Ian Kelly
Department Spokesman
Daily Press Briefing
Washington, DC
October 5, 2009


Index for Today's Briefing
  • DEPARTMENT
    • U.S. Condemns Today's Bombing of the World Food Program Office in Pakistan/ Condolences to the Families
    • Thoughts and Sympathies with the People of Indonesia and the Philippines/ U.S. Is Providing Aid/ U.S. Naval Assets to Assist with Relief Efforts in Both Countries/ DOD Funding the Relief Effort/ USAID is Providing Emergency Relief Commodities Distributed Via the Red Cross
  • GREECE
    • U.S. Congratulates the PASOK on Their Election Victory/ Looks Forward to Working with the New Government
  • GOLDSTONE REPORT
    • U.S. Has Serious Concerns with the Allegations and Recommendations of the Report/ Israel Has the Institutions to Address the Report's Allegations/ U.S. Does Not Want the Report to Detract from the Parties Becoming Distracted from the Peace Process/ U.S. Has Been Frank in its Views on the Peace Process/ Will Not Discuss the Details of Diplomatic Exchanges/ Not Referring the Report Was in the Interest of All Parties
  • PALESTINIANS
    • U.S. Would Welcome Accord in Egypt if It Would Help Advance the Peace Process
  • MITCHELL TRAVEL
    • Will Announce Special Envoy Mitchell's Travel Soon
  • DALAI LAMA
    • No Information on Whether a Department Official is Meeting the Dalai Lama/ The President Will Meet with the Dalai Lama at a Mutually Beneficial Time/ No Change in U.S. Policy Toward Tibet as a Result of This Decision/ U.S. Wants to Engage China/ China is an Important Global Player/ U.S. Does Not Downplay Areas of Disagreement with China
  • NORTH KOREA
    • U.S. Has Consulted with China and Other Partners in the Six-Party Talks/ U.S. Encourages Dialogue Leading to the Complete and Verifiable Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula/ No Readout of the North Korea - China Meeting
  • CURACAO
    • Local Authorities Established a Local Tip Line to Aid Investigators in the Search for the Missing U.S. Foreign Service Officer
  • HONDURAS
    • The Department Does Not Tell Members of Congress Who They May Meet With/ U.S. Does Not Recognize the De Facto Regime/ OAS Mission Traveling to Honduras on October 7th/ U.S. Supports President Zelaya's Return/ U.S. Supports the OAS in Resolving This Dispute


TRANSCRIPT:

1:29 p.m. EDT

MR. KELLY: I just have a couple of things at the top. First of all, I want to just reiterate what the U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan Anne Patterson and Ambassador Susan Rice at UN said today and condemn the terrorist bombing at the World Food Program’s Islamabad office. Senseless acts of violence against people who help feed the poor and hungry are an attack on civilization itself. Such cruel acts expose the true nature of the terrorist agenda.

As part of an emergency relief program, the World Food Program – the United Nations frontline agency in the fight against hunger – has been providing vital food assistance to as many as two million Pakistani civilians displaced by the conflict in the Swat Valley region.

We extend our deepest sympathy to the injured and our condolences to the families and friends of those who lost their lives in the bombing.

I also want to update you on the – on U.S. assistance to the various disasters in Asia. Our thoughts and sympathies continue to be with the people of Indonesia and the Philippines as they deal with the disaster – disasters of earthquakes and flooding. U.S. assistance in this time of great need has been rapid and diverse, and we stand ready to provide additional aid that would be helpful to some of the programs. And assistance that we’ve provided to Indonesia so far include – you may have seen that the Secretary of Defense authorized $7 million for relief operations in Indonesia. U.S. Pacific Command, PACOM, has dispatched a humanitarian assistance rapid response team field hospital to Padang. The U.S. Agency for International Development is transporting an estimated 45 metric tons of emergency relief commodities from its stockpile in Dubai and is scheduled to arrive via commercial aircraft in Padang, in Indonesia, at about 11 o’clock tonight our time. And PACOM has also directed the USS Denver, an amphibious response vessel with helicopter and lift capabilities, to Padang in Indonesia. It’s expected to arrive October 8, and its helicopters will assist in the hardest hit rural areas from offshore. The destroyer USS McCampbell and the USNS Richard Byrd are also en route.

