Ian Kelly
Department Spokesman
Daily Press Briefing
Washington, DC
September 16, 2009


Index for Today's Briefing
  • SECRETARY
    • The Secretary will hold a bilateral meeting with the Foreign Minister from Bangladesh
    • Secretary Clinton will attend the UN General Assembly for about 10 days
  • JAPAN
    • U.S. congratulates the Democratic Party of Japan leader Yukio Hatoyama on his appointment to Prime Minister in Japan
    • U.S. looks forward to talking to the new government
    • Government of Japan has to make its own decisions based on its own national interests
    • Assistant Secretary for East Asia and Pacific Affairs Campbell will be in Japan tomorrow
    • Government of Japan to determine what kind of contribution they want to make to the war in Afghanistan.
  • ISRAEL
    • Senator Mitchell held good meetings yesterday with Prime Minister Fayyad and President Abbas
    • Senator Mitchell continues to encourage Palestinians and the Israelis to take responsibility for peace through concrete steps
    • Both parties reconfirmed their commitment to comprehensive peace and discussed how best to re-launch negotiations
    • Senator Mitchell will return to Israel later in the week to continue these discussions with Prime Minister Netanyahu in Jerusalem, and Abu Mazen in Ramallah
  • CUBA
    • Talks on direct mail service is scheduled for Havana tomorrow
    • U.S. hopes the talks will lead to the consistent use of direct mail transportation between the U.S. and Cuba, thereby resulting in improved service and reduced costs
    • Bisa Williams, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Western Hemisphere Affairs, will lead talks
    • The President has already determined to extend Cuban embargo for another year
  • AFGHANISTAN
    • U.S. has taken note of the announcement of the full preliminary results of the presidential elections
    • Certified results will only come after the IEC and the ECC have carried out their investigations thoroughly and done all the required audits and recounts.
  • NORTH KOREA
    • Secretary Clinton has no plans to meet with North Korea at UNGA
    • Bilateral talks would have to be in the context of our multilateral forum Six-Party Talks
    • John Podesta was in NK in a private capacity and had no message from the administration
    • U.S. focus is on restarting this multilateral context and the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula
  • IRAN
    • Only a date for the P-5+1 talks has been set
    • Iran Policy dinner at the State Department is an opportunity for the Secretary to hear from outside experts on Iran


TRANSCRIPT:

1:20 p.m. EDT

MR. KELLY: Afternoon, and welcome once again. As you know, the Secretary has a press availability this afternoon after her meeting with the foreign minister from Bangladesh, Mr. Moni[1]. I hope to see many of you up there on the seventh floor. I have something to read at the top.

We congratulate Democratic Party of Japan leader Yukio Hatoyama on his appointment to prime minister in Japan on the formation of a new government. The United States looks forward to early and close consultations with the new Japanese Government on a wide range of bilateral, regional, and global issues. The U.S.-Japan alliance is strong and remains a cornerstone of peace and security in Asia. We have every expectation that our bilateral relations and global partnership will flourish with the new government.

And with that, I will take your --

QUESTION: Even though they want to renegotiate these two deals which you guys say you won’t do?

MR. KELLY: Well, again, we look forward to talking to the new government.

QUESTION: To arguing with them?

MR. KELLY: Well, that’s your characterization, Matt.

QUESTION: Well, I mean, you’re coming at it with diametrically --

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

QUESTION: -- opposed viewpoints on this issue.

MR. KELLY: No, I don’t think so. I think that as we sit down and we discuss these issues, as we look at our alliance and the importance of the security cooperation that we have, that we’ll be able to work these things out. But of course, the Government of Japan has to make its own decisions based on its own national interests. But we do look forward to these talks. And as you know, our Assistant Secretary for East Asia and Pacific Affairs is going out there tonight, so he’ll be there tomorrow.

Yes.

