Victoria Nuland
Spokesperson
Daily Press Briefing
Washington, DC
March 23, 2012


Index for Today's Briefing
  • MALI
    • Support ECOWAS Mission / Status of U.S. Assistance / President Toure / Security
  • AFGHANISTAN
    • Agreement for Ulyanovsk as a Hub
  • EGYPT
    • Secretary's Statement on Aid to Egypt
  • SYRIA
    • EU Sanctions
    • Kofi Annan's Technical Work
  • DPRK
    • Satellite Launch / Working with Regional Partners
  • BURMA
    • Kachin State Election / Violence
  • BAHRAIN
    • Postponement of Crown Prince Visit
  • DEPARTMENT
    • 19th session of the Human Rights Council
    • World Bank Nomination, Jim Yong Kim


TRANSCRIPT:

12:44 p.m. EDT

MS. NULAND: All right, everybody. Happy Friday. It is a spectacularly beautiful day. I’m sure you’d all rather be out and about, so why don’t we go right to what’s on your minds?

QUESTION: Have you all made a decision on Mali and aid?

MS. NULAND: Well, as you know, we met yesterday to look at the situation in Mali. The conclusion of that and subsequent consultations that we’ve had with a number of African leaders and on the ground in Mali is that we are going to strongly support the ECOWAS mission that is on its way to Mali in the next couple of days. I think they are meeting first in Cote d’Ivoire on Tuesday, and then there’ll be a mission going in. And the goal of this ECOWAS mission will be to try to restore democratic rule and institutions. This is, of course, a policy goal that we support.

So in the context of that, we are going to put our full support behind the ECOWAS mission and hope that it is successful, but I will say that in looking at the aid that we give to Mali – we talked about this yesterday; it’s some 137, 140 million a year – a little more than half of that is humanitarian aid – food, et cetera – so that would not be affected. But if this situation is not resolved democratically, the remaining portion of that aid could very seriously be affected.

QUESTION: So for the moment, you’re going to do nothing.

MS. NULAND: For the moment, we’re going to strongly support the ECOWAS mediation –

QUESTION: Right.

MS. NULAND: -- and hope for a restoration of democratic rule, because that’s what’s most important.

QUESTION: And how do you strongly support the ECOWAS mediation, other than just saying that you strongly support it? What does that mean, actually?

MS. NULAND: Well, we are working with them on their ideas for how to bring the parties back together. As you know, this situation arose as a result of a number of grievances that the military had with regard to how they were being supported, how they were being equipped, how they were being trained to face some of the security threats in the country. So, clearly, there’s going to have to be some mediation between the government and the military. Its grievances are going to have to be addressed, and they are going to have to be equipped so that they can do their job. We do have concerns as well that during this period of instability in the capital, the only folks that have benefited have been the Tuareg rebels themselves, who’ve moved into areas that they otherwise didn’t have access to.

So we need restoration of democracy, we need the military grievances addressed, and we need the military to be able to get back to its job, which is to provide security in Mali. So obviously, we support – we’ve been longtime supporters of counterterrorism in Mali, of security assistance, et cetera. So we have – we will continue to consult with ECOWAS as they evaluate the best way forward and provide our technical expertise as well.

QUESTION: Okay. Somewhere I missed the bit about what you were actually going to do tangibly to support the ECOWAS mission.

MS. NULAND: We are talking to them now. We are talking to the leaders. We are comparing notes about various paths forward. We are prepared to support any initiatives that they might come up with to address the concerns and the grievances of the military that led to this. And we will stay in consultation with them as they evaluate the situation on the ground.

QUESTION: Okay. Well, I just – can I just – it sounds suspiciously like you’re doing very little. You’re not going to apply the law, even though it – the African Union has suspended Mali, the World Bank has suspended its programs. I believe the MCC is – there was the meeting yesterday; the MCC is considering its options. But other people have acted in a tangible fashion, and to strongly support the ECOWAS mission but not have – not be able to offer anything in terms of details of how you’re going to support it, other than just talking to them, it sounds to me – it just sounds like you’re not doing anything at all.

MS. NULAND: Well, we have to see how – what ECOWAS evaluates when it gets there in terms of what’s needed. But in terms of our assistance, we’re making absolutely clear what’s at risk here if democracy is not restored.

