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


Index for Today's Briefing
  • IRAN
    • IAEA Report / IAEA Director General Amano / U.S. Will Study the Report / Iran Should Give IAEA Full Access
  • ISRAEL/PALESTINIANS
    • UN Admissions Committee / Draft of Report / U.N. Security Council (UNSC) / Aid To Palestinians / Quartet Envoys Meeting / Israel Agrees Money for Palestinians Should Go Forward / Meetings on November 14th in Jerusalem / Want to Get Parties Back to Focusing on Quartet Proposal
  • SYRIA
    • Arab League / Asad Regime / Clear Guidelines on Behavior / U.S. Calling for International Monitors
  • DEPARTMENT
    • Secretary Clinton Hosted Dinner for Secretary General Rasmussen / Readout of Meeting
    • Assistant Secretary Blake / Support for the SAARC Process
  • BURMA
    • U.S. Continues to Evaluate Burma's Progress
  • BOLIVIA
    • U.S.-Bolivia Framework Agreement / U.S. Wants to Get Back to the Implementation of Programs in the Region
  • MISCELLANEOUS
    • Office of Inspector General Initiation of a Special Review


TRANSCRIPT:

12:44 p.m. EST

MS. NULAND: Good afternoon, everybody. Happy Tuesday. I have nothing at the top, so let’s go to what’s on your minds.

QUESTION: So the IAEA report is out. I presume you’ve seen it, although since you probably wrote most of it – not you personally – you already know what’s in it, but are you going to tell us that you still need time to study it before commenting or do you have something to say about it?

MS. NULAND: I’m definitely going to tell you we need time to study it. The IAEA Director Amano has now put out his report in classified version to the member states. I understand it has been now leaked, but we are still considering this a classified document. We will need some time to study it. I think you know the process here, that after a report like this comes out, we also have a scheduled meeting of the IAEA Board of Governors coming up on November 18th, so Iran will be an agenda item at that meeting. So we will take the time between now and then to study this.

QUESTION: Can I just ask you a technical question? You said it’s classified? I didn’t really realize the IAEA had classifications like governments do. I understand it’s restricted, it was supposed to be close-held, but I don’t think it’s classified. It’s not illegal for people to have it.

MS. NULAND: It is member state restricted. It is not supposed to be released to the press.

QUESTION: But it’s not – but it has been, and --

MS. NULAND: Correct.

QUESTION: -- but it’s not illegal. There’s no law that says that you can’t – like the classification law.

MS. NULAND: I can’t speak to exactly what the precise rules are, but there is an understanding within the IAEA that these reports, until they are publicly released by the IAEA itself, are restricted and are supposed to stay restricted. That is almost never fully honored --

QUESTION: Right.

MS. NULAND: -- and it hasn’t been honored in this case, but we will respect the rules of the organization.

QUESTION: Okay, when it appears on the IAEA website later this afternoon, will you be prepared to talk about it then?

MS. NULAND: Again, I think when we have comments on the report specifics, we will let you know. But right now, we are studying it, as are all the other member states who received it today.

QUESTION: Can you say, whether as a matter of general principle, from a glance at it, that it tends to buttress your view that Iran may be pursuing nuclear weapons capability?

MS. NULAND: Again, this was released to member states about an hour ago, so we’re going to take some time to look at it before commenting.

QUESTION: Yes. Victoria, the Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called the director, Yukiya Amano, as a puppet of the United States, that he does their bidding, that he has no credibility. Do you have any comment on that?

MS. NULAND: Well, the IAEA is one of the most credible, thorough, important UN organizations out there. This is the director general of the IAEA’s report. It is based on inputs from the IAEA’s own cadre of inspectors and analysts as well as inputs from some 10, 15 member states. So we would, obviously, reject that assertion.

QUESTION: So he also went on to say that Iran has – does not covet a nuclear weapon, they don’t want the nuclear program, the – whatever efforts they have is completely directed and geared toward peaceful intentions. Do you have a comment on that?

MS. NULAND: Well, the comment would be the same comment that we would always make in this circumstance, which is that if that is indeed the case, then the – then Iran should give the IAEA full access, full cooperation, full transparency that it has been asking for and that it has not received.

QUESTION: Based on this on report, can you say whether you’re preparing for more sanctions? I know you’re just taking a first glance at it, but does that follow, the two are linked?

MS. NULAND: Again, we have just received this report. We’re going to study it. We are not prepared to speak about any next steps at this point.

