Victoria Nuland
Spokesperson
Daily Press Briefing
Washington, DC
December 14, 2011


Index for Today's Briefing
  • DEPARTMENT
    • Secretary Delivers Remarks at Istanbul Process
  • IRAN
    • Defense Bill in Congress
    • UN Obligations
    • Meeting with Saudi Crown Prince
  • MIDDLE EAST
    • Mosque Burnings in Jerusalem
    • Settlements
    • Quartet
  • SYRIA
    • Homs
    • Ambassador to Washington
  • RUSSIA
    • Elections
  • ISRAEL
    • Secretary's Meeting with Defense Minister
  • PAKISTAN
    • President Zardari
  • INDIA
    • U.S.-India Civil Nuclear Agreement
  • NORTH KOREA
    • Ambassador Robert King's Discussions in Beijing
    • Nutritional Assistance / Assessment
    • Travels of Ambassador Glyn Davies
  • EGYPT
    • Elections


TRANSCRIPT:

12:53 p.m. EST

MS. NULAND: Afternoon, everybody. Welcome back, Mr. Lee. I have one small thing at the top and then we’ll go to what’s on your minds.

Just to remind that Secretary Clinton this afternoon will deliver closing remarks at a conference of the Istanbul Process designed to advance religious freedom, promote religious tolerance, combat discrimination on the basis of religion and belief consistent with universal human principles. This is a conference that’ll bring together some 30 nations and international organizations to exchange ideas on this topic.

Let’s go to what’s on your minds.

QUESTION: Can I just lodge a complaint? I don’t think there’s enough on the Secretary’s schedule today. Can you add a few more events in?

MS. NULAND: Exactly. Poor woman.

QUESTION: I think there’s about a 30-second interval where she doesn’t have anything scheduled. If you could fill that up, it would be appreciated. (Laughter.)

MS. NULAND: I will tell her that you said that and that you were concerned.

QUESTION: Yesterday, you were asked about the conference, the bill or the legislation that resulted from the conference on the bit having to do with the Iran sanctions. You were going to look at it yesterday. You’ve had 24 hours to look at it, so I’m wondering what you think. Does this meet your concerns? Is it okay?

MS. NULAND: Well, again, the bill is not law yet, so if and when it does become law, then we’re going to have to look very carefully. And I can’t, frankly, at this point, speculate on what kinds of procedures and applications might be called for in this case. So frankly, I’m going to disappoint you; I don’t have much more than we had yesterday on this, Matt.

QUESTION: Well, does the Administration support it or are you still – do you still think it’s flawed and it restricts your ability – your flexibility?

MS. NULAND: Again, I think we’re not going to comment any further than the comments we made at the front end of this process until we see the law that emerges and we think about implementation. So I’m sorry to --

QUESTION: So you’re not going to say anything about it until after it’s too late?

MS. NULAND: Again, I think we’ve been clear about this. We’ve been working with the Congress on it, but I’m not going to --

QUESTION: No, in fact, you haven’t been clear about it, and I think that the other one-third of the government, which is the Congress, would like – as well as the rest of us – would like to know what the Administration thinks about it, especially given the fact that this President came in promising unprecedented transparency.

MS. NULAND: Well, again, we made clear our concerns early on. We’ve been working with --

QUESTION: Yes, but have those concerns been addressed?

MS. NULAND: We’ve been working with the Congress on it. I’m not going to comment on our view of the final bill until it becomes law.

QUESTION: But that – by then, it’s too late. So have your concerns been addressed by the changes that were made by the – in the conference committee?

MS. NULAND: As I’ve said, I’m not going to have any further comment on this at this stage.

Please.

QUESTION: So you’re not – so you’re going to wait until after it becomes law to say that you don’t or you do agree with it? Are you worried that you’re somehow – you’re worried that this is going to signal somehow whether the President vetoes it?

MS. NULAND: Again, we’ve had plenty of conversation --

QUESTION: Well, I don’t understand. The Administration --

MS. NULAND: I understand that you don’t understand.

