Background Briefing En Route to Munich, Germany
MODERATOR: Okay, we are en route to Munich and Sofia with the Secretary of State. Here to give you a laydown of our plan is [Senior State Department Official], hereafter Senior State Department Official Number One. Take it away.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: Thanks, [Moderator]. So the Secretary is attending what I think is the 48th meeting of the Munich Security Conference, a big gathering of leaders not just from across Europe but now globally. And the day tomorrow will begin with the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Defense speaking together on a panel, and that’s a real opportunity for the two of them together to send a strong message of support for and engagement with Europe.
Without previewing too specifically their remarks, I think the Secretary of Defense will talk about the defense review that the Pentagon recently undertook and what it means for Europe and how we are going about reaffirming our commitment to European security and Article 5 and global partnership. And the Secretary of State will talk about what a key partner Europe is in the global security, economic, democracy promotion agenda that we have.
Secretary Clinton will then go on to do a number of bilats, and I’ll give you mostly the schedule, which is still in flux. But she will likely see Ukrainian President Yanukovych, which is an important opportunity for us to continue our engagement with Ukraine, which is a critical player in Europe on security, energy, and economics. And she will reiterate our position that we’d like to see a much stronger U.S. relationship with Ukraine, but we also have some expectations of Ukraine. And she’ll no doubt raise the issue of democracy in Ukraine and the specific case of former Prime Minister Tymoshenko’s imprisonment.
She’ll have a bilat with Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov and, as always with Russia, a massive global agenda, and you can be sure that Syria and the discussions at the UN will be one of the issues there, among many.
She’ll see Egyptian Foreign Minister Amr. She will see Azerbaijani President Aliyev and Armenian Foreign Minister Nalbandian -- again, a big agenda in the Caucasus on economic security.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: Azeri President Aliyev and Armenian Foreign Minister Nalbandian.
She’ll see the new Spanish Foreign Minister Garcia-Margallo, who she hasn’t met yet. She’s spoken on the phone with him, but this will be their first meeting.
She’ll see the Italian Prime Minister Monti, obviously a big agenda there, not just on the economy but on our global cooperation with Italy.
And no doubt some others, but those are the confirmed bilats at this point.
MODERATOR: We can go to what’s on your minds. (Inaudible.)
QUESTION: You said that she would see Lavrov and then no doubt they would talk about Syria and New York. Does that mean that you’ve concluded that this is not going to go to a vote today?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: I’ve concluded that Syria will remain a topic regardless of what happens today. I don’t know if you want to add anything.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: As I mentioned earlier, she is expecting to talk to Foreign Minister Lavrov on the phone sometime today, because we are interested in getting to a vote as quickly as we can.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: I don’t know. It’s --
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: We will ascertain for you whether that phone call has happened yet or not.
MODERATOR: Lach, a question?
QUESTION: About the Tymoshenko, did you meet with the daughter or have you heard about the abuse that she’s alleging? And what kind of pressure will you put on the Ukrainians?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: I was traveling when Yulia Tymoshenko’s daughter was in Washington, but at the State Department she met with Special Envoy Melanne Verveer, and Deputy Secretary Burns dropped by to see her at the White House. She met with Tony Blinken and Liz Sherwood-Randall. So she was seen at very high levels throughout the government in Washington, and we listened carefully to what she had to say about her mother’s situation. And we’ve expressed our very serious concerns, called for her release from prison, and the Secretary has been engaged on this issue and feels strongly. We are concerned about what really looks like selective prosecution.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: The Secretary also bumped into her at the prayer breakfast and had a chance to exchange a few words.
QUESTION: Is there any movement, which seems unlikely, on Nagorno-Karabakh?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: Well, there’s lots of diplomacy going on around Nagorno-Karabakh, and it’s something we’re very much engaged in. As you know, the diplomacy is done by the Minsk Group co-chairs, one of the three of which is the United States. And again, this is something the Secretary takes a personal interest in. the co-chairs just joined the Russian president and the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan for a summit-level meeting in Russia, and the Secretary wants to talk to both sides about the results of that and the follow-on from that and how we can help move the process forward.
QUESTION: Are they going to take – are she and Panetta going to take questions? Has that been decided?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: We’re still working out the schedule. I mean, that was the expectation, but things are getting a little squeezed, as they always do at Munich. But certainly, she’ll take questions at the end of the day, is our plan.
QUESTION: No, I meant from the audience there.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: That is still being worked because the schedule’s getting squeezed.
QUESTION: Are they not going to talk at all about Afghanistan or Iran?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: You mean in their statements?
QUESTION: In the security conference.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: Of course, they will. Of course, they will.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: Yeah. Well, I mean, when I said she’ll address our global cooperation with the Europeans, Afghanistan and Iran are obviously two of the things that we are closely engaged on.