Background Briefing on Secretary's Meetings in Brussels
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: All right. Are we ready? So first, let me run through three of the bilats – [Senior State Department Official Three] if you want give Store at the end of yours, we can do that – very, very quickly, just to give you the subjects, and then we’ll go to the NATO multilat pieces with [Senior State Department Official Number Two] and [Senior State Department Official Number One].
Okay. We are in Brussels, after a day of NATO meetings and some bilaterals. We have [Senior State Department Official Two], hereafter Senior State Department Official Two. And we have [Senior State Department Official Three], hereafter State Senior Official Three. I’ll be Senior State Official One for these bilats.
The Secretary had three bilateral meetings today. The first was with Turkish Foreign Minister Davutoglu. Subjects of discussion – as you know, the Secretary and Foreign Minister Davutoglu meet quite regularly – about once a month at this rate, would you say [Senior State Department Official Three]?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL THREE: Yes.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: Yeah. Subjects today were, obviously, talking about the NATO business and the walk up to the Chicago summit in May. They also talked quite a bit about the situation in the Balkans, including Kosovo/ Serbia. They also reviewed the state of play after the Egyptian elections and the situation going forward.
Foreign Minister Davutoglu asked the Secretary for a readout on her meeting with the Syrian National Council representatives of a couple of days ago. They discussed their mutual support for the efforts of the Arab League and exchanged concerns about the humanitarian situation on the ground. They also discussed the fact that we have our ambassadors back in country and that they will coordinate closely with each other and with other ambassadorial counterparts in Damascus.
She also saw Italian Foreign Minister Terzi, who you know as just taken up that job with the new Italian government. Foreign Minister Terzi went through, in some detail, for her the steps that the Italian Government is taking to strengthen its economy and previewed what they expect out of the European summit later this week. They obviously went to the Chicago NATO summit agenda. They talked at some length about Afghanistan and our security transition into 2014. The Italians, as you know, are particularly strong in the training mission of their 4,000 some odd forces – is that right? --
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: 4,000.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICAL ONE: -- in Afghanistan. Five hundred of them are trainers, mostly the (inaudible), the high-end training, which they’re very good at. The Secretary and Terzi spoke about the need to intensify the training as we head deeper into the security transition. They also talked about our – each of the programs we run for economic support for the Afghans and agreed to exchange lessons learned, as we head into the next phase.
They exchanged views on Libya, where we and the Italians stay very close, particularly work we are both doing to support the Libyan efforts to destroy conventional weapons and particularly MANPADS and steps we can do to support the new Libyan government of al-Keeb.
They then talked about Syria. Terzi also wanted a readout on the Secretary’s meeting with the SNC, because he himself intends to meet with them in the next few days, the Syrian National Council. And finally they talked about Iran.
Her last bilateral of the evening --
QUESTION: Sorry. Can I interrupt? What’d they talk about – Iran?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: They exchanged views on Iran and the need to maintain strong international pressure in the current environment.
She also met with Polish Foreign Minister Sikorski. In that meeting, they also talked about the Eurozone crisis, the EU summit, upcoming Chicago NATO summit preparation, particularly the issue of missile defense, where you know that Poland is a missile defense partner of NATO and the United States. They compared notes on the situation in Russia following the elections. They talked about Belarus, as they always do, and about the situation in Ukraine, compared notes on the energy security situation in Europe and particularly moves that Poland is taking to diversify its supply. They talked about Libya. They also talked about Egypt and finally a similar conversation on Iran.
[Senior State Department Official Three], do you want to do Store, and then we’ll go to [Senior State Department Official Two]?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL THREE: Yeah. Just briefly, similar, in the beginning the NATO summit –
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: This is Norwegian Foreign Minister Store.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICAL THREE: Norwegian Foreign Minister Store. They compared notes and thoughts on how best to use the Chicago summit to advance the NATO agenda. They talked about the Balkans, which is a place that Store has a great interest in and visits frequently and has visited recently, so she got his assessment of our common efforts to try to advance the Euro-Atlantic integration of both Serbia and Kosovo and to defuse the current tensions on the border there. They talked about Russia and energy, obviously Norway being a big energy exporter. And then they talked about the Middle East and Afghanistan.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: Okay. Good. Let’s go to the NATO portions of the day.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: And so we had three meetings today. First one was on the Balkans, with a real focus on Serbia/Kosovo and particularly the NATO operation KFOR. I’d say very strong unanimous support for what KFOR is doing, a strong condemnation of violence against KFOR, which we’ve seen in the last few months, and strong support for KFOR to maintain freedom of moment and maintain a secure environment in the area.
