Ian Kelly
Department Spokesman
Daily Press Briefing
Washington, DC
November 13, 2009


Index for Today's Briefing
  • DEPARTMENT
    • Secretary Clinton Travel to the Philippines / Meetings with Senior Philippine Officials / Meeting with President Arroyo / Televised Interview with Students / Wreath Laying / Peace Corps Swearing In
    • Secretary Clinton Travel to Singapore / APEC Leaders Meeting / Meeting with Foreign Minister Yeo / U.S.-ASEAN Meeting
  • NORTH KOREA
    • Special Envoy Bosworth Travel
    • North Korea Threats to Take Military Action against South Korea / Refrain from Provocative Actions / Resumption of Multilateral Forum
  • CHINA
    • Supplying Uranium to Pakistan / Importance of Securing Nuclear Materials / Concern about Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons
  • AFGHANISTAN
    • Inauguration of President Karzai / Ambassador Holbrooke Attending
    • Afghan Government Priorities / U.S. Assistance / Responsible and Accountable Government / Afghan Led Process
  • VENEZUELA
    • Dialogue with Colombia and Venezuela / In Everyone's Interest to Promote Dialogue and Peaceful Resolutions / Support for Colombia's Call for Dialogue / Encourage Dialogue
  • MIDDLE EAST
    • U.S.-Israel Relationship / Meaningful Relations with Countries in the Region


TRANSCRIPT:

1:21 p.m. EST

MR. KELLY: Okay. Afternoon. It’s Friday. Let’s hope the skies part and the rains stop by Saturday. Well, just a quick – quick update on the Secretary. She, of course, has been in the Philippines for a couple of days. She’s met with senior Filipino officials, including Foreign Secretary Romulo and President Arroyo. Her meetings covered topics such as President Obama’s upcoming meetings in Singapore with the leaders of APEC and ASEAN, our close cooperation on counterterrorism, and the December Climate Change Conference in Denmark.

On her second day, which I guess was today, the Secretary held a live, televised interview with students from across the Philippines. She also met with veterans, laid a wreath at the Manila American Cemetery, and swore in 68 new Peace Corps volunteers at the U.S. Embassy. And she’s now in Singapore and she’ll represent the President at the APEC leaders meeting tomorrow, prior to the President’s arrival in Singapore. The Secretary will also hold a bilateral meeting with the Singaporean Foreign Minister Yeo on November 14, which is tomorrow. The Secretary will join the President for the U.S.-ASEAN summit meeting on November 15th.

And that’s all I have. So I’ll take your questions.

QUESTION: Do you have any update on the timing of a Bosworth visit?

MR. KELLY: I’m afraid I don’t. We’re – we, of course, have accepted the offer, and we’re still – we still haven’t decided on an actual date. It will be soon. I would imagine, though, that it will probably the end of this month, beginning of December, but we don’t have a specific date yet.

(Inaudible.)

QUESTION: The Washington Post has published an article today about China supplying uranium to Pakistan for – nuclear uranium to Pakistan around 1982, ’83, and says U.S. knew about it. Do you have any comment on it, and how can you prevent such things happening?

MR. KELLY: Yeah. Well, of course, we place a high – maybe the highest priority on the importance of securing nuclear materials. The President is committed to a new and stronger nonproliferation regime. Regarding this article, though, this is about something that happened in the early ’80s, I believe. And I don’t have any comment on that specific incident. But –

QUESTION: Is the U.S. concerned about the proliferation of nuclear weapons coming out of Pakistan?

MR. KELLY: I think we’re always concerned about the possibility of the proliferation of nuclear weapons and nuclear materials. We feel confident that the command and control of nuclear weapons in Pakistan is secure. And we don’t have any specific concerns about proliferation per se from – specifically from Pakistan.

QUESTION: Was this issue raised with China in the past about this --

MR. KELLY: This specific issue?

QUESTION: Yeah.

MR. KELLY: I don’t know. I mean, it’s --

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

MR. KELLY: -- I just don’t have that information. This was almost 30 years ago, so it’s difficult for me to say.

QUESTION: And for the – in Afghanistan, for the inauguration of the President Karzai there, is anyone going from here, except for Holbrooke – Ambassador Holbrooke?

MR. KELLY: At this time, I think – I’m sure there will be other representatives from the government who will go to the inauguration. But at this point, the only announcement that we’ve made is Ambassador Holbrooke going.

QUESTION: The ambassador there is working with the new agreement with the Afghan Government. Do you think it will be possible before the inauguration and afterwards?