QUESTION: -- puts out all the time statements of Administration policy on legislation that’s before the Hill. You made your concerns about the initial legislation known to the Hill. That was not a secret. And I want to know whether those concerns have been met. It’s a simple, very simple, yes-or-no question, and I think it’s an obligation of the executive to make public what it thinks about whether a law is appropriate or whether it is inappropriate.

MS. NULAND: And again, this is in bill form now. It is not yet a law. We will make our views known after it’s the law and after we’ve had a chance to work through it. And we’re not at that stage yet, Matt. I’m sorry that’s disappointing today.

QUESTION: There’s a vote today.

MS. NULAND: I understand that.

QUESTION: No, it’s not disappointing. I think it’s irresponsible.

MS. NULAND: Well, that is – you are welcome to that opinion.

Said.

QUESTION: Yes, ma’am. Do you have any comment on the burning of Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem today by settlers, a very well-known settler? It was, matter of fact, Baruch Marzel.

MS. NULAND: We do, in fact. We condemn in strongest possible terms today’s burning and vandalizing of the mosque in Jerusalem. There is never any justification for an attack on a place of worship. We have called for calm on the part of all parties. We would also note that the Israeli Government has pledged to investigate these attacks and to bring the perpetrators to justice. We also encourage local authorities to work together with the communities to reduce tension and to defend religious freedom.

QUESTION: Okay. Now, the Israelis have disallowed worshipers from attending to a number of mosques in Jerusalem under the pretext that they are Islamic endowment and some sort of convoluted law that goes back into Jordan, let’s say, and whatever trusteeship over the holy places and all that stuff. Would you call on Israel to allow people to sort of repair and to do some refurbishing of these mosques that are basically falling apart?

MS. NULAND: Well, again, I can’t speak to these specific mosques that you’re referring to, Said. I don’t have information about this law that you’re talking about. But in general, you know that we support the freedom of religion. We support access to places of worship, et cetera, so --

QUESTION: Okay. Now, to follow up just on recent sister activities, there’s a great deal of activity under the name of “price tag” that the settlers are doing, and they are trying to make a point to the Israeli Government that if you withdraw from the settlement, this is what we are going to do. As we have seen last week, they have actually crossed into Jordanian territory and so on. So do you think – do you believe that perhaps these – the settler activity is a result of not taking any kind of strong action against settlements?

MS. NULAND: A result of Israeli Government policy?

QUESTION: A result of, let’s say, even the United States Government not taking a very strong position on settlement activities?

MS. NULAND: A result of United States policy?

QUESTION: Well, it’s Israel and --

MS. NULAND: It sounds like an internal Israeli issue to me.

QUESTION: I mean, this is a – the settlements – you issue statements about the – how it is not helpful in the peace process, but in fact, they are illegal, and perhaps if the United States Government and other European governments and so on take a position that they remain illegal, perhaps they can stem that kind of emboldened settlement activities.

MS. NULAND: We have made absolutely clear where we are on settlements. We’ve also made clear that we don’t support violence or desecration of any kind, so – but I certainly can’t speak to what’s motivating the settler activity. That’s a question for them.

QUESTION: And last week, the Israeli army fired a tear gas at a peaceful demonstrator. They killed him, they shut the door, and they went on with no investigation whatsoever. And today, there as a fatwa issued by four rabbis that actually called on the Israeli army to kill Palestinians that may be throwing stones. Do you have a position on that?

MS. NULAND: First of all, I’ve never heard of rabbis issuing fatwahs, but if --

QUESTION: Well, you know what I mean. I’m saying – (laughter). Fatwah is an Islamic word that’s become to mean an edict, you know.

MS. NULAND: We condemn incitements to violence of any kind, obviously, so – Andy.

QUESTION: Just a quick one on Iran. There are reports out --

QUESTION: On the Quartet. The Quartet meeting ended today. Do you have any comment on that?

MS. NULAND: I did have something on the Quartet. Let me take it for you and put it out for you afterwards, Said. Thanks.