QUESTION: Can I ask you – you said the IAEA is one of the most credible, thorough organizations out there. Why didn’t you believe them when they said that Iraq didn’t have WMD?

MS. NULAND: Well, we’re not --

QUESTION: Or was that a different director general, who you didn’t – who the U.S. didn’t like, and this new one is okay?

MS. NULAND: We’re not going backwards here today, Matt. I’m speaking about this --

QUESTION: Well, does the --

MS. NULAND: -- this process and this report.

QUESTION: Does the U.S. believe that the IAEA has always been one of the most credible, thorough UN organizations out there?

MS. NULAND: We have at some points had differences with the IAEA. This is a process that has been very thorough in the preparation, and again, we look forward to studying the report. And I’m sure we’ll have more to say as we do that.

QUESTION: Some news reports indicated that the Israeli intelligence has contributed to the report. Are you aware of that?

MS. NULAND: Well, that’s a question you’d have to direct to the Israelis.

QUESTION: Toria, just a broader question.

MS. NULAND: Yeah.

QUESTION: I mean, they issue reports on a regular basis.

MS. NULAND: Right.

QUESTION: Is this a more significant report, you would say, or just kind of a run of the mill one? Is there more importance to this one?

MS. NULAND: Well, I think Director General Amano himself signaled about a week ago that this would include aspects that were not covered in the September report, for example. So from that perspective, it’s one that folks have been anticipating.

QUESTION: So new information, in other words?

MS. NULAND: I think that he did say back in September that his next report would include more information about the military aspect of the program. So it’s from that perspective that this particular report has garnered so much attention and will be studied thoroughly.

QUESTION: Hmm. And the military aspect, for those of us who’ve read a little bit of it in the last couple of minutes, that’s definitely part of it. I mean, let’s say compared to previous reports, has there been as clear a connection to a military aspect drawn?

MS. NULAND: Again, Jill, we’re not going to get into the specifics. We’ve had it for an hour. We’re going to take some time to study it.

All right? Other subjects?

QUESTION: Different topic?

MS. NULAND: Please.

QUESTION: Yes, ma’am. Are you aware of the comments that Mr. Sarkozy made about describing the Israeli prime minister as a liar in a conversation with the President of the United States in Cannes?

MS. NULAND: I think this issue was addressed by Jay Carney on the President’s aircraft about an hour ago. I certainly can’t improve on what he did and didn’t have to say on it.

QUESTION: Okay. So you have no comment. Well, let me just ask it this way: Do you believe that Mr. Netanyahu is an insufferable kind of negotiator with the United States who has been difficult?

MS. NULAND: Said, do you really expect me to join in that one? (Laughter.) Anybody have anything --

QUESTION: Yeah. On the subject of Israel and the Palestinians, actually.

MS. NULAND: Please.

QUESTION: You’re aware that the UN membership committee has been unable to reach a consensus. I suppose that shouldn’t be any surprise to you, since you are one of the main drivers behind there not being a consensus. What do you think the – what does this do to the process now, the whole membership recognition process, at the General – I mean at the Security Council?

MS. NULAND: Well, first of all, let’s not get ahead of where we are. I think what you are referring to is press reporting, which I can confirm, that the Admissions Committee has now circulated a draft of its report to the member states. That draft has to be looked at by member states and has to be dealt with by them. They will not make a decision on the Admissions Committee draft before Friday. So I’m not going to comment on the contents of a report that has not actually been formally endorsed yet.

QUESTION: Right. But I wasn’t asking you for the contents of the report. What I’m wondering is how – what does this mean? I mean, is it – where does the process go now, and is it possible that it will never come to a vote even if the Palestinians want one because there is no consensus? It’s a procedure question.

MS. NULAND: So the procedure, just to be clear among us, works like this. We have a draft report of the Admissions Committee. That draft is circulated among the member states under what is called the silence procedure in international organizations. So if nobody objects, then on Friday that Admissions Committee report will be adopted, at which point it’ll say whatever it says.

If there are changes, those could happen between now and Friday. So then the Admissions Committee report is referred to the UN Security Council, same member nations but a different formation. Then the UNSC has to decide what its own next steps will be, using the report as the basis for that discussion. So I can’t prejudge – assuming that the draft becomes formal, goes to the UNSC, I can’t prejudge what the UNSC will do.

QUESTION: Right. But the draft – but this – it operates on consensus, yeah?

MS. NULAND: Well, the --

QUESTION: And there’s no consensus right now. So given that there is no consensus and there is not going to be a consensus, and to pretend otherwise would be – I don’t know –

QUESTION: Otiose.

