Daily Press Briefing
- Travel Ban Lifted on NGO Employees / U.S.-Egyptian Relations / NGO Issue / Bail / Role of NGOs
- Israeli Defense Force Raids on Palestinian TV Stations
- Working with P-5+1 Partners on Response
- Nutritional Assistance / Statements / Nuclear Envoy Visit to Syracuse / IAEA Access to Facilities
- ISAF Soldiers Killed Today
- Energy Needs
- Humanitarian Access / Assistant Secretary Feltman / Political Solution Best Answer
- MIDDLE EAST PEACE
- Secretary's Consultation with Tony Blair
- Summit of the Americas / Cuba
- SUDAN/SOUTH SUDAN
- Talking to Both Sides
- Warming of Relations / Silk Road Vision
- Encouraging Nonviolence / Ongoing Dialogue
12:49 p.m. EST
MS. NULAND: Good afternoon, everybody. I have just one thing at the top, which is to say that we will only have a gaggle tomorrow, because tomorrow this room will be going through transformation so that we will here on out be in high definition. So starting on Monday, Matt and Arshad and Lach will look excellent in high definition.
QUESTION: Yeah, or worse. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: Why were we not consulted about this? (Laughter.)
MS. NULAND: Exactly. Well, I wasn’t consulted either. My organic highlights are going to be on full display. (Laughter.) All right.
QUESTION: Do you think anyone really needs to see us in high def?
MS. NULAND: They certainly don’t need to see me in high def.
QUESTION: I don’t think they need to see any of us in high def. Can we – Goyal, you have something really exciting you want to say?
QUESTION: No, I was asking what time is gaggle. That’s all.
MS. NULAND: It’ll probably be at around 11:30 or 12:00 tomorrow. We will let you know in the morning.
QUESTION: So your lack of anything to say at the top means that this building hasn’t been focused on anything for the past couple of hours? There isn’t anything newsworthy that’s happened just recently?
MS. NULAND: Did you have a specific question in mind, Matt?
QUESTION: Yes. Yes, I did. Egypt. So the plane has taken off, they’re on their way to Cyprus, I guess. Is that correct? I’m wondering what you have to say about this. Does it mean anything for the aid? Does it mean anything for U.S.-Egyptian relations?
MS. NULAND: Well, as Matt has noted, we are very pleased that the Egyptian courts have now. The U.S. Government has provided a plane to facilitate their departure, and they have left the country. They are currently en route home.
With regard to, as you know, we had been concerned that this incident could have a severe impact on all of the things that we want to do together going forward. I would say that with regard to the issue in general, the departure of our people doesn’t resolve the legal case or the larger issues concerning the NGOs. We remain deeply concerned about the prosecution of NGOs in Egypt and the ultimate outcome of the legal process, and we will keep working with the Egyptian Government on these issues.
QUESTION: Okay. You said that you had been concerned that this incident could have a severe impact. So is it now – are you saying it’s no longer an issue, or this specific case of these seven Americans is no longer an issue but the larger underlying problem with the NGOs is still a severe concern and still could have a severe impact?
MS. NULAND: Well, the larger underlying issue of the role that NGOs play in Egypt’s transitioning democracy is still an issue of concern to us. And it’s not only an issue with regard to Americans and other internationals; it’s an issue with regard to those Egyptians who remain charged and the NGOs that have been unable to register and our own.
So we will continue to try to work through these issues with the Egyptian Government. As you know, at some point in the spring, under U.S. legislation, the Secretary is going to have to make some certification decisions with regard to the continuing positive development of Egyptian democracy. That goes to the election process that’s ongoing. It goes to all of the democratic issues.
QUESTION: Okay. So this alone today doesn’t – isn’t enough to certify? There’s still – there’s –
MS. NULAND: Again, I’m not going to speak to how the decisions will be made, when the time comes, simply to say that we continue to want to see the NGO situation settled in a manner that allows all NGOs – our own, European NGOs, other international NGOs and Egyptian NGOs – to be registered. We think that’s part and parcel of the democratic transition in process.
QUESTION: The charges remain against these seven, correct?
MS. NULAND: That is correct.
QUESTION: And are you not concerned about that?
MS. NULAND: Well, obviously we are concerned about that.
QUESTION: And are the seven going to return to face the charges?
MS. NULAND: Well, that’ll be an issue that each one of them will have to make their own decision about.
QUESTION: Why did the Egyptian courts decide to lift the travel ban?
MS. NULAND: I can’t speak to that. They were – there were several motions made by the attorneys for the NGO employees. It was on the basis of one or several of those that Egyptian judicial authorities chose to act.
QUESTION: The Secretary said publicly that the United States Government and the Egyptian Government were in intense discussions on this issue. Did the U.S. Government provide any incentives whatsoever to – well, first of all, who were you talking to, given that the judiciary is an independent branch of the Egyptian Government? Were you talking to members of the Egyptian judiciary or were you talking to members of the government or members of the military? Who were you actually talking to?
MS. NULAND: Well, I think as the Secretary made clear in her testimony yesterday, we were talking to all colors and stripes of the Egyptian Government, including members of the judiciary, members of the executive branch, members of the military, trying to find a way through this and making clear our view that these people had done nothing wrong and that the case needed to be settled.