A call – first, strong belief that we need it to work, NATO and the EU together and KFOR and the EU mission there, the EU law enforcement mission, EULEX, but that EULEX needed to have more resources to have been able to do the job – they particularly lack police up in the north of Kosovo – but a very united, strong view that they’re doing the right thing. We need a stronger political strategy that NATO can’t provide that needs to be provided by the European Union and by the partners on the ground. But a commitment to keep the troops that are there, about 6,000 there now, to keep them there for as long as necessary in order to maintain as secure a situation as possible. So a very positive, good meeting on the Balkans.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: And U.S. troop level in Kosovo now is?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: Is about 750, they said. Is that right? I think it’s about 750, so --
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: Go ahead.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: We’re one of the three large contributors: the U.S., Italy, and Germany. Although –
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: That’s 750.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: 750.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: Okay.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL THREE: One observation Secretary made, just to put this in context for anyone looking to save resources in the Balkans, we used to have 50,000 troops.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: We’re down to six.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: NATO as a whole had 50,000.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL THREE: Sorry. NATO used to have 50,000 troops in Kosovo, and now, after building on successes, down to right around 6,000.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: About six. But the plan had been to actually go down to about 2,500 pretty soon. That plan’s on hold.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL THREE: Right. That’s still the goal, but only when circumstances permit. And what the ministers agreed is that the living conditions faced --
QUESTION: The U.S. has how many?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: 750.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: 750.
QUESTION: When – well, you said pretty soon. When were you planning to go to 2,500?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: We were going to look it at late this fall, and we’re now postponed, not looking until spring at the earliest.
QUESTION: When was that decision taken?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: It was actually taken by defense ministers in October.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: Okay. Let’s keep going with the brief, and then we’ll come back to questions.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: Second big meeting was on missile defense, Russia, and the deterrence and defense posture review. First, I should say Secretary Clinton made a very strong statement reaffirming the American commitment to European security and to Europe and to maintaining a strong military presence in Europe as part of just the general statement of affairs in this, as you think about what kind of conventional capabilities need to be retained in NATO.
Most of the discussion was about Russia and missile defense, and in particular the speech by President Medvedev. The general view was that there’s no reason to overreact to his speech, that part of it had to be – it was explainable within the election context that was taking place.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: Explain again. Which speech?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: This is the President Medvedev speech on November 23rd on missile defense.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: 23rd.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: In Russian time, I think it’s November 23rd – on missile defense, which, on the one hand, continued to open a door to dialogue with NATO and trying to resolve the differences that we have through dialogue, and, on the other hand, announced a number of steps, including the deployment of Iskandar missiles in Kaliningrad as the Russians judged necessary over time in response to the deployment and evolution of NATO missile defense.
So the reaction was: Don’t overreact to the speech; this is something that was taking place within the context of the Russian elections. But at the same time we shouldn’t ignore it. Most importantly, we as an alliance need to recommit – and did recommit – to the deployment of NATO missile defenses that are directed at the threat from the Middle East. They’re not about Russia, and we’re not going to divert ourselves from the path that we have chosen, because it’s important for our – for where we are with respect to our own security.
Again, quite a unanimous view on how to deal with Russia, which is want to work with them; we want to deal with them on missile defense. We reaffirmed that the door to real reengagement that Lisbon opened, that we want to continue that, that, in fact, there’s a lot of very positive cooperation ongoing with Russia on Afghanistan on counterterrorism, counter-piracy. And on those issues that we disagree, we will continue to disagree if we need to, but we ought to continue – or we shouldn’t change our policy on that basis.