QUESTION: Try and make sure that it’s insightful and really gets to the meat of what was discussed because if it’s going to be another one of these useful and productive things, it’s really not worth the paper that it’s printed on.

MS. NULAND: Just for you, Matt, we’ll do our best. (Laughter.)

Andy.

QUESTION: On Iran, there are reports out of Vienna that people in the IAEA are increasingly concerned that Iran is likely to begin processing work at an underground bunker near Fardhu, which is near Qom somewhere. I’m just wondering if you’re aware of this concern, if the U.S. shares it. Do you think that they’re getting ready to start this kind of processing? Have you got any information that makes you think that they’re moving along faster than we thought?

MS. NULAND: I don’t have anything on that particular set of press reports. I think we’ve been absolutely clear where we are on Iran. It’s incumbent upon them to meet their UN obligations and to prove to the world their peaceful intent, and they are far from having done that at this stage.

QUESTION: Okay. And Dennis Ross yesterday told a group of Washington think tank types that his impression was that we still had enough time to operate on the diplomatic track to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear device, not just sort of containing them but actually preventing them from acquiring it. Is that your view? And if so, how much time do you think we actually have?

MS. NULAND: Well, I’m obviously not going to comment on our intelligence assessments of that issue. You know that our focus has been on increasing the pressure diplomatically, economically, et cetera, internationally on Iran to come back into compliance and to come clean on what it’s up to.

QUESTION: And yet to refuse to say what your opinion – what your position is on legislation that would have – that significant – that has – would have a significant impact on that pressure.

MS. NULAND: Matt, I have no doubt that we will opine, but we’re not prepared to today.

QUESTION: Well, I just don’t understand why you’re going to opine when it’s too late, when after – when – I mean, are you still working with people on the Hill to make changes?

MS. NULAND: Again, we are not going to have any further comment on this issue from what we’ve been saying over time.

QUESTION: On Russia --

QUESTION: Yeah. Can we stay on Iran for a second?

MS. NULAND: Yeah.

QUESTION: It will not have escaped your notice – well, maybe it has, considering what we’ve gotten so far today – that the Iranian intelligence minister --

MS. NULAND: I’m so glad you’re back. I’ve missed you.

QUESTION: I’m sure you are.

MS. NULAND: I’ve missed you.

QUESTION: That the Iranian intelligence minister met with the Saudi crown prince on Monday, I believe. Did you notice this meeting? Do you make anything of it?

MS. NULAND: Well, obviously, we noticed this meeting. We have been in very --

QUESTION: I’m so relieved.

MS. NULAND: Good. I’m glad you’re relieved. We’ve obviously been in lockstep with Saudi Arabia with regard to our concerns about what Iran is up to, and particularly in the wake of the assassination plot against the Saudi ambassador here. So with regard to this meeting, it’s an opportunity for the Saudis to again make clear our common position that this kind of behavior is unacceptable and is only serving to increase the international pressure on Iran.

QUESTION: And is it your understanding that that’s what they – that that’s what – the message that was delivered?

MS. NULAND: Again, this is an issue to take up with the Saudis, what their precise message would have been.

QUESTION: Okay. Does it not raise eyebrows, at least, or flags, that the Saudis would invite the person who you allege is probably the mastermind behind an attempt to kill their ambassador to the United States into their home? Do you not think that that’s a sign that the Saudis may not really take the – your claims about this assassination attempt seriously?

MS. NULAND: Well, on the contrary. And I can’t speak to who invited – whether he invited himself or whether he was invited, but remember that it was the Saudis who put forward the draft in the UN General Assembly condemning these actions. So you could argue – I don’t – I can’t speak to this directly, again, to the Saudis, but you could argue that it’s a chance to bring this guy to Riyadh and call him to account. But I think we need to hear in Riyadh what the results of the meeting were.

QUESTION: All right. But you seriously think that the Iranian intelligence minister would show up uninvited in the capital of Saudi Arabia?

