State Department Briefing by Victoria Nuland, February 1, 2013

Washington, DC–(ENEWSPF)–February 1, 2013.

Index for Today’s Briefing
    • Secretary Clinton’s Last Day / Departure Ceremony
    • U.S. Embassy Ankara Attack / Embassy Compound
    • Secretary-Designate Kerry’s Swearing-In
    • ARB / U.S. Mission Upgrades
    • Security Procedures / Warnings to American Citizens
    • Weaponry Concerns
    • Vice President Biden’s Trip / Support for the Syrian Opposition Coalition
    • Geneva Declaration / Three Bs
    • U.S. and International Humanitarian Assistance
    • Concern Regarding the Protection of Victims of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence and Freedom of the Press
    • Concern about Cyber Intrusions
    • Sentencing of Tibetans
    • Counterterrorism Cooperation in North Africa
    • Clinton’s Legacy in South Asia
    • Line of Control Incidents
    • Recent Violence
    • Shooting of Paruyr Hairikian
    • Settlement Activity
    • Human Rights Commission
    • Turkish Journalist in Serious Condition after U.S. Embassy Attack / Status of Direct-Hire Guards
    • Secretary-Designate Kerry’s First Arrival as Secretary / Transition Process
    • Concern about Further Provocations / Sanctions



12:50 p.m. EST

MS. NULAND: All right, everybody. It is Friday, and as you all know, this is Secretary Clinton’s last day. And we expect Secretary-Designate Kerry to be sworn in later this afternoon. You will all have seen the statement that we put out earlier today about the terrorist attack on our Embassy in Ankara.

Why don’t we, with all of those things going on, go to what’s on your minds?

QUESTION: Before we get to the attack in Turkey, can you just go through some of the things that the Secretary’s done on her last day, some of the atmospherics, some of her meetings with staff, et cetera?

MS. NULAND: Well, it’s obviously been a whole week of saying goodbye, including to the members of the fourth estate here. She had her usual 8:45 morning staff meeting. She had a little bit of a farewell up in the Jefferson with some senior staff. She has been walking around the building, saying goodbye to different colleagues, including – she was scheduled to go to the cafeteria. I don’t know if that has happened or if I’m letting out state secrets here via the only watering hole in the building here.

And as you know, she will have a little bit of a departure ceremony as she leaves the building at 2:30, and that’s open press, so you’ll all be invited to join that.

QUESTION: And did she have any final meetings on policy matters, or was it mainly personal and goodbyes today?

MS. NULAND: She has been doing some normal Secretary of State business today, of course. This morning, first thing, she received an update on the attack on our Embassy. She, as we can talk about when we get to it, also made a phone call to Turkish Foreign Minister Davutoglu. She obviously spoke to our Ambassador in Ankara, Ambassador Ricciardone. She also had a chance to talk directly to his senior staff as well, and she’s been doing a number of internal USG meetings as well.

QUESTION: And then just on the attack, is it your understanding that this was indeed an attack by a domestic left-wing militant group, and wasn’t necessarily targeting the United States in the same way that Benghazi or other attacks have?

MS. NULAND: Well, Brad, let me just start with some general points. Obviously, we condemn today’s suicide attack against our Embassy in Ankara in strongest terms. A single terrorist suicide bomber struck a checkpoint on the perimeter of our Embassy in Ankara at about 1:13 local time there. One of our direct-hire local guards was killed. We offer our deepest condolences to his family. We had two other direct-hire guards who were shaken up. They were on the other side of some bulletproof glass. We had a Turkish visitor who is in serious condition. But the only other casualties here were several U.S. and Turkish staff who were struck by flying debris. They were treated on the site by our Embassy clinic and released.

So one thing I’d like to say is that the level of security protection at our facility in Ankara ensured that there were not significantly more deaths and injuries than there could have been. We’re obviously working closely with Turkish authorities to make a full assessment of the damage and to begin to investigate this. You will have seen the Turkish Minister of Interior’s statement that the Turkish side believes that the attacker was a member of an outlawed leftist organization. I think we need to let the Turkish side investigate. We will obviously cooperate fully with them, but we will be guided by that investigation in terms of what we learn about who the perpetrators were.

QUESTION: Did they explain to you how they came to this assessment? Because I think the minister kind of just said this but didn’t really explain how he knew that or –

MS. NULAND: Well, again, as —

QUESTION: There was no claim of responsibility, for example.

