with their counterparts in the Six-Party Talks. But no decision has been made as to whether or not we will accept this invitation for him to go to visit Pyongyang.

QUESTION: Well, it’s been a – it’s not that recently. It’s been, like, several weeks or a month, hasn’t it, since the invitation came in? And didn’t you initially decide not to send Bosworth because they wanted to talk about just direct talks between the United States and North Korea, and not within the Six-Party context?

MR. KELLY: Well --

QUESTION: So has it been amended? Has the invitation been amended, or the topic? Was it --

MR. KELLY: I’m not aware that it’s been amended. I mean, I think it was a fairly simple, informal invitation that they’re willing to talk to Ambassador Bosworth.

QUESTION: But it wasn’t about going back to the Six-Party Talks; am I correct?

MR. KELLY: No.

QUESTION: It was about a bilateral dialogue?

MR. KELLY: Right.

QUESTION: Which is why you didn’t send Bosworth when – why you didn’t accept the invitation?

MR. KELLY: Yeah. I mean, what we’ve said all along is that we will not have any substantive bilateral talks with North Korea that’s outside of the Six-Party context, that our goal is to get North Korea to return to the Six-Party context, Six-Party Talks. And Ambassador Bosworth went out – Ambassador Bosworth and Ambassador Kim went out to the region, met with their counterparts to talk about the various avenues that we have to get North Korea to return to those talks. And one of the things they talked about was this invitation.

QUESTION: You said informal invitation.

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

QUESTION: Yes. And from whom? I mean --

MR. KELLY: I mean, yeah, I don’t have the – I don’t have the answer to that, I’m afraid. And I don’t know if I’ll be able to get you the answer to that.

Yes. Also on North Korea? Any – yes.

QUESTION: Secretary Clinton yesterday had lunch with Laura Ling and her family.

MR. KELLY: Uh-huh.

QUESTION: And what was the purpose of this luncheon? Was it first time that Secretary Clinton met with this reporter after they were released from Pyongyang?

MR. KELLY: No, she met with them very soon after they returned. She met with them in her office. And she did have lunch with them, but it was very much a private, personal lunch.

QUESTION: Well, but what was the purpose of the lunch? I mean --

MR. KELLY: Private and personal.

QUESTION: So it was a social lunch?

MR. KELLY: Well – (laughter). It was a private and personal lunch.

QUESTION: Well, but if you have two people that were hostage or that were detained in North Korea, and they’re coming in and having --

MR. KELLY: Yeah. It wasn’t a debrief, if that’s what you’re --

QUESTION: What’s that?

MR. KELLY: It wasn’t a debrief, if that’s what you’re implying. She did have a formal sitdown with them right after they returned.

QUESTION: Well, I mean, but what was the purpose of the lunch?

MR. KELLY: She was invited to lunch and she accepted the invitation.

QUESTION: So they invited her to lunch?

MR. KELLY: Well, I – again, it was private and personal.

QUESTION: One more question?

MR. KELLY: Yes.

QUESTION: Yeah. A question about the Afghan election. In Afghanistan, still the process is very complicated and people is waiting for the result. But what do you think about the election go to the second round? It is only possibility, or what’s the U.S. policy about it?

MR. KELLY: Well, we have been calling on all sides to be patient, let the whole process play out. And I’m going to take our own advice and not speculate on whether or not there will be or should be a second round. We’ve said all along that we want these allegations of fraud to be very seriously considered and thoroughly investigated, and there is a process to do this. So we want to let this process have a chance to work.

QUESTION: After eight years of 9/11, Usama bin Ladin again had another tape and it’s been eight years now. Before, he used to appear on camera with the video and audio, everything, but now only for the last several tapes, only audio. Do you believe he’s still alive? And who delivers and where they deliver all these tapes?

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

QUESTION: Do --

MR. KELLY: Yeah. I don’t know. But I’ll tell you, no matter what he says, it doesn't do anything to gloss over or dress up the very stark, indisputable fact that al-Qaida murders innocent people indiscriminately – women, children, Muslims, Christians, Jews. And – but I can’t tell you exactly why they do video and why they do audio. Frankly, I don’t care.

QUESTION: Sorry.

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

QUESTION: Back to the China-U.S. trade dispute, I was just wondering what are the arguments to state that this new tariff on the tires is not a protectionist measure?

MR. KELLY: Well, I tell you, I’ve got to refer you to USTR on that. You really have to ask the experts. There is a public affairs office at – for the USTR.

QUESTION: Do you have anything to say about this latest incident in Somalia?

MR. KELLY: I don’t. I’ve seen press reports from the BBC about – there was --

QUESTION: Do you know what I’m talking about?

MR. KELLY: I do know what you’re talking about, because I’ve seen the press reports from BBC. And I assume that’s what you’re asking about, Matt.

QUESTION: Well, I don’t know what the BBC reported, so I have no idea.

MR. KELLY: There were – there was a shooting – a shooting incident, allegedly by foreign forces.

QUESTION: Yeah. Helicopters.

MR. KELLY: Yeah. I’d just have to refer you to DOD on that. I don’t have any other information.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MR. KELLY: Thank you.

(The briefing was concluded at 1:44 p.m.)

DPB #155

[This is a mobile copy of Daily Press Briefing - September 14]