MS. NULAND: Well, obviously, he needs a visa, obviously.

QUESTION: So he was invited? So you don’t – you don’t have a problem with that?

MS. NULAND: What I said was it’s obviously an opportunity for the Saudis to make very clear their concern, their dissatisfaction, their extreme alarm at some of the things that the Iranians have been up to.

QUESTION: Quick follow-up. Mr. Ross also suggested that Iran is falling far behind on its schedule to whatever nuclear activity it has and that it’s waning under the stress of sanctions and so on, suggesting perhaps precluding any kind of military action. Do you agree with that assessment?

MS. NULAND: Well, again, Mr. Ross has the benefit of now being a private citizen once again. I’m obviously not going to speak to our assessment of where they are in their program. But as I said, you know how we are pursuing our policy towards Iran.

QUESTION: Well, you don’t think that someone who left the Administration less than two weeks ago is still – has any special insight into what the Administration thinks?

MS. NULAND: Again, I think he was speaking --

QUESTION: Once you leave, your mind gets erased? Is it a Men in Black kind of thing?

MS. NULAND: He was --

QUESTION: He’s just speaking as a – speaking totally out of the blue?

MS. NULAND: As somebody who’s been in far too long, I don’t know. Does your mind get erased? I’ll have to ask him. (Laughter.) Certainly, he’s speaking in his personal capacity, and I’m obviously not going to get into our government assessment. He was not claiming to be giving a government assessment in his comments, as I understand it.

Nina.

QUESTION: On Syria?

MS. NULAND: Yeah.

QUESTION: Reports have suggested that the Syrian army is surrounding the city of Homs. Is it now an inevitable that the Syrian army is going to storm the city and it’s not much that we can – can be done to stop it?

MS. NULAND: Well, we’ve spoken for many days now about our concern about Syrian regime activities in Homs and about the fact that there seem to be a large buildup of military armament. And we have warned for many days that this was a matter of grave concern. So obviously, we, again, call on the Syrian Government to end the violence, to bring its tanks and armament back to barracks, and to allow a real conversation in Damascus to move forward. But our concern, as you know, is that’s not the course that Asad is on, and that’s why he needs to go.

QUESTION: Yes. On Russia?

MS. NULAND: Russia.

QUESTION: Yeah. I’m just wondering --

QUESTION: Real quick on Syria?

QUESTION: Hang on a second.

MS. NULAND: Hold on. If we’re still on Syria, then we’ll come back to Russia, I promise.

QUESTION: Real quick on Syria.

MS. NULAND: Said.

QUESTION: The former Syrian Ambassador to Washington has been reassigned to Beijing, China. Have the Syrians, one, informed you about that? And are they sending another ambassador?

MS. NULAND: Thanks for that, Said. We’ve seen the same press reports that you’ve seen, that Ambassador Moustapha is on his way to take up a new post in Beijing. I will tell you that, as of the time I came down, we have not been formally notified by the Syrian Government of that, and we also have not been formally notified about a replacement. Obviously, we would be willing to accept a replacement, since Robert Ford is back in Damascus now.

QUESTION: Yeah. On Russia, particularly Secretary Clinton’s statements with regard to the no fair and free elections in Russia, there’s a story out that there was considerable pressure coming from the White House, from Ambassador Rice at the UN, and also the statements of Mr. Gorbachev calling for new elections – Gorbachev is not so influential in Russia these days, but he does have a lot of friends here in the West – that these all played into having a tougher statement than probably would’ve been the case. And given the effect that it had disturbed what had been a very important and close working relationship between Secretary Clinton and Foreign Minister Lavrov, was this pressure the – really the thing that put her in a situation of going out harder than she otherwise would have wanted?

And secondly, after that, was there also concern that the initial statements were not hard enough, leading to statements in Vilnius at the OSCE meeting?

MS. NULAND: Wow. I’ve got serious Kremlinology going here. (Laughter.)

