Victoria Nuland
Spokesperson
Daily Press Briefing
Washington, DC
September 8, 2011


Index for Today's Briefing
  • DEPARTMENT
    • Secretary Clinton Delivers Remarks in New York Tomorrow on a Smart Power Approach to Counterterrorism / 9/11 Anniversary
    • Assistant Secretary Bob Blake has Rescheduled Trip to Sri Lanka and India
  • ISRAEL/PALESTINIANS
    • Ambassador Tom Shannon / Under Secretary Designate Wendy Sherman / U.S. Opposes a Move in New York by Palestinians to Try to Establish a State / U.S. Diplomacy Continues to Make the Case to the Parties to Come Back to Negotiating Table / The Fundamental Situation / Two States Living Side by Side / President Abbas / U.S. Diplomacy Will Continue / Two States Living Side by Side
    • U.S. Seeking a Result in the Region that is Consensual Between the Two Parties
  • LIBYA
    • The Bulk of TNC and Mr. Tarhouni are in Tripoli Working
    • Nuclear, Chemical, Conventional Issues / Chemical Weapons / Facilities Remain Sealed
    • OPCW /Press Reports on Depots / TNC Assurances / Ongoing Bilateral Relationship / Nuclear Program Dismantled
    • U.S. Discussions on the Unfinished Business of Lockerbie
    • Conversation Between Niger and TNC Continues / Chris Stevens / Ambassador Cretz / Megrahi
    • Readout of Secretary Clinton's Meeting with Ambassador Aujali
  • SYRIA
    • Arab League / U.S. Strongly Supports Arab League's Call that Bloodshed Needs to End / Asad Needs to Step Aside / Ambassador Ford / Channels are Still Open
    • United Nations General Assembly / U.S. Will Meet Host Country Obligations
  • SOUTH KOREA
    • Readout of Consultations with Ambassador Wi Sung-Lac
  • ALGERIA
    • Security Council Continues to Look at Letter from Algerians
  • PAKISTAN
    • U.S. Continues Close Partnership and Cooperation on Counterterrorism
  • CUBA
    • Governor Richardson is in Cuba as a Private Citizen / Alan Gross
  • TURKEY/ISRAEL
    • Turkey is a Strong and Valued Ally of U.S. / Palmer Report
  • AFGHANISTAN
    • Afghan National Security Advisor / Upcoming Meetings


TRANSCRIPT:

1:07 p.m. EDT

MS. NULAND: Good afternoon, everybody. I have a couple of announcements at the top, and then we’ll go to your questions.

First, tomorrow, Secretary Clinton will deliver remarks in New York at John Jay College of Criminal Justice on a smart-power approach to counterterrorism. This is in connection with the tenth anniversary of September 11th, and Secretary will be taking stock of where we stand in the fight against al-Qaida now that bin Ladin is dead, and she will outline the Administration’s strategy going forward. She will make clear that we must keep up the pressure on al-Qaida and its network, and face down its murderous ideology. She’ll also underscore the need to use all of the tools at our – in our national arsenal to achieve this objective.

Second, just to advise that Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Bob Blake has now rescheduled his trip to Sri Lanka and India. He leaves on September 12th, returning on the 16th. In Sri Lanka, he intends to meet with government officials, civil society representatives, university students, and political leaders. This is the trip that he had to cancel because of the hurricane. And in India, Assistant Secretary Blake will meet with the Government of India and have internal consultations with the staff at the Embassy.

Let’s go to what’s on your minds.

QUESTION: All right. Just to – just one point of clarification on the – her speech tomorrow --

MS. NULAND: Yes.

QUESTION: -- is to mark the tenth anniversary of the September 11th attacks, right?

MS. NULAND: Yes.

QUESTION: Because by my count, it would be the 211th anniversary of September 11th. Right?

I want to go to what – some testimony on the Hill yesterday that’s caused a lot of excitement in the Middle East, particularly in Israel. But before I ask the actual policy question, I just wanted to check, who is the current Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, the number three person in the State Department?

MS. NULAND: Ambassador Tom Shannon is Acting Under Secretary for Political Affairs. As you know, the President has nominated Wendy Sherman, and she had her hearing on the Hill yesterday.

QUESTION: Correct. But – so Ambassador Sherman’s position in this Administration right now is what?

MS. NULAND: She is a nominee for the position of Under Secretary --

QUESTION: She is not a member of the Administration or no?

MS. NULAND: She is not a member of the Administration until she receives the confirmation of the U.S. Senate --

QUESTION: But presumably --

MS. NULAND: -- and is sworn in as such.

QUESTION: -- in her – in preparation for her testimony, or for her confirmation hearing, she has been privy to what the Administration thinks policy-wise on pretty much every issue there is, given the post that she’s going into, correct?