QUESTION: Exactly.

MS. NULAND: What was the word, Arshad?

QUESTION: Otiose.

MS. NULAND: Was that with a D? Odious?

QUESTION: No. O-t-i-o-s-e. Which I think means “utterly futile.”

MS. NULAND: A-ha.

QUESTION: Right. Yes. Considering that reaching a consensus on this --

MS. NULAND: What he said? (Laughter.)

QUESTION: Yeah, exactly. What he said. Considering that that’s the case, is it possible that this never comes to – that the council could decide not to – not to have a vote even if the Palestinians want one?

MS. NULAND: Again, if and when this Admissions report gets to the UNSC, the UNSC has a broad menu of ways that it can proceed. So I don’t want to get ahead of them, and I also would need to --

QUESTION: All right. Okay, well then let me try this. Is the U.S. pleased that there is no consensus on – that there is no consensus on this? Meaning that a vote, if one happens, would fail?

MS. NULAND: Again, we’re at the stage of a draft report. I think we’ll be prepared to comment when we have a final report, which we don’t yet have.

QUESTION: Okay, well this is twice in a series of two questions --

MS. NULAND: I know. I know.

QUESTION: -- where you’re pretending not to know something, not to be able to say anything, when in fact you’re well aware of the contents of the report, as you are well aware of the contents of the IAEA report.

MS. NULAND: I said today was not going to be fun, because we have one that is under wraps and one that is in draft. Yep.

QUESTION: Hold on. It’s not under wraps when it’s out on the ISIS website.

QUESTION: Are we talking about the same draft, the original draft that was handed over by the Palestinians? Or are we talking about a revised version? Because there was another talk that since there was no consensus, it might actually go for a revision. Are you aware of that?

MS. NULAND: I’m not sure. You’re into details of the procedure that I’m not aware of.

Said.

QUESTION: Staying on the Palestinian issue?

MS. NULAND: Yeah.

QUESTION: Now that the chairwoman in Congress have decided that perhaps the Palestinians will get their aid, could they rest sort of comfortable or reassured that at least for the foreseeable short-run, no aid will be cut off to the Palestinians?

MS. NULAND: My understanding is that previous congressional concerns about money that we had notified in the past that we intended to spend have now been cleared, so the money that we have notified we are hopeful will now be able to go forward.

Said, while we’re on this subject, I think I said last week or earlier this week – no, it must have been last week – that we expected the Quartet envoys to again meet separately with the parties. Just to advise you that that meeting has – that set of meetings has now been scheduled for November 14th in Jerusalem. We expect these will again be Quartet envoy meetings with the parties separately. Our U.S. envoy David Hale also has a scheduled meeting with President Abbas on the 13th in Ramallah, and he will also meet with Israeli negotiator Molho, probably on the 13th.

QUESTION: Not with Prime Minister Netanyahu?

MS. NULAND: Not scheduled at this time.

QUESTION: It’s not scheduled now after what happened yesterday.

QUESTION: One other – just going back to – thanks for that. Going back to the previous subject, can you, just for the record, state what is the sum of money that had been notified, was then frozen, and now appears to have been unblocked?

MS. NULAND: Arshad, let me get that for you in written form, because there are different pots of money here and I want to make sure that we get it right. So I’ll take that question and we’ll put it out in written form.

QUESTION: That’s how I feel, too.

MS. NULAND: Okay.

QUESTION: I think you were asked this yesterday about – on this. But, is it of concern – in the congresswoman’s – the chairwoman’s statement or letter talking about releasing these funds, she said that she had spoken to Israeli officials and that they didn’t have a problem with this. Does it bother the Administration at all that people – members of Congress won’t take the Administration’s word on an issue like this, and are – and require some kind of reassurance from Israel?

MS. NULAND: Well, we certainly think that it’s a good thing that Israel agrees with us that this money should go forward. So she has made clear that that is the case and that’s a welcome thing.

QUESTION: No I understand that. But does it bother the Administration that they won’t believe you and that they have to get assurance from the Israelis?

MS. NULAND: I reject the premise of your point. We’ve been working on this with the Congress for many weeks, as you know.

Goyal, in the back.

QUESTION: Change subject?

QUESTION: No. Stay on this.

MS. NULAND: Stay on this one? Please. Yeah.

QUESTION: Does it bother you as well that the Israelis holding the tax monies that they supposed to pay for the Palestinians? And now they okaying money that comes from the United States and they won’t pay the money for the Palestinians themselves?