And as far as the Philippines are concerned, again, U.S. forces are helping support rescue operations for victims of the flooding, as well as distributing essential relief supplies. They are providing medical treatment to flood victims. USAID has allotted 1.8 million to support relief operations of humanitarian organizations. And then the USS Tortuga and the USS Harpers Ferry are in Subic Bay[1] right now and are providing support.

So thank you for your patience, and I’ll take your questions.

QUESTION: Can I just ask you a question about that? You said 7 million – what was the 7 million for Indonesia?

MR. KELLY: This was – for details, I’d refer you to the Defense Department --

QUESTION: Well, that’s why --

MR. KELLY: -- because the Secretary of Defense is --

QUESTION: Yeah. Why is the Secretary of Defense doing humanitarian aid?

MR. KELLY: Well, I think that the enabler for a lot of this aid is the U.S. military, particularly the U.S. Navy. And this is the money that goes to support this logistical support. I mean, they’re the delivery mechanism for a lot of this. Plus you have U.S. servicemen on the ground to help with the victims.

QUESTION: Yes. Presumably you also have U.S. diplomats and --

MR. KELLY: Yes.

QUESTION: -- aid workers --

MR. KELLY: Yes, also have U.S. diplomats.

QUESTION: -- AID workers.

MR. KELLY: Yes.

QUESTION: So why is the 7 million coming from the military? Why – I don’t understand.

MR. KELLY: To enable all these operations, the ships being sent, the helicopters operating off of the ships.

QUESTION: So it’s not actually supplies? It’s actually just to pay for the ships to get there?

MR. KELLY: I think the supplies are – well, there are supplies in this hospital. The hospital is – this is a U.S. military field hospital and it will be able to treat up to 400 patients a day, and it arrived via two C-17s, and it’s --

QUESTION: Well, I guess my – what is the State Department’s contribution?

MR. KELLY: The State Department’s contribution is – we have --

QUESTION: Or AID – any State/AID contribution.

MR. KELLY: Yeah. AID is providing, as I said before, the emergency relief commodities. This includes plastic sheeting, hygiene kits, generators. And this will all be distributed via the Red Cross. We also gave $300,000 to Mercy Corps on October 3rd to assist with water, sanitation, and shelter in quake-affected areas. And then our office of – USAID’s Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance has set aside an additional $3 million to provide further assistance once the need for additional aid is determined. So I think one of the roles of the State Department and USAID is to work with the Indonesian Government and the Philippine Government to identify these areas of additional need.

The first responders – I think it’s fair to say – is the U.S. military with helicopters and the field hospital.

QUESTION: Okay. Wow.

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

MR. KELLY: Charlie, you have a question? No, okay. In the back.

QUESTION: Greek elections, please.

MR. KELLY: Greek elections.

QUESTION: Yes.

MR. KELLY: We congratulate George Papandreou and his PASOK party on – or PASOK – sorry – party. I was told how to pronounce it, and I blew it right at the top there. We congratulate prime minister – George Papandreou and his PASOK party on their victory. We look forward to working with the new Greek government on the many bilateral and multilateral issues facing our countries and facing our – facing the NATO alliance.

QUESTION: The President spoke with him. Do you have any idea if he invited him in Washington?

MR. KELLY: I’d really have to refer you to the White House on that. I saw a brief readout from the White House of the call, but I don’t have any other details besides that.

Also on Greece or a new subject?

QUESTION: A new topic.

QUESTION: New subject.

MR. KELLY: Go ahead. Yeah, you first.

QUESTION: Can I ask about the Goldstone report? On Friday, the Palestinian Authority agreed in Geneva to go ahead and put – defer a vote for it to go to the Human – UN Human Rights Council. What role specifically did the United States play in pressuring the Palestinian Authority to make that decision?

MR. KELLY: Well, I don’t know if I would accept your characterization of pressuring. I think that we recognized that we had serious concerns with the recommendations and some of the allegations. We felt very strongly that while these investigations should be investigated and addressed, that we thought on the one hand that Israel had the kind of institutions that could address these allegations. And of course, we urged Israel to address these very serious allegations.

But I think we had a broader concern that we didn’t want the report to distract us from our ultimate goal, which was to address the root causes of the tragic events of last January, and that’s the lack of a regional and lasting peace between the two parties – between the Israelis and the Palestinians. So we were concerned that we stay focused on that ultimate goal.