Let me start by saying that whenever the Secretary speaks, she speaks on behalf of the Administration. She spoke clearly and authoritatively with regard to the Administration’s view, first when she was asked the question at her Bonn press conference. You’ll remember that her initial response in Bonn came as – in response to a question, because we were in Bonn to talk about Afghanistan. So she gave a full answer then, but then the second day in Vilnius, she had a chance to speak from prepared remarks that were somewhat more fulsome because they had been prepared, obviously. But she spoke for the Administration, and we all stand united on those views. And frankly, she was speaking with those Russians in mind who want to see a free, fair, transparent electoral system in Russia.

Please.

QUESTION: So you’re indicating that in the second statement, there was discussion after her first statements with regard to how she would express this in terms of her written statement?

MS. NULAND: No. I think you’re over-parsing this. She was answering a question as compared to something that had been pre-prepared from which she was reading. We were less than 24 hours after the closing of the polls on Monday, so there was obviously a different platform on which to speak by Tuesday. But I think the statements, if you look at them, are absolutely, absolutely in sync with one another. There were a few more details added on Tuesday, but that’s about it.

Please.

QUESTION: Can you tell us why the Secretary is meeting today with the Israeli defense minister?

MS. NULAND: I can. Her plan – she is seeing Defense Minister Ehud Barak later today. This is obviously an opportunity for her to reiterate the United States’s unshakable commitment to Israeli security, including through our continued support for Israel’s military and maintaining Israel’s qualitative military edge – I think you know that they’ve known each other for a long time – and to strengthen the unprecedented security cooperation between us. But we would expect that they will talk about the full range of issues bilaterally and in the region.

QUESTION: Including Syria? Will they talk about Syria?

MS. NULAND: Again, the meeting hasn’t happened yet, so if there’s anything to report on that front, I’ll let you know.

QUESTION: Okay. Because Mr. Barak has been issuing some really strong statements saying that the Middle East will be better off without Asad and so on. Do you think that is – actually may not be helping the situation in Syria?

MS. NULAND: The Administration, the President, have said very clearly that we believe it’s time for Asad to go.

QUESTION: So you think that Mr. Barak’s rhetoric falls in line with the Administration’s rhetoric on Syria?

MS. NULAND: Again, we haven’t said anything different from each other at this stage.

Lach, did you have something?

QUESTION: Yeah, one on Pakistan.

QUESTION: I just want (inaudible) for one second. The Secretary – I didn’t expect her to answer this question but she did answer it when she got it – was asked about Newt Gingrich’s comments about the Palestinians being an invented people. She was asked whether she thought that was helpful. She said no. I’m wondering if you can explain why that would – that comment is unhelpful in the view of the Secretary and the State Department and the Administration, if indeed the Administration shares that opinion. You said that when she speaks, she always speaks on behalf of the Administration. So I would be grateful if you could extrapolate a little on why his comment is not helpful.

MS. NULAND: Well, if she chose simply to say no, I’m not going to extrapolate beyond what she had to say.

Lach.

QUESTION: Yeah, on Pakistan.

MS. NULAND: Yeah.

QUESTION: Yeah. Pakistan Prime Minister Gilani said that threats to Zardari’s life forced President Zardari to go to Dubai, that he would have sought hospital treatment in Pakistan if that had not been the case. Any comments about these (inaudible)?

MS. NULAND: Again, as the Secretary said last week, as we’ve been saying all along, our information is that he did have a health issue, that that is what caused him to go to Dubai. And we’ve seen this press reporting that he’s now almost ready for release. So we don’t have any information other than the fact that he had a health issue.

QUESTION: So you don’t – you hadn’t heard Gilani’s remarks, then?

MS. NULAND: I haven’t seen Gilani’s remarks. Our own information is that he had a health issue.

Please, Goyal.

