Mark C. Toner
Deputy Department Spokesman
Daily Press Briefing
Washington, DC
December 5, 2012


Index for Today's Briefing
  • DEPARTMENT
    • Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Travel to Morocco and Tunisia
  • SYRIA
    • Defection of Syrian Government Spokesperson
    • Possible Asylum for Assad in Latin America and Elsewhere / Issues of Accountability
    • Increased Fighting / Casualties
  • SOUTH KOREA/NORTH KOREA
    • Actions against a Launch / Bilateral Meetings / International Obligations / Sanctions Against North Korea / Six-Party Members
  • ISRAEL/PALESTINIANS
    • New Settlements / UN Security Council
    • Global Counterterrorism Forum
  • EGYPT
    • Violence in Cairo / Peaceful Referendum Process / Dialogue


TRANSCRIPT:

The video is available with closed captioning on YouTube.

12:24 p.m. EST

MR. TONER: Good afternoon. Welcome to the State Department. Before I get to your questions, I do want to announce the Secretary of State’s travel to Morocco, Tunisia, and the United Arab Emirates from December 11th through 13th. Secretary of State Clinton will travel to Marrakesh, Morocco to participate in a meeting of the Friends of the Syria People. She, in fact, previewed this in her responses, I think, earlier today in Brussels. Obviously, this latest meeting will provide an opportunity to consult with likeminded governments in the region and around the world on how best to continue our support for the Syrian opposition as well as work to end the bloodshed there. Certainly, while she’s in Morocco she’ll also meet with King Mohammed VI, as well as senior Moroccan Government officials.

She’s then traveling to Tunis, Tunisia to co-host the 9th Forum for the Future ministerial with the Government of Tunisia. That’ll take place on December 13th. And also while she’s there, again, she’ll meet with senior Tunisian Government officials to discuss that country’s transition to democracy.

And then finally she’ll conclude her trip to Abu Dhabi and United Arab Emirates where she’ll participate in the 3rd Ministerial Meeting of the Global Counterterrorism Forum, and that’ll take place on December 14th. She’ll also, as I mentioned, meet with senior Emirati Government officials and discuss regional bilateral issues. We’ll put out a fuller announcement of her travel with a little bit more detail as I speak.

Matt.

QUESTION: Let’s start with or stay with Syria, I guess.

MR. TONER: Yeah.

QUESTION: Can you clear up the confusion over this – your Syrian Foreign Ministry colleague and where he might be? And frankly does the United States care about this guy at all? And if so why? And if not, why not?

MR. TONER: (Laughter.) Good questions, all, Matt. We are certainly aware of reports that the Assad regime’s spokesperson Jihad Makdissi has defected and fled Syria. We understand that he’s in London. If true, this is obviously another sign of the regime crumbing from within as those closest to Assad are realizing that the end is nigh, and I think that speaks to your question about why this is important.

Certainly, we continue to encourage all regime officials and forces close to Assad to reject the horrific actions of that regime. And indeed, they all have a decision to make, which is: Are they going to stand with the Syrian people or are they going to be – stay where they are and be held accountable for the regime’s actions?

QUESTION: Okay. Well, my question wasn’t whether a defection or whatever is significant. My question is whether you have any interest in this guy.

MR. TONER: Well, I’m sorry, in terms of --

QUESTION: In terms of talking to him.

MR. TONER: -- whether we view it as significant or in terms of talking to him. I don’t know that we’ve reached out in any way. Again, I don’t think we can – we can only now confirm that we believe that he’s in London; we can’t confirm that. I can’t speak to whether we’ll reach out to him in any way, shape, or form.

QUESTION: You’re aware the Brits say that he’s not there.

MR. TONER: I am not aware of that but that’s our understanding.

QUESTION: So Mark --

QUESTION: And is your understanding based on news reports or other sources of information?

MR. TONER: Our understanding is based on a number of sources.

QUESTION: Has there been any request for asylum in the United States? Has he talked to anyone at the Embassy in London or anywhere?

MR. TONER: Not to my knowledge, no.