And we are not saying that the allegations in the report – we’re not saying that they should be ignored. We simply do not want the report itself to become any kind of impediment to this ultimate goal. We appreciate the seriousness with which the Palestinians approach this very, very difficult issue, and we respect this decision to defer discussion of the report to a later date for the reasons that I just stated – that we want to make sure that we stay focused on the ultimate goal here.

QUESTION: You say you respect the Palestinians’ decision?

MR. KELLY: Yes.

QUESTION: Is that what was sort of discussed in the meeting between Abu Mazen and the U.S. Consul General in Jerusalem? That’s what’s being reported, that he strictly, specifically said that a message from Secretary Clinton is that he is to defer that report going to the UN Human Rights Council so that the Middle East peace process does not veer off track.

MR. KELLY: Well, in all honesty, I’m not aware of that meeting, and so I can’t comment on it. I’m not sure that we would comment on a meeting – on a confidential, diplomatic exchange between one of our diplomats and a representative of the Palestinian Authority. I’m just saying that we have been very frank about where we think the focus should be, and that should be on resolving this longstanding conflict.

QUESTION: Do you agree with Prime – with Benjamin Netanyahu’s statement that this report, if it had gone to the Human Rights Council, would have dealt a fatal blow to the peace process? Do you agree with that assertion?

MR. KELLY: Well, I – that’s an assertion by the – by Mr. Netanyahu. Our – as I say, our priorities were that this process goes forward so we’re able to address the underlying causes. We are focused on that, and that is the most – that is our priority right now in dealing with the issues related to the Middle East.

QUESTION: Still on the Middle East?

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

QUESTION: The Egyptian foreign minister from Amman says that the rival Palestinian factions will sign an agreement, a reconciliation agreement on October 26 – just came in maybe 20 minutes before you arrived. Are you skeptical or hopeful given the long, you know, efforts to try to secure a deal?

MR. KELLY: Well, I haven’t seen this report, and if this is something that helps us reach this ultimate goal that I was just referring to, of course we would welcome it. But I don’t have any details on it.

QUESTION: Can we go back to Goldstone for a second?

MR. KELLY: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: You’re saying that there was no U.S. pressure on the Palestinians? That is a bit disingenuous, I think.

MR. KELLY: Well, as I say, we --

QUESTION: Did you not – did you not discuss with the Palestinians the fact that you didn’t think that it was a good idea for it to go – for them to go ahead with this resolution?

MR. KELLY: I think we have said it publicly that we do not want --

QUESTION: Did you tell the Palestinians that?

MR. KELLY: -- to have impediments on --

QUESTION: Exactly. Did you tell the Palestinians that?

MR. KELLY: Well, we’ve said it publicly.

QUESTION: Did you tell --

MR. KELLY: I’m saying it right now.

QUESTION: Yeah, but did you tell the Palestinians that?

MR. KELLY: Well, I’m not going to get into the details of our diplomatic conversations.

QUESTION: Well, I mean, you’re talking – you’re saying it publicly right now that you didn’t – so it stands to reason that you told the Palestinians what you thought.

MR. KELLY: Not going to get into the details of a diplomatic conversation.

QUESTION: I don’t – I’m not aware of what my colleague asked about this meeting of the consul general and Abbas. But it’s my understanding this came up during the UN – at the UN with the Palestinians. Is that not correct?

MR. KELLY: Well, again, I’m not going to get into --

QUESTION: I mean in New York, not out in --

MR. KELLY: I think that this was something that was in the interests of all sides, and I don’t accept the characterization that we necessarily put pressure on anybody to – I think what we wanted to do was highlight that it was in the interests of all parties involved to set the sort of context that we’re looking for to start the negotiations.

QUESTION: Well, but leaving aside whether you pressured them or not, you did discuss it with them, didn’t you? I mean, you discussed it with the Israelis. It came up during the meeting with Secretary Clinton and the Secretary General --

MR. KELLY: Well, I’m certain we discussed it with them in Geneva as well. But I’m not going to get into the substance of the discussions.

Yeah, Michel.

QUESTION: Do you have anything on Senator Mitchell’s trip to the Middle East this week?

MR. KELLY: I don’t have anything to announce, but we will very soon. It’s going to happen this week, so I would imagine that today or tomorrow we’ll be able to announce something. But I have nothing right now.

QUESTION: So you’re waiting for him to actually leave tomorrow before you announce it?

