Victoria Nuland
Spokesperson
Daily Press Briefing
Washington, DC
November 20, 2012


Index for Today's Briefing
  • DEPARTMENT
    • Secretary's Trip to Jerusalem
  • ISRAEL / PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES
    • U.S. Diplomatic Engagements on Gaza
    • Situation in Gaza / Urging De-escalation
    • Activities by the Quartet/ Support for Humanitarian Aid
  • INDIA
    • President Karzai's Visit to India
  • SYRIA
    • Syrian Opposition Coalition
  • TUNISIA
    • Incarceration of Two Tunisians
  • MALI
    • Spillover into Regional Countries
  • AFGHANISTAN
    • Poppy Cultivation
    • Memorandum of Understanding on Detentions
  • DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO
    • M-23 Takeover of Goma
  • PAKISTAN/INDIA/IRELAND
    • Human Rights Issues and Best Practices
  • LEBANON
    • Daqduq Case
  • IRAQ
    • Urging De-escalation between the Maliki government and the KRG
  • TURKEY
    • Prime Minister Erdogan's Comments on Situation in Gaza
  • DEPARTMENT
    • Secretary Clinton's Trip to Asia and the Middle East


TRANSCRIPT:

The video is available with closed captioning on YouTube.

12:44 p.m. EST

MS. NULAND: All right. Happy Tuesday, everybody. I hope you all got the notice that the Secretary has split off from the presidential party now. She’s on her way to Jerusalem. She’ll have her first meeting there with Prime Minister Netanyahu shortly after landing. It’ll be quite late this evening in Jerusalem time. To the extent that we have information to read out from her various meetings, we will do that, but as you know, her formal press posture is that she’ll have sprays at each of those – of the meetings on this trip. So we’ll try to stay in touch with you over the next couple of days as this proceeds.

Why don’t we go to what’s on your minds.

QUESTION: Do you have any news about Hamas claims that the calming down will take place tonight at 9 o’clock their time?

MS. NULAND: I don’t have any specifics to report to you either with regard to the ground situation or with regard to the state of the diplomacy. As I said yesterday, the President, the Secretary, all of us are intensely involved here, but we’re not going to be sharing details in public until there’s something to report.

QUESTION: So is it fair to assume that Mrs. Clinton will oversee the signing of calming down between Israel and Hamas under the auspices of Egypt?

MS. NULAND: Again, as you know, intensive diplomacy is ongoing. The President and the Secretary have both been on the phone nonstop with regional leaders for a number of days. The purpose of her trip is to continue and intensify that engagement now, face to face, in service to the goal of trying to de-escalate this violence and restoring calm.

QUESTION: And lastly, should we interpret her trip as a good sign that there’s something in the offing, a calming down in the offing?

MS. NULAND: Again, Said, I think we are all hoping for a de-escalation, we are all hoping for a restoration of calm, we’re all hoping to open space for deeper, broader conversations. That is obviously the goal we all share.

QUESTION: Ma’am --

MS. NULAND: Jill.

QUESTION: What about – Toria, realistically, what can the Secretary do? I mean, even if you look at a ceasefire or a calming down, a lot of that seems linked to larger issues, medium range or long range. It doesn’t appear that they are simply going to stop fighting, or at least Hamas, unless there is some resolution of other issues – issues that affect Gaza, for example. So what, realistically, do you think, even broadly, can she accomplish?

MS. NULAND: Well, as we’ve been saying for some time, we have to obviously start with a de-escalation of this conflict. We have to see an end to the rocket fire on Israel. We have to see a restoration of calm in Gaza. And the hope is that if we can get through those stages, that will create space for the addressing of broader issues, but I don’t want to prejudge. This is obviously ongoing and live diplomacy.

QUESTION: And just one other thing: Some have said that obviously she would not go if there were going to be a ground invasion at the time that she hits the runway. Is that a fair assumption, that she – that there was some sort of knowledge that the U.S. had that there would not be a ground invasion, ergo she wouldn’t go?