MS. NULAND: Well, again, as we have had to make clear a number of times from this podium, when these kinds of tragedies happen, we do need to let the investigation go forward and be concluded properly before we go too much further. But they have made that statement. The suicide bomber himself was obviously killed on site. I would refer you to them as to whether they have direct information about the individual.


QUESTION: Toria, can you —

QUESTION: You mentioned the security being particularly effective in this case. Was Ankara one of the posts that had a review after the Benghazi attacks? And was any of the security upgraded as a result of that review, or was it the existing conditions and facilities that were there?

MS. NULAND: Well, let me first remind that, as you know, after Benghazi, every post in the world reviewed its security. With regard to our post in Ankara, this is one of the compounds where we have been making steady security upgrades over the last decade. And in fact, the attack was at one of the exterior compound access sites, so it was far from the main building, and it was a result of the way that was hardened that we only lost the one local security guard. And in fact, there were other security guards inside the building behind the glass who were only shaken up by this.

But more broadly, Ankara is one of the posts that is due for a completely new embassy compound in the future. And it is one of the posts that will go on the lists if the Department gets the money that we are looking for from the Congress for security.

QUESTION: Why has it been determined to build a new compound in Ankara?

MS. NULAND: The main building of the – is a 1950s building that needs a full upgrade. But let me just underscore that the upgrades that we had already done there in Ankara over the last decade resulted in this exterior perimeter that actually saved lives. And the site where this occurred was well back from where the staff is situated, et cetera.

QUESTION: Victoria —

QUESTION: And do you have a timetable – sorry, just – do you have a timetable for when the building on a new compound could start, a new embassy could start?

MS. NULAND: Well, I think you’ll recall that in the context of a lot of the testimony that was done after Benghazi, we made clear that as we’re currently budgeted, we’re only able to build three new embassies a year; that if we are fully funded, as we are requesting going forward, that will allow us to put 10 a year on the rebuilding list. And Ankara would be one that would benefit quickly.

But again, let me underscore that where this happened was on an external perimeter access site far from the main building. It is that kind of set-back, that kind of hardening, that kind of structure that we’ve been working on over the past 10 years that actually ensured that this wasn’t far worse than it could’ve been.


QUESTION: Can you just – thank you. Can you describe what happened? Because there have been variously reports that he was stopped, he might have put something on the ground. Do you have that level of the description? Did he have a suicide vest, or was it something he was carrying?

MS. NULAND: Jill, I don’t have that kind of you-are-there detail. What I have is that he came to this first point of access to the compound. It’s one of the rear access points there. It’s the first checkpoint, if you will, where you have to have your ID checked, you have to go through security. And he was wearing a suicide vest. He exploded it. The guard who was there on the – his side of the security barrier was killed, but two who were in that same building but on the other side of the glass survived.

QUESTION: Victoria —

MS. NULAND: Please. Justin.

QUESTION: Thanks. I apologize. I missed the top, but I understand that you cited the Turkish reports that this may have been responsible – the people responsible may have been these leftist groups. Do you see that that might be highly unlikely, considering they don’t really have a long history of hitting Western targets in Turkey, and this seems to have hallmarks of an al-Qaida attack? Obviously, that must be something you’re looking into. Where do you stand on who might be responsible for this?

MS. NULAND: Well, clearly it’s a terrorist attack. This was an individual wearing a suicide vest trying to come into our Embassy compound. I don’t have any further information at the moment. There’s obviously going to have to be a Turkish investigation that we cooperate in.

The only point I made with regard to the outlawed leftist organization was that the first statements from the Turkish Minister of Interior cited that, but obviously we will not know until we have had a chance to investigate.

QUESTION: Yesterday, there were a lot of reports that AQIM specifically is threatening to increase its – they want to hit Western targets is what they were saying yesterday, and there were a lot of reports to that effect. Do you – are you linking this at all possibly to AQIM?

MS. NULAND: I think obviously we’re going to have to, along with the Turks, look into every single possibility here. We’ve all been seeing what AQIM and other affiliates have been trying to do. But until we investigate, I don’t have anything further for you, Justin.

QUESTION: Toria, could you also tell us, since this happens on the day that Secretary Clinton is leaving, how it was handled in terms of her being briefed? It happened actually before she left town, as far as I can tell. She was on the phone. What did she do this morning? And also, what did Senator Kerry, who this afternoon should be sworn in – what was his role in this?

MS. NULAND: Well, obviously she was briefed immediately after the incident and all through the morning. She determined very quickly that she wanted to speak to Ambassador Ricciardione and the staff, and then she wanted to talk to Foreign Minister Davutoglu.