QUESTION: Do you keep a tally of those officials that have defected for a possible transition, perhaps they can play a role in the transition being --

MR. TONER: Well, it’s a fair question, Said. I do believe we keep a count of these officials. I’m not sure that it’s for the purposes that you mentioned. Certainly, for all of these individuals – and we’ve been very clear on this throughout this horrible unfolding of the tragedy in Syria – that those who the international community and the Syrian people deem responsible for some of the horrific violence that’s taken place in Syria will need to be held accountable.

QUESTION: Okay. But do you see a vital role for someone like Mr. Makdissi to play in any kind of transition?

MR. TONER: I can’t speak to whether this individual will play a positive or a constructive role in any transition. The Secretary was very clear earlier today in Brussels, however, that we do want to see a political transition take place.

QUESTION: But you do have a vigorous policy of encouraging those officials to break ranks with the regime, correct?

MR. TONER: Absolutely. And again, that is part a moral choice for them to make, and part a very real world calculation that they don’t have much longer, that clearly this regime is in – is crumbling.

QUESTION: And you can assure them that once, if they do defect, that you will give them the proper support and not be left out there to dry, right?

MR. TONER: I think what we’ve said about this is that ultimately, if you’re talking about issues of accountability, ultimately these are decisions that are going to have to be made by the Syrian people. So we’re giving no one a free pass here.

Yeah. Go ahead, Jamie.

QUESTION: Thank you, Mark. There’s reports out that Emissary’s Deputy Foreign Minister, I believe, of President Assad recently traveled to Latin America to visit, I think it was Cuba, Venezuela, and Ecuador carrying a message, the reports say, from Assad. And there’s some speculation there’s an offer of going there for asylum. Are you aware of these reports, and would you view that sort of development as positive?

MR. TONER: I’m aware of the reports. We did try to look into this. We’ve seen some of those reports earlier today. I would have to refer you, frankly, to these Latin American governments in question for any details about possible asylum for Assad. Obviously, our priority remains focused on ending the slaughter that Assad has been perpetrating, and facilitating an orderly and peaceful transition. I think Toria spoke to this a couple of weeks ago. We do understand that some countries, both in the region and elsewhere, have offered to host Assad and his family should he choose to leave Syria. As I just said in response to Said’s question, there’s clearly significant questions of accountability for the horrible abuses he’s committed against his own people, and these are issues that ultimately are going to be deliberated by the Syrian people working with regional and international partners. So that’s – as I said, no one’s getting a free pass here.

QUESTION: Would any of these countries be hearing from Washington about any possible offers of asylum to Assad and those with him?

MR. TONER: Again --

QUESTION: I mean, how do you – how do you --

MR. TONER: We, at this point, don’t have any formal understanding or knowledge of concrete offers. We are aware that some offers have been made, as I said, informally. But we don’t have any concrete offers. I think any – we want to see Assad gone yesterday, clearly. We want to see a political peaceful transition take place. And we’ve said for a long time now that Assad has no credibility in that process, he has to go. But there are issues of accountability would have to be addressed in any --

QUESTION: Has the U.S. expressed to those countries that have made these informal offers that they need to consider their responsibility to the Syrian people to the international community --

MR. TONER: We’ve been quite clear publicly, and I would assume we’ve been equally clear privately.

Yeah.

QUESTION: Do you have any credible information on what’s going on inside Damascus and especially at the airport area?

MR. TONER: Well, obviously, the information we get is limited. We do have limited visibility on the ground there. Obviously, as you state, there’s been increased fighting, unprecedented casualties around Damascus this week, mostly as a result of regime shelling and bombardments. We know a hundred people – close to a hundred people have been killed each day this week in Damascus and its suburbs alone. I think there were 82 on Sunday, 90 on Monday, and over a hundred yesterday. And this clearly speaks to the regime’s escalating brutality as it’s increasingly desperate. Obviously, there’s fighting now in Damascus. It’s getting closer to Assad, and his brutality only grows.

QUESTION: Mark, you just said that you don’t really have close proximity to what’s going on in Syria.

