Daily Press Briefing
- President Obama and Secretary Clinton in Los Cabos for G20
- Elections / Democratic Transition Process
- Violence on Sinai Border / U.S. Condemns Today's Attacks
- U.S. Condemns Today's Attack on Major General al-Qatan
- SCAF / Transfer of Power Back to Civilian Rule / International Obligations
- Sinai Border / Call for Lasting Solutions
- India's Support for/Role in Afghanistan
- Security in the South
- Taliban Ban on Polio Vaccine
- UN Monitors / Activities Suspended
- Ambassador Ford / Work on Opposition's View of a Transition Plan
- Nonlethal Support for Civilians
- Post-Assad Transition / Focus for Next Steps
- Sanctions / Supply Shortages / Humanitarian Assistance
- Ethnic and Sectarian Tensions / Border with Bangladesh Remains Closed
- Sanctions / Investment / OFAC License
- India / Secretary's Discussion with Foreign Minister Krishna
- MIDDLE EAST PEACE PROCESS
- Secretary's Meeting with Saeb Erakat
1:14 p.m. EDT
MS. NULAND: Happy Monday, everybody. As you know, the President and the Secretary are in Los Cabos, Mexico, for the G-20. I have a number of small things at the top. I am going to stay off some of the subjects that they’re working on in Los Cabos because, as you know, they are likely to have a press debrief out there at the end of their day, probably around our 4:00 or something like that.
Let me just start with Egypt today. Millions of Egyptians voted this past weekend in an election to choose a new president democratically, reflecting their aspirations for both a president and a government chosen by the Egyptian people that will work for the Egyptian people. This is a critical moment in Egypt, and the world is watching closely. We’re particularly concerned by decisions that appear to prolong the military’s hold on power.
We call on the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces to restore popular and international confidence in the democratic transition process by following through on their stated commitments to an inclusive, constitutional drafting process; the timely seating of a democratically elected parliament; and the swift, permanent transfer of power to a civilian government. As the Secretary has said, there can be no going back on the democratic transition, and the United States stands with the Egyptian people in their aspiration to choose their own leaders.
Let me give you something now on Israel and the violence on the Sinai border. The United States condemns today’s attacks – deadly attacks, terrorist attacks – on civilians in Israel from the Sinai and all acts of terrorism in the strongest terms. We extend our deepest condolences to the victims, their families, and loved ones. We remain concerned about the security situation in the Sinai Peninsula and call for restraint on all sides. More broadly, we encourage the Egyptian Government to find a lasting resolution to the issue of Sinai security.
And then I have one last one on Yemen. The United States condemns in strongest terms today’s terrorist attack against Major General Salem Ali al-Qatan, Southern Regional Commander of the Yemeni Central Security Forces. We extend our deepest condolences to his family and friends as well as our sympathies to those who were wounded in this cowardly attack. Major General al-Qatan was leading the fight against al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula in Southern Yemen and had recently achieved some very important successes in pushing AQAP out of several Yemeni cities. We made reference to those in a statement over the weekend. The United States will continue to support President Hadi and those who carry on the efforts of Major General al-Qatan as they work to realize a brighter and more prosperous future for the Yemeni people.
Let’s go now to what’s on your minds.
QUESTION: So just before I go back to Egypt, I want to make sure, when you said you were going to stay away from issues that were being dealt with in Cabo, you meant Syria?
MS. NULAND: Well, Syria is one of them, and issues having to do with --
QUESTION: Anything else that we shouldn’t bother to ask here?
MS. NULAND: -- the whole complex of financial issues and G-20 issues, yeah.
QUESTION: And Russia too?
MS. NULAND: Correct.
QUESTION: Yeah, okay. So on Egypt, you don’t take any heart at all in the fact that they said that the generals say they’re going to turn over power to the president on the 30th?
MS. NULAND: Well, they’ve made a commitment to their – to the Egyptian people, and we want to see them meet it.