QUESTION: Yeah. New Japanese defense minister just said in a press conference that they’re not going to renew the mandate of refueling mission in Indian Ocean --

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

QUESTION: -- after January.

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

QUESTION: So can you – do you have a response to that?

MR. KELLY: Well, I think this was addressed also at the Pentagon briefing. And we value very highly Japan’s contribution to the efforts in Afghanistan. This refueling mission has played an important role. And again, we look forward to talking to the new government about what kind of role they’re prepared to play, but we greatly appreciate everything that they’ve done up to now. But again, this is – and it’s really – it’s up to the Government of Japan to determine what kind of contribution they want to make.

QUESTION: So do you hope that they change their mind about this refueling mission?

MR. KELLY: Well, again, it’s really up to the Government of Japan to decide.

QUESTION: Well, yeah, but wouldn’t you hope that they would extend it?

MR. KELLY: Well, as I say, we are greatly appreciative of everything they’ve done up till now and we hope that that continues.

QUESTION: So you do hope they change their minds?

MR. KELLY: Well, we hope that they continue to make a contribution to the effort in Afghanistan, but they have to decide what that contribution will consist of.

Yeah.

QUESTION: Who will Assistant Secretary Campbell – is going to meet in Japan specifically? Who will be --

MR. KELLY: I don’t have his schedule. His schedule is still being worked out, in fact. But I hope that we’ll have more information tomorrow and maybe even a readout of his initial meetings.

QUESTION: He’s going to Japan tonight, you said?

MR. KELLY: He’s going tonight, yeah. He’ll be there until the 19th.

QUESTION: Middle East?

MR. KELLY: Anything else on Asia?

QUESTION: I have nothing else if you want to go ahead.

QUESTION: Yeah. Mitchell.

MR. KELLY: Mitchell. Yeah.

QUESTION: How was the meeting today?

MR. KELLY: It was good.

QUESTION: Oh, really?

MR. KELLY: Hold on a second.

QUESTION: Still making progress?

MR. KELLY: Hold on a second. Yes, they had good meetings yesterday with Prime Minister Fayyad and President Abbas, and they met with Prime Minister Netanyahu yesterday, and they met with him again this morning. In meetings with both the Palestinians and the Israelis, Senator Mitchell continued to encourage the parties to take responsibility for peace through concrete steps. And both parties reconfirmed their commitment to comprehensive peace and discussed how best to re-launch negotiations. And we do believe we’re making progress toward that goal.

In order to keep the discussion moving ahead, Senator Mitchell will return to Israel later in the week to continue these discussions Friday morning with Prime Minister Netanyahu in Jerusalem, and Abu Mazen in Ramallah. Today, they’re also meeting with President Suleiman in Beirut and then they go on to Cairo. And tomorrow, they’ll meet with President Mubarak and other Egyptian leaders, and then King Abdullah of Jordan tomorrow afternoon in Amman.

QUESTION: Can I just – just on the logistics, they’re – so they’re in Beirut right now?

MR. KELLY: They’re in Beirut right now.

QUESTION: And then they’re – and – well – and then soon, probably, given the hour, they’re going to – they’re going to Cairo tonight?

MR. KELLY: They’re going to Cairo tonight, yeah.

QUESTION: Meeting with Mubarak tomorrow in Cairo?

MR. KELLY: In Cairo.

QUESTION: And then going to Jordan?

MR. KELLY: And then going to Amman.

QUESTION: And then going back to Israel?

MR. KELLY: And then going back to Israel probably late Thursday night.

QUESTION: Ian, earlier, about a month ago, there was some hope that the Administration could bring the two parties together for a meeting during the UN General Assembly meeting. You’ve got maybe a couple days left to get everything into place. Do you think you can still make that happen?

MR. KELLY: Well, again, we think that we are making some progress towards the goal of bringing the parties together. But clearly, we’re continuing the discussions and we’re hopeful that we can reach the point where we can re-launch the negotiations. But we don’t have anything to announce about any meetings next week.