MR. TONER: Well, I can’t give you kind of a tactical rundown of what --

QUESTION: Well, not a tactical, but you said you had very limited access to what’s going on. So how do you vet all that information? How do you authenticate it? Do you rely solely on the opposition, YouTubes, and information that they put out?

MR. TONER: I can’t speak to how we get our information. I’m not going to.

QUESTION: Is that a mistake not to have anyone there?

MR. TONER: Look, we still have our Czech protecting power on the ground, if you’re talking about our diplomatic relations and our ability to speak at that level to the Syrian Government if we need to. Robert Ford remains in close contact with people on the ground in Syria, opposition figures, and obviously is able to – we’re able to glean information that way. And as to anything beyond that, I’m not going to get into it.

Yeah, in the back.

QUESTION: Change topics to North Korea?

MR. TONER: Sure, I think so. Are we done with Syria? Sure.

QUESTION: Okay. There’s a report in South Korea that U.S. and allies are considering much tougher financial sanctions against North Korea in preparation for possible launch. Can you confirm that report?

MR. TONER: I can’t speak to that. I just don’t have any details of possible actions. And indeed, we don’t want to, obviously, talk about actions before there’s been a launch. What we’re hoping to do is dissuade North Korea for carrying out this launch. I can say that we did, as I mentioned yesterday, host the Republic of Korea and Japan in Washington and we had this trilateral dialogue, and the focus indeed was on North Korea yesterday. We also had, in addition to that trilateral meeting, bilateral meetings with each country. This was hosted by Special Representative for North Korea Policy Glyn Davies.

We, obviously, collectively call on North Korea to comply with its international obligations under existing UN Security Council resolutions and refrain from a launch using ballistic missile technology. And all three countries also affirmed that if North Korea does, in fact, proceed with a launch, we would seek action by the UN Security Council, but I’m not going to get into what that might be.

QUESTION: Can I follow up on the meetings?

MR. TONER: Yeah.

QUESTION: South Korean news is reporting that the representatives are also set to meet with Robert Einhorn. Could you confirm that?

MR. TONER: I can’t confirm that. I know that Ambassador Lim met with Ambassador Davies separately yesterday, as I mentioned the bilateral, and he also has meetings scheduled with Assistant Secretary Thomas Countryman. And Director General Sugiyama also met, as I said, with Ambassador Davies separately yesterday and had consultations with Kurt Campbell. But that’s – I don’t know. I can’t speak to whether he’s – if there’s a meeting planned with Robert Einhorn.

QUESTION: Change topics?

QUESTION: No, no, wait.

QUESTION: Still on North Korea. Matt, I guess.

QUESTION: I was just going to ask, can you take this question because I’m sure you don’t have an answer. And that is, how much tougher can sanctions get on North Korea? Are there things – I mean, are there sanctions that are available for use that have not already – that are not currently in place?

MR. TONER: Well, I mean, speaking globally or generally here about sanctions, I mean, there’s always ways to toughen enforcement of sanctions. They can always be tweaked or modified so that there’s better enforcement of existing sanctions. I agree with you that no one – no other country, I believe, is more sanctioned than North Korea. If I’m wrong, I’ll correct that in the transcript. But I think I also don’t want to forecast where we might go in the wake of a launch. But in answer to your question, there’s always ways, I think, to strengthen these regimes.

Yeah, in the back. Oh, I’m sorry. My bad. Yeah, you were next, and then to you.

QUESTION: Very quickly, you said your goal is still hopefully to persuade the North Koreans to stop this launch. Is there any sign – do you have any reason to think they’ll listen to you?

MR. TONER: Well, good question, fair question. No. (Laughter.) The Secretary has been very clear that they have an important choice to make, the leadership within North Korea. And to date, they’ve consistently made the wrong choice, the wrong choice for the people of North Korea. But that doesn’t mean we’re backing away from our very clear message to them that there’s two paths here. And there’s a path of engagement with the outside world and there’s the path they’re on, and the path they’re on is not going to get them anywhere where they need to go for the 21st century.

Yeah, in the back.