MR. KELLY: Well, let me just give you kind of some context for this. We – right now, we are discussing with the Afghans how they can best achieve the goals that they’ve set for themselves with our help. And I think you’ve seen that President Karzai has laid out a number of priorities for his government in providing services for the Afghan people. These priorities are providing security, creating jobs, and generating economic growth, and delivering effective and accountable governance to the Afghan people, or fighting corruption.

This – these – as I say, these are goals that we share with the Afghan Government. And so what we’re looking to do is to help them implement these – their own priorities. I think it’s fair to say that we’re looking for a new chapter in our relationship with the Afghan Government, based on improved governance, a serious effort to eradicate corruption, and a joint effort to accelerate the training of Afghan security personnel. Because the end goal here, of course, is for the Afghans to provide for their own security and provide the kind of services that a responsive and accountable government should provide for.

QUESTION: Do you think there will be timeline for Afghan Government to work on corruption and good governance, or it’s just going on?

MR. KELLY: Well, again, this is – we’re looking for an Afghan-led process. And we believe that this is – these are important goals for any government, to be able to provide security, to be responsive to the needs of the people and be able to deliver the kind of services that they’re looking for. It’s not really for us to impose any kind of deadline. I think you’ve heard what the Secretary has said and what the President has said, that we will be looking for deeds and not just words. And this is – these are important issues, and we’d look for them to act very quickly to implement. But again, the important thing is that this is a process that they own. This has got to be done by Afghans for Afghans. But we stand ready to help them as they go through this important process.

Yeah.

QUESTION: Japanese Government is considering to limit – curtail the allocations, so-called sympathy budget, which covers part of the expenses of U.S. military forces in Japan. Do you have any reaction to that?

MR. KELLY: I’m afraid I don’t. But we’ll see if we can get information on that.

QUESTION: Are you aware of that report?

MR. KELLY: No, I’m afraid I’m not. But we’ll see if we can get you more information.

In the back, yeah.

QUESTION: Thank you. North Korea is threatening to take military action against South Korea ahead of President Obama’s visit to Seoul next week. What did you say?

MR. KELLY: Well, we would urge North Korea to avoid – to refrain, that is, from that kind of bellicose rhetoric and, in general, avoid any kind of provocative actions that would further inflame the tension in the region.

Yes.

QUESTION: Me?

MR. KELLY: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: On Latin America?

MR. KELLY: Okay.

QUESTION: Colombia today informed the OAS and the – I think the United Nations on what it considers a provocative remark from the side of Venezuela. I would like to know what is your position on that? Are you in a way – are you in the position to try to foster dialogue between Colombia and Venezuela, or with the United States and Venezuela? I don’t know what is the level of dialogue between both countries.

MR. KELLY: Well, we, of course, are – we, of course, believe it is in the interests of every country in the hemisphere to promote dialogue and to promote a peaceful resolution to any kind of conflicts. It is a – it is something for the two countries to work out, of course. But the United States, of course, is interested in promoting stability and promoting dialogue.

QUESTION: But is this something that you are wary of, that something could happen between both countries?

MR. KELLY: Well, of course, we would like to see more stability, more dialogue. We support Colombia’s recent calls for dialogue that would help overcome some of these tensions that have arisen over some of the statements of the leaders down there. And I would say that we, of course, are ready to work collaboratively with the countries in the region to promote peaceful solutions to the disputes in the region.

QUESTION: Could you please qualify what is the level of dialogue between the U.S. Government and Venezuela?

MR. KELLY: Well, it’s – I don’t think I’m really prepared to talk about the level of dialogue, except to say that we encourage more, that we encourage the kind of dialogue that would be productive and meaningful and would lead to a lessening of tension and a resolution of the conflicts. And we would call on all sides to, again, lower the level of rhetoric and sit down and start coming up with some practical approaches to resolving the conflict and reducing the tension.

One more in the back? Yeah.

QUESTION: Thank you. Do you think North Korea’s provocation has something to do with President Obama’s visit to Seoul?

MR. KELLY: Which provocation are you talking about?

QUESTION: The threat to take military action against South Korea.

MR. KELLY: Well, I would not try and characterize why North Korea has said what it has said, except to say that we, of course, are working towards a resumption of a multilateral forum to – that would lead to a lessening of tensions in the region. And – but I’m not going to try and connect what they’re doing with any other events in the region.

Yeah.

QUESTION: President Ahmadinejad made a comment yesterday that the U.S. must choose between Israel or being friends – have dialogue with Iran or have dialogue with Israel. Can it be something like that? Did you hear that comment?

MR. KELLY: No, I haven’t heard that comment. Israel is a very, very close friend of the U.S., and we don’t think we have to choose between Israel or any other country. We want to have productive, meaningful relations with all countries in the region.

Thank you.

(The briefing was concluded at 1:34 p.m.)


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