MS. NULAND: Well, we’ve said before that we think that the Israelis should themselves release the tax money, that we think it’s necessary for the stability and security of the Palestinians, and we have so been advising the Israelis.

QUESTION: I know you say that just as much as you condemn the settlement activities, but, I mean, nothing changes on the ground. They’re still holding the money and they’re still building, so --

MS. NULAND: Well, again, as I just said, we have another round of consultations coming up, and we are going to take that opportunity to try to improve this atmosphere if we can.

QUESTION: Toria, real quickly --

QUESTION: Do you think that the tax money will come up with Hale and Molcho?

MS. NULAND: I’m confident it will.

QUESTION: Yeah.

QUESTION: And Toria, are you aware of the issue that was before the Supreme Court yesterday on the issue of Jerusalem and U.S. passports are for U.S. citizens? Are you aware of it?

MS. NULAND: I am aware of the case, but I don’t have any comment on it here.

QUESTION: Okay. You have no comment?

MS. NULAND: No.

Please. Are we still on this subject? Are we done? No? Jill, go ahead.

QUESTION: I know you said, Victoria, that you don’t want to get into politics, but there is a comment that has come out by one politician who’s running for president, Rick Perry, who is accusing State Department diplomats of not carrying out policies that are in the best interest of the United States. He said the Secretary of State is excluded from that, but there are other people who are not carrying out policies that would be best for the United States. Are you familiar with those comments? Do you have anything to say?

MS. NULAND: I’ve seen those comments, Jill. I’m going to say it again, and I know I’m going to have to say it 400 times between now and a year from now in November: We are not, from this podium, going to get into back-and-forths with the candidates. That’s for the campaigns to do. It’s not for us to do here.

QUESTION: You’re not going to even defend the integrity of your fellow career State Department employees?

MS. NULAND: I’m certainly always going to defend the integrity of my fellow State Department employees. I’m not going to do it in response to a candidate.

Cami.

QUESTION: Well – okay. There is a suggestion out there that these – that career State Department– regardless of who it’s from, but that career diplomats are not acting in the – at best interests of the United States. Is that – do you think that’s a fair criticism?

MS. NULAND: I reject it completely.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: Can I ask you about – there are some reports out there that there will be a meeting in Riyadh on Thursday and that President Saleh may be there to sign the GCC agreement and that a U.S. representative may be there as well. Have you seen those reports or heard?

MS. NULAND: I have not, Cami. If we have anything on that, we’ll get back to you.

QUESTION: Okay.

QUESTION: Can you go back to the candidates, the Republican candidates? Could you explain to us if they actually reach out to the State Department and say, “We want to know about this issue or that issue” regularly? I mean, do they do this as a matter of course?

MS. NULAND: At various times in various campaigns, whether it was a Republican administration and Democrats running in opposition or the other way around, people who are close to candidates may or may not ask for the Administration’s view, for the State Department’s view. We always respond to requests for information about what we think, but I am not going to get into the --

QUESTION: Okay. And the State Department does not voluntarily go to these candidates and say – for instance, for Herman Cain, when he spoke on China, which was really a big deal and the nuclear weapons and so on – you don’t go to them and say, “Look, these are the ABCs of foreign policy”?

MS. NULAND: We don’t participate in political campaigns, not of the incumbent and not of the opposition.

QUESTION: Can you go back to something? Can you tell us what is the purpose of the November 14th meetings in Jerusalem?

MS. NULAND: Well, I think the objective, obviously, will be to try to work with each of these parties along the lines that we’ve been talking about as outlined in the September 23rd Quartet statement – to encourage them and offer support to them and assistance to them in coming up with proposals for each other on land and on security, which we would hope could be exchanged within 90 days from the end of October. So that’s still our goal. Also, to try to help them work through some of the issues that have been difficult in the last couple of weeks.

QUESTION: Syria?

QUESTION: Specifically that means the UNESCO vote, the UN bid, and then the reaction?

MS. NULAND: Well, as we’ve said before, we’ve had a cycle of action and reaction that we thought was counterproductive and difficult, so to try to improve the atmosphere between --

QUESTION: But those are what you’re referring to?

QUESTION: Name – what are the – just to ask the question simply, what are the issues that – of the last couple of weeks that you expect to work with them on?

MS. NULAND: Primarily, we want to get these parties back to focusing on the Quartet proposal for how they can move forward to narrow the gaps between them, and not focused on other issues that can do damage to the environment for peace.