QUESTION: Okay. So have you --

MS. NULAND: And our hope is that this can move very quickly.

QUESTION: Have you – do you know – well, I’m not even sure you know who to talk to in Mali right now, but have – has the word gone out to this provisional council, or whatever they’re calling themselves, that half of the money could be --

MS. NULAND: Absolutely.

QUESTION: It has?

MS. NULAND: Absolutely. And we are also endeavoring to make contact today, from our Embassy in Bamako, with the leader of this group as well.

QUESTION: Do you have any information on the whereabouts of President Toure?

MS. NULAND: Our understanding is that he is still in Mali, that he is safe, that he is being protected by some of the forces loyal to the democratically elected government.

QUESTION: Okay. And has this event had any immediate effect on the cooperation through the Trans-Saharan Partnership, the military cooperation on the counterterrorism? I mean, i.e., is that still ongoing?

MS. NULAND: We do have some folks who are still working on counterterrorism issues. Whether in fact they’ve been able to do much in the last couple of days, I, frankly, don’t have a current accounting of that. But this is the kind of program that is important not only in Mali but regionally. So this is our message to the folks who mutinied that, understandably, they have grievances; understandably, they have things that need to be worked out with the government; but there are real security threats in Mali, and as they have taken this action, it has not been beneficial to the overall security of the country, which they are empowered to protect.

QUESTION: Do the security concerns that you have have any bearing on the decision on whether or not you’re going to halt the aid? I mean, do you not want to halt the aid because you have the security cooperation?

MS. NULAND: No. I think we are – at this point, we are making clear that we may have to if this can’t be resolved. But our hope and expectation is that we can – that the ECOWAS can get in there, can talk to all sides, and can get back to a place where not only is democratic rule restored but the legitimate grievances are addressed and the government and the military together can get back to the important business of restoring security in Mali.

Jill.

QUESTION: So (inaudible) suspending the security cooperation efforts could be a real possibility? That is the message that you’re sending to those who have taken power in the last 48 hours?

MS. NULAND: Any U.S. assistance to the Government of Mali beyond what we give for humanitarian purposes is at risk if we cannot get back to a democratic situation in the country.

QUESTION: Is there a deadline for that?

QUESTION: (Inaudible) assistance? Can you give more details on what the assistance amounts to?

MS. NULAND: I have a few details. Let’s see. We have an ongoing Military Education Program. We have FMF. We have --

QUESTION: FMF?

MS. NULAND: Foreign Military Financing. We have a number of development programs in a whole bunch of categories, including health and support for the economy, et cetera. So anything that goes to and through and with the Government of Mali could be at risk.

QUESTION: And how quickly could that aid be suspended, and what is the government’s deadline for making that decision?

MS. NULAND: Again, Ros, we are supportive of this ECOWAS initiative. They’re going to meet in Abidjan; they’re going to support – send in a high level delegation; they’re going to try to talk to all sides and settle this. We will be in permanent contact with them. So we want to get their assessment before we go to the next step here, and we want to support them in trying to resolve it because that’s the best way forward for Mali.

QUESTION: Are you saying – if we’re saying this time next week that the delegation is there in Bamako, are we saying in the next two weeks the U.S. Government will be looking at a possible suspension of aid if there’s no resolution?

MS. NULAND: I think we need to see how quickly ECOWAS can make its own evaluation of whether this situation is resolvable in a democratic direction.

QUESTION: Sorry. Did you say what the humanitarian aid is? Food and --

MS. NULAND: Humanitarian aid includes – I don’t have a breakdown, but it’s more than – it’s more than $70 million in food programs and other things like that that would not be affected.

Jill.

QUESTION: Were there signs or indications that something of this sort, this kind of political breakdown, was looming inside Mali?

MS. NULAND: Well, I will refer you to those who are more expert on Mali, but I think it’s been clear that the military has had a rocky relationship with the government for some time. And then, as you know, there were some pretty bad incidents just before the move that led to really serious dissatisfaction and the decision to take this action.

Scott.

QUESTION: The Tuareg rebels this morning said that the military takeover does not affect their rebellion in any way. On the contrary, they’re going to move on Timbuktu and Gao. So is there concern on the part of the U.S. Government that suspending military assistance to the government army might make it even harder for that military to combat the Tuareg rebellion?