MS. NULAND: She was well prepared for her hearing yesterday, if that’s what you’re asking.

QUESTION: Okay. Yeah. So does she speak for the Administration when she says that you will veto the – a Palestinian statehood recognition resolution at the Security Council, should one be presented?

MS. NULAND: You know, Matt, we’ve seen the press furor around this. Frankly, it was surprising to us. It should not come as a shock to anyone in this room that the U.S. opposes a move in New York by the Palestinians to try to establish a state that can only be achieved through negotiations. So yes, if a – something comes to a vote in the UN Security Council, the U.S. will veto.

QUESTION: Same topic, if I may, Matthew.

QUESTION: Why – can I just ask why people have been only willing to dance around this before?

MS. NULAND: I think Under Secretary-designate Sherman was clear yesterday. I think the President’s been clear all along that he opposes this, and had also made clear that the U.S. would oppose such a move firmly in the UN.

QUESTION: Okay. So the – using the word oppose – the Administration, when it uses the word oppose, in terms of Security Council resolutions, means veto?

MS. NULAND: I was – I think I’ve been clear --

QUESTION: Right?

MS. NULAND: I think our nominee was clear. There should be no question.

QUESTION: What I’m getting at is you can’t vote no in the Security Council without vetoing it, correct, if you’re a permanent member?

MS. NULAND: Correct.

QUESTION: So when you say you will oppose something, it means the same as veto? What I’m --

MS. NULAND: I have already confirmed that.

QUESTION: Okay. So she also said that our expectation is that that will not occur, i.e. that a resolution will not be presented at the Security Council, but that one could – one before the General Assembly was something that was still of concern. So can you say why it is that she would say that you’re not – you do not expect a Security Council resolution?

MS. NULAND: Well, I don’t think that I’ve parsed the transcript as carefully as you have. I would imagine that what our nominee was referring to was the fact that our diplomacy continues to make the case to the parties that the best route forward is to come back to the negotiating table and not to pursue action in New York. She was absolutely clear about where the U.S. would stand if a vote comes forward in the UN Security Council.

QUESTION: Right. Well, I haven’t really parsed it that much at all. It said I – she said, “I don’t expect this to occur.” And then she said --

MS. NULAND: I think she was speaking --

QUESTION: -- it is our expectation that it will not occur. So what gives you reason to believe that the Palestinians will not go to the Security Council, but may – but also leaves you concerned that they may still go to the General Assembly?

MS. NULAND: Again, I can’t parse the transcript except to say that I would expect that what she was intending to convey there was that our diplomacy is going to continue to try to persuade the Palestinians that going to New York in any way is not going to be productive, but certainly the Security Council move is not going to be productive.

Please.

QUESTION: Yes. Victoria, yesterday, I attended an event across the street with Assistant Secretary Esther Brimmer, and she said that the Administration views the effort – the Palestinian Authority effort at the UN as an effort to delegitimize Israel. Could you explain to us why such an effort or such a move would delegitimize the state of Israel?

MS. NULAND: Again, I think you know where we stand on this issue. I don’t think I can improve on the comments that we’ve made from this podium over the last week, that the Secretary herself has made, that the President has made, that we think the best way forward for these parties is to come back to the table and negotiate this through.

QUESTION: I guess what I’m trying to do is really explain to my readers as to why this is viewed as a process to delegitimize a state. So could you just help me understand as to why is it perceived as such?

MS. NULAND: As we’ve said a number of times, the day after any action in the UN, you haven’t changed the fundamental situation. And what we are seeking to do is to get to a place where we can have two states living side by side in peace and security. An action in New York is not going to achieve that objective, as we’ve said many times.

QUESTION: Has the Secretary made any calls on this in the last 24 hours?

MS. NULAND: Not in the past 24 hours but, as you know, she’s been very active and she – her most recent phone call was to President Abbas before the Ross-Hale trip.

QUESTION: Has there been any follow-up on that trip? Any --

MS. NULAND: They’re on their way back, so we’ll have to consult with them, and then we’ll see where we go.

QUESTION: Can I ask if, as you say, the day after a vote, you haven’t changed the fundamental situation, what – if nothing changes, what’s the problem?

MS. NULAND: The concern here is that you inflame the situation; you make it harder to get back to talks. It would be far better to get back to talks than to end up in a situation in New York that makes tensions in the region higher.

QUESTION: Can you explain to me exactly how it inflames the situation if only one party – I mean, only – this would seem to only upset one party; that would be the Israelis. And if you say the situation doesn’t change – fundamentally doesn’t change on the ground – this has always been somewhat of a mystery to me – why – what is the practical effect of a General Assembly resolution that says that Palestine is – that changes Palestine’s status from being a non-state member – observer – to being a non-state member? What is the practical effect that concerns you so much?