QUESTION: Well, what is it that you’re – when you say you’re particularly concerned about these decisions, you’re talking about the decisions that were announced last night?
MS. NULAND: Correct.
QUESTION: That – and so what would you like to see? Would you like to see them just rescind those?
MS. NULAND: Again, we’re not going to be prescriptive here. What we want to see is a democratically elected president, a democratically elected parliament, a constitution that reflects the will of the Egyptian people, and a full transfer of power back to civilian rule as quickly as possible.
QUESTION: But when – okay, so when you say a full transfer, if they don’t change what was done yesterday and turn over power to the elected president at the end of the month, is that a full transfer to civilian power, in your mind?
MS. NULAND: Well, that takes care of the presidential side of things. We still need a parliament that’s democratically elected and that can be seated, and we need a constitution.
QUESTION: Okay. But I mean, just in terms of the power that the presidency has right now, or will have if these rules aren’t changed, if what was announced yesterday – I mean, if they turn over power to a president who basically has the authority to order lunch and that’s about it, is that okay with you?
MS. NULAND: This is the concern. The concern is that the situation is extremely murky now. Even many Egyptians don’t understand it. We have a presidential election, we will have a president seated, but it is not clear how and on what timeline we’re going to get to a parliament and on what timeline we’re going to get to a constitution, and those things need to be settled so that the SCAF can turn over power not only in a presidential sense but also in a legislative sense, et cetera.
QUESTION: Would it be too much to say that SCAF has engineered a legal coup?
MS. NULAND: We’re not going to be calling this by one set of names or another. We are simply stating the principles that we have stood by, that the Egyptian people want to see govern their democratic, peaceful transfer of power to civilian government.
QUESTION: Is there any thought in this building or elsewhere in the Administration that the U.S. might take another look at that waiver on the military aid question, that given what’s happened with SCAF now that it might be time to sort of get back some of the leverage that we presumably sort of gave away when we approved the re-upping of the military aid? And is that even possible at this stage?
MS. NULAND: Well, again, this is an evolving situation, as I said. But we are watching closely. That said, the decisions that are taken in this crucial period are naturally going to have an impact on the nature of our engagement with the government and with the SCAF moving forward. So this is why we are laying down these clear markers now – that the SCAF has made a commitment to allow a transfer of democratic power, and we want to see them meet those commitments.
QUESTION: And just so I’m clear, when you say that would naturally have an impact on the nature of our relationship with the SCAF, are you referring then to military-to-military cooperation and military aid to them? Are you saying that this is in the balance now?
MS. NULAND: Again, I’m not going to get prescriptive here. I’m not going to get into decisions that we haven’t made yet. I’m simply saying that we are watching this situation. We are watching whether they live up to the commitments that they’ve made to their own people, that this is a crucial period and that the decisions they make will have an impact on how we’re able to deal with them.
QUESTION: The Defense Secretary said --
QUESTION: Secretary Panetta --
MS. NULAND: Go ahead. Yeah.
QUESTION: -- has spoken about this, and he in fact called General Tantawi. What is the State Department doing? What is Secretary Clinton doing?
MS. NULAND: Well, in the first instance, we’re making our views known to all players in Egypt. This – we are making our views known privately. Obviously we’ve made this public statement. I would expect you’ll hear similar from other folks in the government.
With regard to next steps, we’re watching how the Egyptians take this forward now.
QUESTION: What about – what’s the message to various portions of the opposition? It’s been suggested that perhaps they were so exuberant about having overthrown Mubarak that they forgot about the important work of building structures so that something of what we’re seeing right now would not have taken place. What is the U.S. Government doing in terms of talking to the youth movement, to the Muslim Brotherhood, to others in the opposition who may be trying to figure out what do we do now?
MS. NULAND: Well, our Embassy is obviously very much engaged. But as I said, this is a fluid situation. Some of these decisions have just been made. Various political actors and groups within civil society are trying to find their feet. This is why we thought it was important to restate the principles that the Egyptian people have sought for and that we have supported all the way through this. So this is for the Egyptians now to decide, but we want to see it decided in a swift, transparent, democratic way that allows a full transfer of power and gets the Egyptian people what they want, which is civilian democratic rule.