QUESTION: But I think it’s a reasonable question. I mean --

MS. NULAND: I really don’t think I need to restate them here. I think they’re well known.

Please.

QUESTION: On Syria?

MS. NULAND: Yeah. Syria.

QUESTION: The French foreign minister said that the initiative – the Arab initiative in Syria is dead. Do you agree that it is dead and there’s no point of pursuing any other Arab initiative in Syria after what happened in Homs last night?

MS. NULAND: Well, the Arab League itself is going to have to evaluate its own initiative, so I would refer to them on that subject. As you know, they’ve called an urgent meeting on Saturday to evaluate among themselves the response or lack thereof from the Asad regime.

QUESTION: Do you expect --

QUESTION: I know we keep talking about this subject all the time, but did we reach a stage that there’s no point of having any initiatives at all?

MS. NULAND: Well, I think – obviously, we believe that it is important for more and more countries, and the Arab League is obviously part of this, to speak out very clearly about what needs to happen. So the degree to which the Arab League laid out very, very clear guidelines for civilized behavior, for appropriate behavior, for behavior that could take Syria forward, that was helpful. But the degree to which the Asad regime has completely flouted the will of the international community, of the Arab League, claimed to be agreeing, even as the violence continues, is very, very dangerous and worrying.

QUESTION: Is the international community in any position at all to offer any protection for civilians in Syria?

MS. NULAND: Well, what we’ve been hoping to do, what we’ve been wanting to do, what the United States has been calling for for months now, and what more and more countries have joined us in calling for, is a robust cadre of international monitors, including monitors from the region, to be able to go in and see for themselves and bear witness to the human rights situation.

And frankly, if the Asad regime had nothing to fear, it would open its doors and it would allow international monitors in and it would allow the press back in. So we are very concerned and we think that that would be the best protection for civilians if there were more international and press eyes on their streets to make clear what is happening there.

QUESTION: Yes. Victoria, is it your wish or your expectation that the Arab League would take the bold move and suspend Syria’s membership in the Arab League on Saturday?

MS. NULAND: We’ve – you’ve asked this question several times in several ways, Said. I’m not going to get ahead of what the Arab League will decide itself.

QUESTION: Okay. One more: Yesterday, the Syrian army took back an area called Baba Amr, which was like the rebel stronghold and so on. And as a result, there’s a “humanitarian disaster,” quote-unquote, according to reports. Is there anything that can be done to, let’s say, alleviate the suffering of the people of Homs?

MS. NULAND: Well, again, this is what we are hoping to do, first by getting monitors in. Obviously, if those monitors determine that there is the kind of humanitarian disaster, then the international community would want to help with that if the Syrian Government would – will allow us. But what you have is a completely hermetically sealed system as the violence continues. So it is both frustrating and extremely worrying for the international community.

QUESTION: Is it advisable for the International Red Cross and the International Red Crescent to reach out to the Syrian Government so they can get supplies into these stricken areas?

MS. NULAND: Well, I think that they’ve been trying. They’re obviously aiding refugees who have crossed over into Turkey.

Anything else on Syria?

QUESTION: Yeah, (inaudible).

MS. NULAND: Yeah. Please. Yeah.

QUESTION: Have you all contacted the Arab League before this Saturday meeting?

MS. NULAND: Have we been in contact with the Arab League?

QUESTION: Before the meeting with the Arab League?

MS. NULAND: Yes. Jeff Feltman has talked to his counterparts in a number of countries in the Arab League.

QUESTION: Any suggestion, U.S. suggestion, for this meeting?

MS. NULAND: Well, I think that we’re gratified that they are meeting again so that they can evaluate where they’re going to go. Our interest is in staying in touch with them, and we’ll see what they decide to do when they meet on Saturday.

Please.

QUESTION: NATO General Secretary Rasmussen was here. We have seen the readout with the meeting with the President. If I’m not mistaken, I didn’t see any readout from the Secretary meeting. Is there any way you can elaborate on that, and specifically if Syria was one of the topics?

MS. NULAND: Well, the Secretary hosted dinner for Secretary General Rasmussen last night after the President’s meeting to follow up. Secretary of Defense Panetta was here, National Security Advisor Donilon was also here. This is the format that we’ve used – I think this was the fourth time they’ve used it – when Secretary General Rasmussen has been here to coordinate our views. In this case, since we’re the host of the next NATO summit in Chicago in May, we have special responsibilities for working on the agenda.