MS. NULAND: We are seeking a result in the region that is consensual between the two parties, that is lasting, that is durable, that leads to security. Taking action in New York is going to make that more difficult. You’re going to end up in a situation where you have the two parties on opposite sides in New York. That is not productive. It’s not going to help the environment, the conditions for peace.

QUESTION: But the two sides are at opposite – opposite now, in New York now, in the region now. Well, you said that you think that there are better ways to go about this, but you haven’t explained exactly how it inflames the situation except by maybe upsetting Israel, one – only which is only one country. But there are obviously many countries out there that are prepared to support this in the General Assembly. So it’s unclear to me exactly if, as you say, the fundamental situation on the ground doesn’t change, why this is such a problem.

MS. NULAND: There could be tensions on the ground. There are certainly going to be tensions in New York, which we want to avoid. We want to get these parties back to the table. I think we’ve said what we can on this one today.

QUESTION: Just one quick follow-up on – earlier this year, the Palestinian representative in town was allowed to raise the Palestinian flag on the building, so do you expect that the day after --

MS. NULAND: I’m sorry, can you start again?

QUESTION: Yes, ma’am.

MS. NULAND: A little slower.

QUESTION: I’ll try, sorry. Earlier this year, the Palestinian ambassador in town, the PLO ambassador, Mr. Maen Erekat, was able to raise the Palestinian flag on the building where the office is. Do you expect that the day after, there will be more restriction imposed on the Palestinian representative office in town, the PLO representative?

MS. NULAND: You mean here in Washington?

QUESTION: Yes, here in Washington. I’m sorry, I should have explained that.

MS. NULAND: Again, you’re taking me into hypothetical day-after scenarios. We’re focused on our current plan, which is to try to persuade these parties to do this at the peace table, not in New York.

QUESTION: I’m sorry. I just got – I have to – that’s a hypothetical question? Well, it is also a hypothetical question if the Israelis go to the Security Council, you will veto. So you’ve now answered – you answered that hypothetical question, right? I mean, it’s not at all clear that the Palestinians are going to go to the Security Council.

MS. NULAND: Absolutely. It is not at all clear. However, if that is the course of action --

QUESTION: But you’re coming --

MS. NULAND: -- I’ve made clear where we still stand. Anything else? Okay.

QUESTION: On Libya.

MS. NULAND: Yes.

QUESTION: There was a report this morning that the TNC may be considering splitting its time between the east and west of the country. I’m just wondering why isn’t the TNC in Tripoli? What’s the problem? Is the security situation that bad? And really, what does that say about whether or not it’s been liberated?

MS. NULAND: Well, first let me just say that Mr. Tarhouni and the bulk of the TNC are in Tripoli and are --

QUESTION: Permanently?

MS. NULAND: They are in Tripoli permanently. They are standing up the security committee, other internal committees to work on humanitarian issues, water issues. The situation in Tripoli is improving. There is calm on the streets. Some members of the TNC are still located in Benghazi. They are making their own plans to move. I would guess that some of them are having the same issues that we’re having with our Embassy, that they have to ensure that where they’re going to locate is safe, is secure, is habitable. So this is a process. But the bulk of the TNC government and Mr. – led by Mr. Tarhouni is in Tripoli and they are very, very busy working.

QUESTION: Would you describe Tripoli as pretty much secure right now?

MS. NULAND: Obviously not. There are still pockets and things that need to be managed, but the situation improves by the day.

QUESTION: Can I have just follow-up on that? You’ve been told by the TNC then that they will take their government in its entirety and situate it in Tripoli. Is that what you --

MS. NULAND: They will at the appropriate moment; that’s my understanding.

QUESTION: So you have no concern over those reports this morning that they will somehow split the administration of the country? You don’t think that’s an accurate reflection of what’s happening?

MS. NULAND: I think this is a temporary situation until they can all get themselves securely and adequately located in Tripoli.

QUESTION: Can I ask you – a couple of weeks ago, you were able to provide a very helpful explanation of exactly the concerns the U.S. had weapons depots throughout the country and which ones are secure and that kind of –can you give us an update on that? There’s been a lot of reporting in the past 24 hours about weapons depots looted, missing anti-aircraft weapons, unprotected chemical weapons, that sort of thing.

MS. NULAND: First, as you know, when we first talked about this, we broke it down in terms of nuclear issues, chemical issues, and then conventional issues. So on the nuclear side, as we said, all components out of the country in 2004, HEU out of the country in 2009. With regard to the chemical situation, largely unchanged from what we talked about last week. Prior to the crisis, Libya had destroyed all of its chemical munitions and the mustard agent and toxic precursor chemicals that remained were stored in bulk form. They are not in weaponized form. They are in bunkers that have been sealed by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, and our understanding is that those facilities remain sealed. As the Secretary said in Paris, we have been working with the TNC on its own takeover of security of those bunkers, and we have had their assurance that cooperation with the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons will continue in the future.