MS. NULAND: As I said yesterday, I’m not in a position to speak to the ground situation at all, other than to say that I think all of the parties involved have expressed a preference to solve this peacefully, to solve this diplomatically. That is what we are all trying to support and assist, and that is what we are all hoping for.

QUESTION: On this point --

QUESTION: The United States --

MS. NULAND: Said. Said.

QUESTION: On this point, just a quick follow-up on this point, Israeli sources say that they want a period of 24 hour of calm before they sign any truce. Do you support or do you advocate such a – like a period of calm before signing anything?

MS. NULAND: Again, I’m not in a position here to get into the substance of any of the discussions that are ongoing. There are a lot of discussions going on involving a lot of different parties. When there’s something to announce, I’m sure it will be announced, Said.

Sir, can you tell me who you are?

QUESTION: Yeah, Oren Dorell from USA Today. The Hamas leaders have said that they would like the blockade to be lifted as – if they’re to stop their rocket fire. What is the United States position on that?

MS. NULAND: Again, you’re trying to take me into the tactics of diplomacy, the conversations that are ongoing among lots of different parties who are trying to support a de-escalation here. Don’t think that’s productive to the process for us to be getting into the back-and-forth here.

Samir.

QUESTION: What’s the Quartet doing in this crisis? Doing anything?

MS. NULAND: As a formal matter, the Quartet has not met, but as you know, the Secretary’s been in touch with Lady Ashton. In fact, she was in touch with some of her European counterparts today. She had phone calls with German Foreign Minister Westerwelle, French Foreign Minister Fabius again, with Quartet Representative Blair. The Quartet itself hasn’t met, but the Quartet envoys and representatives have all been active. As you know, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon was just there. I think he may still be in the region, in fact.

Jill.

QUESTION: Toria, one more. Why was it so important for the Secretary to go? I mean, it involves the United States in a very obvious and maybe dangerous way because she will be on the ground in a – not physically, I mean, but diplomatically, it could all backfire. Why is it so important for her to go?

MS. NULAND: Well, again, I think, as we said in the statement that we released announcing her travel, and as Ben Rhodes said when he briefed the White House Press Corps earlier today from Phnom Penh, we have been, the President has been, she has been, actively engaged on the phone. But sometimes, there’s no substitution for showing up, as the Secretary herself likes to say, for talking face to face, for doing what you can in person. And the President and she obviously thought that her going and actually sitting down with leaders – with Prime Minister Netanyahu, with President Abbas, and with President Morsi – could help de-escalate the situation. So it was obviously important to leave no stone unturned.

QUESTION: Toria, I realize you don’t want to get into any of the details that we might find useful or helpful, but despite that, it is correct that the Administration would like to see this – any kind of de-escalation, whether that would be a formal ceasefire or an informal one side stops so the other side then stops; is that correct? You would just like to see – even if it’s temporary, fleeting, you would like to see a de-escalation of any kind; is that correct?

MS. NULAND: We have spoken about this in terms of a de-escalation, because that’s obviously a first step to help prepare the way for anything else. We obviously need to see this violence come down.

QUESTION: Right, right, but you would be happy with even an informal cessation of hostilities?

MS. NULAND: Again, beyond what we’ve said, I’m not going to characterize X as acceptable, Y as not acceptable. That’s a subject for negotiations.

QUESTION: Well, but I --

MS. NULAND: Matt, I’m not going to.

Nadia, please.

QUESTION: Wait, I’m not done.

MS. NULAND: Go ahead.

QUESTION: I’m not done. I don’t understand why you can’t say that any halt in violence would be a good thing in the Administration’s eyes.

MS. NULAND: Any de-escalation is a step forward. We want to see this de-escalated.

QUESTION: Okay. So it doesn’t necessarily have to be a durable – meaning long-lasting, a fixed period, six months, as long – at least at the beginning – as long as the fighting and the dying of people stops, that’s okay, at least in the short term; is that correct?

MS. NULAND: Matt, I am not going to limit, characterize the steps necessary here --

QUESTION: Okay. Well, surely you’re not --

MS. NULAND: -- because the parties are talking, we’re going to be part of that, and we’re not going to negotiate it here from the podium. We’re not going to characterize it here from the podium.