QUESTION: And do you – is that still a goal?

MR. KELLY: I mean, our ultimate goal is to restart the whole process, but I don’t have any specific details about what might happen next week.

QUESTION: Is it likely or is it possible that Senator Mitchell might stay further or might stay through Saturday and Sunday?

MR. KELLY: There’s no plans for that, but he is, of course, going back on Friday to continue the discussions.

Yeah.

QUESTION: Ian, how --

QUESTION: Wait, wait. Can we stay --

MR. KELLY: Are we still on Mitchell or –

QUESTION: No.

MR. KELLY: No, okay. Matt, do you have something on Mitchell?

QUESTION: Yeah, but now I forgot what it was.

MR. KELLY: Well, we’ll come back to you, Matt.

Go ahead.

QUESTION: How will the Department respond to the inner workings at the UN next week with the various misfits there, of course, from such places as Iran and North Korea, Venezuela? Possibly, they’re grandstanding. Now, at the same time, you have the G-20 summit in Pittsburgh.

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

QUESTION: You can’t be in two places at once. Will the Treasury and the Federal Reserve take the lead in Pittsburgh?

MR. KELLY: Well, you’re asking me to speculate on how we might respond to events that will happen in the future, so I’ll refrain from doing that. But I think the plan is for Secretary Clinton to be up at the UN General Assembly for about 10 days. The President will be up there, I think, for about three days, and then he’ll go on to Pittsburgh. Secretary Clinton will remain in New York. The meeting in Pittsburgh, I think, is primarily the head of state and/or government plus the finance minister.

QUESTION: Finance ministers.

MR. KELLY: Yeah. So that’s the way it’s – it’ll break out.

QUESTION: All right. I’m back on Mitchell.

MR. KELLY: You remembered your question?

QUESTION: Yeah. Well, it was a pretty easy one. I don’t know how I forgot it. You just said – you said you –

MR. KELLY: Easy for you, maybe. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: You say that you’re making progress or you’re making good progress towards – I think, is what you said – toward the goal of resuming – but are you closer to that now than you were, say, yesterday or even two days ago, when Mitchell –

MR. KELLY: No. Now, that’s not an easy question, actually.

QUESTION: Well, it was an easy question to remember --

MR. KELLY: It’s my understanding --

QUESTION: -- not to answer.

MR. KELLY: Sorry? Say that again, Matt?

QUESTION: Easy question to remember, not to answer.

MR. KELLY: Right, okay. Yeah. It’s my understanding that we did make some progress in getting to that goal of getting the parties to agree to re-launch negotiations. But clearly, they need another round on Friday.

QUESTION: Well –

MR. KELLY: But the fact that they are – that they’re going to meet and talk again, I think, is a good sign in itself.

QUESTION: Well, it was kind of an – well, it may or may not be, as we’ve seen in the past.

MR. KELLY: Yeah. Well, we’ll see on Friday.

QUESTION: But I mean, when you talked about this – was that progress made today? Was it made two days ago? When – I’m trying to get a – get an understanding of how far --

MR. KELLY: I think --

QUESTION: -- how far is the – how far are you moving forward incrementally each time they meet?

MR. KELLY: Well, yeah. That – I don’t know if I can give you the exact number of yards we have advanced the ball, but I understand that we have advanced the ball. We need another set of downs on Friday to advance it further, to push it across the line.

QUESTION: We’ll have these football analogies on settlements.

QUESTION: Different topic?

MR. KELLY: Yes.

QUESTION: President Obama and Secretary Clinton met with Canadian Prime Minister Harper earlier today. One of the contentious issues right now regarding oil sands is that environmental groups, they’ve sued the State Department for giving a permit –

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

QUESTION: -- for a large pipeline --

MR. KELLY: Right.

QUESTION: – owned by Enbridge Energy to ship oil sands to the U.S. Did that permit issue come up during the meeting?