QUESTION: Have they been able to secure any of those locations already, the TNC?

MS. NULAND: I can’t speak to it precisely, but our own understanding of the situation is that those facilities remain secure.

QUESTION: Madam.

MS. NULAND: Let me go on to speak about the conventional weapons if I can. I think we said that we have been concerned about MANPADS, the shoulder-held weapons, and we’ve also been concerned about excess conventional weaponry that had been stored in depots around the country. So as you know, even before the fighting reached Tripoli, we had begun working with the TNC on MANPAD issues, and we’ve had very good cooperation with the TNC. I mentioned about a week ago that we had had $3 million in assistance granted to two contractors – MAG International and the Swiss Foundation – to work on these issues. In the past week, we’ve had one of our own State Department experts on the ground and two additional contractors to work with the TNC. These are experts in explosive ordinance disposal, and specifically MANPAD recovery, and that work continues. We’ve seen the same press reports you have, that we’ve got some empty depots. And so this is going to be a project we’re going to have to work on for some time.

QUESTION: Two questions on that.

MS. NULAND: Yeah.

QUESTION: Are those reports concerning to you about these empty depots? If you want to just answer that one first.

MS. NULAND: They are, of course, concerning. As we said from the beginning, this issue of MANPADS in Libya and excess weaponry has been a concern even before the events of the last few weeks. We’ve been working with the TNC on it for a long time. The Secretary sought and got reassurances from the TNC that our work with them will continue. So that’s why we deployed extra personnel, and we’re working on it hard now.

QUESTION: The second question I had was: Last week The Washington Post reported that of the $3 million program that you’ve launched to secure these weapons, only about five of them had actually -- five weapons had been secured. Is that an accurate report, and do you have an update on that?

MS. NULAND: I’m not prepared to speak here about exactly how many we have, how many we think are still missing, TNC assessments; only to say that the work is extremely important, the work goes on, and I would guess that as the team continues its work, we’ll have more to say about this in the future.

QUESTION: Can you say whether as a result of these reports -- and I think that there were several -- just in the last few days, have you intensified your outreach to the TNC about some of these -- you said these reports are concerning. So have you started talking to them about these --not that -- I know you say that the outreach has been ongoing, but in the last few days, have you talked about these specific reports?

MS. NULAND: I mean, the Secretary herself spoke to the TNC, to Mr. Jibril and Mr. Jalil about this in Paris last Thursday, and they both spoke about the good cooperation we’ve had and the fact that we have to intensify it, and that’s why we’ve augmented the team.

QUESTION: Also in Paris, I think it was mentioned that the question of securing -- I think it was the chemical weapon stockpiles, but let’s say any of these weapons -- would be one area where the TNC might, in fact, need and request quick international technical and personnel support for it. Is there anything moving on that front? Is there some move to actually get some international forces in there to help keep these things safe?

MS. NULAND: Well, we have international organizations like the OPCW that specialize in these things. The TNC has given assurances to us and to the UN that they will be welcome as they come to a place where they have security control of all of Libya. As I said, we’ve had our own ongoing bilateral relationship with them on these things. Our expectation is that as the -- as they gain a full visibility on the issue around the country, they may invite other countries or the UN itself to also assist. But I don’t want to get ahead of them. But they are very focused on the problem, as are we.

QUESTION: Would it -- just to follow up – I mean, from a U.S. perspective, would it -- wouldn’t it be advisable to get people in -- for the areas of the country where they do have visibility to get some international help in there already? Why are you waiting for the whole thing to be sort of opened before you actually move into some of these sites?

MS. NULAND: Well, I can’t speak to whether the TNC is reaching out to other countries. It may well be, but our program is robust, and it’s going to continue.

QUESTION: Can I follow up just again on the depots that have been found that have been looted or whatever you want to call it, have missing weapons? Has the State Department directed either the contractors or its team that you talked about to go in and inspect or investigate these reports?

MS. NULAND: We’ve seen these reports. I think, again, this is an issue that the TNC is going to have to grapple with as it is able to fan out across the country and secure the country. So we will continue to work with them as they investigate these reports and as we work forward.

QUESTION: But you can’t speak specifically about whether or not these specific reports are being investigated?

MS. NULAND: I cannot.

QUESTION: One more on Libya?

MS. NULAND: Yeah.