MS. NULAND: Well, I think this is precisely the point that we are trying to make to the mutineers in this case, that the only constituency at the moment that has clearly benefited from the action they have taken are the Tuaregs, and we all need to get back to the business of trying to stabilize Mali. And it’s not just the situation vis-a-vis the Tuaregs, it has also to do with the fact that there’s AQIM presence in the country. And so they have a lot of work to do and we want to continue to support them, but we have to have a democratic government in order to do that.

Dima.

QUESTION: New subject?

MS. NULAND: Yeah.

QUESTION: A number of Russian officials, including at the level of Foreign Minister Lavrov, spoke recently about the new hub in Ulyanovsk for the Afghan transit – northern distribution network. As far as I understand, the deal is still in the works, but it’s almost done. I was wondering if you can tell anything about this. Will it be only for transit from Afghanistan or also will be used for the transit purposes to Afghanistan, lethal/non-lethal, and the significance of this deal for the whole operation in Afghanistan?

MS. NULAND: Well, certainly it would be a very welcome development if we could conclude the agreement for ISAF countries to make use of Ulyanovsk as a hub. This would be further to our efforts to develop multiple distribution routes for materiel in and out of Afghanistan, both for ISAF use but also for use by the Afghans. With regard to the precise details, I think we will leave it until we have a deal, and then we will, I am sure, all be talking about the contours of it.

Jill.

QUESTION: Change of subject?

MS. NULAND: Yeah.

QUESTION: Has there been any reaction from Egypt to the decision by the Secretary on aid?

MS. NULAND: That is a good question. To my knowledge, I don’t think that we’ve had any reaction in the last hour. As you know, we only announced the Secretary’s decision about half an hour ago. So I would guess that we will be in contact with Egypt, but we haven’t had any formal contact, I don’t think, in the last half hour.

QUESTION: Could I also ask another subject? Yesterday, there was an interesting event up on Capitol Hill about the MEK. It was Happy Nowruz, but it was actually more than Happy Nowruz. Could you remind me, when – what’s the timeline for the Secretary making that decision on whether to delist the MEK?

MS. NULAND: Well, our internal review of the situation continues. We haven’t set a firm deadline, but we’re continuing to look at it.

QUESTION: Can we go back to Egypt?

MS. NULAND: Yeah.

QUESTION: What were – I mean, we have the general parameters of why the Secretary made the decision to waive the hold on military aid to Egypt. Were there more specific details that go to why she decided to do this?

MS. NULAND: Well, as you saw from our statement, there was a pretty full explanation there of all of the factors that went into the decision that the Secretary made. So I don’t think I can particularly improve on that. I would refer you to the statement that we released about half an hour ago.

QUESTION: There is already some criticism coming not just from Capitol Hill but from human rights groups who are saying that the Obama Administration is basically putting strategy ahead of human rights. And while I note that there was this call on the interim government to respect human rights, what guarantees is the U.S. insisting upon with the lifting of the hold on this money?

MS. NULAND: Well, as the Secretary’s statement makes absolutely clear, she elected to waive because, while there has been quite a bit of democratic transition in Egypt, quite a bit of progress, the process is incomplete. And it’s incomplete not only in terms of the additional steps that need to be made electorally but in terms of protections for universal human rights, protections for civil society, including the rights of the NGOs, Egyptian and international. And these are the kinds of things that we believe need to continue to advance in Egypt if it’s going to have the kind of vibrant, stable, strong democracy that the Egyptian people went into the streets for and that they deserve.

So this is something that we will continue to work with the Egyptians on and that we will continue to make absolutely clear where we stand on. And some of the programs that we have supported in the past are obviously designed to support exactly these kinds of developments and institutions in Egypt.

QUESTION: Why would it be incorrect to suggest that by lifting this waiver or using this waiver that the U.S. has somehow lost some leverage with the interim military government when it comes to human rights?

MS. NULAND: As the Secretary’s statement makes clear, as the statement we released with regard to her decision makes clear, we have a huge number of interests and equities at stake in our relationship with Egypt. This is a strategic partnership; so rather than talking about leverage, we’re talking about partnership, as we have for all of these years. And as we make clear here, Egypt itself is changing very fast. We have a new Egypt emerging. So U.S. support in all of its forms – FMF, ESF in countries around the world – is designed to allow us to support the partnership that we have with countries and the developments that we want to see in countries in a more democratic, prosperous, stable, secure direction.