MR. KELLY: No.

QUESTION: And I guess a further question is: In terms of going forward with that permit, does granting it – is that in line with the Obama Administration’s goal of using less oil? It would increase the amount of oil sands tremendously.

MR. KELLY: Yeah. Well, first of all, whether or not it came up in the meeting, I’m not aware that it did come up in the meeting. And I think I’d have to refer you to the White House if that particular issue did come up.

I’m aware of some of the legal issues involved with this agreement. And because these are very specific and technical issues, I think I’ll take the question, and we’ll – I think we’ll be able to provide something this afternoon on that. I just don’t want to wade into something that I don’t have all the details at the tips of my fingers right now.

Yeah, Kirit.

QUESTION: A different topic, if I could, on the Cuba talks tomorrow. Do you have a place for those yet?

MR. KELLY: Hold on a second. These are talks on --

QUESTION: Postal.

MR. KELLY: Right, reinstituting mail.

QUESTION: And is it any broader than that tomorrow? Is it still just only postal?

MR. KELLY: I believe it’s just – they’re initial talks. They’re scheduled for Havana tomorrow. These are talks designed to restart or reestablish direct mail service. These are really exploratory talks and they’re very technical in nature, and they’re all part of our efforts to further communication with the Cuban people. We see it as a potential avenue for improving the communication between our two countries. And we hope that the talks will lead to the consistent use of direct mail transportation between the U.S. and Cuba, thereby resulting in improved service and reduced costs. But it’s – as I say, it’s very technical talks and it’s just a first round, very exploratory.

QUESTION: And who is the U.S. delegation being led by?

MR. KELLY: It’s being led by Bisa Williams, who is the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Western Hemisphere Affairs. She’s, as I say, the leader of the delegation, and there will also be representatives from the U.S. Postal Service.

QUESTION: Do you have any idea how much – how much money the struggling Postal Service stands to make if you’re able to --

MR. KELLY: Boy.

QUESTION: -- reinstitute this? Or how many – what you expect the volume of mail --

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

QUESTION: -- in this era of declining --

MR. KELLY: Mail?

QUESTION: -- mail to be between the U.S. and Cuba?

MR. KELLY: Those are questions that I’m not prepared to answer at this time. But – and I would assume that we would have to go to the U.S. Postal Service for that kind of information.

QUESTION: And why are they being held in Havana? The previous talks, migration talks, others, have been – have all been held in New York. Do you know why --

MR. KELLY: I’m not sure if the – of the exact answer to that question. It might be a matter of reciprocity, that last time we had these talks, which I think was about seven years ago, may have been here. But let me see if I can get you an answer why they have them --

QUESTION: The last time you had postal talks?

MR. KELLY: I believe it was about six or seven years ago.[2]

Yeah.

QUESTION: Different topic, Afghanistan?

MR. KELLY: Okay.

QUESTION: Can I just ask a clarification?

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

QUESTION: Is she the most senior U.S. official to go to Havana in a certain timeframe? I mean --

MR. KELLY: Of course, we have diplomats in Havana.

QUESTION: I know that. But she’s a DAS, which is somewhat high.

MR. KELLY: Yeah. I think in this Administration, yes, she would be the most senior American official to go to Havana.

QUESTION: The head of the Interests Section is not more senior than a DAS?

MR. KELLY: Yeah. But, I mean, from Washington she would be – she would be the most senior person.

QUESTION: In Afghanistan, the Independent Election Commission has announced its results with Karzai getting 54.62 percent of votes, and with the fraud – things haven’t been taken care of yet.

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

QUESTION: So how do you respond to it?

MR. KELLY: Well, we, of course, took note of the announcement of the full preliminary results of the presidential elections. But we – but I want to reemphasize that these are just preliminary, they’re not final, and we’re still waiting for the certified results. These certified results will only come after the Independent Electoral Commission and the Electoral Complaints Commission have carried out their investigations thoroughly and done all the required audits and recounts. You know that they’ve quarantined over 600 polling stations. And so just to say it again, we welcome this next step in the process, but caution patience to everybody to await the final certified results.