QUESTION: Well, okay, fine, but surely you’re not saying that you’re okay with the violence continuing, are you?

MS. NULAND: Matt, what have I said seven times now?

QUESTION: All right. Then – frankly, you’ve said a lot, but it hasn’t really amounted to an answer. So in his briefing --

MS. NULAND: We’re going to move on now. We’re going to move on to Nadia, please.

QUESTION: In his briefing --

MS. NULAND: Go ahead, Nadia. Go ahead, Nadia, please.

QUESTION: Toria --

QUESTION: In his briefing – in – I’m sorry, Toria. I’m not done, and this is an important question. In his briefing to the White House Press Corps, Ben Rhodes was asked why he would not use the word “ceasefire,” and he said that’s essentially – I’m paraphrasing – he said no, and then he proceeded not to use it again and instead talked about de-escalation.

Does the Administration have some aversion to calling this a ceasefire or – and if it doesn’t, why not just use it? And if it does, what’s the aversion?

MS. NULAND: You know very well from having watched these kinds of situations unfold that there are many ways that this can de-escalate. I’m not going to prejudge here, and I think Ben didn’t want to prejudge how it happens. So your six efforts to get us to do that are not going to be successful.

Nadia, go ahead.

QUESTION: Victoria –

MS. NULAND: Yeah.

QUESTION: -- you know that the U.S. has been criticized for not taking a leading role earlier to end the conflict. Just to follow up on Jill’s questions, if you felt that the Secretary needed to be there physically to meet with the leaders, why didn’t she go there in the beginning of the conflict? Was it because she was in Asia or because of the calculated decision on your part that you needed to wait a few more days?

MS. NULAND: Well, first of all, both the President and the Secretary have been extremely active. As you can see, the President, I think, in the past 24 hours has spoken with Egyptian President Morsi, for example, some three times. The Secretary’s made more than a dozen phone calls. So we have been very active in supporting all of the various efforts to try to de-escalate this. The judgment was that it had gotten to a stage where actually sitting face to face was – would be of value, so that was the decision that the Secretary and the President made.

QUESTION: I just wondered, if it’s possible, to walk us through when that decision was taken. Is it because the Egyptians have said that now we are in the process of getting a ceasefire and it’s important for the Secretary to be there? Is this the precise timing for her to be in the region?

MS. NULAND: Again, I think the President and Secretary were obviously together; they had a chance to – they have been comparing notes over the last couple of days about how this situation has been evolving. And the conclusion was that her going personally and sitting with leaders who she knows well had the potential to be helpful to the various parties in trying to seek a de-escalation. So beyond that, I don’t want to parse it too finely, Nadia.

Anything else on this subject? Please, can you --

QUESTION: I have some more on the logistical --

QUESTION: Kimberly Halkett, Al Jazeera English.

MS. NULAND: Yeah.

QUESTION: I’m just wondering how helpful it will be, though, given the fact that the Secretary is only meeting with the Palestinian Authority leader, and, who is at odds with Hamas – given the fact that the U.S. is only speaking to one of the two sides in this conflict, how productive can these discussions really be?

MS. NULAND: Well, as we’ve been saying for some time, there are different leaders in the region, around the world, who have influence with different actors in this situation. So we have Egyptians and Turks and Qataris and others making very strong representations to Hamas. The Secretary obviously thought that it was important to see President Abbas in this – on this trip because he is the interlocutor and the representative legitimately elected of the Palestinian people with whom we interface. So that is the role that we will play. We will work with the Israelis, we will work with President Abbas, and we will work with President Morsi, and others have more direct influence than we do with Hamas.

QUESTION: But do you think by shutting out Khaled Meshaal that you are going to be able to help bring about something beyond a ceasefire, a lasting solution, as I think you called it?

MS. NULAND: Again, the first step is a de-escalation, which the hope is then that can create space for something deeper. But again, we have to take this one step at a time.

Said, yes.

QUESTION: Sorry, Toria, just a quick follow-up on the humanitarian situation.

MS. NULAND: Yes.