So I think the way you phrased it is inaccurate, Ros. What we are looking to do here is to continue to work with Egyptian partners on the kind of future that they want for Egypt and that is in our mutual interest.

Andy.

QUESTION: Maybe not about leverage, but perhaps about guarantees going forward. Senator Leahy, in his response to this, said that he had urged or he hoped that the Secretary would only release the bare minimum amount that is demonstrably necessary. What’s the process here whereby this money gets sent on? I mean, it’s not like they get the 1.3 billion and there are no further strings attached, or are there checks along the way to make sure that there hasn’t been further backsliding, and can this decision essentially be not – if not reversed but sort of reconsidered at some point before the next year is up?

MS. NULAND: Well, on the FMF side, the Foreign Military Financing, this program will work normally like every other program we have around the world. So it is a question of agreeing together with Congress with Egypt on appropriate disbursements at appropriate times.

With regard to the Economic Support Funds, as the statement makes clear, we’re going to have to continue to consult on what the best and most appropriate support is as Egypt itself moves forward.

But as with any country in the world, Andy, where we provide support – FMF, ESF – if the situation changes, if there are concerns, we can always reevaluate, and we would do that in consultation with the Congress and in consultation with the government.

Please.

QUESTION: I mean, you mentioned two times the statement is clear. Definitely it is clear in his – as a statement. But in application, you are always mentioning the word “democratic transformation.”

MS. NULAND: That’s right.

QUESTION: Or transforming to democracy. Anyway, do you believe that what’s going on now, it’s in that direction? Or you still have doubts about it? And I am saying this because as a matter of fact, okay, strategic relationship people believe in it or understand it, but what is about the nongovernmental organization issue, which is not solved up to this moment?

MS. NULAND: Again, I think if you go through the statement, it makes absolutely clear that there has been more progress in the last 15 months than Egypt has had in decades, but that there is far more to do. As I said in response to Ros’s question, there’s more to do on the electoral side, there’s more to do on the human rights side, there’s more to do on the civil society side. And we make absolutely clear here that we remain deeply concerned regarding the trials of civil society activists, Egyptian and international, and we’ve raised these concerns and we’re going to continue to do so.

QUESTION: My second question, maybe it’s related to somebody ask a similar question. Is there any signals from Egypt side that there is something like as a response to echoing this clear statement?

MS. NULAND: Well, again, Jill asked this at the beginning. The statement’s been out for about half an hour, so let’s give the Egyptians some time. Okay?

QUESTION: On the trial, are you saying that the way the trial proceeds could affect the disbursement of funds, the military financing?

MS. NULAND: I’m not going to get into crystalballing various futures. There’s – the issue of our concern about the NGOs, Egyptian and international, remains. This is something we’re going to continue to work with the Egyptians on.

Please, Andy.

QUESTION: On Syria?

MS. NULAND: Yeah.

QUESTION: The EU today broadened its sanctions to include Asma Assad, Mrs. Assad. I’m wondering if you think that’s appropriate, and does the U.S. have any plans to do the same?

MS. NULAND: Well, we are gratified that folks around – oh my, is this good news? (Laughter.)

QUESTION: The aliens are attacking. (Laughter.)

MS. NULAND: Does this mean we can take the rest of the day off? It’s exciting. Our friend Dan Benaim is here; he must have done something to make this happen. Must be his personal biorhythm. Here we go. Or maybe it was Nick. There we go. Yeah? All right.

So we were talking about the new EU sanctions. Obviously, we’re gratified that the EU has taken yet another step in tightening the noose on the Assad regime. These are the kinds of moves that we would call on all countries who have concerns about the brutality of the regime to consider. We are also looking at what more we can do. But certainly, this is a very good step and sends a strong message that those close to Assad himself will also face the pressure.

QUESTION: So by that, it sounds as though you’re also looking at potentially sanctioning Mrs. Assad?

MS. NULAND: Again, I’m not going to get into what we might do, but we’re certainly in a continual process of looking at how we can strengthen our own sanctions.