This evening, a very interesting, long discussion that ranged over a whole range of issues from the Arab Spring to partnership and how NATO relates to its partners to the question of possible enlargement. To put this in context, the foreign ministers of NATO only come together once every – every year, and that is actually one of the few times that a group of – European ministers meet together all the time, once a month, about – talk about foreign policy and interact with the United States, and when it comes to the Arab world, Turkey, and have a real discussion. So this was an opportunity for them to have a discussion about issues that they talk about every day, what’s happening in Syria, what happening in Egypt. It wasn’t about what NATO can do. It was an exchange of views, I think very interesting for everyone who was there, without any real conclusion, but an opportunity to have that open exchange of views.
They also talked about how important our partners of NATO are, our partners Asia, our partners in Europe, our partners in the Arab world, as the Libya operation showed, and how can we figure out how to find ways to strengthen those partnerships and build on them. Again, no real concrete issues coming out of that.
And then finally, we had four countries that would like to become member of the alliance – Macedonia, Montenegro, Bosnia, and Georgia – and we talked about the importance of keeping the door to NATO membership open to these countries and to use the Chicago summit to send a signal of what they would continue to need to do in order to become members, a wide ranging discussion that went deep into the night, until 11 o’clock. And everybody spoke.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: And since it’s deep into the night, why don’t we do one round of Qs? Anybody?
QUESTION: I have a question on Russia. Oh, go ahead, Anne.
QUESTION: Yeah. I have a question on Russia too. So was there any reaction from the Secretary to Rasmussen’s comments tonight? Did you all know – at the press conference tonight, did you all know that he was going to be a little bit stronger on Russia then he’s been before?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT TWO: What did I say? I mean --
QUESTION: He said that there was an empty threat – the closure of NDN or blockage of the NDN was an empty threat and – I’ve forgotten the exact language of the second bit --
QUESTION: He said it was a – he said these are evoking memories of a confrontation of a bygone era.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: Yeah. He said that in a statement on the speech. I mean, his actual statement immediately after the speech said that this kind of – these kind of responses remind us of a bygone era.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: He also said it would be a waste of resources if they –
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: On the NDN, it’s actually – there was no confirmation. Even Rogozin, who was the one who was quoted, has said – he told us today, but he said all along his was misquoted and they are not linking the NDN to our disagreement on missile defense.
His conclusion from the conversation, which I gather what he said in his press conference was, let’s not overreact, there’s nothing that we need to do differently than we’re doing now; on the other hand, we should also not ignore his statements. Well, he clearly didn’t ignore his statement.
QUESTION: Have they moved the Iskandar missiles in Kaliningrad?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT TWO: No, no, no. This is one of the responses that was – that – as President Medvedev made very clear, if we don’t succeed in redressing their concerns through dialogue, this is one of the responses they would consider down the line.
QUESTION: Is that something that you’re worried about?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL THREE: The only thing to say about it is – it’s obviously up to the Russians to explain why he might be saying that or what he’s getting at. But not a single ally that I’m aware of has said, “Whoa, we should think twice about missile defense because the Russians might do X, Y, or Z,” even those who live nearby, who might be within range of Iskandar missiles. So if the purpose of such notions or threats is to get the alliance to think twice about missile defense, I have detected no sign whatever that that’s the case. And certainly the discussion today showed nothing but support for moving forward for the reasons --
QUESTION: Right. But I mean, first of all, Rasmussen didn’t – not Rasmussen, the --
QUESTION: Ragozin. He might’ve told you that he was taken out of context, but he hasn’t walked back from the statement publicly. And our understanding from the meeting is that while, yes, maybe the sweets are – shouldn’t be taken as gospel, and even you said don’t overreact, but that if you look at what Medvedev says, you should take his words at face value, and – I mean, do you feel that Russia – I mean, even after the understandings that you had in Lisbon, I mean, it doesn’t look as if they’re moving towards greater cooperation. It means they’re moving – it looks as if they’re moving away from the understandings that you had in Lisbon. And is your understanding that Russia’s official position is it’s going to not play ball on missile defense and tie other cooperation within NATO to your redress of their concerns?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: Well, one thing to be said on that, Elise, is that the Russian meeting is tomorrow, so I think we’ll have a better sense of what they have to say to the alliance when we come tomorrow. But I don’t know if [Senior State Department Officials Two and Three] want to react at this --
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL THREE: I mean, there’s no – I mean, even if you read Medvedev literally, and I think we all should read him, he makes very clear that his preference is to continue what we have tried to accomplish in Lisbon, which is to have a cooperation between NATO and Russia on missile defense.