QUESTION: There has been reports by the Palestinian Red Crescent, by UNRWA, by ANERA, by almost everybody speaking of a difficult humanitarian situation – shortages in water, food, medicines and so on. Suppose there is a calming-down period; would the United States send in direct aid to Gaza?

MS. NULAND: Again, you’re asking me to get ahead of where we are. But as you know, we have always supported the UN agencies and others providing humanitarian assistance through appropriate and agreed channels. Those channels do exist, and obviously the goal of all of this diplomacy is to relieve the suffering of civilians, whether they are Israelis or whether they are Palestinians.

QUESTION: So is it plausible just to break the blockade for a couple of days, or three days, or four days?

MS. NULAND: Again, there are established channels for getting humanitarian aid in, and those are the channels that should be used.

QUESTION: According to the U.S. officials, there are three --

MS. NULAND: Can you tell me who you are, please?

QUESTION: Wi Xu Diao from CCTV. So according to two U.S. officials, there are – three U.S. Navy warships are sending to – near Israel to – just in case evacuation needed. So these are supposed to be – come back after Thanksgiving. Can you confirm that and when the – how long they will be delayed, for their homecoming?

MS. NULAND: The Pentagon has spoken to that issue today or yesterday in terms of contingency planning, so I’ll send you to them for any more detail.

Goyal, still on this subject?

QUESTION: Toria – no.

QUESTION: No. I have two more, one of which – I suspect one of which is easy, and one of which is logistical and it may have been asked already.

So just the first one, which I think is the easy one: Would you – you keep the phrase de-escalate – don’t worry, I’m not going to try and get you to change that, but when you – when the Secretary is in her talks, is it fair to say that she is less about an – less talking about an imminent de-escalation than in how to hold or make durable a longer-term solution? I mean, obviously she’s not involved in mediating a truce, or whatever you want to call it, between Hamas and Israel, because you guys don’t talk to Hamas. Is it her goal to try and make whatever might come out of negotiations – those negotiations that are going on, to make that hold and be longer than just some quick, temporary fix? Is that fair?

MS. NULAND: I think everybody involved in trying to support a de-escalation here wants to see not just a tactical end to the violence, but wants to see the conditions improve for being able to address some of the underlying issues. But the way that unfolds and how much is going to be possible in the next 36 hours I think very much depends on the meetings that she has and what she finds.

QUESTION: You don’t – are you saying that you don’t want to rule out the fact that she might get involved – and obviously not with Hamas directly, but that she might get involved in trying to mediate an initial de-escalation? You don’t want to rule that out, or is that something that is --

MS. NULAND: I think it completely depends on where the situation is in the – in four hours from now or six hours from now when she lands.

QUESTION: All right. And then the second one, which is logistical and may have been asked before, is that when she is in Egypt, when she goes to Cairo tomorrow, is she going to see anyone other than Morsi? Are there other people coming in to town, like the Turks? I mean, I know Ban Ki-moon is out there. Is she going to be seeing anyone other than the Egyptians in her short time in Cairo?

MS. NULAND: The current schedule that we have is the schedule that we announced, that she will, this evening, very late Jerusalem time, see Prime Minister Netanyahu; that she will early in the morning tomorrow see President Abbas in Ramallah; and then she’ll go to Cairo to see President Morsi. That’s all I have in terms of schedule. I don’t have anything else at the moment in terms of other meetings or other third-country representatives on this trip. But you know how these go. That could change, so stand by. If we have something to announce, we will.

Please.

QUESTION: How do you view the legal status of Gaza? Is it occupied? The Israelis are not there? Is it autonomous?

MS. NULAND: I don’t think our position on Gaza has changed. There’s nothing new there.

Please.

QUESTION: When you talk about improving conditions for addressing underlying issues, can you be any more clear about what issues you’re talking about?

MS. NULAND: Well, it’s the full range of issues, but obviously this goes to the underlying security of Israel and that the end of attacks from Gaza into Israel should be halted not simply temporarily, but in a sustained way. It goes to the condition of civilians in Gaza. And it goes to the ability of Israelis and Palestinians to get back to the table about a lasting settlement, which is obviously the long-term solution for this.

QUESTION: Victoria.