QUESTION: Yesterday after the meeting, a South Korean official said that the three countries will now urge China and Russia to join the efforts to stop the launch. So far --

MR. TONER: I’m sorry, just the first part of your question. I just --

QUESTION: Yesterday after the meeting, there is South Korean official said three countries will now urge China and Russia to do something. So far, China has said North Korea should stay calm. What more do you expect China to do?

MR. TONER: Well, again, I’m not going to lay out what actions we want China to do. I think there’s broad agreement among the Six-Party members about the fact that this launch would be a bad idea for North Korea. We’re going to continue to consult closely with them on next steps, if and when that launch occurs. But I’m not going to lay out what we want to see, any of the Six-Party members to talk – just to reiterate that, we are talking closely, we are consulting closely, and whatever actions we do take will be coordinated.

QUESTION: But what leverage do you think China still have on North Korea?

MR. TONER: That’s a question better directed to the Chinese Government, I think.

QUESTION: I’m sorry --

MR. TONER: Yeah, go ahead, Matt.

QUESTION: Why can’t you say that you don’t – that you want the Chinese to use their influence on the North Koreans not to do this?

MR. TONER: Sure. I mean, she’s – I think she’s asking for what we’d do in the wake of a launch. If I understood that wrong, then I apologize.

QUESTION: No, no, no, I think the question was --

MR. TONER: We want to see everyone exercise whatever influence they have with the North Korean Government.

QUESTION: The question was that after the meeting yesterday, a South Korean official said that the three countries, yesterday --

MR. TONER: Would ask Russia and China --

QUESTION: -- would ask Russia and China to use – to weigh in with the North Koreans to say, “Hey, this is a bad idea.” And then you said that you don’t want to get into it. It seems to me a no-brainer that you would tell the – you would want the Russians and the Chinese to --

MR. TONER: I misunderstood the question. I thought we were talking about actions post-launch.

QUESTION: Is it the U.S.’s view that --

MR. TONER: In the back there, and then Rosiland. Sorry.

QUESTION: Okay.

MR. TONER: Yeah.

QUESTION: Have you had direct contact with North Korea so far, in New York or somewhere?

MR. TONER: No, and we don’t generally talk about that contact.

Yeah, Rosiland.

QUESTION: Does the U.S. have – does the U.S. believe that China has any substantial leverage with this new regime --

MR. TONER: I think I just answered her question. That’s really a question better directed to the Chinese Government. Certainly, in the past, they have.

QUESTION: Mark, can we change topics?

MR. TONER: I don’t know. Are we done with --

QUESTION: North Korea, yes, can I follow --

MR. TONER: In the back.

QUESTION: In diplomacy consequence are often frequently discussed. So in this case, what consequences will North Korea face if they go ahead and launch this whatever satellite? Is United States thinking about drafting another UN resolution?

MR. TONER: I just don’t want to get into any details. We’re obviously, as I said previously, looking at what possible action we could take within the UN Security Council. But let’s wait until we get there.

Yes, Said.

QUESTION: Yeah. Change of topic. The Palestinian chief negotiator just announced that the Palestinians are going to the United Nations Security Council to – seeking a resolution to condemn the plans to build in E1 area. My question to you: If they do go, will you support that effort?

MR. TONER: Again, this is all speculation at this point. And frankly, I think that there needs to be an end to this kind of unhelpful rhetoric. The Secretary, when she was at the Saban Center last week, I think, said that last week’s vote in the UN – and then, obviously, we had the subsequent actions by Israel on Friday – but that all sides need to consider carefully the path ahead.

So in answer to your question, we’ve been very clear where we stand on Israel’s announcement for new settlements. We issued that statement on Monday. We were crystal clear about our position regarding settlements. I’m not going to get into potential actions at the UN, only to say that we believe that both sides need to refrain from unhelpful rhetoric; both sides need to consider the path ahead; ultimately, both sides need to get back into direct negotiations. As the Secretary has said many times, the path to peace doesn’t go through New York, and we know where it goes through.

QUESTION: Right. So it is safe to assume, then, that if they do go to the UN, to the Security Council, you will cast a veto?

MR. TONER: I’m not going to discuss what – again, I’m not going to get ahead of what they may or may not do within the Security Council. I’m just going to say you know where – what our position is.