In the conversation with Foreign Minister Davutoglu, she obviously expressed condolences for the loss of life. He expressed grave concern for the fact that this had happened. They committed – first of all, she also thanked him for the absolutely excellent cooperation that we’ve had from Turkish law enforcement. Let me just underscore that point. Turkish national police in particular responded immediately and have been cooperating superbly with us.

Both of them, in that phone call, committed to the strong and ongoing counterterrorism partnership that the U.S. and Turkey have had. This incident obviously underscores our – the requirement that we stay very closely lashed up on all of these kinds of issues, not just the investigation of this incident but counterterrorism more broadly across the region.

QUESTION: And so did she make those phone calls from home?

MS. NULAND: She made those phone calls this morning after she came to the Department.

QUESTION: After getting – okay. And what about Senator Kerry? Do you know where he was at that time?

MS. NULAND: Senator Kerry’s staff was briefed in real time, and they were able to brief him. As you know, though, we only have one Secretary of State at a time, so she’s the sitting Secretary until 4 o’clock, and then he will take over and take up his duties. Obviously, a difficult day for both of them for this to happen.

QUESTION: Did you say where that swearing-in is happening?

MS. NULAND: I did not, Justin. That was a good effort, though. I think I mentioned —


MS. NULAND: — two days ago that this is going to be a private swearing-in that Justice Kagan is going to do. And since it is private, I think they want to keep it that way.

QUESTION: So, in terms of secret —

QUESTION: At the White House.

QUESTION: You said the White House?

MS. NULAND: I did not say where it is. No.

QUESTION: At 4 o’clock, though? At 4 o’clock?

MS. NULAND: It’s at 4 o’clock.

QUESTION: Just – can you explain the need for – I understand it’s a private event, and I won’t be attending, and – (laughter). What is the need for secrecy in the location of this? Is it —

MS. NULAND: I think if they wanted to have it open press and share with the world where it was going to be, they would have done that. Let me just underscore, though, that there will be two early public events marking the beginning of Secretary Kerry’s tenure. First of all, there will be open press for his arrival at the State Department on Monday morning. We will, later this afternoon, early evening, put out a notice to you all how you can cover that. And then we expect sometime in his first week there will be a public swearing-in ceremony as well.

QUESTION: Is that going to be secret as well?

MS. NULAND: A public, non-secret, fully open to the press swearing-in.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) follow up (inaudible).


QUESTION: Will there be any photos released of the private swearing-in?

MS. NULAND: I expect that there will be some documentary evidence to be shared with the fourth estate.


QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

MS. NULAND: Please. Please, let’s just finish with —

QUESTION: How many posts needs repair or new building? Do you have any figures for that?

MS. NULAND: We’ve talked about this quite a bit in the context of the ARB. There are buildings in all kinds of states. We have, as you know, 275 missions around the world. But I think if you look at the budgetary submission we’ve made, it talks about the need to continue to upgrade around the world.


QUESTION: Yesterday —

QUESTION: Victoria (inaudible).

MS. NULAND: Yeah. Sorry. Tolga.

QUESTION: Did you determine the (inaudible) U.S. Embassy (inaudible)?

MS. NULAND: I’m sorry?

QUESTION: Did you determine which will be the new place of the U.S. Embassy in Ankara, I mean, in terms of this, but if you can overcome these budget problems. Is —

MS. NULAND: In terms of the site and all that kind of thing, I don’t have anything for you on that today.

QUESTION: About, I mean, the political climate in Turkey, do you have any concerns about some demonstrations against U.S. and U.S. – and also Western sites and basing forces, maybe including the German troops who have been deployed for the Patriots, for example, in the (inaudible)? Do you have any concerns about these demonstrations, anti-Western, anti-U.S. demonstrations in Turkey?

MS. NULAND: Well, you know how we feel about these things, that people have a right to express themselves as long as they do so peacefully. We don’t have anything at this stage to connect what happened in our mission today to the Patriot deployment, but as I said, we have to investigate and see what happened.


QUESTION: Have you issued a Travel Warning?

MS. NULAND: We have. We have obviously followed this up with all of the appropriate security procedures for our facility in Ankara as well as our other facilities in Turkey and the appropriate warnings to American citizens.


QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

MS. NULAND: Let me go to Said, then (inaudible). He’s been patient.

QUESTION: Yes. You issued a warning to the Syrian Government to refrain from sending arms to Lebanon. Does that mean that you agree 100 percent with the Israeli justification for a strike in Syria?