MS. NULAND: Please on this, Samir – Said.

QUESTION: There were reports that there are a couple dozen servicemen, American servicemen, in – actually in southern Israel that were hurriedly removed for safety. Do you know anything about that? Do you know anything about (inaudible)?

MS. NULAND: I don’t. It sounds like something to ask the Pentagon. I don’t have anything on that.

Anything else on this subject?

QUESTION: Got one more logistical one that I forgot. Is she definitely coming directly back to Washington after Cairo or are you leaving open the possibility that she could make another stop, either in the region or in Europe, or, I don’t know, in Africa?

MS. NULAND: At the current moment, we have nothing after Cairo. If that changes, we’ll let you know.

Lalit.

QUESTION: Yeah. Of the other countries that the U.S. has been talking to on this issue, is India one of them?

MS. NULAND: I don’t think we’ve been talking to India. I don’t think India’s been part of the group of countries that have been working with the parties.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: What about Iran? Are you having any indirect talks with Iran to influence?

MS. NULAND: We are not.

QUESTION: You are not?

MS. NULAND: We are not.

Goyal.

QUESTION: India?

MS. NULAND: Yeah.

QUESTION: As far as President Karzai of Afghanistan’s visit to India was concerned, he was asking more help from India and more investments, more trade and more rebuilding Afghanistan. Do you have any idea if U.S. is involved in this talks with – between Afghanistan and India for more investment?

MS. NULAND: Well, we have been encouraging, both on the Afghan side and on the Indian side, more direct economic contacts, more investment both ways, improved transportation routes, improved people-to-people relations. I don’t think we’ve made any secret of that, Goyal. But we obviously – we’re not brokers in those conversations.

QUESTION: What else includes, because there was a talk one time long ago that India might need to get in war also, maybe some military or some training and some intelligence sharing as far as terrorism is concerned in the region.

MS. NULAND: Well, India does now, as you know, support the Afghan National Police, and that’s something that we are very supportive of. With regard to whether those relationships in the security sector develop further, I think that’s a matter for those two countries.

QUESTION: Just a small follow-up.

MS. NULAND: Lalit.

QUESTION: CSIS today came out with a report in which it is recommending U.S. to ask India to open a liaison office at the NATO’s office in Kabul. Is that something you’re looking at?

MS. NULAND: That’s a sovereign decision for India to make, not for us to make.

QUESTION: Can we move to Syria?

MS. NULAND: I have Scott in the back first. Go ahead.

QUESTION: Iraq.

MS. NULAND: Yeah.

QUESTION: The Kuwaiti newspaper Seyassah is reporting that Vice President Biden told President Maliki that clashes with the Peshmerga forces is a redline for Washington, and that U.S. troops would intervene if there’s fighting in Kirkuk. Is that – anything to that?

MS. NULAND: I’m going to send you to the White House. That sounds like a garble of – at least in part, to me.

Yeah.

QUESTION: Can we go to Syria?

QUESTION: Mali?

MS. NULAND: Yeah. Let’s go to Syria.

QUESTION: Just that – now that your first ever ally and your former colonial master have both recognized the SOC, I’m wondering if we can expect the same anytime soon from the United States.

MS. NULAND: Again, we spoke extensively yesterday about where we are.

QUESTION: Well, that was before the Brits made their announcement, so --

MS. NULAND: Yes. I think our view remains that we see them as a legitimate representative. We are continuing to watch how they develop in terms of their internal organization, their effectiveness in support on the ground across a broad cross-section of Syrians. And as I said yesterday, we’re looking at this on a day-by-day week-by-week basis.

QUESTION: Okay. All right. So the British decision doesn’t mean anything for you guys necessarily?

MS. NULAND: Again, we’ve --

QUESTION: It’s not like a domino of France, Britain, and then U.S. fall, or --

MS. NULAND: Not today, Matt, if that’s what you’re asking.

QUESTION: Okay. All right.

MS. NULAND: Said. Yeah.

QUESTION: Is the Secretary expected to attend the Morocco meeting?

MS. NULAND: I don’t have anything to announce. I think we talked yesterday that we do expect the next Friends of the Syrian People meeting to be in Morocco, but I don’t have travel for her to be – to announce yet.