QUESTION: On India. Deputy Secretary Burns was in India and last – and he spoke, of course, on U.S.-India relations and among other things. And last night, Assistant Secretary Blake was speaking at the Indian-American group in Washington. Also, at the same time, yesterday there was a Nuclear Suppliers Group report which is saying that U.S.-India 2005 Civil Nuclear Agreement may be in trouble because of the group has changed their views and also some new rules has come up since that deal between the two countries. What I’m asking is the Indians are asking now, after six years, what is the future of U.S.-India Civil Nuclear Agreement.

MS. NULAND: Well, Goyal, as you know, we believe strongly in this agreement. It was one of the subjects of Deputy Secretary Burns’s conversations in Delhi. We want to get past the difficulties that we’ve had while protecting U.S. companies, et cetera. So we continue to try to work through these issues with India, and it was very much front and center in the Burns conversations.

QUESTION: But what about these new rules by this Nuclear Suppliers Group report is saying that this agreement may not no longer may be under force or enforced because of the new rules? How U.S. is doing to bypass these new rules?

MS. NULAND: New rules of the Nuclear Suppliers Group or new concerns about what’s going on in India?

QUESTION: Yes ma’am. Nuclear Suppliers Group.

MS. NULAND: Goyal, I’m not sure whether we have anything to add on that. If we do, we’ll get back to you.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MS. NULAND: Please, David.

QUESTION: There’s some reporting that Ambassador King will be in Beijing next week for these food aid talks with North Korea. Can you address that?

MS. NULAND: I can. In fact, Ambassador King is in Beijing today for talks tomorrow. This follows up on conversations we’ve had in the past about whether the United States will provide nutritional assistance to North Korea. You’ll recall that we have said all along, not only that we need to continue to assess need but that were we to decide to go forward with this, we would need to have much more strict and clear monitoring systems in place in order to move forward. So that is Topic A for the conversations between Special Envoy King and his DPRK interlocutors in Beijing, who will include Ambassador Ri Gun, the DPRK director general for North American Affairs.

QUESTION: Can we assume, then, that North Korea is amenable to discussing this more thorough regime by the fact that this meeting is going to be held?

MS. NULAND: They have agreed to the meeting. They know that we were obviously deeply unsatisfied with the way this went before and that we would – we need more discussion about it, so – but that does not mean any decision has been made on the U.S. side.

QUESTION: This whole thing I understand came up yesterday, the difference between food aid and nutritional assistance, about how one – the idea is that somehow nutritional assistance is not food per se, and it’s easier to track or to monitor. Can you go into exactly why that – how that is the case?

MS. NULAND: Well, what I said from the podium yesterday was that we’ve begun using this term nutritional assistance because it’s, frankly, a broader category of assistance that we could provide than when you just speak about food. When you think about food, you think about sacks of rice, cans of food, things that might easily be diverted to the wrong purpose. When you talk about nutritional assistance, it could be that, but it could also be things like vitamin supplements to populations in need, like women and children; it could be high protein biscuits or other things that you wouldn’t – you would only need to use, again, for populations in need and would not find themselves on some leader’s banquet table. So these are the kinds of issues that we need to talk about as we move forward.

QUESTION: What – and sorry, why? I don’t understand. Why would vitamin supplements and high protein biscuits – why would they be more easily monitored?

MS. NULAND: Well, again, they are less easy to divert for a purpose other than feeding poorly nourished populations. We’ve had some --

QUESTION: How? I guess I don’t understand why that is. And you mentioned it’s not going to end up on the dinner table. But I don’t see Kim Jong – Kim Jong Il isn’t going to be having a banquet with a sack of USAID flour in the middle of the table. I mean, what are you sending them, steaks, lobster? What – I mean, that’s the kind of food that dictators eat. Scotch? Is that the kind of stuff that you were sending? I just don’t get the --

MS. NULAND: Again, some of the monitoring concerns that we’ve had in the past is that the food aid that we have given did not end up in the hands of the neediest, that it could have been diverted to other purposes. It is harder to divert nutritional supplements than it is --

QUESTION: I guess I don’t understand why. Why is it harder? You’re saying that it’s less appealing as a food item?