MS. NULAND: First of all, with regard to any action that Israel may or may not have taken, I’m going to refer you to them. You know that we have not had any comment on that subject. What we have been very clear about, including in some exit interviews that the Secretary did yesterday with some members of the press, is that we have grave concerns not only about security and safety of chemical weapons in Syria and responsibility the regime has there but about any other diversion of weaponry to Lebanese Hezbollah, et cetera.

QUESTION: So do you consider the Israeli action to be a breach of another country’s sovereignty, or is it allowed to do that?

MS. NULAND: Again, I don’t have any comment on that issue at all.

QUESTION: Okay, could you – just a quick follow-up on Syria.

MS. NULAND: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Could you share with us the type of meetings that Vice President Biden might be conducting with the Syrian opposition?

MS. NULAND: Well, first of all, let me refer you to the backgrounding call, I think it was yesterday, that Tony Blinken and Ben Rhodes did at the White House, which gave a good lay- down of the Vice President’s trip and his expected schedule. You’ll see there that the Vice President intends to see not only Joint Special Envoy Brahimi, but he’ll have a separate meeting with the Syrian Opposition Coalition president, Mr. Al-Khatib. That’s the first opportunity to have a meeting at that level with Mr. Al-Khatib. And then there’ll be yet a third meeting with Foreign Minister Lavrov, where we’re expecting the Syria issue will come up.

QUESTION: So there is a meeting with Lavrov?

MS. NULAND: There is.

QUESTION: Okay. Now one other point on Moaz Al-Khatib. He is basically getting a lot of heat from other opposition groups for suggesting that they are willing and open to have discussions with the Syrian Government. Do you have any comment?

MS. NULAND: Well, I think you know how strongly we support the Syrian Opposition Coalition, its effort to unify, broaden, deepen, create connections inside Syria, the Syrian opposition as a whole. We also strongly support Mr. Al-Khatib’s leadership. I think that Vice President Biden will obviously be very interested in hearing from him how he see taking the political transition forward, but I don’t want to preempt that meeting before we have a chance to have it.


QUESTION: Just a follow-up on Said’s question about Syria and logistics. There was a report in The Boston Globe this morning that Senator Kerry announced that there will be a high-level meeting with – on Syria – with opposition members. Is he talking about the Munich meeting?

MS. NULAND: That Secretary-designate Kerry announced a meeting?

QUESTION: Pardon me. Yes. (Laughter.) Secretary-designate. Is he talking about the —

MS. NULAND: We’re all going to have to get used to saying Mr. Secretary around here, too.

QUESTION: But is he talking about the Munich meeting, or is he talking about something else?

MS. NULAND: I’m not aware of a comment yesterday by the Secretary-designate, but obviously if we have something to share, we will.


MS. NULAND: The most senior level upcoming meetings are obviously these meetings that are happening on the margins of the Munich security conference over this weekend.


MS. NULAND: Yeah. Please, Lalit. Still on Syria?

QUESTION: No, Tibet.


MS. NULAND: Syria? Go ahead.

QUESTION: Your Russian counterpart said there was deep differences between Russia and the U.S. on the Geneva Declaration. Could elaborate on those differences?

MS. NULAND: Well, we’ve talked about –

QUESTION: I’m sure you’re aware of them.

MS. NULAND: We’ve talked about this many, many times today. The Secretary also – many, many times here – the difference is that we’ve had since the Geneva meeting with the Russians and the efforts we’ve made to try to close them, the fact that we have this three Bs format of Brahimi, Bogdanov, and Burns to try to close the gaps. I think, again, we have a chance with Foreign Minister Lavrov to hear what he has to say. But the Secretary was also clear in some of these interviews that she gave yesterday that despite our best efforts, we continue to view what needs to happen in a political transition quite differently, starting with the fact that we don’t see any way that Assad can be part of it.

MS. NULAND: Please.

QUESTION: Toria, on Brahimi’s point, he made the point during the Security Council meeting that the Geneva points need to be reinterpreted. Have you any what he’s talking about?

MS. NULAND: I’m not sure if that was the verb he used. I think –

QUESTION: Well, I mean —

MS. NULAND: I think what Joint Special Envoy Brahimi said to the council was not different than what he’s been saying for some months now, which was that the Geneva document that was agreed in June now needs to be implemented, and that’s going to require a level of detail about how you move forward, that the Syrian Opposition Coalition and others inside Syria are going to have to agree to if we can push it forward, and that that’s what we wanted to work on both in this three Bs format and more broadly with the Security Coalition.


QUESTION: Yesterday —


MS. NULAND: Still Syria? Go ahead.