QUESTION: Okay. So are we likely to see right after that meeting, whenever it happens, in September, early-September, mid-September --

MS. NULAND: September?

QUESTION: I mean, December, I’m sorry. I’m behind. Okay. In December --

MS. NULAND: You’re wishing for fall as it’s becoming winter.

QUESTION: Right. I love fall. Anyway, in December, once it occurred, do you think there will be a recognition of the coalition after that?

MS. NULAND: Again, I think I’ve talked about the fact that we are continuing to look at how this develops, but I don’t want to pre-judge any timing or any announcements here.

Okay. Please.

QUESTION: Afghanistan.

MS. NULAND: Yeah. Sorry, there’s a lady back here who’s been trying – that would be you.

QUESTION: That’s me.

MS. NULAND: Can you tell me who you are?

QUESTION: Yeah. I’m Jennifer Griffin with Fox News.

MS. NULAND: Oh. Hi, Jennifer.

QUESTION: Hi, Toria. Toria, I was wondering if you had any comment on the two Tunisian attackers of the U.S. Embassy in Tunis who died in custody in a Tunisian prison in the last day or so, and whether there’s any concern that’s been expressed by the State Department to the Tunisian government, and whether the FBI actually got access to the Tunisian that was held in Tunis for the Benghazi attack.

MS. NULAND: With regard to whether the FBI got access, I’m going to send you to them, obviously. I think I’m going to have to send you to the Tunisians on the circumstances surrounding the incarceration of those two individuals. I don’t think I have anything today.

QUESTION: Has any concern been expressed from the State Department to Tunisia – to the Tunisian government about that?

MS. NULAND: Let me take that, Jennifer, and see if there’s anything we have to share. I, frankly, don’t have anything on it today.

Please.

QUESTION: Mali.

MS. NULAND: Yeah.

QUESTION: Some fierce fighting has been taking place during the last 48 hours between the Tuareg rebels and the Islamist groups in an area not far away from Niger. Are you concerned that the crisis in Mali will spill over to Niger, for example?

MS. NULAND: Well, I think you know that we’ve been concerned that the longer these tensions go on and the more extremists begin to exploit the difficulties in Mali and the lack of good governance, the more we could see the danger of spillover into regional countries. You know that we’ve been working to support the development of a stronger ECOWAS plan that they can bring back to the Security Council, how they can provide greater security, both in Bamako and supporting Malian forces.

But we also are looking for a political outreach effort by the government to address the underlying grievances of the Tuaregs and peel them off of these extremist elements. So it’s something that we’re very much working on. As you know, the Secretary was in Algeria not too long ago, working with the Algerians on how we can blunt potential spillover, et cetera.

Please, Lalit.

QUESTION: Afghanistan?

MS. NULAND: Yeah.

QUESTION: The Government of Afghanistan came out with a report today which says that the poppy cultivation in Afghanistan has increased by 19 percent as compared to last year. This is one of the major funding source for the Taliban and al-Qaida. Is it an issue of concern with you, and how you are dealing with this?

MS. NULAND: Well, poppy eradication is always something that we are watching very carefully. It’s something that we’ve been involved in with the Afghans for a long, long time. I didn’t see this particular report. Why don’t I take it for tomorrow? If we have any comment on the Afghan report and how we read it and our joint efforts with the Afghans to support their efforts, I’ll let you know.

QUESTION: I have one more on Afghanistan – in fact, two more. Afghanistan today executed eight prisoners, Taliban prisoners. How do you see this as --

MS. NULAND: I’m sorry. Say again?

QUESTION: The Afghans executed today eight Taliban prisoners.

MS. NULAND: They did what to the eight?

QUESTION: Executed.

MS. NULAND: They executed.

QUESTION: Yeah.

MS. NULAND: I hadn’t seen that, either. I’m sorry.

QUESTION: And a follow-up on yesterday’s answers on the Bagram prison: Your answer gives an impression that Afghanistan government is not complying with some of the things with the Memorandum of Understanding that was signed early this year. Which are those? Can you explain to us, give us more details which?