QUESTION: Was there too much faith placed into the military acting as the caretaker post-Mubarak?
MS. NULAND: I think we need to see what goes down now. We need to see how this goes. The military has made a commitment to the Egyptian people that they would be good stewards during this period of a democratic transition process. They need to now complete that process and they need to complete it swiftly and give all of us, starting with their own people, confidence.
QUESTION: Just to follow up on that, I mean, the Secretary made her comments, I believe it was on Thursday --
MS. NULAND: Yes.
QUESTION: -- saying can’t roll back on democracy and so on. And then the SCAF goes ahead on Sunday night, after the polls have closed and issues this new order which effectively rolls it back a bit more. I mean, are you – do you think they’re listening to you at all, or do you think they’re going in the wrong direction here?
MS. NULAND: Well, we have concerns about where this is going. That’s obviously clear. It was clear on Thursday and it’s clear again today.
QUESTION: Are your concerns sharper now than they were when the Secretary made her comments on Thursday?
MS. NULAND: I would say clearly, because we have more points of movement since then.
QUESTION: Can I just get you to draw a finer line in terms of if they do not meet their commitments, what they’ve said – if they don’t do what they say they’re going to do, when you say that will impact their relationship with the – the government’s relationship with the United States, that does include all aspects of the relationship with the United States, correct?
MS. NULAND: Correct.
QUESTION: Okay. So we should – that incorporates military and economic support?
MS. NULAND: We’re watching this closely. We haven’t made concrete decisions because the situation is evolving. But clearly, as I said, the decisions that they make in this period are going to be crucial to the way we can deal with them.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) issue?
MS. NULAND: Yeah.
QUESTION: Another one after him.
MS. NULAND: Yeah.
QUESTION: Have you been talking to both parties as to the continuation of the Camp David Accords, or do you have any concerns in this regard?
MS. NULAND: Well, I think we’ve said all the way through, we’ve been saying since well before we even got into the electoral period, that we wanted to see Egypt continue to abide by its international obligations and to continue to have good relations with its neighbors. So that’s something we’ve espoused all the way through this process.
QUESTION: Toria --
MS. NULAND: Yeah.
QUESTION: On Southeast Asia --
MS. NULAND: Sorry, I think Tejinder --
QUESTION: Well, yeah, but there’s just one more.
MS. NULAND: Yeah.
QUESTION: This has – on the Sinai incident.
MS. NULAND: Yeah.
QUESTION: Are you concerned that – do you think that the SCAF is not doing enough on the Sinai right now? Do you think they – what is this indicative of, or is it a complete loss of control?
MS. NULAND: We’ve had incidents, as you know, throughout the past year, and the Egyptians and the Israelis have tried to work together after each of these incidents to learn lessons, to strengthen controls. So this is what we’re calling for, again, that they look into how this incident occurred and that more broadly there will be lasting solutions that give everybody confidence along that border.
QUESTION: You must have seen the reports about Taliban praising Delhi and saying that it’s not anti-India. What is the reaction from this building on that? And plus, are you planning to use then India to talk with Taliban?
MS. NULAND: Frankly, I didn’t see the Taliban’s comments. I’m sorry. And with regard to India, I think we’ve said all the way along that in the first instance, we are pleased with the support that India is giving to strengthen security, stability, prosperity in Afghanistan; the economic support that it’s giving; the support that it’s giving to the Afghan National Security Forces, including in police training. India has joined us in calling for Afghan-Afghan reconciliation and a process to do that. I’m not aware that anybody has asked India to play a direct role in that, though.
QUESTION: Just a follow-up.
MS. NULAND: Please.