With regard to the decision, the decision to lift the ban was made through the Egyptian judicial system.
QUESTION: Is it not somewhat improper for you to be holding – for a government to be holding conversations with the judiciary of another country to try to free citizens that have been charged under the laws of that country?
MS. NULAND: Well, our concern here, Arshad, as we said throughout this, was that the regulatory and legal system under which these employees were operating was very unclear, was very contradictory; that the charges were unclear when they were made. So in addition to the lawyers for those individuals and organizations trying to clarify the situation and trying to make clear their view that they had done nothing wrong, the U.S. Government also sought to understand the legal situation under which this was being pursued and what the elements of recourse might be. I think you know we talked about the fact that we had sent some legal experts from this building to work with the judicial authorities to simply understand it and to see if there was a way through it.
QUESTION: Do you regard the Egyptian judiciary as independent?
MS. NULAND: We do.
QUESTION: Victoria, could you clarify for us the role of the U.S. Government in posting the bond? I understand that $300,000 per individual was posted and the promise that they will return to face trial. Could you explain to us if there was any role for the U.S. Government in that aspect?
MS. NULAND: Well, first of all, let me just clarify that none of these people who have now departed were in custody, none of them were subject to arrest warrants. They were under travel restrictions. So at the request of the attorneys for the employees, the Egyptian court ruled that the travel restrictions would be lifted if the employees posted bail. So through their lawyers, the NGOs made payments on behalf of their employees from available funds. So there were no bribes paid, and this was paid by the NGOs.
QUESTION: No, I did not suggest that there was any bribes. I just wanted to ask if there was any official role for the U.S. Government to post bail. Some people may not have had the money. I mean, did you try to help them post that money? It’s a huge sum of money for the bail.
MS. NULAND: The organizations paid the bail.
QUESTION: But these organizations get money from the U.S. Government. Was there any government money involved in this bail payment?
MS. NULAND: The checks for this bail, as I understand it, came from the organizations.
QUESTION: But as I say, these organizations are funded, some of them quite – to the tune of quite a lot of money. So was there any taxpayer money involved in paying this bail? And if there was, which I understand there was, what happens if they – if bail is forfeited, if these people decide not to go back and to face the charges? Does that leave the taxpayer on the hook for however much the percentage was that you guys kicked in?
MS. NULAND: Well, first, to be clear, the bail was posted by the organizations.
QUESTION: Yes, but if I --
MS. NULAND: That said --
QUESTION: But if I give you $300,000 and then you give it to the Egyptians, it’s technically correct that you paid the Egyptians, but it’s my money.
MS. NULAND: Again, the bail was paid by the organizations. You are not wrong that these organizations benefit from U.S. Government funding. They benefit from U.S. Government funding so that they can do the work that they do to support a democratic transition. With regard to the fungibility of money or anything with regard to that, I will have to take that question.
QUESTION: Well, what is the position – I mean, Arshad’s question was, “Will they return to face these charges,” and you said that will be an issue that each one will have to make. If they do not return, is it your understanding that the bail is forfeited?
MS. NULAND: I can’t speak to that. You’ll have to consult your Egyptian legal consultants on that.
QUESTION: Okay. Well, then, can we get an answer to what percentage of the money that was paid by these NGOs was U.S. Government money?
MS. NULAND: Well, again, they wrote the checks. With regard to the issue of how we fund them and how they use that funding and whether there was any connection here, I’ll have to take that question because I don’t have an answer here.
QUESTION: Victoria, is there an ongoing now or in the near future any kind of activities for similar organizations to do the similar activities in Egypt at the present time?
MS. NULAND: I didn’t quite understand your question.
QUESTION: Okay. Let me clarify.
MS. NULAND: Yeah.
QUESTION: Are you aware of any similar activities to these organizations that are ongoing now in Egypt – efforts to democratize, efforts to teach people, rule of law, and so on? Are there ongoing activities by U.S.-based NGOs?
MS. NULAND: You mean have these NGOs continued their activity in --
QUESTION: Right, right.
MS. NULAND: Well, there are many international NGOs and Egyptian NGOs trying to support the democratic process in Egypt. The degree to which this whole incident has had a chilling effect on the activities of NGOs, I can’t really give you a calibration here, but certainly, it’s been a very difficult situation for our NGOs.
QUESTION: Forgive me for failing to make my question clear.
MS. NULAND: Yeah.
QUESTION: Are you aware of any U.S.-funded or U.S. Government-funded NGOs that are having current activities in Egypt to do the same thing in democratization and teaching people the rule of law and others?
MS. NULAND: I’ll have to take that one too. I don’t know whether there are NGOs that are continuing to operate or whether all of them are waiting for a legal clarification now of their status. As I said, this issue is not settled, not only for us but also for the Egyptian NGOs.
QUESTION: Another subject?
MS. NULAND: Yep.
QUESTION: It’s related to NGO but with India. Earlier this week, the Indian prime minister, in an interview with Science magazine, said that three NGOs from the U.S. are funding a movement in India – the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu – to oppose coming up of a nuclear power plant in that state. Are you aware about that? Because nuclear power plant is core of the Indo-U.S. civil nuclear deal.