MS. NULAND: Well, we went through this at some length yesterday, Lalit, that we want to work through these cases, that there are a number of cases where we still need to establish the arrangements, that we’re going to do that bilaterally going forward, and that it speaks to the obligations that we both have, that we have to turn over and that the Afghans have to assure that dangerous people don’t end up back on the street. But beyond that, I’m not going to get into the specific conversations we’re having on each of these cases.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MS. NULAND: Scott.

QUESTION: Congo?

MS. NULAND: Yeah.

QUESTION: The M23 rebels have now taken control of Goma. Do you have any reaction to that, and do you hold Rwanda responsible for the conduct of those rebels and what they now do in Goma?

MS. NULAND: Well, obviously, we condemn the ongoing violent assault of M23 and the fact that it’s now taken Goma in violation of the sovereignty of the DRC. We are calling and we are working, as you know, in New York today on a UN Security Council resolution that would also call for an immediate ceasefire, that would call for a pullback of M23 forces to their July lines, that would – we also bilaterally are working with Presidents Kagame, Kabila, Museveni to encourage them to come together in a process of dialogue to reject any kind of military solution to the problems in Eastern DRC and instead set up a political process to address grievances, to renounce any kind of external support for M23, et cetera. So – and we are also obviously looking in the New York context at increasing international sanctions on M23, et cetera. So it is a very dangerous, very worrying, very concerning situation there.

QUESTION: What about the responsibility that Rwanda has, if you see any, for the conduct of the M23 rebels? Because the Kabila government has refused to speak directly to M23, saying instead that they should really be talking to Rwanda.

MS. NULAND: Again, we do think that Rwanda has got to be part of the solution here, that they have influence and that they need to use it with regard to demilitarizing the situation, getting the M23 to pull back, to ensure that they are not externally supported, et cetera. So as you know, Under Secretary Sherman was there; she’s had conversations with these leaders, and we are also using other channels to try to encourage the three leaders to work together on a lasting solution.

Anything else? Goyal --

QUESTION: Yeah.

MS. NULAND: Goyal, behind you, and then we’ll come back to you, Matt. Go ahead, Goyal.

QUESTION: I just had a quick human rights question.

MS. NULAND: Yeah.

QUESTION: We’re living in the 21st century, but still tragedies and all these violations are going on, small what they call religious rules of those countries. One, this – these two news made global news this week. One, that 14-year-old who was arrested in Pakistan because of this small – some witness said that she did this and that, and now she’s released. And second, one Indian doctor woman was left to die with her baby in her womb because she was pregnant and baby had a problem, and there was a crying inside Ireland and also around the globe to help her, but they let her die. And this was the news around the globe. This is human rights question. And do you really come across these things, because now there’s a process and also discussion around the globe, including in Ireland?

MS. NULAND: Well, as you know, we have human rights discussions with India, with Pakistan, with Afghanistan, with some hundred countries around the world, I would venture to say, with regard to the dismissal of the charges against the 14-year-old mentally disabled girl. We were pleased to see those charges dismissed. I was not aware of this Indian case that you cite, but in general we have a strong dialogue with India about best practices in democracies and human rights protections, health care, all those kinds of things.

QUESTION: But I just wanted to bring to your attention that you might have seen this news in Ireland about this Indian woman doctor.

MS. NULAND: I did not see – this was a case in Ireland, not in India. No, I didn’t see it.

QUESTION: And they left her to die, and she was pregnant and the baby had a problem and there was a cry to help her out, including doctors and all that, but they said that because of her national – because of her religious law would not allow them to help this lady, and they let her die, baby and the woman.

MS. NULAND: I don’t have any information on that one, Goyal.

Go ahead, Matt.

QUESTION: Well, apart from whether you have human rights concerns about Ireland, Daqduq. Have you had any further conversations that you’re aware of or has the U.S. had any further conversations with the Lebanese about his status?

MS. NULAND: We have. We’ve been in touch with Prime Minister Mikati. We’ve also been in touch with other Lebanese officials about our concern about Daqduq and that he is somebody that needs to be brought to justice, and we will continue to have those conversations.