QUESTION: Afghanistan’s Foreign Minister was in Washington last week. He spoke at the U.S.-India – he spoke at the CSIS. And he said that, when I ask him question, that his government wants to play India more constructive role, more than what India is doing now, as far as reconstruction is concerned. What he meant was really maybe, as far as politically and militarily, was there any discussion between India and U.S. on this issue that India will or should play more role in Afghanistan when U.S. tries to get out from there and NATO?
MS. NULAND: Well, India is playing a huge role – the Secretary spoke to this on Wednesday, I guess it was – some $2 billion worth of investment. We’re also encouraged by the East-West Road Project that India is sponsoring, which we think can play a strong role in increasing trade and investment across the region. We’ve encouraged the police training program. So all of these things are good steps and they help knit the region together in a democratic direction.
QUESTION: Ma’am, what I meant is really as far as security in Afghanistan is concerned and also talking to many Afghans here in this area, what they are worried is the situation in the south, that unless – until NATO and U.S. gets in the south, there will never be peace and security in Afghanistan.
MS. NULAND: Well, as you know, we’ve done a lot of work with Afghan forces. This was – the root of the surge effort was in the south of Afghanistan. There have been manifest improvements in the security situation there, and now we’re in the process of turning many of those areas over to Afghan leadership, in line with the 2014 process.
QUESTION: And finally, do you agree and believe that in the south, Taliban hold is still there?
MS. NULAND: Well, we’re still having some skirmishes in the south, but overall security has improved greatly in the south. And the Afghans are in far better security control in much of the south as compared to two years ago, if you will.
QUESTION: Do you know anything about the Secretary having a meeting sometime this week or – either in Cabo or here with the Pakistani Foreign Minister?
MS. NULAND: I am not aware of anything being scheduled, but I’ll let you know if that changes.
QUESTION: Okay. So there’s still no date for the apology yet?
MS. NULAND: Please, Jill.
QUESTION: Afghanistan --
QUESTION: Toria, I know you were --
QUESTION: Can we stay on Taliban?
MS. NULAND: Sorry. Go ahead.
QUESTION: The Taliban issued at a statement today saying that it’s imposing a ban on polio vaccine in the northwest tribal regions of Pakistan until/unless drone strikes are stopped by the U.S. Do you have anything to say on this, on the stopping – the ban on polio vaccines?
MS. NULAND: Well, I hadn’t seen that statement. But if it is as you describe, it’s a horrific decision by the Taliban. And I’m sure that Afghan forces working with ISAF will ensure that they can’t implement it. I mean, why would you take out your frustrations on the children of Afghanistan? That’s just brutal and cruel.
QUESTION: It was northwest regions of Pakistan, not Afghanistan.
MS. NULAND: Of Pakistan, or on the children of Pakistan for that matter. I mean, it’s just – and if in fact it’s on the Pakistani side, it’s further to the point that we regularly make to Pakistanis that these terrorist elements are as much a threat to Pakistan as they are to Afghanistan or anybody else. And if they’re now taking it – taking their horrific actions to the children of Pakistan, then everybody needs to think hard about that.
QUESTION: And one more. Do you have any update on the negotiations on GLOCs?
MS. NULAND: I have nothing new for you. No.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MS. NULAND: Jill.
QUESTION: Toria, I know you said you wouldn’t talk about Syria, but this is – it’s not – some of the ship business, but just with the monitors now locked down, how is that affecting the ability to understand what’s going on in the country? What’s your level of concern at this point? And also, there are some reports that the Free Syrian Army is threatening to attack Russians or Russian forces. It’s a little unclear. Do you know anything about that, specifically against Russians?
MS. NULAND: On the latter point, I haven’t seen what you’re seeing.
On the first point about the UN monitors, we did speak to this a little bit over the weekend. The UN did announce that it is suspending its activities in Syria because it’s concerned about the security of its monitors. It’s not surprising given the level of regime violence in the first instance, and some of the responses that we’ve had, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for them to operate.
General Mood, I think you know, is going to address the Security Council tomorrow in New York, so we look forward to hearing his report and what he thinks needs to be done going forward. And I think we’ll reserve further comment until we hear his larger perspective on what’s going on.