MS. NULAND: I’m not aware of that. As you know, we are strongly supportive of India’s investment in civil nuclear power. The that we fund in India are involved in the same kind of democratization projects, et cetera.
QUESTION: I had – same question I had, but what – I’m just following him. This statement comes from the highest level, prime minister of India, who has a very cordial relationship with President Obama and they are the one who signed this nuclear agreement. Now he’s the one who came out that U.S. and Scandinavian hand in these – installing of the NGOs against Indian Government that – this nuclear equipment.
MS. NULAND: I think I just spoke to that, Goyal. We are supportive, as a government, of India’s investment in civil nuclear power. That’s not what we support NGOs to do in India. Our NGO support goes for development and it goes for democracy programs.
QUESTION: What I’m asking you, really, are you surprised and shocked that this statement comes from the prime minister of India, and if Secretary is aware of this?
MS. NULAND: I can’t speak to that one way or the other.
QUESTION: Yes. Victoria, a new topic?
MS. NULAND: Yeah.
QUESTION: Do you have any update on the situation with two Palestinian television stations, Al Watan and Al-Quds, that were raided yesterday morning in Ramallah and property confiscated? Both stations are funded by U.S. Government.
MS. NULAND: Well, we are aware that conducted raids on two independent Palestinian TV stations early on Wednesday morning. Frankly, we are consulting now with the Government of Israel on this issue because we are not very clear at the moment on the circumstances and why this action was taken and what the background for it was. It seems that there was some kind of a long, brewing dispute, but we don’t have all the details. So I’m going to have to defer comment.
QUESTION: Yeah. The Israelis have claimed all along that the signals were interfering with some air traffic. So it is really on that principle they have confiscated properties that was basically paid for by U.S. taxpayers. Will the United States demand that this property, the confiscated property, be returned to its owner?
MS. NULAND: Well, again, Said, as I said, we are trying to discuss the circumstances with the Israelis and figure out what the basis for this was, so I’m not in a position to comment on where we might go from there.
QUESTION: But once – yeah, once clarified, will you demand that they return that property?
MS. NULAND: Again, we need to look into the circumstances before I can comment on that one.
QUESTION: I just wanted to follow up on Egypt again. Sorry to go back. But could you tell us how many people are on the plane and whether they are all American and, if not, what their nationalities are?
MS. NULAND: I think because we don’t have Privacy Act waivers on all the Americans, I’m not going to give you a number here. I think we had talked earlier about the sort of ballpark figure of the Americans who were subject to travel restrictions. In addition to the Americans, we also had some international NGO workers on the plane. They are Norwegian, Serbian, Palestinian, and German.
QUESTION: I do not have as encyclopedic a knowledge as Matt does of the Privacy Act, but surely telling us the number of Americans doesn’t violate anybody’s privacy.
MS. NULAND: We have been asked to protect their privacy and we will do that until they make other decisions after they get home.
QUESTION: How many Norwegians, Serbs, Palestinians, and Germans are there?
MS. NULAND: I don’t have that number either. I’m sorry.
QUESTION: How many people are on the plane?
MS. NULAND: I don’t have that number either, Arshad?
QUESTION: Why is it – why do you not have that number? I mean, it doesn’t seem like an unreasonable question. How many people flew out?
MS. NULAND: Perhaps I didn’t ask the right questions this morning.
QUESTION: Can you take it and get it for us, please?
QUESTION: And just to follow up --
QUESTION: Please? Can you take that question, please?
MS. NULAND: Again, when I asked this morning whether we were going to be talking about the numbers of Americans, the answer came back let’s let them talk about that when they get to where they’re going. So I would guess that that’s going to be the same process for the internationals as well.
QUESTION: Okay. Right. Where are they now?
QUESTION: Victoria, could you – when you originally made the announcement you said that they were on their way home. But given that there are five – at least five different nationalities on the plane, what does home mean? Where’s the plane going?
MS. NULAND: The plane is going to a European location. I’m not going to give you that location because frankly we don’t want the plane mobbed when it lands.
QUESTION: Well, it’s too late for that already. But you --
MS. NULAND: So it may well be too late for that, but then they will make their own decisions whether they are heading to their homes or where they live.
QUESTION: But if you’re not going to tell us where they’re going, how are we supposed to talk to them to find out whether they want their number to be released? And I would also just like to say that there is absolutely no way that the Privacy Act would be violated by giving the number of people --
QUESTION: Or the privacy --
QUESTION: -- who are involved.
MS. NULAND: All I can tell you is that these people have been through a very intense and difficult period. They have asked us to respect their privacy; we’re going to do our best to do that until they decide that what they would like their posture to be with all of you. I know that’s frustrating but frankly after the ordeal that they’ve been through, that’s where we want to be.
QUESTION: The ordeal?
QUESTION: Staying at the U.S. Embassy compound, which is actually quite nice, the ambassador’s residence, is an ordeal?
MS. NULAND: I think if you had been in a circumstance where you didn’t know if you could leave a country or if you were going to end up in jail for two or three weeks, as they have been, you would consider that an ordeal, Matt.
QUESTION: I would?
MS. NULAND: And if you wouldn’t, then you are superhuman, which we already knew. (Laughter.)