MS. NULAND: It’s less dual-use. Let’s put it that way. I don’t --

QUESTION: But, I mean, I can ate a high – I may not need a high-protein biscuit, but I mean I could still eat it, right?

MS. NULAND: Again, let’s just back up here. No decisions have been made about whether we’re going to give nutritional supplements or food aid, about what we might give. We’ve simply started using the broader term of art because what we might decide to give, if the circumstances are right and the monitoring is clear, might not look like what you think of as food on your dinner table.

QUESTION: I don’t want belabor this here, but maybe we could --

MS. NULAND: Okay. Good.

QUESTION: No, no. But could someone explain to me, maybe later or whatever, why though it is that vitamin supplements and high-protein biscuits and things of that ilk are easier to monitor than other traditional – what we would think of as traditional food aid?

MS. NULAND: Obviously, we can. But certainly this would not be instead of also having tight tracking, tight human monitoring, et cetera. You obviously also have to have those things.

QUESTION: No, no. I understand that, but --

MS. NULAND: My point is just that there are some things one can give that are less appealing on a dinner table than other things.

QUESTION: Okay. So you’re going to give them bad food? (Laughter.)

MS. NULAND: No. We’re going to give them vitamins --

QUESTION: You’re going to give them food that tastes like dirt? (Laughter.)

MS. NULAND: There we go.

QUESTION: I mean, one could make the argument that the North Koreans might be used to eating dirt already. But why would you do that? I mean, that doesn’t make any sense. You want to give them bad-tasting food to – because it’s easier to track?

MS. NULAND: I think you are ready for a Christmas break here, Matt. (Laughter.) Again, we’ve made no decisions about whether we have assessed need, whether monitoring can be agreed to our satisfaction. I’m simply saying that in many parts of the world, we give both food and nutritional supplements, or we give nutritional supplements instead of food. It depends how the need is assessed. It depends how the monitoring can be done.

But when asked why we’ve broadened the category, we’ve broadened the category because nutritional supplements encompasses both food and these other things. Obviously, part of the needs assessment goes to whether there are some basic foodstuffs, but they’re not terribly nutritious, in which case you want – might want to go for vitamin supplements. But again, I don’t want to prejudge where we’re going to end up. Let’s have Ambassador King do his round, and then we’ll come back to it.

QUESTION: Very quick clarification on Matt’s point.

MS. NULAND: Yes.

QUESTION: I mean, less appealing food would be baby formula, which soldiers are not going to use, but only babies are. Is that the examples you’re trying to give us?

MS. NULAND: What I’m trying to say – and again, no decisions have been made – but in every category of need one can give things that supplement an existing diet rather than being the staples of the diet themselves, if you judge that the – there are some basic foodstuffs, but they’re not very nutritious. An example that we gave on background yesterday – in parts of Africa, where we have problems with the protein levels in some of the available foodstuffs, we work with this high-energy peanut butter stuff, which you wouldn’t necessarily choose as your lunch. But if you didn’t have enough protein content in your meal, it might be most welcome. Same with the high-energy biscuits, et cetera. But I don’t want to get ahead of where we are, because we’re not there yet.

Andy.

QUESTION: Sorry. Just a couple little technical things on this. Firstly, has the U.S. side gone into these talks with a specific wish list that they are presenting to the North Koreans about what our standards for – are for monitoring and transparency? Are you essentially making a proposal here?

MS. NULAND: I can’t speak to the details of what’ll be proposed. Let’s make sure that we get you some information after they come back. I will say that we have – along with Ambassador King, we have Deputy Assistant Administrator for AID Jon Brause, who – and his team, who are very expert in these issues.

QUESTION: Okay. And I know – and I apologize if I’m out of date on this, but there was that initial team that Brause led --

MS. NULAND: Right.

QUESTION: -- several, six months ago --

MS. NULAND: Right.

QUESTION: -- at this point, and they did have this needs assessment study report that has not yet been made public. Is that still the case? Is that any closer to being made public, or has it been made public and I just missed it – on what the U.S. Government assessment is of their needs?