QUESTION: Yes, there are reports that the United States Government proposed to launch a joint preparation of lists of Syrian Government officials for the interim government. Would you be able to confirm that? Have you been —

MS. NULAND: That there’s a U.S. Government list? You know that our view on this is that this is an issue for Syrians to decide and for the Syrian Opposition Coalition to lead on in terms of the kinds of structures that they see going forward as we begin to flesh out what a transition would look like.

QUESTION: And the question I asked last week about this half a billion aid, humanitarian aid goes to Syrian Government, are you confident that this half a billion money will be distributed fairly and those who need with the Syrian Government?

MS. NULAND: Well, Ilhan, we talked about this a little bit on Monday and a little bit last week, that the international approach had been twofold on the humanitarian side: to support UN organizations who are operating inside Syria and NGOs, and then also to work with countries like Turkey and Jordan who are sheltering refugees in their countries.

In the context of the meeting that we had in Kuwait where the United States, as you know, increased our humanitarian contribution by an additional 130 million, bringing us to 365 million overall, we’ve added another intensive area of focus, which his to work through nongovernmental organizations and the Syrian Opposition Coalition to try to get more of the international assistance directly into areas that have been liberated and directly into the hands of local coordinating councils so that they can support the humanitarian needs of those people, because concern had been that the regime might block UN agencies from being able to get into areas it no longer controlled, so we had to find other ways to get there. That speaks to things like the extra 10 million we put forward for flour for Aleppo, where there’s obviously a crying need, winterization, et cetera, in those parts of the country.

QUESTION: But still my question is: Are you confident that this regime that you have been condemning for months for its atrocities, this regime will be able to distribute this fair (inaudible) to people that —

MS. NULAND: Of course not. We’ve been clear for more than a year, Ilhan, that they use humanitarian relief for political purposes, that they withhold access to areas that they consider sensitive, that they use humanitarian assistance as a weapon of their brutality against their own people. Of course there’s been a problem all the way through, that I don’t think there’s any secret in that.

QUESTION: But aid is going through now, so are you going to move to block it?

MS. NULAND: The UN agencies have been doing a heroic job of trying to work with the government to get to as many areas as they need to. But that process is difficult. It is not always successful, as we’ve seen in Homs and Hama and other places. So it’s an ongoing effort and we will continue to work with UN agencies to ensure they have what they need.

QUESTION: You’re talking about access. You’re not actually giving the money to the Syrian government to distribute.

MS. NULAND: Of course not. They’re – yeah, yeah. No money goes at all to the Syrian government.


MS. NULAND: They bring supplies in.


QUESTION: New topic?

MS. NULAND: Still Syria?

QUESTION: I have a new topic.

MS. NULAND: Yeah, go ahead.

QUESTION: On Somalia, a 27-year-old rape victim has – is in Somali custody charged with insulting a political body for talking to a journalist about her – about what happened to her. And then that journalist is also in custody. Given the praise this Administration has given to – for some of the recent strides the Somali government has taken towards better governance, I mean, what’s your reaction to this situation?

MS. NULAND: Well, thank you for that. We join our international partners in expressing our deep concern regarding the protection of victims of sexual and gender-based violence and healthcare providers and freedom of the press in Somalia. And with regard to this case in particular, we urge the Somali government to uphold its own constitution and to respect the rights of due process and freedom of the press. We’re going to continue to work closely with the Somali government to enhance its capacity to address these kinds of issues. But we would simply say the world is watching, and this is a litmus test of the future Somalia.


QUESTION: First to follow up on the freedom of press, early this week New York Times and Wall Street Journal have reported that their websites have been hacked by someone in China. Do you think this is an attack on freedom of press, hacking of these websites news organizations?

MS. NULAND: Well, obviously, I mean, we have had and been very clear about our substantial and growing concerns about the threats of economic – to economic and national security posed by cyber intrusions, including the theft of commercial information. We have been clear with the Government of China that we need to continue to talk about this. I think you know that Secretary Clinton initiated a dialogue on cyber security as part of our regular security and economic dialogue with the Government of China. The New York Times’ experience mirrors that of individuals and organizations across the U.S. government and private sector, and we are encouraging those who have had these experiences, whether they’re in China or anywhere else in the world, to share them and to take this opportunity to review their security protocols, because this is unfortunately a substantial and growing concern.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) question on Tibet. This week two Tibetans were sentenced by a Chinese court over self-immolation. What’s your reaction to that? How do you see this?