William. Go ahead.
QUESTION: Yeah. I would like for someone to give me the legal basis, if you could, from L --
MS. NULAND: This is --
QUESTION: -- on how this – giving us the number of Americans on this plane violates the Privacy Act.
MS. NULAND: This is not --
QUESTION: Or anybody’s privacy – forget the Privacy Act – I don’t understand how it violates anybody’s privacy to say how many Americans --
MS. NULAND: I am not rooting this posture at the moment in a legal argument or in the Privacy Act. I’m rooting it in a respect for the individuals to give them some space and to give them a little bit of time. I’m sure all of this will be clear to you relatively soon when they land. I’m sorry if that’s unsatisfying to you, Matt.
QUESTION: Well, I don’t – well, I just don’t understand how it would affect their privacy in any way at all to say how many people there are.
MS. NULAND: If they’ve asked us not to, we’re not going to.
QUESTION: They asked you specifically not to say how many there were?
MS. NULAND: William. William.
QUESTION: In terms of the funding, can you confirm the total amount? Was that 2.3 million?
MS. NULAND: I don’t have that here.
QUESTION: And there were no grants – I just want to make absolutely clear, this whole back and forth about the NGO money and U.S. money, there’s no, like, special grants or no kind of special allocation given to the NGOs to supplement this kind of bail at this point or plans for that in the future?
MS. NULAND: Again, I spoke to this when Matt asked the question. The NGOs paid the bail. We’ve already spoken about the fact that these NGOs are funded by the U.S. Government in large measure for the democracy work that they do. With regard to how pots of money might be fungible and if they are, I’m going to take that question and see if we have anything further to say. But just to tell you that today these checks were written by the NGOs.
QUESTION: And the first arrival location is Europe. Is it the plan then to bring them back – the American portion of that contingent back to U.S., or what is the, kind of, plan here? Yeah.
MS. NULAND: My understanding is that the U.S. Government is flying them to a place in Europe where they can make their own travel arrangements individually to get home or wherever they’d like to go.
QUESTION: So that wouldn’t be on a, like, U.S. Government plane?
MS. NULAND: Correct.
QUESTION: Toria --
QUESTION: Wait. Sorry. Do they have to reimburse the government for the cost of that flight?
MS. NULAND: I think we’re still working out how these financial arrangements for the plane itself are going to work.
QUESTION: And do they have to reimburse the government for the cost of what – the cost to put them up at the Embassy?
MS. NULAND: No. They were guests of Ambassador Patterson.
QUESTION: Oh, come on.
MS. NULAND: Matt, this is really, I think, an unfortunate avenue to go down.
QUESTION: I wanted to ask about what you’re going to do going forward and whether – with the Egyptian Government – whether Ambassador Patterson is going to be having meetings on this or if there’s any sort of formal structure set up now to deal with the aftermath to address the existing charges.
MS. NULAND: Well, as I said at the beginning, we are going to continue to work on this issue with the Egyptian Government. Obviously, Ambassador Patterson will be very much involved. I would expect that it will come up in all of our bilateral discussions with the Egyptians, because we want to see the situation with democracy-based NGOs, whether they’re American, international, or Egyptian NGOS normalized. We want to see them registered. We want to see the aftermath of this case resolved in a way that is appropriate given the fact that we don’t think that anybody did anything wrong. And as you know, we believe that these kinds of NGOs play a very important role as the Secretary made so clear yesterday in her testimony, including the role that we’ve already seen them play in validating the credibility of the elections that have already gone forward. So --
QUESTION: Is there anything formally set up though?
MS. NULAND: I don’t know what you mean by formally. I mean in the sense that we are continuing to have this conversation at every level and at – in all of our encounters.
QUESTION: Well, okay --
MS. NULAND: But this is not resolved in terms of the situation with NGOs from our perspective.
QUESTION: Well, you’re dealing with the transitional government, meaning the military-led government.
MS. NULAND: Correct. Correct.
QUESTION: But, I mean, you also have the new parliament which is led by the Muslim Brotherhood and it’s the prerogative of parliament to pass some laws that could deal with the NGOs. I’m wondering what the discussions are with members of that parliament, members of the Muslim Brotherhood parties, to try to enact some permanent changes to NGOs dealing in the country.
MS. NULAND: Well, we’re going to try to pursue this through all of the avenues that are available. As you’ve noted, there could be decisions made to register NGOs by the transitional government, this could be something that could be taken up by the new parliament as it is seated. From our perspective, whatever is most expeditious is something that we will support. We want to see NGOs that support democracy, whether they’re ours or whether they’re Egyptian, be able to play a role, particularly in the presidential elections coming up, and to be able to do it in a safe and secure way where everybody knows the rules of the road. So this has been a key part of our conversation and will continue to be so.
QUESTION: Victoria, were the non-American individuals that departed also given sanctuary on the Embassy grounds?
MS. NULAND: My understanding is that these individuals were resident in their own embassies. So the Norwegian at the Norwegian, the German at the German. But you’d have to speak to them.
QUESTION: So there was one Norwegian and one German?
MS. NULAND: I don’t have the numbers, as I said, Matt. If I had them and I could give them to you, I would.