QUESTION: Okay. These are discussions that have happened post – what was it – Friday?

MS. NULAND: Since he arrived in Lebanon. Yeah.

QUESTION: But – and since the last time I asked, which may have been yesterday?

MS. NULAND: Yeah. I think it was during the day yesterday. It might have been in the day today.

QUESTION: Do you know who and where?

MS. NULAND: My understanding, it was done either by Ambassador Connelly or by somebody on her staff.

QUESTION: In Beirut?

MS. NULAND: Correct.

QUESTION: Just a quick follow-up to earlier question on Iraq. Regardless of the statement, what’s your reading regarding clear escalation between the Maliki government and the KRG, especially the events focused on Kirkuk?

MS. NULAND: Well, we talked about this a little bit yesterday. We’re obviously following the increasing tensions. We’ve been in contact with leaders throughout Iraq to emphasize the need to move quickly to – again that word – de-escalate – tensions, to talk to each other about ensuring peace and stability. And we will continue those representations.

QUESTION: One question. Today Prime Minister Erdogan, again regarding Gaza events, said that – again accused Israel of ethnic cleansing, terrorizing Middle East, and Palestine’s right to defend themselves, basically 180 degree opposite of your position as far as we can see. Do you have another – do you have any reaction to this difference on the positions?

MS. NULAND: Well, let me just say that some of the extremely harsh rhetoric coming from Turkey we do not consider helpful at all, and of course, we don’t agree with some of these very difficult statements that have been coming there. And we’ve made those views clear to the Turks.

QUESTION: Within the last 24 hours, have you been talking to Turks about this stance?

MS. NULAND: We have.

QUESTION: Can you please give us what’s your reading? I mean, how do you communicate –

MS. NULAND: I’m not going to get into detail other than to say that we’ve made clear from this Department to the Turkish government our concerns that this kind of rhetoric is not helpful.

QUESTION: Is that – that was a great answer. I wish I could have gotten it out of you a little earlier yesterday.

MS. NULAND: Thank you, Matt. Thank you.

QUESTION: Does that go for the Egyptians --

MS. NULAND: We aim to --

QUESTION: Does that go for the Egyptians as well? There’s harsh rhetoric coming from Egypt, too.

MS. NULAND: Well, as you know, we’ve been in constant contact with the Egyptians about how to deal with this situation.

Please, in the back.

QUESTION: But does that include the rhetoric as well?

MS. NULAND: I think we’ve been very clear about where we stand on these kinds of things.

Please. Can you tell me who you are?

QUESTION: I’m Nina-Maria Potts and I work with Feature Story News, which is an international broadcasting agency.

MS. NULAND: That’s right. I knew that. I apologize. Go ahead.

QUESTION: Just in terms of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton having to cut short her trip and sit down face to face with leaders in the Middle East, what signal does that send to your partners in Asia at a time when you’re reprioritizing Asia, and are you worried about that?

MS. NULAND: Well, first of all, the Secretary has been in Asia for more than a week. As you know, she did I think it was three stops before she linked up with the President, and then she was able to complete most of the President’s itinerary with him. She was in Burma, she was in Thailand, and she was able to go to the opening events at ASEAN yesterday.

But you’ll notice that there was a division of labor here. The President stayed to complete his program, which is at his level, the leaders’ level, in Asia, while the Secretary went off to the Middle East. We have global responsibilities, obviously, so it was a good way to sort of split up the work, if you will.

But just to underscore that the Secretary did all but the last day of the President’s trip and had three or four days in Asia before he even started his diplomacy. So --

Okay.

QUESTION: What does it mean to Asia countries or send any kind of signals?

MS. NULAND: The President has made his first trip after his election to Asia, underscoring the very strong and important relationships that we have across the Asian continent. We’ve talked for a year or two about the pivot to Asia and about the fact that we are now in a position to rebalance and ensure that we’re meeting our responsibilities to all of our major partners and allies around the world.

Okay? Thanks very much, guys.

(The briefing was concluded at 1:21 p.m.)

[This is a mobile copy of Daily Press Briefing - November 20, 2012]