Yeah, go ahead, Michel.

QUESTION: On Egypt.

MR. TONER: It’s okay. Oh, no.

QUESTION: No, not on Egypt. On this. When you said at the very beginning, there needs to be an end to this kind of unhelpful rhetoric, which – what unhelpful rhetoric were you talking about?

MR. TONER: I just think – we’ve had, since the vote last week, since the announcement --

QUESTION: No, no. To that --

MR. TONER: Well, the rhetoric yesterday about taking it to the ICC, and then this today about taking it to the Security Council, that all this – we need to end this kind of rhetoric and get back to the issue at hand, which is getting back into direct negotiations.

QUESTION: But, I mean, – would you – I mean, it’s not rhetoric.

MR. TONER: Well, again, nothing’s happened. These are not --

QUESTION: Well, yeah, but you were saying – I mean, you have said the same thing about them saying that – when they were going to go to the General Assembly, the Palestinians. Was that unhelpful rhetoric until they did it, and then it became an unhelpful action?

MR. TONER: Yeah. I mean, in a sense, yes.

QUESTION: All right. So you’re saying that neither side should even – should say anything publicly about what they intend to do, or at least their unhappiness --

MR. TONER: Again, I think the Secretary, what she said at Saban Center was that all sides need to consider carefully the path ahead.

QUESTION: Okay. So you think that --

MR. TONER: That where we’re at now, this escalation of words --

QUESTION: But going to the UN --

MR. TONER: -- is not getting us any closer to where we need to go.

QUESTION: Okay, so, going to the UN or saying that they’re going to go to the UN is unhelpful.

MR. TONER: That’s what I said.

QUESTION: Yeah. So – in other words, so you would not support them going to the UN with this, right?

MR. TONER: Again, all of this is unhelpful.

QUESTION: It seems to be a logical conclusion.

MR. TONER: All of this is unhelpful. We’re very clear in our position on settlements.

QUESTION: All right. And then you wanted to go to Egypt?

QUESTION: Yeah.

QUESTION: Can we stay on this for just – for one second?

MR. TONER: Yeah, sure.

QUESTION: I want to know if you got an answer to the question yesterday about the stamps and the --

MR. TONER: Well, I do understand from our posts that they have been using these names for some time. That’s all I have, I (inaudible) for you.

QUESTION: For some time, yeah, since --

MR. TONER: I mean, it predates last week’s actions at the UN.

QUESTION: It – well, it predates --

MR. TONER: But that was the question yesterday.

QUESTION: (Laughter.) It predates --

MR. TONER: I mean, on – I mean --

QUESTION: It’s thousands of years old. It predates the Bible.

MR. TONER: I mean the stamps, the particular stamps, these particular stamps in the past --

QUESTION: Okay. So you don’t have a problem with it? You don’t see it as the – as similar to the --

MR. TONER: It is --

QUESTION: -- Chinese thing?

MR. TONER: I mean, our position regarding all of these issues is very clear. These are all – and the Israelis know very well what our position is, which is that all of these kinds of issues are part of a negotiated settlement, so they’re very – we’re very clear what our position is.

QUESTION: Okay. So I --

MR. TONER: Everybody understands what’s at stake here.

QUESTION: All right. So I just want to make it perfect – 100 percent certain that I have it clear.

MR. TONER: Sure.

QUESTION: You don’t – it doesn’t – it’s not a concern to you that the Israelis are using the term “Judea and Samaria” instead of --

MR. TONER: It’s not a concern insofar as --

QUESTION: -- West Bank or Palestinian Authority?

MR. TONER: -- our position privately, publicly, is very clear that any of these issues can only be resolved through final negotiations. They know that, the Palestinians know that.

QUESTION: And I just – and you do not think that their use of the term “Judea and Samaria” is any kind of a prejudgment?

MR. TONER: That’s something you’ll have to ask the Israelis.

QUESTION: No, no. I’m asking what you – you don’t think that it prejudges anything?

MR. TONER: Again, our position – no, because our position is very clear --

QUESTION: Okay. All right.

MR. TONER: -- that these are issues that will be discussed and finalized through a negotiated settlement.