MR. KELLY: I hope it’s before he leaves.

QUESTION: The Dalai Lama is in D.C. this week. Can you confirm reports that no one from this building is planning to meet with him, including the new special coordinator for Tibetan issues?

MR. KELLY: Yeah, I’ll take that question. I’m not sure if I have anything for that, but I will take that question.

QUESTION: Okay, and then a follow-up. Was there any significance to the naming of that coordinator position in – on the same day as the 60th anniversary?

MR. KELLY: No, I don’t think there was any – this was not coordinated to happen on the same day.

QUESTION: Well, was it coordinated to have someone in that job before the Dalai Lama got to Washington?

MR. KELLY: I don’t think that was coordinated.

QUESTION: You were running out of time there.

MR. KELLY: I seriously --

QUESTION: Was it not the Administration --

MR. KELLY: -- don’t know the answer to that question --

QUESTION: Is it not fair to say that the Administration wanted someone to be in that position before he got here?

MR. KELLY: I really – I don’t know the answer to that question. It’s quite possible, though.

QUESTION: Can you talk a little bit about the diplomacy behind the decision about the President not meeting with him? You know, what was – this time – postponing the meeting?

MR. KELLY: Yeah. It wouldn't be proper for me to discuss the decision making going into a meeting involving the President.

QUESTION: Well, what was the State Department’s feeling about this? That it was not the right time?

MR. KELLY: Well, I think --

QUESTION: It would be better to wait?

MR. KELLY: I think that the Dalai Lama is an important leader. He’s a revered spiritual figure.

QUESTION: You think?

MR. KELLY: I think we think – the U.S. Government thinks that he is an internationally revered religious and cultural figure. He’s a Nobel Prize Laureate. I think you’ve seen that the – we have decided – the President has decided that he will meet with the Dalai Lama at a mutually agreeable time. I think that there was an announcement that it would be after his trip to China. But as far as further details, I really have to refer you to the White House.

QUESTION: Can I go back to the prior question about the meeting with the special envoy to Tibet here? Can you either confirm now, or will you take the question --

MR. KELLY: I will take the question.

QUESTION: -- whether there is no meeting planned?

MR. KELLY: I’ll take that question and see if we can confirm it.

QUESTION: And why, if there is no meeting?

MR. KELLY: Yeah, okay. I will. Yeah.

QUESTION: Does the fact that – does any of this signal a change in U.S. policy towards China, towards Tibet as an issue or --

MR. KELLY: I wouldn't necessarily read – I mean, I wouldn't necessarily read this decision – anything into the decision beyond what it is, is that we’ve decided to meet with the Dalai Lama because of our respect for his position, the fact that he is a revered spiritual leader. Our position regarding China is clear that we want to engage China. We think China is an important global player. We don’t – we also don’t try and downplay some of the concerns that we have about China and some of our disagreements with China in the areas of human rights, religious freedom, and freedom of expression. But I think these are two separate issues: the President’s decision to meet with the Dalai Lama and the path that our relationship with China is on.

QUESTION: Do you expect that Tibet would come up in the next meeting when President Obama goes to China?

MR. KELLY: Oh, I would imagine a lot of issues regarding some of these – regarding the issues that I just mentioned – human rights, Tibet, religious freedom, freedom of expression – that all these issues will be covered. I mean, human rights is at the center of our relationship with China, so yes, I would imagine that it would come up.

QUESTION: Human rights is at the center of your relationship with China?

MR. KELLY: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Is that --

MR. KELLY: It’s part of what we are.

QUESTION: Since when?

MR. KELLY: This is the center of what we are, is these issues like freedom of expression, freedom of religion, human rights in general.

QUESTION: You don’t think the Chinese buying treasuries and things like that, that’s not the center of – that’s not at the core of the relationship right now?

MR. KELLY: Well, you can have various issues in the center of our relationship.

QUESTION: I mean, the Secretary herself when we were in Asia on her first trip said that, you know, it was an issue, but it wasn’t going to be – it wasn’t going to be a dominating issue. So I’m a little surprised that you’re saying it’s at the center of the relationship now.

MR. KELLY: Well – but she has said that we’ll – we’re going to have frank engagements with the Chinese on these issues as well. And we have.

QUESTION: Change of topic?

MR. KELLY: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: North Korea. What is your reaction on Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao met with North Korean leader Kim Jong-il?