QUESTION: Just on the Free Syrian Army--
QUESTION: There were --
QUESTION: Did you see this report on Friday in the Telegraph, the British paper – or at least online Telegraph – that said that representatives of the Free Syrian Army met here with Fred Hof and Robert Ford?
MS. NULAND: Met here in Washington? I don’t have anything for you on that. They meet a broad cross-section of the civilian opposition. I’m not aware of any --
QUESTION: Well, there were people adamantly denying it on background on Friday. Are you able to do it on the record today?
MS. NULAND: I haven’t checked with Fred and Ford, because I didn’t know this was going to come up. But if they’ve denied it on background, then I’m confident that that stands.
QUESTION: Well, if they did, I don’t know about it.
MS. NULAND: I mean Ford was not here on Friday --
QUESTION: And neither was he.
MS. NULAND: -- as you know. I think Fred Hof was also not in town.
QUESTION: No, it was – it said last week. I thought you would be able to say something definitive to drive the last nail into the coffin on the story.
QUESTION: Did Ambassador Ford return from Turkey?
MS. NULAND: He returned from Turkey over the weekend. I don’t have a full picture of the conclusions there. They were continuing to try to work on the opposition’s view of an appropriate transition plan, and I think they’re still working on it.
QUESTION: The reports talk about weapons, modern weapons asked for by the FSA of the U.S. Any new position on that, or --
MS. NULAND: Well, you know where we are on supplying weapons. That is not something that we are involved with. We are involved in nonlethal support for civilians but not the supply of weapons.
QUESTION: Do you have any indication from either Ambassador Ford or Mr. Hof about how the opposition is constituting itself presently? Is it becoming more unified?
MS. NULAND: I think on the larger aspects of what Syria ought to look like post-Assad, it is much more unified than it was a couple of months ago. You have not only within the Syrian National Council, but also all of the affiliated groups have signed up to a set of principles that ought to guide the state. I think some of those were released under the SNC’s umbrella about – I don’t know – six weeks ago, something like that. There is still considerable churn as to how you get from where we are now to the post-Assad period so that we can work on that and who ought to be included, et cetera. So that’s what they’re working on.
QUESTION: So is this – I mean, I guess looking for some type of where we are now and where we go --
MS. NULAND: Yeah.
QUESTION: -- so pressure, outlining what would happen potentially if Assad stepped down, what is the focus now of the – and I’m sorry for a big, broad question, but what is the U.S. focus right now in terms of next steps?
MS. NULAND: Well, again, I think you’re going to hear about this coming out of Los Cabos where there are discussions going on with many of the countries most concerned and involved with the Syria situation. Syria’s going to come up both in the G-20 and in many of the bilateral meetings. So I don’t want to go too much further than we’ve gone in the past, but as we’ve been saying since the Secretary was in Istanbul, we are focused on three fronts. The first front is the political, post-Assad transition phase. As you know, the Secretary has put down some principles, some guidelines for what that ought to look like.
So working to create more unity within the Syrian opposition and within the international community on those basic principles that could guide a post-Assad transition not only so that we can get it started, but also so that we can give confidence to those Syrians who are still sitting on the fence and undecided whether their future’s going to be better or worse post-Assad, that it will certainly be better and that the rights and protections for minorities, participation by all Syrians will be integral to all of it as will rule of law. So that’s one point.
The second point is the sanctions track, which as you know, we are – we do believe that these sanctions are biting deeply on the Assad regime’s ability to have the money it needs to fuel its war machine. The reserves of the country are down by some half. They are – there are shortages all over the country. So in continuing to broaden the number of countries who have the kinds of sanctions that we and the EU and the Arab League now have on Syria so that it bites on the regime not only in terms of being able to fuel its war machine, but also in terms of those who think that sticking with Assad is the right course for the country’s economic future. And then the third track is the track of continuing to work with the opposition so that they are unified, prepared, ready to play a role in the post-transition period.