MS. NULAND: We are aware that there are reports that Chinese authorities have handed down sentences to two Tibetans for allegedly inciting the self-immolation of others. As we have regularly said, the United States wants to see these kinds of tragic acts of self-immolation come to an end, and we continue both publicly and privately to urge the Chinese government at all levels to address policies in Tibet – in Tibetan areas that have created tensions and that threaten the distinct religious, cultural, and linguistic identity of the Tibetan people. And we take this opportunity once again to call on the Chinese government to permit Tibetans to express their grievances freely, publicly, peacefully, and without fear of retribution.

QUESTION: Just to follow –

MS. NULAND: Justin.

QUESTION: I just want to go back to the al-Qaida question and North Africa. A lot of these senior U.S. intelligence officials are saying now that there’s increasing chatter among these Islamic al-Qaida groups in North Africa and that they want to strike Western targets, including diplomatic facilities. So how seriously are you taking this threat, and what, if anything, are you doing to change posture there to respond to these types of increasing threats?

MS. NULAND: Well, I’m obviously, Justin, not going to get into intelligence information here. But I think if you look back at some of the comments that the Secretary made during her Benghazi testimony a couple of weeks ago, she was absolutely clear that this is a growing concern and has been a focus for a number of years, but there’s obviously heightened concern now that even as al-Qaida main, if you will, is degraded in Pakistan and Afghanistan, that these affiliates and networks are becoming increasingly capable and increasingly the focus of the effort all across North Africa. And it’s something that we need greater international cooperation to combat, whether it’s in CT sharing, whether it’s in hardening borders, whether it’s in security cooperation, whether it’s in creating a stronger community across North Africa as we’ve tried to do with a lot of our counterterrorism support, or whether it’s in direct bilateral relationships that the U.S. has with these countries.

QUESTION: Thank you. And forgive me if this has been discussed, but was there ever any resolution to the claims from Algerians that some of the people they killed in that hostage situation were connected to the attacks in Benghazi?

MS. NULAND: Again, this is another incident that is under intensive investigation by the Algerians. Obviously, there’s FBI cooperation in that investigation, and we’re going to have to see where it fully leads. But it’s very clear, as we said at the time, that these groups were active and part of it.

QUESTION: On this point, Victoria, but you do think the possibility that it might have been al-Qaida in Ankara has done it since the only (inaudible) group that is operating in Turkey really is the PKK and they have a known address?

MS. NULAND: Again, I spoke to what we know and what we don’t know at the current moment on that one.

QUESTION: I’m sorry. You said it was very true that these groups have been active and part of – as in Benghazi or referring back to –

MS. NULAND: We were on Algeria here is my understanding.


MS. NULAND: Goyal.

QUESTION: So it’s clear that – I don’t understand what your actual point was. It was clear that the groups that were part —

MS. NULAND: My point —

QUESTION: — of the Algeria attack were part of the Algeria attack?

MS. NULAND: I was –

QUESTION: Because he was asking about if they were part of the Benghazi attack, I thought.


MS. NULAND: I was making a larger point in response to Justin’s question, I thought, about the threat that we have from AQIM, AQI, other groups in that entire neighborhood, similar to the point that the Secretary made when she testified. There was nothing –

QUESTION: Right. But the question was: Are you saying that the same groups that are responsible for the Benghazi attack you’ve found are also responsible for the hostage situation in Algeria?

MS. NULAND: And I said in response to that that the Algerians have spoken to clear links to AQIM. We have made public statements to that effect, too. But in terms of exactly who and where and how and all the links, that’s a subject of investigation and is part and parcel of this larger challenge of tightening, improving, increasing counterterrorism cooperation across the region and internationally.


QUESTION: Another subject?

MS. NULAND: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Before my question if I may with your permission take a minute for Secretary to say something? As far as Secretary’s departure is concerned is like emotional for the Indian American community, what she has done as far as the U.S.-India relations are concerned under her leadership, and she had made so many trips in India and met with the Indian American community here. Where do we go from here as far as her departure is concerned? What legacy she leaves as far as South Asia, especially U.S.-India relations are concerned in the future?

MS. NULAND: Well, obviously, if we’re going to get into the legacy that she leaves with every country and every continent, that will be a very long briefing indeed, Goyal. But she’s spoken herself in the speech that she gave at the Council on Foreign Relations about how she sees the time that she spent here. You know that India is a country that she is deeply committed to, and as you say, she has – she made a number of trips there and welcomed senior Indians here as well.

QUESTION: Just to follow, I personally will miss her, and of course the –

MS. NULAND: I will tell her, Goyal.