QUESTION: Well, okay, but you can’t say – either you do or you don’t because the – all of these things, like settlements, the land and stuff that you say has to be settled in negotiations, you don’t want anyone to take steps that prejudge it. So you’re saying you do not think that the Israelis’ use of the stamp --

MR. TONER: What I’m – I’m going to say where I was at, which was --

QUESTION: -- is any prejudgment?

MR. TONER: -- we believe that our position is very clear these are issues that will need to be resolved in a negotiated settlement.

QUESTION: Well, then isn’t it – then I don’t understand why you don’t have a problem with them unless you think – and if you do, that’s fine – that this doesn’t constitute any kind of prejudgment.

MR. TONER: You’re going to have to ask the Israeli Government why they’re using these names.

QUESTION: It’s not a question for the Israeli Government.

MR. TONER: Well --

QUESTION: It’s a question of whether you think that their use of this is a – it constitutes prejudgment, such – like an announcement of settlements or a – going to the UN to seek statehood recognition.

MR. TONER: And I’m not going to pronounce from this podium whether we view it or not, only to say that our position is very clear that all of these issues are something that need to be part of a negotiated settlement. So --

QUESTION: But you speak out regularly on things that you think will affect a negotiated settlement, and I’m just trying to make sure. I mean, you might not think this does have an effect, and that’s fine if you do, but I want to make sure that you don’t – that’s what you think, that this is not – this doesn’t constitute any kind of prejudgment.

MR. TONER: Again, we’ve not reached out directly to the Israeli Government for an explanation of this, is my understanding. You can go to them to ask why they’re using these and to determine --

QUESTION: Okay. But you don’t think that this is – this doesn’t cause you any concern?

MR. TONER: Clearly, we haven’t raised it.

QUESTION: Okay.

MR. TONER: Our position’s clear. We don’t view it as a concern.

QUESTION: All right.

QUESTION: Okay. A quick follow-up, Mark. By the way, they use the term to negate that the West Bank is occupied territory, so actually, it’s negates your position on the (inaudible).

MR. TONER: You know our position on that as well.

QUESTION: Okay. So – but that’s why – I mean, there are (inaudible).

MR. TONER: You know our position on that.

QUESTION: In the absence of any kind of leverage to reverse facts on the ground that are being created with the settlements, what should the Palestinians do? You don’t want them to go to the Security Council. You don’t want them to – what should they do? What kind of leverage are you having on your allies, the Israelis, to reverse facts on the ground?

MR. TONER: Look, all I’m trying to say here is that the war of words, of reciprocal actions, isn’t getting us any closer to where we need to be, and we call on both sides to consider next steps and where they want to be as they consider the path ahead, and that true peace can only be reached through the negotiating table. So where we’re at now is not getting us any closer.

QUESTION: Okay.

MR. TONER: So both parties need to stand down and take steps towards getting back to the negotiating table.

QUESTION: So independent of the rhetoric on the war of words, as you called it, what are you doing perhaps behind the scenes? You’re doing something to reverse (inaudible)?

MR. TONER: Well, David Hale, Ambassador Hale, remains very much engaged. I believe there’s a Quartet meeting scheduled for next week, or at least discussions underway for a meeting next week.

QUESTION: Where?

MR. TONER: I don’t know yet, don’t know the details.

QUESTION: All right. Staying on Israel just for a second?

MR. TONER: Yeah.

QUESTION: You announced that the Secretary is going to be attending the Global Counterterrorism Conference --

MR. TONER: Yes, I did.

QUESTION: -- in Abu Dhabi, which opens the can of worms about whether Israel has been invited to participate in any capacity at all. Do you know if they have or if there are plans to get them involved, if not at a ministerial level, at a lower level?

MR. TONER: You know where we stand on this, which is that we’ve discussed with our partners in the Global Counterterrorism Forum ways to involve Israel. We said this before. We’re committed to doing so. We’ll raise it again in this venue.

QUESTION: But not this time?

MR. TONER: I don’t know if they are going to be invited. I’ll try to get more information on that.

Yeah, Michel.