QUESTION: Can we move on?
MS. NULAND: Yeah.
MS. NULAND: Yeah.
QUESTION: Yeah. There’s been some reporting, some chatter, that you all are about to respond to the Iranians. Is that correct? How close is – if it is, how close is that? And what are you likely to say, if that’s been decided yet?
MS. NULAND: Well, we’re continuing to work on this. As the Secretary made clear in her testimonies over the last couple of days, we are working with our partners now – P-5+1 partners – on a response to the Iranians. We want to ensure that if we move on and propose talks, that these are set up in a way that they are sustainable, that any progress that we make can be verifiable, can be irreversible. So we need to ensure, as the Secretary said yesterday, that we are hard-nosed about this. So we are continuing to consult with the P-5+1. I don’t have anything to announce at this moment, but we will let you know if and when we make a proposal back to the Iranians.
QUESTION: Okay. Sorry. And I missed that one word. You said verifiable and irreversible?
MS. NULAND: That as steps are taken in any process that we set up, that they are verifiable and that they are irreversible. Correct.
QUESTION: Are you working on the final details to a response? I mean, is that how you would phrase it?
MS. NULAND: We are – we are working on a response, as the Secretary made clear. I can't speak to exactly when it will be ready.
MS. NULAND: Pakistan.
QUESTION: When will --
QUESTION: One more on Iran. One more.
MS. NULAND: Sorry. Are we still on Iran?
QUESTION: Yeah, one more. Just a quick question.
MS. NULAND: Yeah.
QUESTION: Yesterday, a nuclear scientist from Israel was speaking at The Israel Project and what he said that Iran has a capability and before it’s too late, now for the international community including U.S. and UN, there is a third option which is some kind of barter planning with Iran. Are you considering that some kind of barter with Iran like with North Korea for food and all that?
MS. NULAND: Well, I didn’t hear what this scientist said or what he had in mind.
First of all, with regard to North Korea, and we can come back to this if people are interested, this was not a food for nuke deal. The food conversation, the conversation, had been going on for some time. We could’ve made those decisions earlier if we’d had the information that we needed from the North Koreans, if we’d had their agreement. So I want – just wanted to dispel any sense that these things were linked from the U.S. perspective. That’s a different matter than whether the North Koreans linked them.
So I don’t know what this individual has in mind, but as you do – as you know, we had in the past, had various proposals on the table in the talks to support research reactors in exchange for getting some of the highly enriched uranium out of the country. Whether these will come up again in future talks, I can’t speak to. But I don’t know what you mean by --
QUESTION: Just on the North Korea. I mean, I understand that perhaps you would have given them food assistance anyway, but if they’re not linked, why did you link them in a statement that said that you’re going to do this and they’re going to do this? I mean, it’s all part of one package deal in which you’re going to do things for North Korea and they’re going to do things for you. I mean, what’s the – why are you getting hooked up on the word “link?” It’s all part and parcel of where you’ve been moving with the North Koreans.
MS. NULAND: Well, the way this went down, as you know, is we had a nutritional assistance track that was founded in trying to establish the need and trying to ensure that if we chose to move forward, that we could monitor it. So the conversation we were having with the North Koreans was not only about the amount that we considered appropriate, but about the type of nutritional assistance. As we said, we were not prepared to give rice and wheat. We were not prepared to give things that could be diverted to other uses.
On a separate track, we were discussing what it will take to get back to the. For the North Koreans, my understanding is, they were not prepared to make some of the moves that you saw them make yesterday on the nuclear track unless they knew that we had also concluded our discussion on the food. So as I said, this is their linkage; it is not our linkage. But it was in that context of their desire to see it all in one statement that we concluded – that we would put it out in one statement. And we would’ve been ready to move forward with the nutritional assistance sooner if we had been able to come to conclusion with them sooner about what we were going to send and what the amounts would be and how we would monitor.
QUESTION: Follow up on that?
MS. NULAND: Please. Yeah. Please.
QUESTION: There was one thing I found that I could found only in North Korean version of the announcement – or agreement, I would say. They said when Six-Party Talks resumed, the issues of lifting sanctions and prohibition of light water reactor will be given priority. I guess this is not something that was agreed upon by both sides. So, how concerned are you about this difference?
MS. NULAND: Well, the spoke about measures that would be taken immediately and would be verified by the IAEA as pre-steps to being able to get back to Six-Party Talks. So that’s what our statement was focused on. The North Korean statement goes on to talk about what they hope will happen in the Six-Party Talks which, as we made clear when we backgrounded yesterday, we can’t consider going back to until we verify this first set of steps. So our statement was focused on step one, which is what we’ve agreed to and monitoring and verifying that.
Now, we’ve always – the statements, both of them, the U.S. statement and the DPRK’s statement both reaffirm our commitment to the September 2005 joint statement. In that joint statement, the parties agreed to discuss the provision of a light water reactor at an appropriate time. So we’ve consistently made clear to the North Koreans that they first have to fulfill all their denuclearization commitments under the joint statement and its obligations and then we can consider other things. So what you see is our statement doing step one, their statement doing step one, two, three, four, five, six, seven. Okay?