QUESTION: — Indian American community. My question is now as far as border incident between India and Pakistan, now two countries are talking again and they have resumed again trade and people-to-people and economic and other relations. My question with that as far as officials from the U.S. were in India and also in Pakistan, have they played any role in this relationship to go and continue again between U.S. – in between Pakistan and India?

MS. NULAND: You’re talking about the Line of Control incidents? Is that –


MS. NULAND: As you know, the week that this was quite hot we talked about this almost daily, that we were, through our ambassadors in both Delhi and Islamabad, intensively counseling direct dialogue. And we’re very gratified that that was restarted.


QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: Can we return to Egypt?

MS. NULAND: Please.

QUESTION: I would love an update on the NGO workers’ trial, what’s happening with that and what you guys have been doing in support.

MS. NULAND: Let me take that, Nicole. I know there was a hearing about a month ago and that part of the proceedings were postponed. But let me take it and see what we have.

Scott, please.

QUESTION: Armenia?

QUESTION: Can we stay on Egypt a little bit?



MS. NULAND: Do you mind – can we finish Egypt here, Scott, and then we’ll come back to Armenia?

QUESTION: Go ahead.

MS. NULAND: Go ahead.

QUESTION: Yeah. The government just announced that the security forces, probably including the military, will ensure security and peaceful gatherings and so on. Do you take that as an alarming sign that the military might be getting involved in security in Egypt?

MS. NULAND: Well, as you know, we’ve been talking about this as well over the course of the week. We strongly condemn the recent violence that’s taken place in Egypt. There are clearly a large number of Egyptians who are frustrated with the direction of political reform as well as the pace of economic reform in Egypt. We have been counseling all sides, whether it’s the government or whether it’s the opposition, that these issues need to be dealt with peacefully through dialogue. We support the right of peaceful protest, but it needs to stay peaceful and that security forces also have to exercise restraint.

We also made some comments last week with regard to the state of emergency, that given Egypt’s history this has to be handled carefully, and that what’s most important is that the Egyptian people see that their democratic government behaves democratically with regard to their human rights and that their human rights are protected under the rule of law going forward.

QUESTION: New topic?

MS. NULAND: Elise, yeah.

QUESTION: It’s about Senator Menendez.

MS. NULAND: Nice necklace.

QUESTION: Thank you. There were some reports this morning, particularly in The New York Times, that Senator Menendez was reaching out to the State Department on behalf of this doctor in question, Dr. Melgen, for this ports contract. And I’m wondering –

MS. NULAND: What country are we in?

QUESTION: Dominican.

QUESTION: Dominican.

MS. NULAND: Right. Okay.

QUESTION: That Senator Menendez reached out to the State Department to help this – on the behalf of this doctor that had this ports contract in the Dominican. And I’m wondering if you have any information that he was working on behalf of this contract.

MS. NULAND: I’m going to take that one, Elise, and see what we have.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MS. NULAND: All right. Scott.

QUESTION: Armenia.

MS. NULAND: Yeah. Sorry. You have been patient.

QUESTION: An opposition presidential candidate shot. Do you have anything to say about that, and if not, perhaps more generally about security ahead of the February 18th vote in Armenia?

MS. NULAND: Well, obviously we condemn this violence. We understand that Paruyr Hairikian is in stable condition now after being shot by an unknown gunman and that the Armenian police have promised a full investigation. We understand that there are some reports now that there may be some postponement of the elections which were scheduled to take place on February 18th under constitutional provisions if he’s unable to campaign. We obviously call on Armenians to settle this constitutionally in a way that ensures that these elections go forward in a way that is free and fair and protects the rights of all candidates.


QUESTION: New topic?


QUESTION: Israel-Palestine?


QUESTION: Without missing a beat, the Israeli government announced its plans to build 346 units in Gush Etzion, deep in the heart of the West Bank, at a time when a report by the United Nations or the Secretary General saying that – speaking of the illegality of the settlement and that they must cease activities, and in fact, for all settlers to withdraw back to Israel.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

QUESTION: Do you have any comment? Sorry.

MS. NULAND: Nicole? No? You know that our position on settlements is extremely clear, and it has not changed. We don’t accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlement activity. We also oppose any effort to legalize settlement outposts. And we oppose the creation of – but we also opposed this UN fact-finding mission. As you know, we’ve seen its report. We’re looking at it.

QUESTION: Okay. And do you agree with Israel with not appearing before the Human Rights Commission?

MS. NULAND: We’ve talked about that here before as well. Our position remains that it is an opportunity that all countries ought to take advantage of to appear before the Human Rights Commission and make their own case about their internal situation. Obviously, the Israelis will make their own decision about this. You know that – how they feel about the way they’ve been treated by the Human Rights Commission, and we share those concerns in terms of biased treatment of Israel in the past.