They spent the dinner talking about, in further detail than in the President’s meeting, the Chicago summit agenda, particularly the fact that we will emphasize next steps in Afghanistan, we’ll talk about military and defense capabilities with allies, and we’ll talk about strengthening partnerships. My understanding is that the subject of Syria did not come up in the dinner.

Please.

QUESTION: In Pakistan yesterday, four doctors of the minority Hindu community were shot dead by militants in Karachi. Do you have anything to say on that?

MS. NULAND: I don’t. We can take that one and see if we have any reaction.

Please.

QUESTION: So --

QUESTION: May I just follow on the South Asia, please? As far as South summit is concerned, Madam – which starts today – this is the first time that ever U.S. is sending such a large delegation to the South summit. My question is: Is this delegation led by Assistant Secretary Blake – is carrying any special message from the Secretary?

MS. NULAND: Well, we spoke about this, I think, on Monday or on Friday. You’re right; this is the first time that we’re observing. Assistant Secretary Blake is there because it’s not only an opportunity for us to lend support for the SAARC process, but also for him to see many of his counterparts who are gathered all in one place. So as I said on Monday or on Friday, we very much hope that the improved atmosphere going into this meeting will carry over into the meeting itself. We have progress between India and Pakistan heading towards most favored nation status. We had just the Istanbul round of meetings where all of the neighbors of Afghanistan supported its sovereignty, territorial integrity, security, and pledged to work together to improve economic relations. So we’re hoping that SAARC can make some further advances along those positive lines.

QUESTION: And Madam, just quick follow, you have included in that delegation number of U.S. ambassadors, like from Sri Lanka and Bangladesh and others, but no U.S. ambassador is included from Pakistan or chargé d'affaires from India, or the --

MS. NULAND: I can’t speak to how the delegation was made up, frankly.

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. NULAND: Please, Lach.

QUESTION: Yeah. Switching to Burma, now that your envoys Mitchell and Posner are back, have you been discussing with them what further incentives you could provide the regime in Burma to continue in its path of reform? Could we see anything more ahead or during the ASEAN summit in Bali?

MS. NULAND: Well, we’re obviously analyzing the results of those meetings. There have been some internal meetings. I would expect that the subject of Burma will come up in Bali. The Burmese themselves are there, is my understanding. So I think we are continuing to evaluate some of this progress that we’ve seen, but also to talk very clearly to the Burmese about further progress that is required.

QUESTION: So are you looking at more incentives? For example, I think you’ve talked already about – or Posner and Mitchell talked about microfinance loans, easing up travel restrictions. Would there be further incentives on top of this that we could expect?

MS. NULAND: We’ve talked about action for action. I don’t think we have anything new to announce beyond what you’ve already seen.

QUESTION: And what about high-level meetings between the U.S. side and the Burmese side in Bali?

MS. NULAND: I don’t think we have anything to announce at this time.

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. NULAND: Please.

QUESTION: A very quick one --

QUESTION: And do you think Burma is moving in a direction where it can head ASEAN in 2014?

MS. NULAND: Where it can?

QUESTION: Would – where it can head or chair ASEAN in --

MS. NULAND: ASEAN?

QUESTION: Yeah, in 2014.

MS. NULAND: I’m not in a position to speak to that at this moment.

QUESTION: Madam, just quick one: Today is World Freedom Day, and do you see any changes in the future as far as freedom of the press around the globe and also those who are seeking freedom around – in many countries that they are – been crying in help, asking for the U.S. help?

MS. NULAND: Just a small question, Goyal. (Laughter.) Well, as the Secretary made clear last night in her speech at the National Democratic Institute, which I would commend to all of you, 2011 has been a banner year – I can’t remember exactly how she put it – banner year – there you go, Said; you’re putting it in my brain – for the march of freedom and self – and democracy movements beginning to gain traction in the broader Middle East. So obviously we are very supportive of those efforts, and you know that we’re supportive of press freedom around the globe.

QUESTION: Are we all ready for freedom from this briefing?

MS. NULAND: Would you like to be free from this briefing? I’m certainly ready.

QUESTION: No. I’ve got one.

MS. NULAND: Dave, in the back.

QUESTION: A follow-up on the democracy – Secretary Clinton’s speech.

MS. NULAND: Yeah.

QUESTION: Some former officials from former administration criticized this speech for not giving any credit to former administration, their freedom agenda, democracy agenda. Did this – was this topic at any rate come out during the preparation of the speech, or how do you respond to this criticism?