QUESTION: Do you have a sense of what financial relations the extended Assad family might have with U.S. interests?

MS. NULAND: Well, as you know, Syria has been under U.S. sanctions for a long time, so as compared to some of our other allies and partners around the world, particularly Europe, we’ve had a pretty constrained relationship for a long time. I think some of what you’ve seen from the EU today, if I understand it, was a direct reaction to the popular outrage at some of these email messages that were run by The Guardian – concern about sort of profligate spending in European markets by those close to Assad while Syrian children and women were being murdered in their towns. So --

QUESTION: You still have those emails, you still don’t have a position on whether you – whether it’s okay for stolen material to be (a) published but (b) commented on and used as a tool – a rhetorical tool – against the regime? You’re thought --

MS. NULAND: Well, I don’t have any particular information as to how The Guardian acquired them, so I’m not going to comment, and I’m certainly not going to comment on the legal issues involved.

QUESTION: You just talk about tightening the noose of the Assad regime. According to Washington Post piece today coming from Antakya, Turkish border state, it looks like the Syrian opposition rebels also tightening the noose of their arms. I mean, they are having a real problem with getting arms from the other countries since the border’s apparently even tighter now. Do you have any concern? As far as we know, Mr. Feltman said that these people basically defending their homes and is in self-defense. Do you have any concern that rebels right now are having even more difficulty to get any arms to defend themselves?

MS. NULAND: I think you know where we stand on these issues. Our position on this has not changed. What we want to see is a process that starts with an end to the violence and proceeds on to a real conversation about a transformation in a democratic direction in Syria. So I’m obviously not going to be commenting on arming one way or the other.

Samir.

QUESTION: Do you have any signals from the Assad regime that they are getting ready to sit and talk, to do a, you just described, in serious talk, in a real talk that they are getting ready to do?

MS. NULAND: Well, as you know, Kofi Annan’s had his technical team there. He’s now going to embark on a longer tour. He’s going to be in Moscow. He’s going to be in Beijing. He will continue his technical work with the Syrians, and then we will look forward to his report.

Have we seen any particular positive response from the Assad regime to what the council did earlier in the week? No, but the noose is tightening, and he knows what he has to do if he wants to come out from under the pressure.

QUESTION: Please, Samir.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

QUESTION: No, wait, just one more.

MS. NULAND: Please. On Syria?

QUESTION: You were asked yesterday, I think, about these reports that the Secretary was trying to tamp down Foreign Minister Davutoglu’s proposal for this zone. You were asked about that yesterday, right?

MS. NULAND: Yep, and I spoke to it yesterday.

QUESTION: Well, you said that you wouldn’t speak to it.

MS. NULAND: What I said was that I --

QUESTION: What you said – right, what you said was – and then you said that the report, the way it was – you wouldn’t speak to it, but the way that it was reported was incorrect.

MS. NULAND: Correct.

QUESTION: There’s since been another report saying the same thing, which quote – basically quotes the Secretary as telling Davutoglu that we’re not there, repeatedly we’re not there in terms of their idea. Is that also incorrect reporting?

MS. NULAND: The entire way the conversation was characterized is inaccurate, okay?

QUESTION: That – well, that was what you said about the report from yesterday. But I’m asking about this new report. Is it --

MS. NULAND: Same, same, inaccurate.

QUESTION: So these are just totally – they’re being – I mean, they’re very specific, and it appears to be coming directly from participants in the meeting.

MS. NULAND: I understand, and the way the first report and the second report were characterized implied a conversation that started here and ended here, which bears no relation to the way the conversation actually went, having been in the room for both of them.

QUESTION: So it didn’t happen that the foreign minister of Turkey has --

MS. NULAND: We talked about this yesterday --

QUESTION: Yes, the foreign --

MS. NULAND: -- and I don’t have anything further to what I said yesterday and what I just said here. Let’s move on.

Please, Samir.

QUESTION: The Friends of Syria meeting in Turkey on the 1st of April --

MS. NULAND: Yeah.

QUESTION: -- the day before the – Iraq will be hosting the Arab summit in Baghdad. Will the U.S. send any senior official to attend the Arab summit in Iraq?