QUESTION: The EU observer team there has said, I think, that they think that one in three of the votes that Karzai received may have been fraudulent. Do you have any reason to believe that they’re close to the mark, wide of the mark, and what does – what is the U.S. information on that?

MR. KELLY: We want to allow this process to take place. We – we’re putting our confidence behind these two institutions – the IEC and the ECC – and we are, as I said before, counseling patience and we want this process to play out. But I don’t have any kind of independent data that I’m prepared to share with you. Our – as I said, our focus is on allowing this process to play out.

QUESTION: This – was this, the election issue or just Afghanistan in general, at any part on the agenda of the meeting this morning at the White House between the Secretary, Secretary Gates, and the National Security Advisor?

MR. KELLY: I’m not prepared to talk about the agenda of the meeting. I would be surprised if they didn’t talk about Afghanistan.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

QUESTION: Can I ask again – next week is UN General Assembly and does Secretary Clinton have any schedule to directly meet with North Koreans out there?

MR. KELLY: No, she doesn’t.

QUESTION: Also on North Korea?

MR. KELLY: Yeah, North Korea.

QUESTION: There’s been some reports in the media that U.S.-North Korea direct talks could begin as early as late October or early November. Do you have any comment on these?

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

QUESTION: Right.

MR. KELLY: You know – you heard what Secretary Clinton said yesterday, that any bilateral talks would have to be in the context of our multilateral forum that we have put all of our faith into, the Six-Party Talks. We have received an invitation from the – from North Korea, and we have discussed this invitation and the way forward with our partners in this – with our multilateral partners. But as Secretary Clinton said, no decisions have been made whether or not to accept that invitation.

Yeah, in the back.

QUESTION: Yeah, more on North Korea.

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

QUESTION: Last Thursday – last Thursday, John Podesta, who recently visited Pyongyang with President Bill Clinton, told reporters that when they visited Pyongyang, they suggested North Korea to accept Ambassador Bosworth. So why did they say this? Was that an informal message to North Korea, to send Ambassador Bosworth?

MR. KELLY: They were not carrying any message from the Administration regarding talks with North Korea. Of course, John Podesta is a very respected former government official. But he was there in his private capacity, and whatever advice he gave was in that capacity.

QUESTION: Yeah, but it’s not reasonable for them to suggest such a meeting to Kim Jong-il as a private citizen if U.S. Government didn’t have such planned at (inaudible).

MR. KELLY: No, we – again, I’ll – we did not ask him to pass any message like that to the North Koreans.

QUESTION: So it’s totally personal message?

MR. KELLY: It was a personal – yeah, a private initiative, yeah.

In the back.

QUESTION: On North Korea?

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

QUESTION: Madame Secretary – Secretary said yesterday it needs to explain directly or clearly to North Korea consequence and incentive. Can you tell us about the incentive?

MR. KELLY: Well, I think the – our focus is on restarting this multilateral context. And our goal, of course, is the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. And there are a number of ways that we can achieve that denuclearization, but the main thing is to sit down, and then we can work out how we attain that goal. But I’m not prepared to talk about any detail with any negotiating proposals that we would put forward, because we first want to get to the point where we get North Korea to agree to return to the Six-Party Talks.

QUESTION: So as soon as you get them to agree to return, you’ll be ready to lay out what your negotiating proposals are? Is that what you’re saying?

MR. KELLY: No, I’m not saying that, Matt. But we will, of course, be negotiating with them when they return to the Six-Party Talks.

Yeah, go ahead.

QUESTION: Sorry. I wanted to ask about Iran, but I have a clarification on North Korea.