QUESTION: Madam, as far as nuclear weapons and other weapons to Libya were concerned, it was A.Q. Khan network. Now do you see any hand or any connection at this time with TNC, or they have any A.Q. Khan network handle on these weapons or terrorists?

MS. NULAND: I think, as we said a week ago, the entire nuclear program was dismantled in 2004, including all aspects of the program that we believe came through the A.Q. Khan network.

QUESTION: Syria?

MS. NULAND: Yes.

QUESTION: One more on Libya.

MS. NULAND: Yes, please.

QUESTION: I believe that Secretary Clinton received a letter from some members of Congress last week drawing to her attention a funding shortfall at the Foreign Claims Settlement Commission, which is a body --

MS. NULAND: I’m sorry. Calling to her attention what?

QUESTION: Sorry. A funding shortfall at the Foreign Claims Settlement Commission, which is a Justice Department body that the State Department has entrusted with compensating American citizens who were victims of Qadhafi-era terrorist attacks. I was wondering if the State Department has a position on that shortfall, a contingency plan to address it, and more specifically, if there’s any talk of following through one of the recommendations in that letter, which was that some of Qadhafi’s frozen assets could be used to plug that gap.

MS. NULAND: You’re talking about an alleged personnel shortfall at the Justice Department?

QUESTION: I’m talking about a funding shortfall at a commission that is supposed to compensate American victims of Libyan terrorist attacks.

MS. NULAND: This is a Justice Department commission?

QUESTION: That is following through on – it’s complicated, I’m sorry – that’s following through on State Department-recommended – like a compensation scheme.

MS. NULAND: I think I’m going to send you to the Justice Department if it’s an organ of their --

QUESTION: Okay. But would the State Department support the freeing up of Qadhafi’s assets to compensate American victims of Qadhafi’s terrorism?

MS. NULAND: I think, as the Secretary has said in Paris, we take these issues extremely seriously. We are talking to the TNC about it, and we have to continue that conversation.

QUESTION: Is there – wait. I mean, is that part of the discussions? I mean, obviously Megrahi and any information or whatever he can provide is an issue, but specifically about assets, any Libyan assets that could be freed up to go to American victims (inaudible), is that part of the discussions with the TNC?

MS. NULAND: We are having the entire discussion about the unfinished business of the Lockerbie situation.

QUESTION: Can I ask just one more on Libya?

MS. NULAND: Yeah.

QUESTION: Do you have any update on the officials in Niger and your conversation with the government there about what to do with them, who they are?

MS. NULAND: Other than to say that the conversation between Niger and the TNC continues, and we understand that they’ve been talking over the last 24 hours, I don't have any further update.

QUESTION: Do you have any – you have no more insight into who these individuals are? They have – nobody’s told you?

MS. NULAND: We have been in contact with the Government of Niger on – with regard to them. I think I spoke to this yesterday.

QUESTION: And have they told you who they have in their country at this point or have they not told you?

MS. NULAND: We have seen a list, yes.

QUESTION: I have a question about kind of the diplomatic relations between the U.S. and the TNC. Obviously, Chris Stevens was the representative to the TNC when they were a rebel or opposition movement. Now they’re the government. Ambassador Cretz is not back on the ground yet. Yet, you seem to be in constant contact with the TNC about specific things that they’re doing. I mean, what is the diplomatic outreach going on? Is there – who is the main interlocutor with the Libyan TNC right now?

MS. NULAND: Well, on a daily face-to-face basis, obviously, Chris Stevens in Benghazi. Ambassador Cretz working here and hoping to get back as soon as he is allowed – he’s impatient, as you can imagine – maintains his contacts, broad contacts in Tripoli. He sees folks – talks to folks on the phone, sees them outside of Libya, has participated along with Assistant Secretary Feltman in all of the Contact Group meetings. So he remains active, even though he’s not in country, and Chris Stevens is in Benghazi, and Ambassador Cretz is hoping to get back as soon as we let him.

QUESTION: Syria?

QUESTION: No. Wait. Just on Megrahi, would the talk – what’s the status of that conversation with the TNC now?

MS. NULAND: I think the Secretary made clear where she stands in Paris, and those conversations continue in Benghazi.

QUESTION: That was --

QUESTION: How much of – sorry. Go ahead.

QUESTION: That was a week ago, though. Has there been any more?

MS. NULAND: Chris Stevens has continued the conversation in Benghazi.

QUESTION: And has the – but – I don’t mean in – it’s not necessarily from your side more, but from the TNC. Have you heard anything more concrete from them as to what they plan to do?

MS. NULAND: With regard to their plans, I think this is – as they have said, they consider this a serious issue. I don't have any sort of announcements to make on their behalf. I think we have to see how this goes.