MS. NULAND: My understanding is that we usually send observers. Let me take the question in terms of who might be going to observe, assuming that we’ve been invited, Samir.

QUESTION: What’s the U.S. position if Turkey comes up – actually, came up the buffer zone or in – kind of arming the opposition, Syrian opposition like that?

MS. NULAND: Again, I’m not going to walk through hypothetical scenarios from this podium.

QUESTION: Some argue that it’s because a reelection year, that the U.S. Administration is trying to just stay away from the region. Would you be able to respond to that?

MS. NULAND: You know I’m also not going to address political questions from this podium. We can keep – we’ve missed you, though. We’ve missed you.

Dima.

QUESTION: It’s on a different subject.

MS. NULAND: Yeah, please.

QUESTION: I wanted to ask you if the United States Government thinks it’s such a great idea on the part of the Japanese to warn about the threat and to shoot down the satellite that the North Koreans are planning to put into orbit. What do you think about that?

MS. NULAND: Well, I think we’ve spoken about this a couple of times. We, of course, understand the concerns of our Japanese allies about their own security and we are continuing to work with them, as we are with all of the regional partners about this particular situation. And all of us are continuing to tell the DPRK what an extremely bad idea it would be if they went forward with this.

Please.

QUESTION: A follow-up with that?

MS. NULAND: Yeah.

QUESTION: North Korean spokesperson just made an announcement saying that they have entered the preparation phase in terms of a launch. Do you have a response to that?

MS. NULAND: I would say again this is an extremely bad idea that will have consequences.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) what’s the latest with the status of the idea for a missile defense for Asia?

MS. NULAND: Well, we have missile defense cooperation with a number of Asian countries.

QUESTION: In other words, the U.S. could be involved in taking out a North Korean satellite missile launch?

MS. NULAND: I’m not going to speak to how, if, when, under what circumstances missile defenses might be engaged.

QUESTION: But I mean, is this thing operational?

MS. NULAND: Again, I’m going to refer you to the Pentagon for the precise operational status of whatever missile defense --

QUESTION: And staying slightly in the – well, not really in the region – Southeast Asia.

MS. NULAND: Yeah.

QUESTION: Burma.

MS. NULAND: Yeah.

QUESTION: Do you have any thoughts or concerns about the decision by the Burmese to postpone the bi-election in a small number of constituencies?

MS. NULAND: Well, we have seen these reports that in Kachin state they are going to defer the elections. We are seeking further information from the Burmese. You know that we ourselves have had concerns about the ongoing violence in Kachin, and the violence has been going on at various levels of intensity since June 2011. We’ve got thousands of displaced Burmese. We’ve called for a ceasefire on all sides. But we are seeking to understand better what the Burmese intentions are so that the people of Kachin are not disenfranchised.

QUESTION: Okay. So you’re not – but as of right now, you’re – basically, you’re withholding judgment until you find that --

MS. NULAND: We’re withholding judgment until we get a chance to talk to them. But it is not incorrect that there’s been violence up there, but there are ways to address it.

Others, please?

QUESTION: The Saudi Arabian Grand Mufti has called for the destruction of all the churches on the Arabian Peninsula. Does the State Department have a reaction to that?

MS. NULAND: I have not seen that. I will take that one.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MS. NULAND: Anything else?

QUESTION: Yeah.

QUESTION: Bahrain.

MS. NULAND: Please. Go ahead, Ros.

QUESTION: The Crown Prince was supposed to meet with the Secretary today, and then there was a cancellation of his visit. Any reason given?

MS. NULAND: My understanding is that he had scheduling issues and decided to postpone the entire trip until further into the spring, but you can refer to them. That’s certainly what we were – we understood.

QUESTION: Was there any concern given that there are nationwide demonstrations in Bahrain today, that perhaps he was holding back in order to try to deal with that situation?

MS. NULAND: I think we were alerted that he was changing his plans several days ago. So I wouldn’t see that.

Matt.

QUESTION: Yesterday in Geneva, the Human Rights Commission – Council, whatever they call themselves now, passed a – called for a fact-finding mission, an investigation, into the impact of settlements on – Israeli settlements on the Palestinian people. I know that Ambassador Rice has made some comments about this, but I’m wondering if you care to say anything about this and what is says about the council and about U.S. – the Administration’s desire and the Administration’s return to the council if it continues to do things like this, which I assume you’re going to repeat Ambassador Rice’s comments that you don’t like it.