QUESTION: On Egypt, there are clashes outside the presidential palace in Cairo between Morsi’s opponents and Muslim Brotherhood, and the latest information said that a girl from the opposition got killed 10 minutes ago, I think.

MR. TONER: A woman, you say?

QUESTION: A girl, yeah. To what extent you are concerned, and are you talking to both parties?

MR. TONER: Well, Secretary Clinton spoke to this at length earlier today in Brussels. I don’t have a great deal to add.

QUESTION: But there were no clashes at that time.

MR. TONER: Well, but there were clashes yesterday, there were injuries yesterday, clearly there was violence yesterday. We want to see an end to violence. The Secretary said the upheaval that we’re seeing in the streets of Cairo clearly indicates that dialogue is urgently needed and it must be a two-way dialogue. We need to see a respectful exchange of views and concerns among the Egyptians themselves about the constitutional process and about the substance of that constitution. And going forward, we want to see a peaceful referendum process, one that’s monitored by impartial observers, and that it’s important for Egyptians both to demonstrate in a peaceful manner and that their right to demonstrate is respected, and that they’re allowed to vote in a peaceful and secure environment.

QUESTION: President Morsi’s advisor was here. Have you talked to him about the constitution, about the process, about what’s going on in --

MR. TONER: He was here. We did – obviously, you saw the White House put out a readout of their meeting with him. Obviously, we – I think Deputy Secretary Burns met with him, and I thought I had a readout here. I don’t, but I can guarantee you that we raised all of these issues with him.

QUESTION: Was he preparing for President Morsi’s visit to Washington?

MR. TONER: That’s a question you’re going to have to direct to the White House.

QUESTION: Mark --

MR. TONER: Yeah, Said.

QUESTION: Baradei had just said that the reversal of --

MR. TONER: I’m sorry, who did?

QUESTION: Baradei, Mohamed ElBaradei.

MR. TONER: Oh, okay. Sorry. Baradei.

QUESTION: He said that the reversal of the constitution order is a precondition for dialogue. Otherwise, they will remain out there mobilized. Do you agree with them or --

MR. TONER: Again, it’s not for us to judge one side or the other here except to say that the Egyptian people need to be allowed to protest peacefully. They need to carry out those protests in a peaceful manner. They need to be able to express their views. There needs to be a dialogue between the government and the opposition. All that needs to take place, and there needs to be a real discussion here, as the Secretary stressed.

Yeah.

QUESTION: Did you get any assurances yesterday with this official – Egyptian official who met his counterpart here in the White House, when – where Mr. Tom Donilon emphasized the need of a inclusive constitution? Did you get any assurance from this?

MR. TONER: Again, you’re going to have to ask the Egyptians for what they agreed to or didn’t agree to. All we really want to make clear is our message to them, which is that we want to see an inclusive process, as you mentioned.

QUESTION: The Washington Post says that opposition from the State Department, whatever Mr. Morsi’s administration is doing, has been muted.

MR. TONER: Again, we’ve been very clear --

QUESTION: Was the State Department in opposition to whatever he – Mr. Morsi was doing?

MR. TONER: I think we’ve been clear. The Secretary was very clear when she spoke on this issue this morning in Brussels, and I don’t really have anything to add.

QUESTION: Hamdeen Sabbahi, the opposition leader in Egypt, has said that --

MR. TONER: I’m going to block your wifi. I think you keep --

QUESTION: I said that President Morsi has lost --

MR. TONER: But this briefing will never end if you just keep reading me news reports and asking for my reaction.

QUESTION: To be up to date. He considered that President Morsi has lost his legitimacy after the killing of this lady and others in – outside the presidential palace.

MR. TONER: Again, we need to see calm restored, an end to the violence, a dialogue between both sides. That’s what we’re looking for.

That it, guys? Thank you.

QUESTION: Wait, wait. I just --

MR. TONER: Is it – okay. Go ahead, Matt.

QUESTION: Forget about it.

MR. TONER: Okay. Thanks. I appreciate it.

(The briefing was concluded at 12:55 p.m.)

DPB # 206

[This is a mobile copy of Daily Press Briefing - December 5, 2012]