QUESTION: But he says – I’m sorry, but just respectfully, he said – yes, he said that. But I mean you walked away from NATO with this – I don’t want to say euphoria, but you thought it was a big success and victory in – sorry, in Lisbon --
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL THREE: In Lisbon.
QUESTION: -- that it was a big success and victory that you were going to start working together.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL THREE: Yeah. And we --
QUESTION: -- and that hasn’t – but what’s changed that they’re moving away from that?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL THREE: They’re not – we’re not – we still haven’t reached an agreement on how to move forward on this, but they haven’t walked away.
QUESTION: So you don’t agree that it’s actually backslide from Lisbon?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL THREE: Well, it’s not – it’s –
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: It hasn’t moved --
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL THREE: We haven’t moved forward.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: There was nowhere to move back from. I mean, it is – it was in the agreement that we would move forward.
QUESTION: Do you think that (inaudible) --
QUESTION: You were (inaudible) --
QUESTION: You can’t – I mean, you don’t – yeah, you don’t really tie that all to the election rhetoric?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: Guys, I think we’ve – we went around this the last time we met. We’re going around it again. These guys have (inaudible).
QUESTION: Can I ask a specific question?
QUESTION: Steve has one.
QUESTION: If you think the stalling is because of this process they’re going through, which has gotten increasingly troublesome for the Russians.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL THREE: I think the way to put it is we have been engaged in serious discussions and are continuing to engage in serious discussions to find out how we can cooperate on missile defense, and that has not – we’re not – we’re still – we’re in the middle of that discussion. And the fact that President Medvedev has said that if those discussions fail, there are some things we will do is noteworthy, but we’re committed to try to continue to work with them, and they are open to working with us.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: Let’s go to Karen and then --
QUESTION: Would you talk a little bit about the negotiations themselves? I mean, all we know is that they say they want this binding assurance that this will never be directed at them. Is that it? I mean, there must be other things that you’re talking about. What do they want, and what are you unwilling to give them?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL THREE: Well, it’s not actually – one of the interesting things in the negotiations is we’re trying to find out exactly what it is that they want, beyond a legal piece of paper, which we have told them that we are not interested in. What we are interested in is actually writing something on paper, a political agreement, at 29, so that you have 29 countries that would sign on to that and that would spell out what we believe needs to be spelled out: First, that this – because this is what the Russians want – that this system is not directed against Russia, that any missile defenses deployed in Europe is about threats from outside of here. And secondly, that because of that, we want to cooperate actively on how to deal with those threats and to spell out the nature of that cooperation. We have put forward a number of specific ideas, many of them building – that build on Russian proposals themselves, and there is interest in working on those ideas, once we can define the first part of it, the assurances.
QUESTION: So what is it that they want that – I mean, what’s the difference between your piece of paper and the piece of paper they want?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: They want a treaty. They want a binding --
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL THREE: One, they want a legally binding agreement.
QUESTION: They want a treaty?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL THREE: They want a treaty.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: (Inaudible) they want, but we can’t give. One is a legally binding agreement to which one can legitimately ask the question, what court is going to enforce – the difference between our assurance – because we’ve said we’re prepared to say that this is not targeted at Russia, and Russia’s not the threat, and we will say it. They want us to say it; we’ll say it. And somehow, it would be different – so they would take us to the International Court of Justice or something. It’s not – so that that’s one. And we just can’t give that guarantee, and also it raises the question of what it would do.
They also want a guarantee that if, down the road, technology changes and our plans change, we still won’t undermine their deterrent. And there, too, we say we can’t – how can you – what can you do to – we say here’s what the plan is and here’s what we’ve budgeted for and here’s what we’ve agreed with allies, and that doesn’t threaten you. How do we somehow make an absolute promise, commitment, that could never be violated, that if technology changes and our plans change and the leadership changes and all of that? So it’s not clear to us, if those are the things they want, that there’s any possible way of --
QUESTION: Yeah. But --
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: Elise has the floor.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) the charter? I mean, what court is going to enforce the NATO charter? I mean, you can say that about any multilateral agreement.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL THREE: Many multilateral agreements are not legally binding treaties, so (inaudible) --
QUESTION: They want the treaty, though, that’s signed by (inaudible) NATO members?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL THREE: They want – no. Well, they would prefer a treaty with the United States.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL THREE: And we’ve pointed out that they had a treaty on ballistic missile capability called the ABM Treaty, and that didn’t help them very much.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: Jackie.