QUESTION: But, I mean, realistically though, what are you expecting? I mean, you’ve said this is a serious issue, you think he should be behind bars. But I mean, realistically, given his health, his documented health, what realistically can you expect in terms of information that this guy can provide? Or is it just that politically you need to say that this is a serious issue and you – until the day that he dies, which could be kind of soon?

MS. NULAND: The Secretary has made clear she believes, we believe, that he should be behind bars. That would be a starting point.

QUESTION: Do you have a readout of her meeting this morning with Ambassador Aujali?

MS. NULAND: Yeah. As you know, since February, when Ambassador Aujali made his courageous decision to break from the Qadhafi regime, he’s represented the interests of the Libyan Transitional Council here in Washington. Five months later when the Libyan Embassy was reopened, he was accredited as chargé d’affaires. This morning, he presented copies of his credentials to Deputy Secretary Bill Burns as one of the necessary steps forward in the process, and he also met with Secretary Clinton. And we expect that he will formally present his credentials as ambassador to President Obama at a White House ceremony in the very near future, and that’ll include other recently arrived ambassadors to Washington.

Please.

QUESTION: Can we go to Syria?

MS. NULAND: To Syria? Yeah.

QUESTION: Yeah. Victoria, the Arab League issued an initiative a couple days back, three days back, and that initiative calls for – of course, for the government to cease its military campaign against the demonstrators and so on. First of all, do you concur with the elements in that initiative, the Arab League initiative?

MS. NULAND: Well, before commenting on the initiative, let me start by saying this was actually in a story that’s had a number of incredible chapters. This was quite a chapter, where the Arab League wanted to send its Secretary General Nabil al-Arabi to present this plan in Damascus, and Asad wouldn’t receive him. So that just speaks to whether this regime is interested in peace at all.

QUESTION: Well, it seems that the Syrians have agreed to allow him in this coming Saturday. So would it be too much to ask for a comment from the Government of the United States on the elements in that initiative? Because the initiative apparently calls to work with Mr. Asad as the president of Syria while your position calls for him to step aside.

MS. NULAND: Well, first, let me say that we strongly support and agree with the Arab League’s calls that the number one thing that has to happen in Syria is that the bloodshed needs to end. And the forces of the regime cannot and must not be used against innocents, that people need to be released from jail, the torture and the arrest has to end. So from that perspective, we are in complete agreement. If the Arab League assistance – if the Arab League secretary general is able to persuade Asad to stop the violence, that will be a good thing.

With regard to whether you can work with this guy or this regime, you know where we stand. We think he needs to step aside and make way for a transition that allows for a peaceful, democratic, nonsectarian Syria.

QUESTION: So then you don’t support the Arab League plan?

MS. NULAND: We support any efforts to get the bloodshed ended in Syria. That’s job one. With regard to whether you can work with this guy, this regime, we have our doubts. But we certainly support any mission that can get the violence under control.

QUESTION: So would you say that there is absolutely no diplomatic efforts whatsoever ongoing with the Syrian Government? The United States and --

MS. NULAND: From the U.S. perspective?

QUESTION: Yes.

MS. NULAND: Ambassador Ford continues to work there. You asked me yesterday whether he’s had any meetings. As recently as yesterday, he was on the phone with some senior members of the foreign ministry. So the relationship --

QUESTION: He was on the phone with them?

MS. NULAND: -- continues. The channels are still open. We have things to talk about. Some of them are administrative like the UN General Assembly, et cetera, but – we’re prepared to talk to them, but they know what our message is going to be. And our message has not been terribly welcome.

QUESTION: Speaking of which, are you prepared to – as host government of the United Nations, prepared to offer visas to officials? Presumably, that’s part of the discussions.

MS. NULAND: Yes. As we have said before, we will meet our host country obligations to allow folks to the UN General Assembly.

QUESTION: Including those on a travel ban?

MS. NULAND: I expect we will meet our host country obligations.

QUESTION: But --

MS. NULAND: With regard to how this might apply to – we don’t – since we don’t have a UN sanction – we have national sanctions – we will meet our host country obligations.

QUESTION: Right, but as host country obligation, if someone is on a UN travel ban, are you obligated to give them a visa?

MS. NULAND: Well, that doesn’t apply in this case. We have sanctions on individual Syrians in a U.S. context, not in a UN context.

QUESTION: You just said --

QUESTION: So – just to follow up, if the president of Syria, Bashar al-Asad, wants to come and address – if Mr. Asad wants to come and address the General Assembly like Mahmoud Ahmadinejad did in the past, would he be given that courtesy, that visa?

MS. NULAND: We will meet our host country obligations.

QUESTION: Toria, you said a little – just a little bit ago that you have your – as to whether you can work with this government or this guy, “We have our doubts.” Isn’t that a little – aren’t you downplaying a little bit? I mean, haven’t – you’ve thrown in the towel on this one, haven’t you?