QUESTION: So when you referred to shortages all over the country, shortages of what?
MS. NULAND: There are shortages of fuel and other consumer goods. The fuel and the heating oil and other things are being diverted away from the civilian population to the military. There are other kinds of shortages now, obviously, of luxury goods with the new EU ban. There are other shortages of imported goods as a result.
QUESTION: What about food?
MS. NULAND: I – there have been concerns about food supplies by the World Food Program. My understanding is that has less to do with the macro supply in the country and more to do with the difficulty of moving consumables around in the context of the hostilities that the regime is engaged in.
QUESTION: So it doesn’t have anything to do with the sanctions?
MS. NULAND: To my understanding – I mean, there are no sanctions on food imports to Syria.
QUESTION: No, I understand. But I mean, one of the things that you talk about when you talk about sanctions is how you – how it’s your desire that – not to affect --
MS. NULAND: Correct.
QUESTION: -- the people but the government.
MS. NULAND: Correct.
QUESTION: And if you’re talking about a result – one result of the sanctions is that there are shortages of X all over the country, those shortages of fuel and of consumer goods, well, that affects the average consumer, not just the regime.
MS. NULAND: We’re talking about imports of luxury goods from outside of the country, other things that come in from outside of the country from sanctioning countries. With regard to food, to the degree that there are food difficulties in Syria, our understanding is it’s the result of the violence that the regime is leading and the difficulty of getting food transported around the country, not a macro shortage as a result of external pressure.
QUESTION: What about healthcare? Doctors Without Borders complained today that the government won’t even let them come inside, and they’re concerned about the wellbeing particularly of those who are in communities that have been targeted both by government shelling and then by the shabiha.
MS. NULAND: Absolutely. It’s been a concern all the way through this, and we’ve been saying that for quite some time, which is why most of our humanitarian assistance is targeted at healthcare and trying to get those UN agencies in that can provide humanitarian relief. But the regime has been absolutely beastly not only in denying healthcare to affected towns, but also in the way that it leans on doctors with regard to who they treat. This was something that we saw during the Qadhafi dead-ender period as well in Libya.
QUESTION: You say that much of this is going to be discussed later in Los Cabos, but Ambassador Sherman is in Moscow for the P-5+1. Does she have any other breakout meetings with officials at her level to also talk about how to move forward on Syria and end this crisis?
MS. NULAND: I think the main Syria dossier this week, this – is with the President and with the Secretary in Los Cabos.
QUESTION: Is beastly a new diplomatic phrase?
MS. NULAND: You like that?
QUESTION: Yeah. I think it’s the first time I’ve heard it from the podium.
MS. NULAND: I think I’ve used beastly before.
QUESTION: On Ambassador – on Under Secretary Sherman, is that meeting over yet? Do you have any – is there any early word on what happened?
MS. NULAND: They’ve ended for the day. I think Lady Ashton’s been out or at least maybe her spokesperson has been out and certainly made clear that – well, they had two sessions today. They had a morning session and they had an afternoon session. I think the expectation on our side is that talks are going to continue tomorrow. The EU spokesperson, as I understand it, did give some interviews today and called the exchanges “intense and tough,” and did reaffirm that the sanctions that the EU has in place starting July 1st will go forward.
But other than that, I think we’ll wait and hear how things go tomorrow, and then I would expect the usual drill, where Lady Ashton speaks for the five.
QUESTION: Do you – would you agree or would – does the U.S. agree with the “intense and tough” characterization, which seems to be a far cry from the “positive and constructive” phrasing. Do you have any --
MS. NULAND: I think we stand by with the EU’s characterization today.
QUESTION: On Burma?
MS. NULAND: Yes.
QUESTION: What is your assessment of the situation in the Burmese State of Rakhine, where there was violence and also about the (inaudible) or condition of the minorities, the Rohingyas in the country?
MS. NULAND: Well, we remain concerned about the ethnic and sectarian tensions in Burma following the attacks in Rakhine State. We are continuing to urge all parties to exercise restraint, to refrain from violence. Our understanding is that the government continues to call for calm. There are still skirmishes. And unfortunately, that border with Bangladesh remains closed.