QUESTION: Yeah. Let me ask you one more difference I found. They said the U.S. sanctions against – I mean the United States said, U.S. sanctions against North Korea are not targeted against the livelihood of the North Korean people. And the North Korean version is that the sanctions are not targeted the civilian youth, including the livelihood of North Korean people. Do you see any difference here?
MS. NULAND: I don’t. I don’t see any difference there at all.
QUESTION: Okay. And one final question. There is a report that North Korean nuclear is coming to New York next week. Do you have anything to tell us about that?
MS. NULAND: Our understanding is that that envoy is coming to New York March 7 to 9 at the invitation of the Maxwell School at Syracuse University for unofficial track two discussions being sponsored there. So at the current moment, there are no plans for official U.S. Government meetings with the negotiator.
MS. NULAND: Yeah.
QUESTION: Still on North Korea.
MS. NULAND: Are we still on North Korea? Yeah. Go ahead.
QUESTION: Yeah. Going back to the subtle differences between the two statements, your statement says that the North Koreans will stop nuclear activities generally speaking. And then they say that they’ll stop uranium enrichment specifically. Is plutonium activity also a part of this? Is that your understanding?
MS. NULAND: Yeah. Have you – you’ve read our statement, right?
QUESTION: Yes, I have. But their – the North Koreans say they’ll stop uranium enrichment. They don’t say anything about plutonium. So I’m wondering if there – is there any disagreement here or is this – what’s your understanding?
MS. NULAND: I don’t have their statement in front of us, but are you talking about the part about the five-megawatt --
QUESTION: It’s the – basically the last section of their statement says: “agreed to moratorium on nuclear tests, long-range missile launches, and uranium enrichment activity.” Whereas your statement says that: “agreed to implement a moratorium on long-range missile test, nuclear test, and nuclear activities at Yongbyon.” So --
MS. NULAND: Including uranium enrichment activities.
QUESTION: Including uranium enrichment activities. So I’m asking, is plutonium part of this agreement as well?
MS. NULAND: Yes.
MS. NULAND: Most definitely.
QUESTION: Follow up on that?
MS. NULAND: Please.
QUESTION: So there’s some differences in statements issued by both sides. So are you ready to meet with North Koreans again to qualify the difference, or do you expect that this type of issue might be brought up in the next meeting with North Koreans on the nutritional aid?
MS. NULAND: No. As we clarified in the background briefing that we gave yesterday – and I would refer you to it if you didn’t get a chance to participate – the next step on the nuclear side with regard to the commitments that are made by both sides in these statements is that they now need to be implemented by the North Korean side and that implementation needs to be verified by the, So we are looking to the DPRK, as a next step, to invite the IAEA in to verify that all the steps that we’ve agreed upon, all the steps you see reflected in the U.S. statement, are, in fact, being implemented. So that’s the next step on that side.
With regard to nutritional assistance, we do still have a little bit of technical work to do and we’re going to try to do it through existing channels before we can ship.
QUESTION: So you don’t see the need to clarify the difference at this point?
MS. NULAND: We don’t see any difference. The only thing that is effectively sort of left out, if you will, with regard to the DPRK’s statement is this issue of the five-megawatt reactor, and from our perspective, the U.S. and the DPRK both know that the DPRK agreed that the IAEA would be allowed in to confirm the disablement of the five-megawatt reactor and associated facilities. So that’s something that we’re expecting also to be on the list when the IAEA goes to North Korea.
QUESTION: Sorry. You said that the existing channels would be used for the finalization of the food or the nutritional --
MS. NULAND: That is my understanding.
QUESTION: Does that – but does that mean that there isn’t going to be a meeting in Beijing between AID people next week?
MS. NULAND: If necessary, there will be, but my understanding is nothing’s been scheduled yet.
QUESTION: But are you saying that it could be – it’s your belief that it could be finalized without any trip, any big trip, cross – transpacific trip, that it could be done in the New York channel and that would be --
MS. NULAND: That is my understanding, that if we can do it simply, we will.
QUESTION: One more on North Korea?
MS. NULAND: Yeah.
QUESTION: How long do you expect them to stop their nuclear activities?
MS. NULAND: Well, our expectation is that this would be the first step --
MS. NULAND: -- and that this would be permanent, obviously. Yeah.
QUESTION: On Pakistan?
QUESTION: On Syria?
QUESTION: Yeah. On Afghanistan, we’ve had the – another shooting incident involving military advisors. Is State rethinking the posture of its diplomats and civilian advisors in Afghanistan, considering pulling them back at all from Afghan ministries and other --
MS. NULAND: Well, I think you know that they have been pulled back from Afghan ministries.
QUESTION: But – and that they remain still pulled back? Because there were reports that military advisors, ISAF, were starting to come back quietly and go back and start to do those jobs.
MS. NULAND: Well, first, to confirm the reporting that you have, that there were two soldiers killed today in Afghanistan, and obviously our hearts go out to their families and their loved ones. We don’t have a lot of additional detail on that. There had been reports from ISAF that they were beginning to look at putting some of their people back in. I, frankly, can’t speak to whether this changes that thinking. I would refer you to them.
QUESTION: On Pakistan?
MS. NULAND: Yeah.