MS. NULAND: We have. We have. We --

QUESTION: So it’s more than just “We have our doubts.” You don’t – correct? I mean, I just want to make sure there’s not a softening here. You still think Asad needs to go?

MS. NULAND: There is no softening here. We believe he needs to step aside.

QUESTION: On North Korea?

MS. NULAND: Please.

QUESTION: Yes. It is reported the United States has recently requested for a meeting with North Korea to discuss about locating and the recovery, the remain – body of a U.S. soldier. Can you confirm it?

MS. NULAND: I don’t have anything new on that. I’m happy to take the question and check if that’s helpful.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: I have a question on 9/11.

MS. NULAND: Yeah.

QUESTION: Korea follow-up?

MS. NULAND: Korea follow-up, yeah.

QUESTION: Do you have a readout on meetings between South Korea’s nuclear envoy and U.S. officials, including Stephen Bosworth?

MS. NULAND: I have a little bit here. As you know, Korean Peninsula Peace and Security Affairs Ambassador Wi Sung-lac held consultations yesterday with Deputy Secretary Bill Burns, Assistant Secretary for East Asia Kurt Campbell, and other members of our staff on North Korea policy. They discussed the full range of issues – bilateral, regional, global affairs – on the peninsula and how they apply to the peninsula. We call these meetings constructive, substantive as they always are. He’s also scheduled to meet with Special Advisor for Nonproliferation and Arms Control Bob Einhorn today. As you may know, unfortunately, Ambassador Bosworth was unable to make it to Washington yesterday because of the weather, so --

QUESTION: Oh, really?

MS. NULAND: Yeah.

QUESTION: Just a question --

QUESTION: Any updates on the letter sent by Algeria to the Security Council to explain why they have decided to receive members of the family of Qadhafi?

MS. NULAND: My understanding is that the Security Council is continuing to look at this. What we expect is that the next step for the Security Council will be to refer it to the sanctions committee for a look.

QUESTION: Just a quick question on 9/11, tomorrow, 10th anniversary. One, how this building or Secretary remembers or will mark 10th anniversary? And terrorism is still going on all around the globe, maybe not – of course, we are still protected here. Bombings in India, bombings in Pakistan, and bombings – of course, terrorism in Afghanistan. And according to reports and experts, Pakistan is still hub of Taliban and al-Qaida. My question is: Is Pakistan a U.S. ally after 10 years and billions of dollars in aid?

MS. NULAND: First, your question about how the Secretary will mark the anniversary of the September 11th attacks, as I mentioned at the beginning, she will be giving a speech tomorrow in New York to discuss where we are in combating terrorism and a smart power approach. She’ll also join the President for his events over the weekend.

With regard to Pakistan, I think we talk about this practically every day. It’s not always easy, but it is in U.S. vital national interest, and we believe in the interest of Pakistan, for us to remain very close partners and continue our cooperation in counterterrorism. As you know, we had a success just last weekend with the ISI arrest of a major kingpin, and we hope that trend continues.

QUESTION: On her schedule, she does have events on Sunday, right?

MS. NULAND: As I said, she’ll be joining the President.

QUESTION: Separate events? You’re not aware --

MS. NULAND: I think I don’t – I’m not prepared to announce anything separate at the moment.

QUESTION: And then --

QUESTION: One more. What message do you have, do you think, for the people of India and people of Afghanistan who – which – who are victims of terrorism from across the border or in – from the region?

MS. NULAND: For victims of terrorism anywhere in the world, our hearts and prayers are with their loved ones. But I think it just speaks to the message that the Secretary will give tomorrow, that the President will give over the weekend, that this scourge continues to require our vigilance and our attention and the work of all nations around the globe together.

QUESTION: Can I ask you a question about Latin America? And I apologize because I was looking for information but I couldn’t find it. I want to know – I think that Arturo Valenzuela said that he was ending his functions in August. I want to know if you have a new candidate, if something has been talking around here and Department of State is going to be proposing in the Congress.

MS. NULAND: We have nothing to announce. When we have a new nominee, the White House will announce it.

QUESTION: So okay.

QUESTION: Do you have any – have you heard anything from Governor Richardson about his trip to Havana?

MS. NULAND: As we confirmed yesterday, Governor Richardson is in Cuba as a private citizen to try to secure the release of American citizen Alan Gross. Our understanding is that he is having some meetings with senior Cuban officials today even as we speak, and we wish him every success in this very important mission.

QUESTION: All right. Let me try my question. Have you heard from Governor Richardson about – have you gotten any updates from him or any – has there been any conversation between him and this building since he has arrived to tell you who he’s met with, what he said, or is it too early? I’m just --

MS. NULAND: We have been in touch with him. But as I said, I think his major meetings are going on right now, so I would expect we’ll hear from him afterwards.