MS. NULAND: To my knowledge, it hasn’t been made public. Obviously, if it’s six months old, there’s a need to do some refreshing. But also on the monitoring side, as we’ve been saying all along, we need to have detailed discussions.

QUESTION: And finally, is there any NGO input or participation in the U.S. representation here? Are they – have they been involved either in the preparation for this meeting or are they sort of sitting in the background here somewhere?

MS. NULAND: My understanding is that we have consulted all along quite broadly with the NGO community, both on comparing assessment and comparing ideas on monitoring and going forward. I – they are not represented on this delegation.

QUESTION: It’s just Ambassador King and his DPRK counterpart and their teams meeting?

MS. NULAND: Correct. Correct.

QUESTION: So did your comment just now about the old assessment being six months old – does that mean to imply that one of the results of this meeting could be a return of a team to do an update of the --

MS. NULAND: I cannot speak to what King and Brause will decide the next step needs to be. I think they need to have this meeting, which is primarily focused on a monitoring discussion.

QUESTION: Okay. And then also North Korea, but not this issue --

MS. NULAND: Yeah.

QUESTION: -- is there – are there any – is there any movement toward a new bilateral meeting with the North Koreans on the nuclear issue?

MS. NULAND: No decisions to announce at this time. You know that Ambassador Glyn Davies is in North Asia. He’s doing a full swing around to meet his counterparts. He’s – today, he had a whole round of meetings in Beijing with Chinese officials who work on the DPRK, including PRC Special Representative Wu Dawei. He saw Foreign Minister Yang. So I think we will let Glyn come home, we’ll have some discussion, and then we’ll see where we go.

QUESTION: Is that his last stop?

MS. NULAND: Yes, yes.

QUESTION: So he was already in Seoul and Tokyo?

MS. NULAND: Correct. He has another meeting or two tomorrow and then he comes home.

QUESTION: In Beijing?

MS. NULAND: In Beijing.

QUESTION: And when exactly can we expect the South Koreans to leak this to the – to leak the news of the meeting to the – to their news organizations?

MS. NULAND: I would refer you --

QUESTION: Would that be tomorrow, maybe the weekend? When would you be expecting it?

MS. NULAND: He – I will refer you to your usual sources on that subject.

Said.

QUESTION: Egyptian elections?

MS. NULAND: Yeah.

QUESTION: Although the vote is ongoing, what is your assessment? And Ambassador Anne Patterson has visited some polling centers and so on. Have you spoken to her since then? Has she given you any kind of early assessment?

MS. NULAND: We have spoken to her. As you saw, she was at the polling places – it was either yesterday or this morning. Our view is this second round of the lower house elections – as you know, there have to be three rounds to complete all parts of Egypt – have been proceeding quite smoothly, in an orderly fashion. That’s a good thing, and Ambassador Patterson spoke to our support for this peaceful, successful start to this long electoral season in Egypt.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MS. NULAND: Anything else? Nina. No? You look like you have something to ask. (Laughter).

QUESTION: No, I just – there was an incident, actually, this morning. Five people were wounded in Egypt just this morning. (Inaudible).

MS. NULAND: In association with the election, yeah.

Anything else? Goyal.

QUESTION: A question about – as far as, again, by this Carnegie report, the 2012 may have more nuclear countries joining the club, and what this report is saying that as far as Pakistan-China nuclear deal is concerned, they are worried about this deal because fortification will continue because of the A.Q. Khan network shop is still open, and according to The Washington Post, Saudi Arabia may join the club soon. You have any comments on this, if you still have or are seeking access to A.Q. Khan? Because U.S. still does not have any access to that – more information from him.

MS. NULAND: I don’t have anything new for you today on A.Q. Khan, and I have to admit I haven’t seen the Carnegie report yet.

Thanks, everybody.

(The briefing was concluded at 1:28 p.m.)

DPB # 193

[This is a mobile copy of Daily Press Briefing - December 14, 2011]