QUESTION: How do you view the response of the Burmese Government in this entire violence?
MS. NULAND: Well, I think they are working hard to try to get calm so that there can be dialogue, but it’s been difficult.
QUESTION: And one more thing on – there are several U.S. companies who are planning to make investments in Burma, including Coca-Cola, which made an announcement last week. Is the U.S. planning to give the waiver, the necessary waiver to these companies? And how many applications have you received so far from them?
MS. NULAND: My understanding of the process is that there will be a single OFAC license that allows the kind of investment that the Secretary talked about a month ago, when she – or however many weeks ago, when she lifted or suspended this aspect of the sanctions. So I think it’s a single license, as I understand it, that’ll allow this kind of activity rather than individual licenses.
QUESTION: So when do you expect this to be issued?
MS. NULAND: Again, I send you to the Treasury. I’m not actually sure on their timing.
QUESTION: In fact, Senator McCain issued a statement last week asking the U.S. Government not to issue these waivers. He’s saying that this is not the right time to do so. Do you agree with his assessment? Or you are going ahead with issuing the waiver certification?
MS. NULAND: Well, I didn’t see the context of his statement. We’ve worked very closely with Senator McCain and other interested members in the Senate and in the House on Burma on some of these rules of the road for our companies and others, and to make it clear that we are suspending, we are not lifting sanctions, because we want to ensure that these kinds of reforms are irreversible. We want to see our companies work in a responsible way that protects the rights of labor, the rights of the citizens of Burma, and ensures that the benefits of this investment are two-way, that they are both for Burma and for the investors. So we’re watching this very closely, and we’re in full discussion with the Congress about the appropriate way to encourage further reform in Burma.
QUESTION: And just to follow --
MS. NULAND: Yeah.
QUESTION: -- as far as ongoing violence in Burma --
MS. NULAND: In terms of the – I’m sorry, Goyal?
QUESTION: As far as ongoing violence in Burma --
MS. NULAND: Violence, yeah.
QUESTION: Two things: One, if the Burmese Government have asked either through the third channels or any kind of help? And second, if U.S. – because of India’s interest in Burma, if U.S. is talking with India, or anybody spoke with any Indian officials on the violence in Burma?
MS. NULAND: Well, first, on the last part of your question, the Secretary and Foreign Minister Krishna did talk about Burma, as they always do, when they were together last week, the whole gamut of Burma-related issues. And we are – to my knowledge, the Burmese Government has not asked for any foreign intervention, per se. The UN Special Advisor of the Secretary General on Burma Vijay Nambiar is trying to get into Rakhine State to assess the situation and see how to be of help, and we certainly support that.
QUESTION: Has the U.S. asked Bangladesh to open its border for the refugees?
MS. NULAND: We have. And we’ve said it both publicly and privately that we are urging them to meet their international obligations. We’re concerned that they are both intercepting and turning back people who are fleeing, and we urge them to respect their obligations under the relevant refugee conventions and to continue their longstanding – the longstanding policy of non-refoulement, which unfortunately has not been honored right now.
QUESTION: Just a follow-up. There are reports that Bangladesh has detained around 128 refugees who came – who entered the country from Burma. Do you know about it? Have you raised this issue with the Bangladesh Government?
MS. NULAND: As I said, we have raised it, and we are concerned.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MS. NULAND: Please, Samir.
QUESTION: Is the Secretary going to be able to meet with the – Saeb Erakat tomorrow? Will she be back?
MS. NULAND: I believe the meeting has been moved to Wednesday. She was initially supposed to come back from Los Cabos tonight. I think she’s going to stay the night. She’ll be back tomorrow afternoon, so the whole work week in Washington has shrunk, because then she goes off to Rio mid-day on Thursday.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MS. NULAND: Thanks.
(The briefing was concluded at 1:46 p.m.)
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