QUESTION: Who is he meeting with there?

MS. NULAND: We are expecting that he will be received at a senior level in Cuba, but I would refer you to his folks if you need specifics, or the Richardson Center.

QUESTION: I have a question on U.S.-Turkish relations. There are a lot of --

MS. NULAND: I’m shocked. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: There are a lot of speculations on that after the crisis of tension between Israel and Turkey. How this tension will be affecting U.S.-Turkish relations?

MS. NULAND: You know where we are. Turkey is a very strong and valued ally of the United States. We work with Turkey on issues around the world and within the region. With regard to increased Israeli and Turkish tensions, I’ll repeat what I said yesterday: We are concerned and we are urging both sides to try to come back to a place where they can work together and collaborate on the very important issues that they share in the region.

QUESTION: But because the president of Turkish Republic has said that the Palmer report, for example, is void and null. But I read the transcript, and you were praising the work, the style of the report, the results of the report, the findings in the report. So is there any differences between U.S. and Turkey on this report issue? From U.S. perspective, you are praising the report, but Turkish side is stating that the report is null and void. Because – okay, the beginning of the crisis is the report, but I’m trying to understand what is your position on that, because Jay Carney also said yesterday the U.S.-Israel relations is much related with the Palestinian-Israeli relations. How do you frame this crisis and how do you handle this tension between the two countries, beginning from the Palmer report and the situation – the current situation on Palestinian-Israel issue?

MS. NULAND: I spoke to the Palmer report yesterday. I spoke about our view of it. We had wanted a credible process. We considered the report thorough. And I’ve also spoken to where we are with Turkey and Israel. We want to see these two allies of the United States have a good and strong relationship with each other. That has been difficult, but we’re going to keep working at it.

QUESTION: You say you wanted to see a credible report, but you – and you found the report thorough. But did you also find it credible?

MS. NULAND: I think I’ve said what I need to say on Palmer. We considered it a thorough and appropriate --

QUESTION: But credible? You said – I mean, these – this is your word. “We wanted to see a credible report.”

MS. NULAND: Yes.

QUESTION: So was the report credible? Yes?

MS. NULAND: Yes.

QUESTION: Okay.

QUESTION: On Tuesday you said that Ambassador Bosworth will meet South Korea’s nuclear envoy, but today you said that he was unable to come down here. Do you know why he couldn’t come here? Did he go to North Korea, by any chance?

MS. NULAND: No, no, it was the weather. You might have noticed that it was torrential rain yesterday and the planes didn’t fly.

QUESTION: I’ve got two very brief ones. One, further to your note this morning on the – or the statement on the Afghan talks, the Secretary is meeting at 2:00 with Dr. Spanta, and then is it your understanding that there are more meetings here or is it everything tomorrow, or does everything move over to the White House?

MS. NULAND: Everything moves over the White House is my understanding. Yeah --

QUESTION: After her meeting, or tomorrow? Today or tomorrow? I’m just trying to –

MS. NULAND: He has meetings at the – he is meeting with – first of all, this is what – you’re referring to Afghan National Security Advisor Rangin Spanta?

QUESTION: Yes.

MS. NULAND: He meets with the Secretary today. He will also meet with Ambassador Grossman and Special Assistant to the President for Afghanistan and Pakistan Doug Lute today and tomorrow.

QUESTION: So – but are there meetings here tomorrow, or are they all at the White House?

MS. NULAND: I think the meetings tomorrow are at the White House.

QUESTION: Okay. And then just on that, are you expecting that they will come up with any – with the strategic partner – some kind of a document, or is that – or is this – do you think that this is still a – will still be a work in progress after tomorrow’s meetings are over?

MS. NULAND: We are hoping for progress on the document during this round of talks, but we don’t expect it to be finished at this round.

QUESTION: Okay. And then my last one, very briefly, the – your special representative for Burma --

MS. NULAND: Yes.

QUESTION: -- has he actually gotten there, or is he still --

MS. NULAND: I think he’s --

QUESTION: -- in transit and --

MS. NULAND: He is flying as we speak.

QUESTION: Okay.

QUESTION: Yes.

MS. NULAND: Okay.

QUESTION: Quick question. Yesterday, Secretary Brimmer said that the United States was underrepresented at the United Nations. Does the State Department keep a list of the countries most represented at the UN and those who are least represented that we can take a look at?

MS. NULAND: I doubt it. Thanks.

QUESTION: Thank you.

(The briefing was concluded at 1:50 p.m.)

DPB # 134

[This is a mobile copy of Daily Press Briefing - September 8, 2011]