Please, go ahead.

MS. NULAND: Well, first let me say that the 19th session of the Human Rights Council did have a number of successes including on Syria and other things that we care about. And I would guess that we’ll have a more comprehensive statement on the session in a couple – either later today or in a couple of days.

But obviously, the 19th session was marred by the vote by some member-states to create yet another one-sided UN mechanism targeting Israel. And as reflected in our vote against the measure, we strongly opposed the creation of this fact-finding mission to Israel, a mission that does not advance the cause of peace and which further politicizes the situation and distracts attention from what really needs to happen, which is for these parties to get back to the table.

QUESTION: You said by some member-states. In fact, it was all member-states except 11. You voted no and 10 abstained. How many was it --

MS. NULAND: As we always do.

QUESTION: How many was the vote for – in favor?

MS. NULAND: I don’t have it here.

QUESTION: Well, I just wanted to see if you could quantify your “some,” because I think it was not just a “some.”

MS. NULAND: A number. A number.

QUESTION: And it was a rather large number. It’s not a 20 – well anyway, what does this – the broader question though. The commission or council keeps doing these things that you say are unwise and biased and one-sided. Why are you a member of this commission?

MS. NULAND: Well, as we – as I said at the beginning, the Human Rights Council also does a lot of good things. It has done very good things in this session to shine a spotlight on the gross human rights violations in Syria through a number of decisions over the recent week. It’s made good decisions with regard to a number of other countries in this session, and generally it provides a good moral bellwether for whether countries are living up to universal human rights standards.

That doesn’t change the fact that we oppose one-sided resolutions, that there is a bad history of one-sided resolutions in the Human Rights Council. And when we see them, we’re going to continue to oppose them and vote against them and make clear that we think that that is the wrong use of the council.

QUESTION: Right. But --

MS. NULAND: There are plenty of good uses of the council. That’s not one of them.

QUESTION: But if it serves as a moral bellwether, surely that – I mean, it doesn’t serve as moral bellwether if it keeps adopting these one-sided resolutions, no? There are groups and people on the Hill who are saying that this – basically, this is the last straw. They reluctantly went along with returning to the council, or joining it in the first place when it was created, and now, they’re really quite irate. And they don’t see the reason, because you haven’t been able to stop these things and they keep passing them.

MS. NULAND: I think the concern is that if we were not members of the Human Rights Council, first of all, we would not be able to influence the council in a positive direction, and particularly in the direction that many of the initiatives that the 19th session took; namely, to increase the pressure on the Assad regime, to create a strong vote of concern about what’s going on there, and that perhaps this platform would become only a one-sided platform if we and those who share our view were not strong advocates on the council itself. So taking our toys and going home, we don’t think is necessarily a productive way to go forward here.

Anything else? Please.

QUESTION: The nominee for the World Bank? It was reported that apparently the Secretary suggested his name to the President. What more can you enlighten us with in terms of the recommendation?

MS. NULAND: Well, the Secretary is an old friend of Jim Yong Kim. She is very pleased by this nomination and very supportive of the President’s choice.

QUESTION: Does she hope that this will put an end to the speculation that she wants to be the head of the World Bank? (Laughter.)

MS. NULAND: Well, it certainly should. It certainly should.

In the back?

QUESTION: Back to Egypt. From the news and from the statement, does it mean that we have two tracks here for the economic aid and for the military assistance to Egypt? Because the – I see the statement --

MS. NULAND: I didn’t understand the question. Can you start again?

QUESTION: The statement doesn’t mention the economic aid to Egypt, the economic assistance to Egypt. Does it mean that the same – the old rules of the economic aid will be applied to the economic aid to Egypt, the new economic aid to Egypt?

MS. NULAND: Well, the first line of the statement speaks about certifying that Egypt has met its obligations under its peace treaty with Israel. The congressional legislation required that certification before the economic aid could go forward. So this decision, essentially, releases that economic aid.

Okay. Thanks, everybody.

(The briefing was concluded at 1:22 p.m.)

DPB #54

[This is a mobile copy of Daily Press Briefing - March 23, 2012]