MR. KELLY: Yes, we’ve – I mean, we’ve seen those reports, of course, and we’ve talked to the – to our Chinese partners in the Six-Party Talks and we’re – we are conducting close coordination with China and the other partners in the talks. And we, of course, encourage any kind of dialogue that would help us lead to our ultimate goal that’s shared by all the partners in the Six-Party Talks, which, of course, is the complete and verifiable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

QUESTION: So do you think the meeting is going to lead to any changes to the Six-Party --

MR. KELLY: Well, I hope so. I mean, that is our goal that North Korea will return to the Six-Party Talks, and that’s a goal we share with the Chinese.

QUESTION: Do you hear anything after the meeting?

MR. KELLY: I’m sorry?

QUESTION: Do you hear anything from the Chinese --

MR. KELLY: I don’t have any readout of it.

QUESTION: Any news on Bosworth going to North Korea?

MR. KELLY: No, no decisions have been made about that either.

QUESTION: Do you have any update on your search for your missing vice consul in Curacao?

MR. KELLY: No, I regret to say we don’t. And I’d like to be able to tell you that we have some good news, but I don’t. I think the only update I have for you is that the local authorities set up an anonymous tip line, as you may have seen, and that has produced, I think, several eyewitnesses who saw him that night, and the local police are following up on those leads. But unfortunately, I don’t have any other news besides that.

QUESTION: And you believe that his disappearance is related to criminal elements?

MR. KELLY: Well, I don’t know. I mean, obviously, finding his blood on clothes is not an encouraging development.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: Ian?

MR. KELLY: Dave’s got one question.

QUESTION: Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen, ranking Republican on the Foreign Affairs Committee of the House, is going to meet Micheletti, the de facto president of Honduras. Can we assume that that comes against the wishes of the Administration?

MR. KELLY: Well, I mean, it’s not for us to tell members of Congress what to do. I mean, you probably saw over the weekend that Senator DeMint went to Tegucigalpa on – I guess it was on Friday, and along with Representative Roskam – Representatives Roskam, Lamborn, and Shock. They met with members of de facto regime, the Supreme Court, the Supreme Election Tribunal, and also with some members of civil society. Those meetings were arranged directly with the de facto regime. The U.S. Embassy did not set them up.

And I would imagine it would be the same thing for Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen too. We do provide logistical support, as we always do, for visiting members of Congress in terms of transportation and security protection and things like that. But we didn’t have involvement in setting up these meetings.

QUESTION: In general, do you take the dim view of actions that would seem to convey recognition on Micheletti?

MR. KELLY: Well, you know what our policy is. And the policy of the Executive Branch is that we don’t recognize the de facto regime down there. But our focus is on coming to a resolution of this conflict between the duly elected President Zelaya and this de facto regime. So that’s where our focus is. There’s a OAS mission that’s scheduled to arrive there on the 7th. And this is all part of, as I say, where our focus is – trying to find a negotiated solution.

QUESTION: So the Embassy did provide these visiting lawmakers with transport – they picked them up at the airport and --

MR. KELLY: That’s my understanding.

QUESTION: -- ferried them around town?

MR. KELLY: Yeah. Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: So they drove them to these meetings?

MR. KELLY: (Laughter.) Where are you going with this, Matt?

QUESTION: I’m just curious.

MR. KELLY: I believe so. That’s my understanding.

QUESTION: But on the idea that you’re continuing to call for a negotiated solution, we really don’t hear that much about the call for President Zelaya to return to finish out his term. I mean, is that still your position?

MR. KELLY: Absolutely.

QUESTION: For the remainder of his term? Or isn’t it true that you’re trying to find a way where he can come in for like, five minutes and then get --

MR. KELLY: Well, I don’t know. The leading role is the OAS here. And our position has been unwavering that we support the return of the democratically elected president.

QUESTION: For the remainder of his full term?

MR. KELLY: You know –

QUESTION: That was your position about a month ago.

MR. KELLY: Well, I don’t know if it was our position. But we support the OAS effort in this regard. And the O – and there is unanimous opinion among the OAS as well that we need to restore the constitutionally, democratically elected president.

QUESTION: But not for the full term, though.

MR. KELLY: Well, that’s all being worked out. I would assume it’s the full term, but it’s an OAS issue next.

QUESTION: Thank you.

(The briefing was concluded at 1:54 p.m.)
[1]Manila Bay

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