QUESTION: I’m just wondering – I want to go back to Anne’s question, because what really struck us tonight, I think, when we were talking and that Rasmussen was far more forward leaning than we expected them to be. The man’s an ultimate diplomat and he’s very careful with his words and he’s very nuanced. And I wonder what happened in the discussion with the allies that made him – I understand that you folks have your position on that, but I just wonder if you got any pushback form the allies in your discussion in bilaterals or anything that made Rasmussen come out little more aggressive than we thought he would be, certainly in his statements. This is a man who’s very careful with his words, so I’m just wondering what happened in the meeting today.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: And when you say forward leaning, you just – you mean (inaudible)?
QUESTION: Well, what – the words – yeah. The words that (inaudible).
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL THREE: But they were the same words he used in his public statement the 23rd --
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: About the (inaudible) --
QUESTION: Empty threat?
QUESTION: Empty threat – that was used.
QUESTION: He said – if you (inaudible) --
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: He said there was an empty threat?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL THREE: Yeah.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: That’s a new one, yeah.
QUESTION: There was a different tone. The words are one thing, but certainly the tone and his posture and everything else was different than --
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL THREE: I’ll – I won’t answer for Rasmussen. You’ll have to ask him. There was --
QUESTION: No, no. What I’m asking is (inaudible) the bilaterals or the meetings –
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL THREE: Let me say this: There was nothing in the meeting to suggest that we needed to strengthen the rhetoric that we had up to this point.
QUESTION: Meeting with – I’m sorry.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL THREE: In the meeting in – in the actual meeting itself.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL TWO: Of course, we haven’t seen the Russians yet.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: Can I say that the statements that I saw from Rasmussen were given before the NATO meetings even began?
QUESTION: No, no --
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL THREE: No, he gave a press conference tonight. Yeah.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: Just now? Okay.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: What time did he give a press conference?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL THREE: He did it at 8 o’clock.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: Okay. So just before dinner.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL THREE: Immediately after the meeting.
QUESTION: Two small ones. One, you mentioned Iran. I know they talk about Iran all the time. But in the two bilats, and particularly the one with the – was there a discussion of the – any anxiety about the Kirk-Menendez Amendment, about the possibility of sanctioning your allies and going after the armies or bank, or did that not come up at all?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: No. This was – the discussions about Iran were about how we can increase the international pressure on Iran and what we can each do nationally to do that.
QUESTION: Okay. And then you talked about the conversation with Terzi being about Europe and what they expect. Can you shed some light about what they discussed in the Euro crisis?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: Well, beyond saying that Foreign Minister Terzi gave her a good review of all of the steps that Italy is trying to take to meet its own national concerns underneath the concerns of its European partners and the fact that he previewed the hope and expectation that there will be good, strong decisions taken this week at the European summit, I think that’s about as far as we want to go on that one.
QUESTION: Did he give details?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: Gave details on the Italian package.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: Yeah.
QUESTION: But not on what they expect out of the summit this week?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: Not in great detail.
QUESTION: Any detail? I mean, what –
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: I think we need to let that summit go forward and see how it goes. But he was, I would say, relatively upbeat that it’ll be a good summit.
QUESTION: On Syria --
QUESTION: Just a quick –
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: Can we let Steve have a chance?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: Go ahead.
QUESTION: The – you said that Syria came up in the conversation and that no one was talking about any kind of specific things, but more like a sharing of ideas. But when you see what’s happening – there was an interview today, Barbara Walters, and very defiant. I mean, was it at all in the back of anyone’s mind, or did it kind of come up, the idea of the precedent of Libya and that we, as an alliance, should be thinking – or did anybody bring up the idea that maybe there’s a role that NATO can play? Even if we’re not there yet, it didn’t get into formal discussions?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: None of the conversations about Libya were about NATO. They were all about what we can do nationally.