MS. NULAND: Well, I’m not going to get into the internal preparation of the speech, obviously. I think the Secretary does make clear in the speech that the United States has supported reform, has supported opening in the Middle East for some time, but it’s actually the people of these countries who have taken it to the next level. And so it’s been our job to support that as we can.

Behind you.

QUESTION: Yeah. Does the agreement reached with Bolivia yesterday, announced last evening, does that envisage the return to Bolivia of American drug enforcement agents? Because it was their expulsion a few years ago that really sort of precipitated bad times in the relationship. And our – will the U.S. Ambassador be heading down there in the near future?

MS. NULAND: Well, obviously, we think the signing of the U.S.-Bolivia Framework Agreement is a positive step in our bilateral relationship, and we hope that it can lead to full restoration of diplomatic relations, including the return of ambassadors. It envisions that. I don’t have anything to announce here today, but certainly that is included.

We also want to get back to being able to implement programs in the areas of – in the priority areas in the relationship, including law enforcement. But we just have to have those conversations now.

QUESTION: Can we stay in the close, nearby region, Honduras? There were – there was a report, or at least one report, earlier this week, or maybe late last week, about DEA commando squads being involved in – or a DEA commando squad being involved in some kind of a firefight with drug smugglers in Honduras, which has – I don’t want to ask you about that because it’s not your agency, but it has raised questions about U.S.-Honduran cooperation in the drug war and raised concerns about police misconduct, Honduran police misconduct, its treatment of campesinos, farmers, particularly those who are on land occupied by a very wealthy individual, a Honduran individual who appears to have met with State – with Embassy officials, despite the fact that he is believed to be a known – he is believed to be a drug kingpin of sorts.

And I’m wondering if you can address those questions – the following questions. Do you have concerns, and have you raised them with the Honduran authorities, about police involvement in repression of farmers in land disputes, or about – or raised concerns about police – potential police misconduct in raids, in anti-drug raids?

MS. NULAND: Matt, I’m going to have to take both of those. I don’t have anything today on our conversations with Honduras on these issues, but we’ll take them and get back to you.

QUESTION: Okay. And then --

MS. NULAND: Go ahead. Why don’t you finish your list?

QUESTION: I’ve got two more.

MS. NULAND: Go ahead.

QUESTION: One is very brief. Is there anything new on the case of – the situation of the DS agent in Hawaii?

MS. NULAND: Nothing that I have further to what we said yesterday.

QUESTION: And then today, this morning, the Secretary removed Shamil Basayev from the SGT, Specially Designated Global Terrorism list, because he no longer meets the criteria for designation. He’s been dead for five years. I’m just wondering why --

MS. NULAND: That would be --

QUESTION: Yeah. That would mean he doesn’t meet the criteria. Why does it take so long?

MS. NULAND: It does take --

QUESTION: Were you not sure --

MS. NULAND: It does take some --

QUESTION: -- that he’s dead? (Laughter.)

MS. NULAND: You’re right; the reason he’s removed is because he’s dead. Why it takes so long from the time some of these people are – pass away to when we can remove them from the list, I can’t speak to, but there are some procedures that have to be gone through. But we are in the process of doing some cleaning of the list. You’ve seen us do this --

QUESTION: Yes, you are. Yesterday – well, yesterday, you removed a guy who’d been dead for several years, Gerhard Merz, a German.

MS. NULAND: Yeah.

QUESTION: But --

MS. NULAND: I think we’re engaged in a little bit of a housekeeping effort with some of these lists. We have a number of folks who are no longer with us who are still on the list.

QUESTION: Toria, just a quick a clarification.

MS. NULAND: Yes.

QUESTION: Did you say whether the IAEA report is expected to invalidate the U.S. intelligence report of 2007 that the Iranians would stop their nuclear program back in 2003?

MS. NULAND: Said, that was a really good effort.

QUESTION: Yeah.

MS. NULAND: As I said, we – the report’s just out. We’re studying it. I’m not going to comment on the details.

QUESTION: One more?

MS. NULAND: Yeah. Lach, go ahead.

QUESTION: Can I just get a quick one in here?

MS. NULAND: Yeah.

QUESTION: Apparently, there was a State Department meeting between Algeria, Mali, Mauritania, Niger on counterterrorism. Benjamin, Feltman, and Carson were involved. Do you have any details on that meeting?

MS. NULAND: Well, this is a follow-up to some of the work that we’ve been doing since the establishment of the Global Counterterrorism Forum. I can certainly get some more information from Ambassador Benjamin if that’s helpful to you.