Please, Arshad.

QUESTION: I’m just following up on the – on Ankara, if I may go back to —

MS. NULAND: On the —

QUESTION: On Ankara.


QUESTION: One, who was the Turkish visitor who is in serious condition?

MS. NULAND: My understanding, and I will leave it to the Turkish side to confirm, but my understanding is that this was a Turkish journalist, a quite well-known one, who was on her way to visit some of the Embassy personnel, and she was in the building with the bomber when it went off.

QUESTION: And can you say anything further about the nature of her injuries?

MS. NULAND: My understanding from what we’re seeing from the Turkish side is that she is in serious condition, but I don’t have an update.

QUESTION: Okay. And then second, you said that in addition to the Turkish direct-hire guard who was killed, two direct-hire guards were shaken up. Were those two – because – the ones who were behind the bulletproof glass, were they Turkish nationals, or of some other nationality?

MS. NULAND: They were Turkish nationals, direct hires, yeah.


QUESTION: And just on that, did you have a total number of those who were also treated? You said there were a number of people who were treated for glass injuries, U.S. and Turkish citizens.

MS. NULAND: My understanding is we’re talking about two, three, four. I don’t have a final number.

QUESTION: And that was just sort of the cuts and bruises thing, it was nothing serious?

MS. NULAND: Yeah, they were treated on site at the Embassy medical unit. They didn’t go to the hospital.


QUESTION: Do you have any comment on the Italian appeals court decision —

MS. NULAND: Hold on a second. Catherine, is it still on this? Yeah?



QUESTION: But it is going back to Kerry.

MS. NULAND: Okay, so let’s just finish.

QUESTION: — on an Italian appeals court decision to vacate the acquittals for some agents of that other agency that you don’t like talking about for the kidnapping in 2003 of a man in Milan?

MS. NULAND: We’ve seen the reports about this decision, but we have not yet seen the court’s decision. So I don’t have any further comment.


QUESTION: After the private swearing-in at the undisclosed location, do you expect Secretary-Designate Kerry, or then-Secretary Kerry, to come back to the State Department and really get right into work and go up and start at it today, or —

MS. NULAND: Well, he’s obviously the sitting Secretary from the moment that he is sworn in. My understanding is that the current plan is his first arrival at the building will be on Monday. But obviously, we are all at his disposal and he bears the responsibility from the moment he is sworn in.

QUESTION: Can you just go into a little bit more detail? I mean, I know you said he’s been briefed on Turkey and this particular thing, but in terms of the other types of briefings that he’s getting about some of the other pressing things, like, for instance, the Egyptian – the attack on the Egyptian presidential palace – or just how up-to-the-minute, in terms of the briefings, has he been getting over the last few days?

MS. NULAND: Well, certainly in the context of preparing for his confirmation hearing —

QUESTION: I mean just since he’s —

MS. NULAND: — he had a chance to see all of the senior leaders in the building, and he has been kept briefed since he was confirmed. And all through this process, there’s a transition office here on all of the hot issues of the day and how they’re being handled. We are in constant contact with his staff as well, and I think you heard Secretary Clinton say that she was in constant contact with him. So —

QUESTION: Victoria.


QUESTION: Do you think Secretary-Designate Kerry might reinstate the old stakeout tradition that was utilized by Secretary Powell and others before Secretary Rice and Secretary Hillary Clinton out there in front of the gate?

MS. NULAND: We have lots of things to work through in terms of what kind of secretaryship we’re going to have. If we have anything to announce on that, you’ll be maybe not the first to know, but you’ll know, Said.

Please, in the back.

QUESTION: On North Korea.


QUESTION: Senator Hagel has mentioned about the North Koreans’ nuclear test yesterday. Are there any strong measures to stop North Korea nuclear test in the United States?

MS. NULAND: Well, we talked about this on Wednesday from this podium. We’ve all been absolutely consistent about our concern about further provocations, our commitment to take additional measures in the UN Security Council if necessary.


QUESTION: Do you have any other additional sanctions without the Resolution 2087?

MS. NULAND: Well, as you know, there was a large additional set of sanctions imposed as a result of the most recent UN Security Council resolution. We are now working through imposition of those on a national basis. But that resolution also makes clear that if there is another provocation, there will be additional measures taken. I’m not going to foreshadow them for you here.

Thank you all very much.

(The briefing was concluded at 1:37 p.m.)