QUESTION: And what about Syria --
QUESTION: What about in Syria?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL THREE: No, no. (Inaudible) it was an exchange of information (inaudible) how – and it was not about what NATO can do. It didn’t come up --
QUESTION: It didn’t evolve (inaudible) specific like – she’s been working a lot with the Turks about (inaudible) supporting the opposition. Were there any kind of next steps discussed in terms of coordination of engagement?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: Well, again, as I said, she talked about her meeting at the SNC. As you know the Turks have been working with the SNC. Talked about the situation inside the country, increasingly dire civilian humanitarian situation concerns about that and the need to support the Arab League and its efforts, which we are – Turkey is very much doing and as are we, and the need, all of us together – the United States, Europe, and the Arab League and other interested countries – continuing to up the pressure on the Asad regime where we can.
QUESTION: Can I ask –
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: And I would just say to Steve, if anything it was the opposite in terms of the – when people bring up Syria at the dinner and talk about increasing pressure and sanctions and so on, (inaudible) would make the point we’re not talking about Libya here; don’t get me wrong when I say we need to put this in the agenda and talk about it. So I think people – yeah, it’s definitely on people’s minds. Obviously, you can’t read people’s minds, but several of them went out of their way to note that it’s just a different case that we’re dealing with.
QUESTION: Can I just ask through the contrarian question of why isn’t it on the table? Why isn’t NATO talking about what we could do militarily, I mean, to intervene?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: Well, from a U.S. perspective, we’ve said repeatedly that we don’t think further militarization of this situation is going to help, and the vast majority of the opposition are against foreign intervention, and NATO’s a political military organization, so --
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: And also, if you remember the way Libya got on the agenda, Libya was also a (inaudible) NATO agenda until (inaudible) to be raised in the region, when the conditions – a strong legal – strong regional support, sound legal basis, and --
QUESTION: Case by case --
QUESTION: Right, but --
QUESTION: -- (inaudible) what kind --
QUESTION: Yeah. Moving towards that --
QUESTION: Even the Syrians have said that they are starting to consider – should we start to consider ways to protect civilians.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: Again, I think [Senior State Department Officials Two and Three] have made clear that it hasn’t been discussed in that context and --
QUESTION: Well, actually – you look like you wanted to say something.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: No. I mean, there’s no regional call for action. There’s no internal call for action. There’s no UN mandate. There’s no legal basis. So there’s no reason to even think that we should discuss this at NATO. And we didn’t do it in Libya, it’s not going to happen now.
QUESTION: Except the passage of time and there’s this sort of like –
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: I’m not predicting the future. I’m predicting – I’m only saying what happened up to tonight at 11 o’clock.
QUESTION: Just a point of clarification, you mentioned a political solution rather than a legally binding treaty on Russian missile defense. I mean, is this something new? It sounds like you – no, it’s nothing new.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: No. It’s nothing new. We’ve always said we wanted it and that we wanted a statement by the 29 NRC members, which would be a politically binding statement rather than a legally binding statement.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: Anybody else?
QUESTION: Was there – I’m assuming there was no discussion today on Afghanistan/Pakistan, that that’s all tomorrow?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: It’s all tomorrow. There was a little – a number of ministers just mentioned Afghanistan, mostly in – that we’re on track.
QUESTION: We are? (Laughter.)
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: We are.
QUESTION: To get out.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: We’re on track (inaudible) and previewing what they’ll likely say tomorrow. In part because you have 50 countries, it’s unlikely that all 28 get to say anything on Afghanistan. So a number got their points in now. Hopefully, they don’t have to repeat tomorrow.
QUESTION: How much do you think Pakistan is going to dominate discussions tomorrow in the closing (inaudible)?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: I don't know what it is, but I – actually, if I had to predict, I don't think Pakistan’s going to be the subject. I think --
QUESTION: No. Not for this one, but –
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: No. I think it’s – the supply lines are not the issue. I think there’s plenty of stuff to be discussed about what are we going to do in Afghanistan in the next two and a half years to get to our goal, which we agreed to in Lisbon, to complete transition, and we’re going to start talking about what we would do post 2014, because that is – those are the two issues for Chicago.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: I think we need to let our briefers go. They’ve had a very long day. They’re going to have another long day tomorrow. Thanks, guys.
PRN: 2011/ T57-22