QUESTION: Okay. Please.

MS. NULAND: Yeah.

QUESTION: One quick one.

MS. NULAND: Yeah.

QUESTION: Yesterday, as you are aware, Senator Bernie Sanders put up on his website some documents regarding a State Department OIG special review of the Keystone XL approvals or permitting process. And the question that keeps getting asked is whether or not this may have any effect on the timeline for the decision, which Secretary Clinton has said she wants to make by the end of the year. Do you have any comment, first on the OIG special review, and secondly on the timeline?

MS. NULAND: Well, first just to confirm that the Office of Inspector General of the State Department has initiated a special review. We welcome this review. The Department considers it an opportunity for an impartial assessment, and we are confident that this assessment will bear out that we have conducted the Keystone pipeline review process consistently with existing U.S. law and regulations. And we will be cooperating fully with the Office of the Inspector General.

With regard to the timeline, Arshad, we’re just not in a position at this time to speculate whether this might affect the timing for the decision.

QUESTION: And for those of us who are not deeply familiar with the work of the State Department Office of Inspector General, what’s the difference between a special review and an inspection or an investigation or whatever is the more traditional vehicle for looking into something? Or is there no distinction and this is basically the same thing?

MS. NULAND: Well, first there is a distinction between a special review and a full IG investigation. The special review is, as we say, a review, or as they say, a review to see whether the procedures that we’re following are in strict conformity with U.S. law and what we are supposed to do as we go forward with this pipeline. Were there to be a full-blown inspection, it usually comes – it is a much more fulsome process which goes into every sort of nook and cranny of our procedures, rather than the more limited review we’re having here as to whether we met U.S. – we are meeting U.S. law.

QUESTION: But just – thank you for that. But how can they determine if what you have done is in conformity with U.S. law and regulation if they’re not doing the soup to nuts examination of this? How do they know?

MS. NULAND: Well, they will obviously do the soup to nuts required for a review. A full OIG investigation follows very strict other procedures. So – but I don’t want to get too far into how they do their business. I think if you need more on this, we’ll get them to speak to you, because it obviously – they are independent and they have their own procedures.

QUESTION: I would hazard to guess that the opponents of the pipeline are now asking – in the process of drafting a letter asking to demand a full-on investigation if, in fact, a special review isn’t going to go into every nook and cranny. Isn’t one of the things that – if you look at a special review versus a full-on investigation, the special review – the reports tend to be like a page or a page and a half, and the – and a full-on investigation runs dozens of pages often. Is that – that’s kind of the main difference, isn’t it, in terms of the end product?

MS. NULAND: I think a review report would be as long as the inspector general deemed necessary. It’s certainly the case that when the IG does a full review, as they are required to do on all of our embassies on a regular cycle, that full inspection report of an embassy, for example, would tend to be about like that. But let’s let them do their work, and we’ll see what comes forward.

Just to go back to something earlier, when you asked me whether I reject the – an – I can’t remember exactly how the question came – just to clarify that I was rejecting the – any assertion that diplomats don’t do their jobs. I was not in any way endeavoring to speak about a campaign issue or in any way to respond to (inaudible).

QUESTION: Oh, no. I know, but I mean it doesn’t really matter where the criticism coming from.

MS. NULAND: Yeah.

QUESTION: I think it could come from people who are opposed to the Keystone pipeline, or in favor of it. It doesn’t have to be a political thing. It’s just when the suggestion is made and gets aired on a prominent – in prominent media that somehow the Congress needs to investigate whether State Department employees, career diplomats, are actually acting in the interests of the country, it seems a bit – it seems like it would deserve a response from this building, which has defended its – I remember Colin Powell defending this building against Pat Robertson, who suggested it should be bombed back not so long ago. So --

MS. NULAND: Is that an architectural comment or was that a political comment?

QUESTION: No, I think it was a political comment from him at the time, but I don’t see that there’s a problem with you – or I don’t see that you’re interjecting yourself into the political realm if you defend – unless you can’t defend them. Maybe you agree. Maybe you think that your colleagues are not acting in the best interests of the United States. But if you don’t agree with that, I don’t see why you can’t say that that’s – that that allegation coming from anyone is wrong.

MS. NULAND: I just want to confirm among us that as we move into the campaign season, we’re going to do what we can among ourselves to keep this a politics-free zone here and speak about the foreign policy of the United States and of the Department.

Thanks, everybody.

QUESTION: Thank you.

(The briefing was concluded at 1:26 p.m.)

DPB # 170

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