QUESTION: Yesterday, Secretary Clinton at the Hill said that Pakistan will face dangerous implications if it goes ahead with this gas pipeline with Iran. Was this some kind of warning to Pakistan, and why was it so?
MS. NULAND: Well, I don’t think what the Secretary said was appreciably different than what we’ve been saying for weeks and weeks, publicly, privately, if not months, on this subject. This is something that we don’t think is a good idea, and the Secretary made that absolutely clear. We would also note that Iran is making all kinds of offers to all kinds of countries and they often don’t live up to their promises. And we know that Pakistan has, and we are working with Pakistan on those energy needs, and we would just encourage them to think twice about aligning themselves with an unreliable partner.
QUESTION: Can you tell us what kind of implications Pakistan would face when it goes ahead with this pipeline? Because the foreign minister of Pakistan today said she is going – Pakistan is going ahead with this pipeline project.
MS. NULAND: Well, again, you know that we have a variety of sanctions on the books that we would not want to see kick in in this instance, which is among the reasons why we think this is a bad idea and hope it doesn’t go forward.
MS. NULAND: Yeah.
QUESTION: The Syrian Government just announced that it is allowing the Red Cross to go into Baba Amr area to look at the damage and retrieve whatever wounded. Do you have any information on that?
MS. NULAND: I’ve only seen the press reporting that you have seen. As you know, the – virtually the entire international community has been clamoring for access for a long, long time, and particularly into Homs. We think it is absolutely crucial that UN agencies be able to get in there as soon as possible and to be able to provide to the suffering people of Homs some of the assistance that the international community has been able to pull together – urgent needs, as we understand it, for food, for water, for medical care, for medical supplies, all these kinds of things. So if, in fact, it’s true, it would be a good step forward. But we are obviously skeptical of Syrian Government promises.
QUESTION: Are there any direct contacts between the U.S. Administration and the Syrian Government on making special arrangements to deal with these extraordinary humanitarian qualms, whatever you want to call it?
MS. NULAND: Well, I think you saw our press announcement that Assistant Secretary called in the Syrian charge. I can’t recall whether it was yesterday or the day before. His message was obviously the global message that we always give, that the violence must stop. But it was particularly urgent on the question of humanitarian access, which is becoming more dire every day.
QUESTION: On India-Pakistan --
MS. NULAND: Sorry. Let’s stay on Syria.
QUESTION: No, I was going to ask something else. So if there’s another one on Syria --
MS. NULAND: Yeah.
QUESTION: According to some news reports, SNC has not been able to get permission from the Justice Department to open an office in U.S. Would you be able to confirm it or would you be able to tell us why they cannot in the U.S.?
MS. NULAND: I don’t have any information on that one way or the other. Have you asked at the Justice Department if in fact --
QUESTION: I have not. I just heard the story.
QUESTION: Don’t they already have an office?
MS. NULAND: I mean, I thought that they had representatives here in Washington, so I’m not sure exactly what it is they’re looking to do. But if you can give us something more clear, and we’ll check with Justice as well.
QUESTION: Just a quick follow-up: The Syrian National Council just opened a military office. Would that facilitate military aid to the council?
MS. NULAND: Well, we’ve seen these reports. Our position on this has not changed, Said. We still think that a political, as the Secretary said yesterday and the day before on the Hill, is far and away the best answer for the Syrian people, for the future of Syria, and for the violence to end. So that is where we remain on this issue.
QUESTION: Not on Syria, but do you have a readout of the Secretary’s meeting with Tony Blair this morning?
MS. NULAND: I don’t actually have much, except to say that it was, as it always is, on the Middle East issues. This is one of their regular consultations. They tend to see each other every couple of months or talk on the phone with regard to the efforts that Quartet Representative Tony is making in trying to get the parties back to the table, keep us within the outlines that the Quartet put forward.
QUESTION: Any reading on what kind of calendar they’re looking at to go back to the table?
MS. NULAND: We are still trying to impress upon both parties that we think that the Amman talks were a good start, that they gave us some substance to work with, and that it is in the interest of both parties to get back to the table, but I’m sure that --
QUESTION: And lastly on the issue of the television stations, when do you think you are likely to get some information?
MS. NULAND: I don’t know, Said. I’m hopeful we’ll have something a little bit more clear for you tomorrow.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MS. NULAND: Okay.
QUESTION: Can I go back to North Korea really quickly?
MS. NULAND: Yeah.
QUESTION: The statement yesterday referenced only Yongbyon in particular for facilities. What about other facilities in North Korea? How will that be handled? Is it sort of an overall thing? Will IAEA – are they expected to have access to any and all facilities or --
MS. NULAND: Well, we always want to see the IAEA get into any and all facilities. This was, as the Secretary characterized it yesterday, a modest first step on the road to getting back to talks. There’s obviously a lot of work to do and other facilities to be looked at.
QUESTION: Let me ask you a question about the Western Hemisphere.
MS. NULAND: I’m shocked. I’m shocked. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: Yeah, all these questions. We are entering into the time of the America Summit. We are in March. This is in April. I want to know which are the expectations of the U.S. on this meeting.
MS. NULAND: For the Summit of the Americas?