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

QUESTION: I’m a little confused about the guidance – what you guys have been saying the last couple of days about they want – you’ll talk to them in the context of the Six-Party Talks. So does that mean that really, a U.S. official sits down with a North Korea official in a separate room from the rest of the people?

MR. KELLY: Well --

QUESTION: Or is it – are they sitting with them in the same room? Like, what does it mean in the context of the Six-Party Talks that the U.S. will meet bilaterally with North Korea? I’m sorry, I haven’t been able to figure out what that really means.

MR. KELLY: Yeah. Well, how this would actually work, of course, we’d have to hammer out. But we just want to make it clear that our goal is to get North Korea to commit to the – to what it already committed to do in 2005, and that’s the complete and verifiable denuclearization of North Korea. One of the ways that we can get to that is by – with the agreement of all of our partners sitting down with them and talking about how we would structure the Six-Party Talks and how we would --

QUESTION: Okay.

MR. KELLY: -- how we would reestablish the mechanism. But in terms of substantive talks, that’s – I mean, that’s really something we’re only prepared to do in the Six-Party framework.

QUESTION: And separately – thank you for clarifying that – separately, is the October 1st meeting – and sorry if I missed this – is it set for Turkey, for the P-5+1 political directors?

MR. KELLY: I don’t think it’s set, and this is something that High Representative – is it High Representative or High Commissioner Solana – Mr. Solana --

MR. DUGUID: High Representative.

MR. KELLY: -- High Representative Solana will work out with his counterpart in Iran, with Mr. Jalili. But I believe he said yesterday that Turkey is probably top of the list. But nothing’s been set yet. Only the date; the date has been set.

QUESTION: Iranian --

QUESTION: Is that a one-day meeting or --

MR. KELLY: I believe so.

QUESTION: -- can we expect that it would last longer than that?

MR. KELLY: I believe it’s only planned for one day right now.

QUESTION: Iran?

MR. KELLY: Iran, yeah. Go ahead.

QUESTION: The Iran policy dinner tonight that the Secretary is hosting, can you tell us about that? Is it interagency or – is the Administration ready to set its Iran policy?

MR. KELLY: Well, what it is is it’s an opportunity for the Secretary to hear from outside experts on Iran. These are mostly people from the academic community, from universities, from think tanks. And this is something that she’s done on other occasions. She most recently had a dinner with experts on Africa. That was on July 30th. She’s also had a similar type sit-down with foreign policy experts on more general topics. So it’s just a chance for her to get the benefit of their views in a relaxed and informal setting.

QUESTION: So you don’t – you still don’t have an Iran policy?

MR. KELLY: (Laughter.) I didn’t – did I say that?

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

MR. KELLY: No, she’s just listening – she’s listening to what their points of view are – these experts.

QUESTION: Do you have the invite list?

MR. KELLY: I do, but I’m not prepared to share it with you.

Yeah, Kirit.

QUESTION: On Cuba. Can I go back to Cuba real quick? Their foreign minister said today that they were – what was it – that they are not willing to take steps to improve relations with the U.S. until you remove the embargo, that they’re not going to – that you shouldn’t expect anything in return until you do that. Do you have any reaction to that?

MR. KELLY: Well, I think you saw that the President has already determined to extend the embargo for another year. We are prepared to sit down with Cuba and talk about how we can improve communication. And of course, one of the ways to do that is through these direct mail talks. And the Cubans have already agreed to sit down with them tomorrow, so I have to assume that they’re ready to talk seriously about it.

QUESTION: But he says he’s not going to make any concessions. I mean, that doesn’t give you any pause with engage – you know, embarking on this with the Cubans at all?

MR. KELLY: Well, let’s see what happens tomorrow.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MR. KELLY: Thanks.

(The briefing was concluded at 1:45 p.m.)

____________________
1 Dr. Moni
2 Though direct negotiations have been proposed on previous occasions, the United States has not previously had formal talks with the Cuban government on the resumption of mail services.

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