QUESTION: Yeah. Which is the goal of the U.S. in this meeting? This is a specific idea for this meeting? And there is a lot of chatters and talks because there are some countries that are requiring that Cuba also participates in this meeting – if the U.S. has any position on this, if it’s talking with Colombia, if Colombia is going to invite Cuba or not?
And also the last question will be that it is good news that Bolivia and the U.S. have been talking about having ambassadors again. Do you expect that it’s going to happen soon, or when?
MS. NULAND: Well, first with regard to and the, the Secretary spoke to this on the Hill. Our position hasn’t changed. Cuba is not a democracy; they shouldn’t come to the summit.
With regard to our larger agenda for the summit, I think as we get closer I would guess that the White House, which obviously leads since it’s a summit, will be having some briefings and backgrounding on our hopes and expectations. But we are still working with our partners on the agenda.
I understand that we have been having some positive talks with Bolivia. And as you know, we are hopeful that we can improve relations there, but I don’t have anything to particularly report at this moment.
QUESTION: I’ve got one brief one on Sudan. Yesterday on the Hill, the Secretary was quite critical of Sudanese President Bashir and his – and the government, said that they were actively trying to subvert and undermine the new Government of South Sudan. This – earlier today, you put out a statement which is also critical of Sudan but is also – which is equally critical of Khartoum but is also critical of the Government of South Sudan. I’m wondering did the Secretary miss out half of it? Is that why this statement came out? Or is there something in particular that prompted it, other than the fact that she was not evenhanded in her critique yesterday?
MS. NULAND: Well, I think she was responding to a particular question, not about South Sudan but about Sudan.
QUESTION: No, I understand. But when she comes out and says that and the Government of Sudan says hey, the other side is also making problems, I’m wondering if that’s what --
MS. NULAND: The statement that we put out today was not linked to her testimony in any way. It was linked to the fact that the is continuing. We now have aerial bombardment. We have a considerable escalation of tensions. And we wanted to give a message to both sides, but first and foremost with regard to the aerial bombardment. Her statement – the question came about Sudan, not about South Sudan.
So we are also talking to both sides, and she has talked to both sides. As you know, she continues to engage with both sides that this – the tensions are growing. We want to see both of them get back to the commitments that they’ve made with each other. We want to see both of them take advantage of the African Union High-Level Implementation Panel to facilitate the talks and to end the violence.
MS. NULAND: Yeah.
QUESTION: The last one month, the two countries have taken several steps to improve bilateral trade and business relationships. How does the U.S. sees this, and does this fit into Secretary’s broader plan of New Silk Road?
MS. NULAND: Well, thank you for that question. We think this is great news and further to the of relations between India and Pakistan on the trade, economic and investment side, and a testament to the hard work both governments have been putting into that, and very much part and parcel of the vision that we have that trade and investment can help all people in the region become more prosperous.
QUESTION: Is U.S. playing any role or --
MS. NULAND: Beyond encouraging both governments to keep it up, no. They are doing this on their own.
QUESTION: Sorry. I --
QUESTION: Another on Maldives. Do you have any update on a current assessment on the situation there, the conflict between the former president and a new president? The parliament opening session was blocked.
MS. NULAND: Well, I would refer you to a statement that our Embassy in Colombo put out earlier today. As you know, we cover the out of Colombo. That statement expressed concern about the disorderly protests in Male and the disruption of the opening session of the Majlis. And we were again welcoming the fact that all sides are trying to resolve the political impasse through a dialogue on a new democratic process, and we are encouraging everybody to be nonviolent and to take advantage of that dialogue that’s ongoing.
QUESTION: Sorry. I thought I was done, but I just got a – you said in response to one of the North Korean questions that there are other facilities to be looked at in North Korea other than Yongbyon by the IAEA? Is it – I’m being asked to ask you – is it the U.S. position that there are other nuclear facilities in North Korea outside of Yongbyon that do require inspection?
MS. NULAND: Well, we want to see this process that we’ve had some modest step – a modest step forward on continue. So the first step is for the IAEA to get into those – the facilities that the DPRK has said it will allow them into. With regard to other issues that need to be resolved, as you know, we want to see the complete fulfillment of obligations in the context of the Six-Party Talks. So the degree to which there are other things that need to be covered, they would presumably come up in those talks.
QUESTION: Right. I understand. But is it your understanding that there are other nuclear facilities in North Korea outside of Yongbyon?
MS. NULAND: Again, I may have gone into a place I didn’t intend to go with my earlier comment.
QUESTION: One quick follow-up on the North Korean envoy coming to New York. Is it New York City or New York State?
MS. NULAND: He’s going to Syracuse, which is New York State.
QUESTION: All right. And do we know how many --
MS. NULAND: Where our former Deputy Secretary of State Jim Steinberg is the dean. He’s going to the Maxwell School. Yeah.
QUESTION: Right. And do we know how many people will be on the North Korean group?
MS. NULAND: I don’t know the answer to that. I would refer you to the Maxwell School.
QUESTION: Can you let us know if there are any plans for any officials to go up there in the hopes of meeting him?
MS. NULAND: We certainly will. But at this moment, we don’t have any plans.
QUESTION: Okay. Thanks.
MS. NULAND: Okay. Thanks, everybody.
(The briefing was concluded at 1:38 p.m.)